Apples & Oranges

One of the people in my PLN on twitter is Angela Maiers, an educational author and consultant who has some wonderful resources available on her website. Be sure to visit there.

Her model lesson with Grade 4 students on fiction and non-fiction reading is terrific. Angela uses an apples and oranges metaphor to differentiate between non-fiction and fiction reading. I love this metaphor. Such a simple and effective way to illustrate both the importance of balanced reading and the different way we read fiction and non-fiction books.



Kamishibai is a form of picture storytelling that originated in Japan. Tara McGovern on the Kamishibai for Kids website explains that:

“Kamishibai, (kah-mee-she-bye) or “paper-theater,” is said to have started in Japan in the late 1920s, but it is part of a long tradition of picture storytelling, beginning as early as the 9th or 10th centuries when priests used illustrated scrolls combined with narration to convey Buddhist doctrine to lay audiences. Later, etoki (picture-tellers) adopted these methods to tell more secular stories. Throughout the Edo period (1603-1867) and on into the Meiji period (1868-1912), a variety of street performance styles evolved, using pictures and narration.”

Eric Nash in his recently published book Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater provides a wonderfully illustrated and detailed history of Kamishibai.

Kamishibai was most popular in the 1920s and 30s before the introduction of television. Children would gather in the streets to buy sweets from the “Kamishibai Man” and listen to his stories. The Kamishibai men travelled on bicycles which had specially made boxes with a “stage” for the picture cards and drawers for the sweets.They would use hyoshigi (hyoh-shee-ghee) wooden clappers to call attention and beckon the children to gather ’round for the stories.

Allen Say’s beautiful book Kamishibai Man recounts the story of a Kamishibai man and his memories of days spent riding around sharing stories.

Kamishibai stories are told using large picture story cards. There are usually anywhere from 12 to 20 cards per story. It is a wonderful way to share stories with students and we have had fun in our library creating and sharing our own Kamishibai stories. I recently used Kamishibai with Kindergarten children in their unit of inquiry on storytelling. We learned about traditional fairy tales then explored the many ways they have been retold. We focused on the Three little Pigs and learnt about some of the fun versions including the Three Horrid Little Pigs. Each Kindergarten class created their own Kamishibai horrid little pigs story. The children enjoyed seeing their artwork in the final product!

The Grade 2 children also enjoy Kamishibai when we share traditional Japanese tales as part of their Banzai Japan Unit of Inquiry. They create their own versions of tales such as Momotaro, the Peach Boy.

I have been disappointed that there are not more Kamishibai stories available in Japan with English translations. There are few options available to those of us who need the English text. I buy Japanese language Kamashibai cards and ask my Japanese friends to translate them for me. It is easy to attach the English translations to the back of each card next to the Japanese text. The Kamishibai story cards are readily available in bookstores here in Japan and average around $20 US per set.

The Kamishibai for Kids website provides great information and resources about Kamishibai. They are based in the US and do sell several translated Kamishibai stories as well as the Kamishibai boxes and wooden clappers. It is unfortunately an expensive option for those outside the US as the international shipping costs are high.

The International Kamishibai Association of Japan (IKAJ) also has a helpful website with information, links and highlights of how Kamashibai is being used by its members throughout the world.

Kamishibai is a wonderful way to encourage and develop reading, writing and performance skills for children and language learners of all ages!

I plan on gathering stories and taking them, along with my newly acquired Kamishibai box and clappers, back to Australia when I return.

I heart learning

This week I completed my Masters degree! When I graduate it will be with a M Ed (Information and Communication Technologies in Learning). Wow, that’s a long winded degree.

It felt so good to submit that last assignment and even better to finish with a bang and receive a High Distinction. It has been a hard slog but well worth it. My writing has improved and I have a greater respect and appreciation for the importance of academic reading in my professional life. I am excited to think about what I can do next to continue my learning….. I’d like to use my blog more to reflect on my professional practice and development and I want to pursue my interest in technology and learning.

I’d love to map out a plan for creating the ideal 21st century school library & learning space. There’s so many exciting things happening with technology and library design and I want to jump in and explore them!

Last week I attended the Australian School Library Association’s 2009 conference in Perth. There were some inspiring keynote speakers who fed my hunger for Library 2.0 inspiration. Dr Sherman Young, from Macquarie University provoked us with his predictions of the demise of the printed book. I am now reading The Book is Dead and will report back on this when I’m finished!

Dr Michael Stephens inspired us to explore, engage and celebrate the Hyperlinked School Library and gave us a glimpse of the future that is here and now in Tech Trends. I am excited to explore all the resources and links he provided us.


It was also wonderful to Tweetup with like-minded library friends…@katemreid, @kalgrl, @victorjd, @franlhughes and others. It is so fun to put faces to names and make connections. I loved it!


IMG_4600I was fortunate to meet up with some great aussie authors and illustrators. We visited the Fremantle Children’s Literatures Centre, a wonderful resource and service to the Australian community, where we were entertained and entranced by Jan Ormerod reading her book Molly and her Dad. Jan’s art work for her book the Water Witcher was also featured in an exhibition at the centre. What a thrill to meet and talk with such a lovely and talented lady! At the authors breakfast  at Frasers in the Botanic Gardens I sat next to the very talented author Norman Jorgensen. I love his book In Flanders Fields, a thought provoking picture book about World War 2.

Delegates from the ASLA2009 conference have shared many photos on Flickr.

I will enjoy exploring and reflecting on all the links and information I’ve gathered from this conference!

It’s been a while…

This year our school has been actively promoting the use of Web 2.0 tools by teachers to facilitate communication with parents and the wider school community.

At the beginning of the school year we offered some training workshops to enable teachers to have hands-on time playing with some of these tools including nings, wikis, blogs, and netvibes. Each grade level group has chosen the suite of tools they wish to use and have been experimenting.

TIS Web Wonderland

Last week at our staff meeting I introduced the “TIS Web Wonderland” a netvibe portal of links for our school community that I have created. Netvibes is a great web 2.0 tool that is easy to add content to and a breeze for students and teachers to use. I love it. The teachers and students are enjoying it too!

In the Toolbox tab I have placed links to other web 2.0 tools for teachers to explore. Many of the teachers are unfamiliar with most of them. I hope they take the time to play a little with them and see how easy they are to use.

It is a challenge for us to ensure that teachers have the time and willingness to explore, embrace and use new web 2.0 tools in the classroom! I feel fortunate to be working in a school that does not block these tools, but rather encourages their use.

facebook_logo.jpg (JPEG Image, 820x272 pixels)

My other current project is the TIS Library Facebook page. We now have over 100 fans and counting! This has enabled us to have our very own facebook page address:

I am using this page to actively promote new books, cool web links and library activities. We’ll see how it goes…

Sakura Medal

Sakura MedalThe International School Librarians Group in Japan has in recent years introduced a reading program for students in international schools across Japan that encourages students to read recently published books of literary quality from around the world. The Sakura Medal begins in the new school year, usually around October (each school decides their own launch date) and finishes at the end of April. The winners are announced in early May. Students choose and read books and at the end of the program if they have read at least 5 books from a list they are entitled to vote for their favourite book on the list. The votes from all participating schools are tallied and the winning authors are presented with a medal, certificate and some student art work.

We have several lists the students can read from. There are four English book lists and two Japanese book lists:

Picture Books
Japanese Picture Books
Elementary Chapter Books
Middle School Books
High School Books
Japanese Fiction for Middle and High School

The lists can be viewed on LibraryThing via the Sakura Medal Group

Each school implements the program a little differently with prizes, incentives, activities and parties that promote the reading.

At Tokyo International School, students in Grades 1 through 8 participate in four of the lists – Picture Books, Elementary Chapter Books, Middle School Books and Japanese Picture Books. We have several incentives and activities. Every child that reads five books on their list is entitled to go to our Sakura Medal party at the end of the school year and they earn a flower with their photo that goes on our blooming Sakura tree.


We offer free library passes for those who read at least fifteen books and for the students who read every book on the list a gift certificate for local book stores – alas not a great selection of Enlgish books available in the bookstores here!

The students are very enthusiastic about the Sakura Medal books and we never have enough copies to go around!

This year at TIS I introduced a Sakura Medal Ning which the students in Grades 4-7 joined and shared their thoughts about the  books. As well as learning how to use a social network in a safe closed environment, the students enjoyed watching and listening to book trailers, and author video and audio clips. We had fun sharing on the ning! If you visit the Ning you will only see the front page.

At the moment I am experimenting with a Sakura Medal netvibe and then I’ll decide which tool to use for next year’s program. For more about Sakura at Tokyo International School visit our web page Sakura Medal Blog

This years winning books were recently announced:


Picture Book

by Polly Dunbar

name of this book

Elementary Chapter Book

The Name of this Book is Secret
by Pseudonymous Bosch


Middle School

by Neil Shusterman

name of the wind

High School

The Name of the Wind
by Patrick Rothfuss


Japanese Picture Book

by かがくいひろし


Japanese MS/High School

by 水野敬也



The Sakura Medal Program is gaining momentum every year as more schools join and we shake out the kinks. It certainly is a way to encourage our kids to read outside their comfort zone!

Links – May

I’ve come across so many wonderful links recently! Here’s a couple of the best ones:
Create your own custom moo cards. i just ordered some very cool minicards with my own photos. Lots of fun!

21st Century Learning Spaces
Loads of resources for inspiration in designing technology rich spaces that promote individual and collaborative learning.

100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner
Great tools that cater for individual learning styles.

Visual Blooms
A visual representation of Bloom’s Taxonomic Hierarchy with a 21st Century twist.

A wonderful kids online book store with great reviews and booklists.

And just for fun…

The Dewey Rap
A great rap about the Dewey Decimal System.

Check my delicious for loads more links!

Improving my practice

I have been remiss in not posting more regularly to my blog. Life is busy and I am juggling graduate studies with full time work. Not entirely a valid excuse I know, but my work and students come first, my studies follow and then blogging fits in when it can!

Recently I’ve been preparing an assignment for my graduate classes that involves looking at research in schools. I decided to focus on school library research and most particularly on effective library media programs. I am looking specifically at flexible scheduling in PYP school libraries. I am just beginning on my literature review and have discovered considerable research that indicates the benefits of flexible scheduling in school libraries, for example, van Deusen and Putnam, however as far as I can tell, little or no research that focuses on the PYP environment.

I continue to review the literature (see my delicious bookmarks for more links on flexible scheduling) and will come back to this post as I progress.

Meanwhile take a look at this webcast by Dr R Todd entitled “But do they learn anything? School libraries, meaningful learning and productive pedagogy in information age schools” Dr Todd’s research is prolific and significant to the development of effective school library programmes worldwide. His website lists all his work and is well worth a visit.


Words….they are so powerful. Some people are truly gifted with words… they uplift, they challenge, they provoke, they inspire… I am so excited that Web 2.0 allows me to share in the words of others and be moved by them in some way.

I struggle with writing….I find it difficult and I am so envious of those to whom words seem to come so easily. Those same people motivate me and challenge me to be better.

In my searching, sifting and sorting through the web and on twitter I have found diamonds…people, blogs and “twitterers” who have meaningful and pertinent things to say.

We all need inspiration. These are a few who inspire and challenge me. I love visiting them for fresh ideas and perspectives….


How can you not be inspired by TED? Recently I have enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert speaking on creative genius, Aimee Mullins (overcoming adversity – WOW!), and Dave Eggers (Once upon a school…). Please visit TED to view and hear some truly inspiring words, you won’t be disappointed.


The Unquiet Librarian quietly inspires us on her blog with wonderful insights and links. Her use of web 2.0 and cloud computing in her professional life and school library is impressive. Visit her blog and be inspired!


Kim Cofino, Technology Integration Specialist at the International School of Bangkok, is a powerhouse of inspiration when it comes to technology integration across the curriculum. Her blog is definitely worth a very regular visit!

You are Never Alone

Kerrie Smith is an educator and Executive Officer, Professional Learning and Online Communities at edna in Australia. She is an online learning enthusiast and supporter with lots of inspiring things to say at her blog.

Thank you to all these inspirational people for helping me learn2learn! Visit my netvibe to see who else regularly inspires me…

Links – March 8, 2009

So many of the blogs I follow have regular updates with “useful links”. I am also guided to many wonderful places on the web via my “friends” on twitter. Now I’d like to pay it forward with my own regular post of links that I discover and links others have kindly shared. All are sites worthy to be tagged to my delicious…..By the way I love delicious…the name and the concept, it’s a great resource. How did I ever live without it?

Here are my delicious links for this week:

Thanks for the Add. Now Help Me with My Homework
A new study by alum Christine Greenhow finds social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have more educational potential than you might think.

Urban Fonts
Great free fonts for Mac and PC.

Download and save any video from Youtube, Dailymotion, Metacafe, iFilm and more!

Create your own cartoons and animations easily.

Web-comic blogging in minutes

100 words and pictures that define the news of the day, month, year

10 Websites for Book Lovers

Poster Yourself

Free Technology for Teachers
Loads of  free resources and ideas

Book caring

How do we encourage children to care for and appreciate books? I love to see kids excited about books! It’s always a thrill when a child runs in to tell me about a book they’ve just finished,  a new book they can’t wait to read, or a new author or series they have discovered. It’s a joy to experience their enthusiasm and excitement. I think that’s my favourite thing about working in a school.

I am a book lover – there is something wonderful about a new book with fresh cover and crisp clean pages. Children too, love new books – they eagerly pounce on all the new books we put out on display and beg for more. I think it’s important to teach children about the value of books and how best to look after them. We have lessons about handling books – how we look at them, how we transport them, how we store them.

We encourage our students to care for books by having library bags to transport them and bookmarks to keep their place. We learn about how books are shelved and how we can help keep the library organised.

This year we decided to purchase relatively inexpensive library bags that the children could decorate themselves. The bags are made from calico and feature the school logo on one side with a flap at the top. We ordered them from Norquest Bags in India. They were inexpensive and Norquest were very efficient and pleasant to deal with.

The children enjoyed decorating them with fabric pens. Here’s some pictures of the children with their decorated bags:

library bags

library bag

The children also enjoy creating their own bookmarks as well as using the bookmarks I have designed for them. We laminate them so they last a little longer!

bookmarks bookmarkmaking

It can’t be overstated that children learn from adult behaviours, so remember next time you lazily turn the corner of a page down, spill food or drink on a book, or leave a book carelessly in an inappropriate place ……..little eyes are watching.

Please leave a comment and share how you help children, or adults, value and appreciate books!