Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Blogging Journey

At our Broken Bay Secondary Teacher librarian's Forum last week I did a presentation of my own blogging journey with a view to introducing those less familiar with some of the rhyme and reason for using blogs in schools and particularly school libraries.

Latest Links - Originally "Library News", this blog was started in May 2004 as a solution to getting links up or edited at short notice. It has proven its worth many times and has on occasion been up to pathfinder level, as well as being a great learning environment for me and Anne Cowper at Patrician Brothers who took it on when I left. Probably near retirement (the blog, not us) as the school now has a system wide content management solution rolling out.

Attended "WEBLOGS and School Libraries" session at NSW State Library Infocus workshop day in October 2004, presented by Dr Anne Clyde. Always ahead of the game, Anne encouraged us to explore the value of blogs for librarians.

Book Bites - Started in April 2006, the purpose of this blog was to publish book reviews. For the first year most of the reviews were mine, although we did get some student reviews. We had started a "Book Log" in 2004 where the boys could write quick recommendations or suggestions, or longer reviews, and some of these found their way onto the blog. Over the first half of 2007 we started using it to record stats for our internally run Readers' Challenge. This includes a book roll. Instead of giving the boys a list of books to read from we made a list based on their choices. Having worked off lists for three years of challenges we felt very comfortable "letting them loose" to choose their own books. The list is a vindication of this decision, I think. English Teacher Kathy Plumridge brought her Year 7 class in to play with Book Bites late in Term 1 and they started submitting reviews which continued to come throughout Term 2. Getting teachers involved is the key to student involvement, but can be difficult to introduce to an already crowded schedule.

Smart Learning - This is the blog you are reading right now, which somehow was forgotten when I put together the presentation last Thursday. It has had a varied career, starting as a vehicle for a group research project in Parramatta Diocese last year. But group members are fairly shy, and even when it was rejigged for an AGQTP project later in the year with a cross-over group I couldn't get others to post. We had a bit of discussion going and some of these people have gone on to their own projects, so hopefully it was a useful learning experience. Whilst it isn't being regularly updated I have been using it to take occasional stock since moving to my new school and Diocese in April '07.

Bibliosphere News - In May 2006 Judy O'Connell at Parramatta Catholic Education started this blog - then called BibBlog News -as a new way to keep up with local and wider library news and developments of interest. Within the month she was publishing pieces from library staff in Parramatta Diocese and soon invited us to become contributors to the blog. I started contributing in November, and several other TLs also started to write occasional pieces. Now mid 2007 sees contributors from Broken Bay and Lismore Diocese as well, as Judy seeks to widen the scope. [Judy's own blog, HeyJude, is worth keeping up with - but beware, it is turbocharged.]

Evidence - This was a play with a personal reading record and has proven to be just that bridge too far. Probably should be deleted soon. Does anyone ever delete blogs? Did give me the chance to play with a Wordpress style blog, as had only used Blogger before.

Since starting at St. Paul's in April this year I have started a book review site, Shelf Tales (can't live long without one) and also a class blog for my Year 7 English class called Seven Magic. Both are in early stages. The first is a Wordpress blog and I am liking having the option of some topic pages as well as the rolling posts which are the typical blog style. The Seven's blog is a learning experience. They are not a very tech savvy group and need some prompting, although a few are keen.

Finally, when it comes to keeping up with reading blogs - or just keeping your own in one spot - there is a need for an aggregator. I use Bloglines although there are others out there if you want to investigate. I also experimented with Pageflakes for the presentation and think this has a nice look, especially for a small to moderate collection. both of these are free and easy to get going on. Combined with Delicious, which we had a session about from Geoff McIver from St Peter's Tuggerah, you'll never be lost for ways to stay in touch with matters library and world.

What we need next for the group (I would suggest) is a proper blogging workshop to get going for those new to the concept and to share ideas for those already playing.


Judy O'Connell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judy O'Connell said...

Marita, It is interesting that you mentioned Anne Clyde's early work. Her early work has been my inspiration. But it is so interesting to have your blogging journey documented here - you have been an important leader amongst us from early on and should be recongnised for your energy and innovation. Good luck to all the Tls in your group as they embark on their own learning journey. They are lucky to have you in their network!! Cheers, Judy

Anonymous said...

I must agree Marita that all staff probably do need some quality time to learn more about blogging. I will raise this with the LTCs as well as I think librarians and the LTCs are two groups who are leaders in CPD but we also need time to learn these things so that we can pass on our knowledge.

Thanks Geoff

Jan said...

Hi Marita!
I have long respected your ability to use blogging as a professional tool, and I have read this reflective post with great interest.
I have a trail of discarded blogs (is there a blog heaven somewhere?), but it is only the one for which purpose and audience are very clearly defined in my mind that has survived. Isee that you have both for each of your blogs.
Keep in touch, my friend. Our loss is definitely some else's gain.