National Reconciliation Week

During the week we set up our library displays for National Reconciliation Week, 27 May – 3 June 2018. This year we also created a display for the school reception. Sourcing the information and artworks for the displays is always a stimulating experience. Our workbench was covered in texts and illustrations until we linked the pieces together to create a theme and exhibit an outstanding range of resources.

For information about National Reconciliation Week, a visit to the official website is a must.

National Reconciliation Week


CBCA NSW Branch Inc Eastern Suburbs Sub-branch: Launch night!

At the end of last year, I attended a meeting about an idea of forming a sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council – NSW Branch to provide for the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. During that meeting, we decided to make it a reality and formally started the creation of the CBCA NSW Branch Inc Eastern Suburbs Sub-branch. During the initial meeting I was voted in as the Secretary, we have had three Committee meetings and next month we are holding a launch night.

So far it has is a very positive experience, we have been very busy making plans for the launch and a children’s event that will be held in October this year. I am very proud of our invite flyer designed by Cate James. It would be wonderful if you could make it to the event!



Stage 2 Geography Earth’s Environment – Sustainability

The lessons I create for library sessions focus on literacy, information and digital literacy, and on the agenda digital technologies. More recently I have been focusing on tightening the focus of the teaching and learning experiences by thinking critically about my learning intentions. Other influences in my planning have been visible thinking routines and aspects of inquiry learning. I suppose I should just say I am changing the way I think, plan and create to adjust to the changes in education and scope of the Australian Curriculum.

Living Earth

My most recent unit aligns with Stage 2 Geography – Earth’s Environment – Sustainability. I wanted to create a series of lessons that would be helpful for students to gain skills in note-taking, summarising and synthesising information using a range of sources. I decided to focus mainly on organising information into a Mind Map, students are introduced to creating a Mind Map and are given opportunities to practice the technique.

The unit (lesson series plan and workbook) is available via my TES Resources page.

The series of lessons takes approximately 5 hours, this plan is for 5 x 30-minute sessions.

Provocation: How can people use places and environments more sustainably?

Series of seven activities based on:

  • Introduction using The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French
  • Food wastage
  • Climate change
  • Alternative energy
  • Indigenous Australian sustainable practices
  • Reflection/Evaluation

Key skills include gathering information from differing sources, note-taking, synthesising information, and creating Mind Maps. Students use a unit booklet which includes all the activities, one online Mind Map tool is used for the final task. Students reflect on their learning at the conclusion of the unit.

Key planning sources:
• NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum – Geography – The Earth’s Environment Stage 2 
• The series of lessons follow aspects of the Inquiry Journey Framework adapted from The Power of Inquiry by Kath Murdoch 2015, Chapter 5.
Learning intentions focus on knowledge, skills and understanding summary
Thinking Routines based on ideas from
Mind Mapping background information

Image from https://openclipart.org/detail/188287/living-earth


Stage 1 Geography – People and Places

During Term 1 Year 2 were busy investigating Stage 2 Geography – People and Places

For the library sessions, I focused on places in Australia and how people connect to places. I see the Year 2 classes once a week for a half hour lesson. I generally plan a series of lessons that allow students to progressively build on knowledge, skills and understanding. For this series of lessons, two picture books provided stimulation for the learning activities.

In summary, the two books were explored, students were guided through searching for places using Google Earth, labelling maps and reflecting on how the characters in the books connect with their environment. As a final reflection, the children wrote about a special place where they live.

The full lesson plan is available via TES Resources.

Student work samples.

The picture books included:

Hello from Nowhere by Raewyn Caisley.

Our Island by Alison Lester, Elizabeth Honey and the children of Gununa.



A Reading Challenge to promote wide reading

At the start of 2017, a Reading Challenge was designed which aimed to encourage wide reading and direct students to different resources in the school library. As the library provides for 25 classes Years K-6, three different Challenges were created:

  • Years 1 and 2 (Stage 1)
  • Years 3 and 4 (Stage 2)
  • Years 5 and 6 (Stage 3)

Sample of a Reading Challenge

In summary, each Reading Challenge has 36 reading-related tasks, some tasks are directed to a book series such as Oxford Reading Tree or National Geographic Kids, however, most tasks are open-ended for example Read a book with a character’s name in the title.

Promoting the Reading Challenge once underway can be done by doing a quick read (blurb, the first couple of pages) and asking where the book would fit into the Challenge – most books cover more than one task.

In order to simplify and share the Reading Challenges, I have combined aspects of each and created two levels. The files are in Word allowing for adjustments and aligning to your school or class library collection.

The Reading Challenges can be downloaded via TES Resources – Reading Challenge.

Some Tips:

  • Introduce the Reading Challenge early in the school year and provide a certificate for halfway – 18 tasks completed and final 36 completed tasks. Templates for certificates are also included. If you start later in the year the Challenge could be refined.
  • Students colour in each square as they complete the task, a date can be added if required. It may also be helpful for students to write the name of the book read and date – a template for this is also provided, it can be printed on the back of the Challenge.
  • If used during Library borrowing it is helpful to keep the Reading Challenges in a class folder, keep a record of progress using a checklist such as student name / completed 18 / completed 36.
  • Count the Challenges about twice a term, record a date and number completed each count.

The Reading Challenge encourages students to be mindful about finding different books to read as they progress with the Challenge. What the class teacher’s and I noticed is that students who already read a lot took to the Challenge quickly needing little encouragement or guidance. One Year 5 student who was ‘a reader’ asked for help finding ‘verse novels’ she was directed to Odette’s Secrets by Maryann Macdonald which she reported she really enjoyed and asked for more like that. Students who generally read less needed more encouragement, taking time to talk to them about what they are enjoying and guiding to suitable books is highly recommended. If a student received a certificate for 18 Reading Challenge tasks completed that is an achievement!

The images in the documents were purchased under licence from https://www.flaticon.com/


Peter Rabbit library display

The Tale of Peter Rabbit was first published in 1901, Beatrix Potter self-published and printed 250 copies. Over the years Peter Rabbit has been read, shared and loved by so many children, parents and grandparents alike. In 2016 a first edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit sold at auction for £43,000!

The Peter Rabbit library display features my son’s Peter Rabbit soft toy (now 18 years old), a Bunnykins sculpture that was given to me by a wonderful teacher I previously worked with, author profile books, and newly released Beatrix Potter books. It is always a pleasure to see children enter the library, stand close taking time to admire the displays.

For more information on Beatrix Potter and The Tale of Peter Rabbit visit https://www.peterrabbit.com/


Armitstead, C. (2013). How Beatrix Potter self-published Peter Rabbit. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/dec/17/beatrix-potter-peter-rabbit-self-publishing

BBC News. (2016). First edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit sells for £43k at auction. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-cumbria-36865074

Frederick Warne & Co. (2016). Beatrix Potter. Retrieved from https://www.peterrabbit.com/

Sony Pictures Entertainment. (2018, March 17). Peter Rabbit – official trailer. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/cfAaGhvRmmg 


How does our library organise books?

How does our library organise books? This was the question I asked Year 4 in order to find out what they knew. The question was opened and students were told they could write, draw and label as much detail as possible, they were required to stay seated, looking around was allowed – they had 5 minutes. The timer was set and students were very serious about the challenge set. Observing student response and enthusiasm in action it was quick to see key ideas and understanding.

Once time was up each student shared one idea (names called out in random), if an idea had already been shared the student was prompted to build on an idea, for example, one response was A-Z this was added to explain author’s surname which was further added as fiction. A question prompt would be what does nonfiction mean, how do we know it is nonfiction and so on.

Ideas were recorded on the IWB for further reference and as a class summary. It was a great way to gain an understanding of what students already knew and allowed for learning from others. The lesson was an introduction to a series of lessons on using the library focusing on nonfiction.



K-6 Library Review 2017

As the final days of the school year wrap up it is great to look back and reflect.  It has been a busy but productive year, and we have worked tirelessly in the past weeks revamping the library collection, reorganising shelving and running a stocktake of the fiction books – it will be a fresh start next year!

I would like to acknowledge and thank the support and commitment of the library team and teacher librarian who taught the Year 6 classes.

The review is a snapshot of teaching and learning, special events, loans, resource use and top books loaned. What worked well, what requires change and improvement is in mind, but rest first is required.

Click the link to open the full review K-6 library review 2017

PS I used www.canva.com to create the Infographic.


The day the Internet went down – what we learnt!

All was going well on Friday morning as Year 5 had just started their task evaluating a webpage using the 5W’s evaluation guide. However, we quickly realised that the Internet was very slow – then it was down. It happens from time to time for a few minutes so we decided to move onto reading – perfect we were in the library! Then the announcement came ‘the Internet will be down for the next 5-6 hours’ well that was it for the rest of the school day!

Year 5 had just settled with browsing and reading when a group of Year 3 students burst through the library doors full of excitement. They needed books for their animal migration research – they excitedly repeated ‘the Internet is down.’ The library assistant and I jumped into action and we were guiding the students to books about the range of animals of interest when another Year 3 class appeared also needing similar books. It was not long before the 500’s were pulled apart and we felt the limitations of relevant information for a large number of students at once. As recess approached we felt relieved that the students would move on and we could get back to normal.

The experience although somewhat annoying was highly valuable, it became evident that this was a huge learning experience and caused instant reflection on the difficulties encountered. Although it was fantastic that the students were keen to get their hands on books, the limited skills they showed in locating books for their needs caused concern.

Issues of concern:

  1. Library books are underutilised for research purposes
  2. The students had not visited the library to locate books early in their research task
  3. Students lacked skills in locating books for their needs
  4. Students rely on the Internet for a significant amount of information for school research tasks
  5. The library provides a selection of resources for a year group that gets placed in a box and left in the classroom

A fresh start:

Learning from this situation is vital, some ideas follow on how we will approach the new year to increase the use of the library, upskill the students book locating skills, and allow for successful spontaneous library use.

  1. Library books are underutilised for research purposes:
    • Closely monitor all student and teacher learning needs – scan all programs, meet with teachers to update on requirements
    • Revamp the collection, deselect, update, ensure Dewey labels and signage is clear
  2. The students had not visited the library to locate books early in their research tasks:
    • Students require learning experiences to include structured and spontaneous visits to the library to locate books for their research needs – early in the school year provide instruction and hands-on opportunities for students to search and locate books
    • Encourage and support teachers to make time to visit the library with their class as part of their research task
  3. Students lacked skills in locating books for their needs:
    • Ensure students have opportunities to explore, browse and learn how to search the library catalogue and locate books on the shelf – this opens up additional learning opportunities for younger (and some older) students such as how nonfiction books are structured, using the contents and index and so on
    • As pointed out above the library set up needs to be refined to assist and encourage students to feel confident in locating books
  4. Students rely on the Internet for a significant amount of information for school research tasks:
    • Design a library homepage that links to key research websites such as Britannica School, World Book Online and DK Findout! More about these resources can be found at Ignite wide reading with diverse resources at your school library
    • Invest in some nonfiction eBooks such as those from the Macmillan Digital Library
    • Ensure that all students can access the library homepage and provide training on using online resources
    • Train and remind teachers to instruct students to use the library online resources before they search the Internet
    • Provide instruction to students to upskill their Internet search skills and website evaluation
  5. The library provides a selection of resources for a year group that gets placed in a box and left in the classroom:
    • Seek opportunities for students to search for books on their research topics – if the books are located by some students and placed in a purposeful location for classes to share at least the students are having a go and some may be able to suggest to others great books they have found
    • Consider options to display books for a class topic face out in a combined area that classes have access

Such ideas are obvious and easy to fix, however as we rely more and more on the Internet we are limiting students exposure to the pleasure of finding just the right book for research needs and another book of interest by chance. The library shelves may be scoured and knocked about and in need of mending but at least the books are being used.