#ESOL Stories

#ESOLStories has been one of my favourite collaborations between the library service and the ESOL department.

National Storytelling Week

A lecturer from ESOL, Seima, approached the library with some ideas around National Storytelling Week for the 16-18 students, and I was keen to promote the Graded Readers collection. We pooled all our thoughts together… I’d go to the classes taking a selection of readers to inspire the students by discussing genres, beginnings and endings, characters, book jackets and blurbs. ESOL tutors then asked their classes to create various pieces around storytelling including online storyboards, reviews, stories and poems. Some students had a set of images to play around with and create a plot. We would display the reviews and storyboards in the library, on display stands and noticeboards. Even better, all the stories and poems would be collated into a book which would be ‘published’ by the library and added to the collection for future students to read and be inspired by.

Using LibGuides as online publisher

It all got a bit more interesting when my colleague overheard our discussion.

David’s idea to use LibGuides as an online publisher for all the stories and poems gave them a much wider audience, and enabled us to run a competition for the best story. Voting could take place online, in class or from home using phones or laptops, and students could also showcase their work to friends and family who could also take part in the voting.

We decided not to tell the students about the website until all the work was submitted. Four classes took part in the competition – two from Entry 2, one from Entry 3 and one Level 1 group.

I quietly created a LibGuide site called #ESOLStories where I put up details of the competition and then uploaded each story to the site, converting the word documents to PDF. I also changed the name of each file to the story title. I added a Google Forms ballot which would be easy for students to use, and give me a real time overview of how many votes were coming in.

Student reaction

I was then invited back to the classes. We were looking forward to telling the students about the competition, the prizes, and reveal the website. We knew they would be excited about being published online, but we also needed to get each student’s permission allowing their story to be displayed on the public site. I think I can safely say that they were all pretty happy with the result!

Students were then given about 6 weeks to read the stories, vote, and promote the competition. Seima was interviewed by the college marketing team, while the library promoted the competition via Twitter, Instagram, and our Library Online site. Some of the student comments were really lovely.

It was impressive. A page like that need a lot of time to make and I’m sure she put a lot offer in to it so well done.

It was fantastic and the Bradford college is helped us also published the stories for us. I was very excited to see my story on the website. Bradford College is excellent also the page the made for our stories was amazing.

The page was really nice designed I didn’t expect is from her, I thought is from some guys designers. I read my story and I laughed again.

Student comments May 2020

The results…

The site received nearly 600 votes and well over a thousand hits. We are so pleased with the results, and hope to do something similar next year. Once we received all the votes, I published the winners on the #ESOLStories site.

One unforeseen event was the lockdown following the spread of covid-19. Some of the voting, and the announcement of the results, has had to happen remotely. We are sad not to present the prizes to the students in person, but it is great to know that our students can access their work at any time through this online resource.

Creating virtual exhibition space using LibGuides

Libraries as exhibition spaces

Libraries have always created physical displays of their collections, to promote resources and engage users. Bradford College Library uses book displays, noticeboards, signs and posters to encourage library users to pick up a book, flick through a magazine or try a new database.

Since the development of web technologies, we have also created virtual displays -curating galleries of book jackets on the library catalogue, tweeting photos and grouping together online databases to support national and local events and celebrations. More recently, our library has been encouraging users to contribute. Student reviews are displayed along with the books; we tie in our displays to student activities such as the climate change protests; and library users are encouraged to post pictures of themselves with the different collections onto our Instagram pages.

ESOL Students under lockdown

The ESOL classes in Bradford College are creative places. Enter any classroom and students are busy writing poems, creating Animoto videos, discussing current topics, reading stories, acting out plays. They organise talent shows, bake cakes for charities, go on trips, attend concerts. Students are encouraged to use the library – particularly the Graded Readers collection, but also textbooks, workbooks and dictionaries. Students take part in reading campaigns such as the Big Read, write reviews, and book discussions. Under lockdown, teaching staff wanted to maintain this energy while asking students to explore their own experience during this strange time. As Seima, a lecturer in ESOL, explained:

During these difficult times, we as ESOL lecturers realise the importance of continuing with our online teaching and learning, using a variety of remote learning tools. It is vital to engage and challenge our ESOL learners in their work; empower them to become autonomous learners; foster remote learning skills; harness the skills of all learners; and keep them motivated during lockdown“.

Capturing authentic voices

ESOL tutors asked their students to continue writing, reading and using IT. Students contributed to blogs, padlets, prezis. Some students created professional looking recipes using free applications, or wrote their own newsletter – learning skills such as report writing and design. However, the students were also going for walks, cooking, taking photos, drawing, recording videos, and making crafts. We wanted to capture all these activities to gain an authentic picture of how each student was experiencing lockdown. Seima and I discussed how to bring everything together into one place, to showcase not only the different experiences of each student, but also the variety of media that they had chosen to use to tell their stories.

Introducing LibGuides

LibGuides is a content management system designed specifically for libraries to organise and make accessible relevant resources for a subject or course. LibGuides can be easily created and updated, and URLs can be renamed to make them memorable. For example, our ESOL libguide is called library.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/esolhelp. Librarians use LibGuides to guide students in using library resources, which can include contact details, images, video, links, search boxes, galleries of book covers with direct links to the catalogue, helpguides and so on. However, we have started to realise the potential of LibGuides to act as a showcase for student work – not only collaborating with teaching staff, but also with students.

Creating a virtual exhibition space

The Inspired By ESOL showcase we have created is as exciting as any exhibition that could have been displayed in the library. LibGuides allows us to create moving galleries of images and recipe cards, embed the blog, Padlet and Prezi into the page, listen to mp4s and read diaries saved as PDFs. Students feel proud to have their work on display publicly – the pages are open to anyone who wants to view them. The page is vibrant, colourful, interesting and interactive. Galleries of images move on a carousel, and you can scroll down through the padlets or flick through the prezis without leaving the page. The project is already catching people’s attention. It’s been reported in the college news , will be shortly mentioned in the NATECLA newsletter, and is soon to be discussed in a JISC podcast.

The ESOL team and the Library have already collaborated on a number of projects . This use of LibGuides opens up a lot more possibilities!