Jumping into Book Week with Polycom and Electroboard

Students in years Prep-6 and year 8 participated in Book Week extension activities through Polycom video conferencing and Electroboard using Bridgit software to show note pad presentations and demonstrations. This was the first time we have put this equipment through its paces and expectations of success were not disappointed. Although there were some connection issues, once that was sorted out, it all ran very well. Both the Polycom and Electroboard help teams were great with advice and navigation assistance.

The busy week began on Monday with year six students in the classroom at Hawkesdale P12 and author Libby Hathorn being streamed in via video conference on Polycom from the State Library of NSW. The students listened and interacted with Libby who discussed the books she has had published, her most recent ‘A boy like me’. Libby then led the students in an interactive poetry workshop. It was an amazing experience for the students who produced great poems that they are very proud of. The sessions are all limited to one hour and it is amazing what can be accomplished in that time.

Tuesday the prep/one classes joined in a visual literacy session using Smartboard notebook on the Electroboard through Bridgit and video conference with Polycom. There were a few technical hiccups in this session, but once it was all up and working it was great.

Wednesday, we had two sessions, year 2/3 developing characters through drama and year 4/5 extending literacy through pottery. The year 4/5 students made their favourite book character from clay as directed by their video conference teacher Ms Devine. Who demonstrated pottery skills to develop and extend students’ knowledge in this area. See photograph of all busy at work.

Friday year 2/3 students participated in the visual literacy workshop using the book ‘Into the forest’ by Anthony Browne linking fairy tale characters into story writing. The week wound up with our year 8 students participating in a workshop with James Moloney, another great experience.

It is safe to say that we put Polycom and Electroboard through their paces during the week and as the week went on we grew more confident in setting up and connecting. The presentations/workshops were all great and both teachers and students worked with the new technologies very well. It is great for a rural school such as ours to have access to this type of learning. The students were amazed that the presenters were in Sydney or Melbourne.

The calendar for the programmes can be found at See Share Shape http://www.seeshareshape.com.au/share/VC/default.aspx you can just browse at what is on offer, but to book you will need to make an account and then you are on your way, just follow the prompts.

Book Week extends beyond the library…..

Students in prep to year 6 and year 8 will participate in a range of extracurricular activities to celebrate Book Week this year (August 20-24). Using the Polycom Video Conference equipment and Interactive Whiteboards teachers and students will interact with authors in extension activities related to specific books. Creative arts are also on the activity list with Hands on Literacy through Pottery and the use of Drama to Develop Characters. The programme begins on Monday when we have Libby Hathorn working with year 6 with her book ‘A boy like me: a story about peace’. Tuesday the prep and year 1 classes will explore illustrative text and fairy-tales using Anthony Browne’s book, ‘Into the forest’. Wednesday has two creative arts sessions, the first is for the year 4/5 class exploring Literacy through Pottery followed by the year 2/3 class who will experiment with Developing Characters through Drama. Friday finishes the week off with year 8 students participating in the interactive author workshop with James Moloney working with his book Tamlyn. What wonderful way to bring these special events and activities to students, especially in smaller rural communities.

QR codes, iPads and Book Week

Book trailers are an engaging way for libraries to sell books to children to read. Even reluctant readers can be engaged by book trailers and are encouraged to select books they may never have been confident to try before. But how do we link the book trailers with the books? This is where QR (Quick Response) codes come into the equation. This year for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) book week I have generated QR codes for each title in the different categories, then printed and displayed the QR code on the corresponding book. There are also posters that contain the QR codes which are displayed in classrooms allowing students to do some research on the books before they come to the library. QR codes are scanned with the camera of an iPad or iPod Touch using a QR reader app. We have the Qrafter QR reader on iPads, iPod Touches and iphones, it’s free from the app store.

This may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. QR codes are easily made with a QR generator online. I used http://www.qrcode.cx/ because I liked the idea of having different coloured QR codes for each book, plus it made the poster bright and colourful too. You just need to do some investigation first and locate your link, in YouTube, a publisher or on another web site or blog. This will allow you to simply copy and paste it into the URL box to create the QR code. Then it is just a matter of deciding what colour you want to make it and then generate the QR code. Then you can save, print or copy the code. I saved my codes as images because I wanted to use them more than once to make different displays. Initially I started linking the publisher’s web sites to the books so students could read a longer synopsis of the particular title, but as my research gained depth I found great reviews and even book trailers on YouTube. Two titles, The Outcasts by John Flanagan and Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby have wonderful book trailers.  Students in our year 9/10 ICT class are going to generate their own book trailers of some of the other titles.

I have noticed while cataloguing our latest collection of fiction novels that several have QR codes printed on the back outside cover of the book, so in theory you could view a book trailer or extra information about the title before you even buy the book.

Squish Rabbit and Brotherband: The Outcasts

Sample of what the QR codes look like when generated, a QR reader such as Qrafter is required to link them to the desired URL

Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby shortlisted book for The Crichton Award for New Illustrators

Brotherband: The Outcasts by John Flanagan. CBCA shortlist book 2012 for Younger Readers