Alternative Teaching Aids · Alternative Teaching Methods · Google Hangout · Ways to Inspire Reading

4 ways we used technology to enhance our library programmes

Schools’ Library Service in Guernsey, as with many library services across the world, are always looking at how we can use innovative ideas to enhance schools library use. Over the years we have tried many things and want to share some of the activities that worked best for us.

Google Hangouts

  1. Book groups and book sharing


Back in 2013 we used a Google Hangouts connect students from our book groups with students in Canada.  Every year a group of students from Notre Dame Primary, along with other schools in Guernsey, would shadow the Greenaway awards. Through a conversation on one of our social media accounts with Pippa Davis, a librarian in Canada, about the importance sharing books with children was, we arranged to try and share books internationally.

We discovered that the Canadian Chocolate Lily awards ran at the same time as our Greenaway awards.  We decided to follow both awards and set all the students up on a blog Team book reviews to share their thoughts and idea about these books.  This event finished with a Google Hangout where the students could talk to each other about the books. In order to organise it with the time difference we had to invite our students back to school at 6pm. They were so excited! The impact that this event had on the students and ourselves was immense.  The engagement and collaboration of our students to learning about other cultures and taking responsibility for writing and responding was something we will not forget.

Canadian Students                           Guernsey Students


This year we attempted to share a story book with two year 1 classes at Castle Primary in Guernsey with two Grade 1 Class in Hot Springs, Arkansas with a teacher librarian Tammy Catlett (@TammyMatlockCat) . We had made a connection through teacher librarian, Stony Evans (@stony12270) again through the wonders of social media.

As it was difficult for Arkansas to get hold of the agreed book we videoed ourselves reading This book just ate my dog! by Richard Byrne and sent it to the students. We arranged to go into our local classes and share the story and work with the children to engage them to think of some good questions to ask the other class.  We had to manage the time difference again which was slightly easier this time as 8am their time was 2pm our time which meant that we could do this within school hours. Before connecting on the day we reminded the children of the story with another read through and then set up the hangout. The children were very excited to see each other and asked their questions beautifully. They were also very happy to chat to each other for a few minutes at the end.

The aim of this was to show the teachers that the technology would work and give them experience of working collaboratively with the library service. As you can see from the photo below there was a large amount of interaction and eagerness to take part.

yr 1 Hot Springs


  1. Mystery Hangouts


After reading a blog post by Stony Evans about mystery skypes/hangouts. There was soon a plan to try our first ever international mystery hangout.  We ended up with an amazing collaboration between St Annes in Alderney and Lakeside School, Arkansas. Students had to try and work out where each other were in the world before the other school could guess where they are. Students could only ask questions that could only be answered with yes or no. This was a fun and engaging activity that raised the bar in so many ways. Student learnt many skills including map reading, asking good questions, communication and collaboration alongside a fun and exciting activity.   We have since had yet another hangout with these two schools which is keeping the special collaboration alive.

Elizabeth (top right)  joining in the mystery package  hangout. She was in our offices in Guernsey talking to Alderney and Arkansas.

Arkansas and Wisconsin

We also did a simultaneous session with two yr 5 classes at Castel Primary who wanted to try a mystery hangout. One class linked with Arkansas and the other Wisconsin. This session was different from the yr 9 class as students were younger so thinking of questions and replying was harder. The teachers were fully engaged and enjoyed practicing the session with their children first and teaching them how to use Google maps.  It was rather frantic but everyone enjoyed their sessions and the teachers were happy with the learning outcomes.

The students were fully engaged in this session as can be seen in these pictures.

  1. Questioning experts




Whilst planning with teachers at Les Beaucamps High earlier this year one of our librarians realised that there was an opportunity to work with the English department as they were looking at non-fiction texts and looking specifically at advertising. Elizabeth’s  approached her brother, Des Bateman, who leads the business development team at Mindshare to ask if he would be prepared to talk to and answer the questions of a group of yr 9 students. When he agreed a time was organised and the students began to think about the kind of questions they would like to ask. On the day each students was given the opportunity to ask one question so they had to make sure that they were listening to what has already been asked and also decide which of their questions they would like to ask.

This is the feedback from that session from the students.

The interview was definitely a good call I found, everyone had their chance to ask a valid question and in turn received a valid answer. To hear every student’s different levels of interest in the topic was very interesting, from the varied questions it was easy to tell who in the class was genuinely inclined to learn more, the pleasant thing is that almost everybody was deeply interested and inspired after the lesson, and for the few that weren’t they said nothing bad about the interview.

Personally, I found it incredibly fascinating to find out about the encounters in advertisement and I also think it was a very refreshing experience having a working adult explaining how team work tends to go wrong and how you are always going to have a slacker in the group. Many times I have realized the same thing, although when I have told someone that is what is going to happen all the time they wouldn’t always grasp that fact, so I am extremely pleased that point was raised as the class seemed to take it into consideration.

Alongside the lesson being educational, it was also increasingly enjoyable, I must say, in relating to many things that were said I found a certain humour that I don’t usually have the opportunity to think of.

Overall, the lesson was positively brilliant and really brought the highs and lows of business and marketing. I would recommend an experience such as this to other classes, years, schools etc.


Again whilst planning with teachers at Castel Primary on an Indian project. Elizabeth had agreed to work collaboratively with the teachers running 3 sessions on using the library catalogue, using online resources and creating a good question.  Elizabeth suggested the idea of a Google hangout with someone from India. The teachers liked the idea and so Elizabeth approached her soon to be daughter-in-law, Irene Arputharaj  who is a PhD student in Durham and was born in India to ask if she would be prepared to talk and answer the questions of a group of yr 4 students. Following on from the lesson about creating a good question the children set about thinking about the questions they could ask Irene. The outcomes of these sessions were not obvious when they were first suggested as we were just looking for the wow factor. Very interestingly a far better outcome was observed which was the understanding of what makes a good question. The yr 4 teachers were delighted with the session as it inspired one of the boys to write his project on a sport from india called Kabbadi.  Prior to talking to Irene he had not been engaged in the project and ended up producing something quite unexpected. The other children really engaged in the session and asked some really good questions too.  

And finally

  1. International CPD sessions

The final Google hangout we would like to share is the opportunity to take part in a shared librarians CPD session. We were invited to join in an event via Google to talk about how we set up or mystery hangouts and to find out what others were doing across the world. Stony Evans has written this blog post about our experience.


Elizabeth talking from Guernsey to teacher librarians in Arkansas.

There are lots of ways to bring interesting people into your classrooms through Google hangouts. Teachers do not always have the time to set these sessions up or feel completely confident with the technology so it is important that we support teachers and students this way. This not only expands our schools horizons but also enables us to make interesting connections around the world. The role of the librarian in a school is very varied and is not confined to the walls of the school. We share books, teach research skills and make connections with people who help our students become more interested in the world around us whilst supporting independent learning.

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