20/08/2018

Trove – access to primary sources for student research

Recently I was asked to provide Year 6 classes with historical research skills focused on inquiry to investigate primary and secondary sources. The students were at an early stage of a historical inquiry unit involving investigation of stories of groups of people who migrated to Australia and the reasons they migrated. In addition, students will be inquiring into their personal history that has shaped who they are, their community and identity.

By coincidence, I am currently completing the subject – Describing and Analysing Education Resources which involved investigation of Trove as an example of a federated search system managed by the National Library of Australia. Knowledge of Trove’s access to extensive online resources enable me to demonstrate to students a way to search and access digitised primary sources such as photos, journal entries, and newspaper articles from the past. As Trove is comprehensive it was important to provide students with suggestions of what to search, how to search and how to review the search results.

What to search:

Bonegilla from Migration Blake Education, 2014

Start with a nonfiction book at the student’s level. Highlight images and image captions as a source of information and keywords that would be useful to use in a search. For the migration example, I used Bonegilla Migrant as the keywords and then demonstrated a search. We were able to view various images, including the photo of a group of men playing volleyball on Trove which was the same photo in the text. We also accessed a Certificate of identity, for Irena Terkiewicz, relating to her immigration to Australia, 1949 after viewing this in the Migration text. From the book Coming to Australia: post-war immigration by Australian Geographic, 2015, we located important keywords such as displaced persons, refugee camps and the name of the Minister of Immigration in 1945, Arthur Calwell which lead us to newspaper articles from that time frame.

How to search:

Trove has created a video explaining how to search, taking a few minutes to view this and then some time to explore is highly recommended.

How to review the search results:

Understanding the different zones assists with viewing the results. Two important things to refine a search include selecting a time period or decade and clicking the Available online option.

Although we are at an early stage of investigation, Trove provided a platform to guide students to sources of information for their research rather than just using Google. Searching for family names was very stimulating for students, one student searched for the name of an invention by a great-grandparent and came across a newspaper article from 1913.

Trove provides a wealth of opportunities for teaching and learning purposes. Being able to access articles, photographs, and letters from the past is extremely valuable for historical research and inquiry learning.

13/04/2018

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 picture books included:

Hello from Nowhere by Raewyn Caisley.

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

 

19/02/2018

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.

 

03/12/2017

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.

30/03/2014

Primary Research Project

Primary Research ProjectGrade 6 recently participated in the Primary Research Project.The Project consists of 40 multiple choice questions covering a range of topics in the Australian Curriculum English, Maths, History and Geography. Students are encouraged to use a range of resources including dictionaries, atlases, reading graphs and articles within the Project and a wide range of online searches are required. Many questions have multiple steps to prove the correct answer. The Project runs for two weeks and students have a maximum of four hours to complete. The cost was $6 p/student, students are registered and all answers are submitted online. Students receive a graded certificate on completion of the Primary Research Project.

Continue reading