Category Archives: Social Media

SLG Regional Event in Kent/SE London

CILIPSLG held one of its very successful Regional Training Days at Eltham College in South East London on October 24th.  The day was heavily over-subscribed, and there are plans to rerun the day next March for all those who were disappointed this time.  Like all of the training days, there was an eclectic mix of subjects, and everyone found something to interest them in the day.

The first speaker was Caroline Roche, who also hosted us in her Library at Eltham College.  Caroline also runs Heart of the School website. She talked about using technology to help the learners in your school, and EPQ students in particular.  She showcased Diigo, MySimpleShow and Animoto, and gave out practical How To worksheets after her talk.

Next came Matt Imrie from Farrington’s School.  Matt runs the very successful Teen Librarian newsletter and website.  Matt talked to us about Freenocomics – how to get stuff for your library for free, and how to encourage your students to blog about books.

Last speaker before lunch was Maggie Thomas from Bacon’s College.  Maggie told us about a radical refurbishment of her library which involved her in strategic thinking and planning, including a review of how she should be line managed.  She had amazing support from her Line Manager throughout the successful process.

During lunch there was a great opportunity to network, and also to play the newly published Murder in the Library from BoxClever Education.  Alex Gillespie, an English teacher who devised the game, set it out in Eltham College Library, and we were all encouraged to find out who had murdered the Library Assistant!  This was an excellent game involving deductive thinking and reasoning skills.  There are many levels to the game, and is suitable for all abilities.  Everyone enjoyed it and quite a few people bought copies for their libraries.

In the afternoon Rowena Seabrook from Amnesty International spoke to us about Human Rights issues in Teen Fiction.  Her talk was thought provoking, both in how to promote and how to protect human rights of the students in the school.  There was a lot of productive discussion around LGBTQ rights and fiction, and also representation of teenagers of all races and colours in your library stock.  We all had a lot to think about after her talk.

CILIPSLG tweeted throughout the day, and a Storify of the tweets can be found here.

CILIPSLG Regional events are held throughout the year in different parts of the country.  If you are interested in attending one of our low cost events then keep an eye on this page.  If you are interested in hosting a meeting in your school, please contact SLG through their pages on the CILIP website.

 

 

Focus on advocacy and branding: how do I write like an expert?

Antique TypewriterWe all do it, we are expected to do it: that little article in the school newsletter, that blog post in the library website, that short report for our headteacher, that training feedback form for our line manager, etc. etc. etc.

We all need to write for our job but are we doing it the right way?

Starting to post for this blog was really daunting at the beginning so I decided to ask a friend of mine for her top tips on how to make my posts interesting, useful and worth-reading.

These are the invaluable tips from Anne Wollenberg, award-winning freelance journalist and friend extraordinaire!

The audience comes first: I suggest having some questions you want each article to answer – whichever of these are appropriate to the situation… How did your event/initiative/course benefit the school? Why was it worth spending the money? What did you gain or learn from the activity? Why are you telling the reader about it? Who is your reader and what do they want to know? What matters to them? For example… do they want to know that you had a nice day out – or do they want to know why you spent their money, how they will benefit and how they will be affected? Don’t think about what you want to write but about what matters to the reader.

Always cover the basics: Make sure you cover who, what, where, when, why – and so what?

Keep your message consistent and clear: People should remember any one piece – whatever they are writing – may be the first or only article any individual reads about the organisation/library. What do you need to convey about how you operate, your priorities, your ethos, etc? Always bear in mind it may be someone’s first impression of you. Remind them of your brand messages. What are the aims of your library/service? How do you want to be perceived? What are you saying about yourselves? These are things to keep in mind when writing.

Keep your readership interested: Remember that your reader doesn’t really care about whether you had a nice day. They want to know why they should be interested in the day/event you had. It’s fine to say the day was fun or enjoyable (as it might encourage others to attend the next event) but say WHY. What did you do or learn that was enjoyable AND worthwhile?

Split it up a bit: 500-700 words is quite long and a daunting amount to write. And whatever the word length, always split your article up in different sections. It can include a certain number of words of body text (main article text) and then pick one or two or three of the following:

– Top three things you learned during the event/training course/initiative

– Action points: explain some of the ways in which you will implement what you learned, changes you will make, etc

– About the trainer/guest speaker. Who are they? What’s their job? What was it like to meet them?

– An interesting fact or point of discussion that was covered on the day

What NOT to include: what you had for lunch. Just, no!

The Beating Heart of the School – a London & SE SLG course

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On Friday 14th November 2014, SLG London and South East committee hosted a training course to attempt to deal with some of the issues facing school librarians. This event was inspired by issues raised in the APPG document published in May 2014; The Beating Heart of the School. This is a summary of the key elements of the course.

Post written by Dawn Finch

The Beating Heart document has highlighted both the need for a professional librarian in schools, and the need of schools to have a more enlightened view of what exactly a school librarian does. Sadly it seems from their findings that in schools there is still a very archaic view of the abilities of school librarians, and this can hinder how much they are able to be part of the higher level or management structure of the school. Ultimately this can have a directly negative effect on pupil progress, and is essentially a misuse of valuable resources.

In the course we discussed how a successful and ‘outstanding’ school library is such an integral part of the school that its influence reaches far beyond its walls. It simply is not possible to be a “Beating Heart” if the pump does not have the strength to reach every limb! So how do we break out beyond our walls? We have all done every event and reading initiative we can think of, and taken part in every scheme and promotion we can – but most of us are still finding it hard to keep a high profile, and to increase the number of our loyal users.

One of the most successful strategies for creating extended loyalty for the school library is to engage in certain branding activities; make a logo, create a theme, decide what image you want to represent for your library and be persistent and consistent with your promotion of the library. Our aim should be that as soon as anyone sees our logo, they should have an instant understanding of what we represent, and of what a library can do for them. Branding is recognition in a heartbeat, and recognition creates loyalty. What we are looking to do is create a feeling, an emotion, and ultimately loyalty.

On the day we also looked at the issues surrounding digital literacy. The days of ICT skills in schools has passed, and school librarians are now at the front-line of the teaching of digital literacy. We live in a world of cyber-crime and cyber-bullying and our children’s best defence of this is knowledge and understanding. We cannot expect our children to protect themselves online, or to behave well, if we do not model good behaviour in schools. To this end we need to be using social media and blogging just as they do, but to use it to show young people how it should be done.

There are many arguments against the use of social media in schools but, as Ofsted are increasingly saying, it will soon not be possible for schools to achieve an outstanding rating if they fall behind in digital literacy. The fact remains that some of the finest resources available for researchers are now in blog form. To deny use of blogs and blogging in schools is to deny access to some of the most accurate first-hand resources available. This denial will also act as a kind of exclusion policy exposing the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ in the classroom.  If we do not allow our pupils access to blogs for information and research, we are simply encouraging unreliable wiki-research and creating a two-tier system of work.

As an example, let’s look at the landing of Philae on Comet 67P. Pupils researching this historic event can read Wikipedia, or newspaper reports, but how much better is it to access the blog of the European Space Agency and subscribe to their updates?

How about if your pupils are studying fashion? During London Fashion Week they might be able to find a newspaper report about the week, or even some smaller articles on the official site. How much better would it be to follow the accredited blog of a young designer as they go through the process for the first time?

Then we should take into account the fabulous resources that we have at our fingertips to protect our own service. How would we have access to articles like this one by Phillip Ardagh about the importance of libraries if we did not access blogs? We are not even touching on the importance of Twitter and other social media as a vital communication tool, but needless to say it is all part of the same move towards a digitally literate society.

The issue of cyber-bulling and trolling is at the top of many schools’ agendas, and is often an excuse used to prevent access to social media sites. This can lead to failings in how children perceive social-media, and failings in how schools deal with cyber-bullying issues. The children that I have supported through these issues still complain that school doesn’t “believe it’s real.” Pupils often complain that adults (including teachers) still insist that the hurt felt from online insults and persecution is not real. They are often still told that they should “get over it” or “forget it” or “ignore it.”  It is very real, and the key to preventing it is to first accept the reality of it. The “sticks and stones” line is dated and insulting. If you hit me with a stick, I’ll heal. If you cut me down with savage words I may carry those scars for the rest of my life. Embracing the hurt is the first step to preventing it from happening, and the first step towards stopping your pupils from behaving in this way themselves. The next step is using social media in lessons and as an educational tool.

We, as school librarians, have a duty to provide what our pupils need, and that is information in any form and format. We should do this by using social media in both our communication methods, and in our service to our young learners. By staying at the cutting edge, and using every tool at our disposal, we will future-proof our service whilst providing what our pupils need to fully progress as both informed learners, and socially well-adjusted adults.

Course delivered by Dawn Finch

Literacy and school library consultant, writer of children’s fiction and non-fiction books.

www.dawnfinch.com

Footnote; we will be revisiting elements of this course in much greater details, including supporting EPQs, in our April LibMeet as well as our Summer 2015 training courses. Follow this blog for more information. If you are a CILIP member you can log in and see our events posted here.

All of our events are open to both CILIP members and non-members, but if you are a member the cost of events will be lower.



Documents referred to on this training course can be downloaded by using the links below;

The Beating Heart of the School – APPG report on school librarieshttp://www.cilip.org.uk/cilip/advocacy-campaigns-awards/advocacy-campaigns/libraries-all-party-parliamentary-group/beating

Moving English Forward – Ofsted

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/moving-english-forward

National Curriculum for English (2014/2015)  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study

 

 

Twitter 101 with James Dawson and Dawn Finch

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Twitter 101 with James Dawson and Dawn Finch

At the London and South East SLG LibMeet we were lucky enough to have top YA author James Dawson with us and he helped us out in a discussion about the merits of social networking and using Twitter. If you haven’t discovered him yet, James is particularly entertaining on Twitter and is more than aware of the importance of social networking. I’m deeply envious of his huge number of devoted followers, but I hope I’m worth a follow too!

You can follow James @_jamesdawson and me @dawnafinch and decide for yourselves.

Firstly, are you on Twitter? If not, why not?!

These days it is vital that School Librarians are more proactive with their approach to their work, and this should include embracing and using social networking. Many of us are now used to using Facebook amongst our friendship groups, and this format is not ideal for use for work or school, but what about Twitter?.

Twitter at its most basic is a simple forum for people to share short comments (140 characters long), links and photos and to retweet (share) other member’s messages. It is a fantastic way to link with your followers (pupils) and to express a public profile for your library.

For starters – get an account! Obviously you are going to need to check that this is okay with your headteacher and SLT. If you can, choose an account name for your library account that shows that you are a school library, this will help. Authors love library accounts and are far more likely to reply if they can instantly see that you are school library. If you have a private Twitter account, keep it that way and don’t link the school account to yours. Everything that you post on your school account should represent the ethos of the whole school and should promote books and reading.

Next – follow people. Search for authors and other librarians that you know and see what they post. If they are interesting and posting regularly (and replying to questions) then follow them. A lot of people will follow you back, but don’t take it personally if they don’t. Search for organisations connected to books and reading, and follow them. Because you want to keep this interesting for young people, avoid the dryer more sales-orientated organisations and stick to things that your pupils will want to read and share.

Make it known. Pupils will not follow you if they don’t know you are there. Put the Twitter name on all of your emails and stationery. Stick a poster up in the library saying that the library is on Twitter. Make sure that the staff know about the account and have the account name in a prominent place so that others can follow too.

What to say! Twitter is full of things that are of interest to young people. Seriously, have a search and see what other people have posted and share it with a retweet. Start off by sharing things like new books in the library (with a photo) and tell people what the library offers. Are there school events you can share? Author events? Book launches? Follow your local bookshops and share their events. Search for events by the most popular writers in the library, and retweet their posts. Don’t wait for something interesting to come up, search for things and keep your Twitter feed interesting and up to date. Start up a Library Twitter Group at school and take pupil advice on what should be on there.

What not to say! Basically, if you wouldn’t put it on a t-shirt and wear it around school, then it shouldn’t be on your Twitter feed! It sounds simple but you have to be in work-mode at all times online. Make absolutely sure that you do not post anything that the parents and governors might find inappropriate.

What next? Direct contact with authors is one of the best reasons to be on Twitter. Authors use Twitter all the time and you can find most of the top names in children’s and YA fiction on there. Search your favourites and see if they reply to other people, and then Tweet them too! Just write a message with their Twitter name in it, and see if they reply. You’ll be amazed how many will reply to an account that is clearly a library.

#hashtags When you have worked out how to do your tweets and are finding it easier to navigate the pages, you should start using hashtags. These are the little bits that you add into your messages so that people can find other messages with the same themes. Basically you write your message, and then you add a hashtag into the body of the message. For example, if you are writing a tweet about how great the library is, you might use #lovelibraries and it will become a link that other people can use to find people who also love libraries!

Some of the most useful hashtags for librarians are #lovelibraries #amreading #shoutabout but you might also like #amwriting as lots of writers use this one. Keep a note of the hashtags that other people use so that you can use them too.

Advanced stuff! When your account is busy and active you might find that you need to start thinking about how to organise your account a bit more. This is when you might want to try things like Hoot Suite. You can organise things into lists so that you can just see the tweets that matter to you and your library.

 In summary, we need to be out there, be visible and be active in all aspects of reading and literacy and social networking is just another part of it. Agree with it or not, it’s not going anywhere and so we may as well use it to our advantage!