SciShow Kids – Worms are Wonderful

SciShow Kids is a spin off of an adult science video series SciShow created by Hank Green; one half of the popular Youtube group VlogBrothers (Wikipedia, 2016). It is hard to define what kind of digital literature this is and could be considered a controversial choice, depending on your definition of digital literature. However, it still hosts an example of text features such as diagrams, a clear information report (if auditory rather than written) structure and connected websites. I could classify this as transmedia/hyperlink text. For this assessment I will be focusing on the ‘Worms are Wonderful’ (2015) video and its connected hyperlinks (BioKIDS, 2016; Journey North, 2016; Animal Corner, 2016).

There are many positive aspects to this text. To begin with the content is superbly produced in a clear and engaging manner, using excited tone, clear diagrams and animations, continuity with other videos and well supported referenced material. The video hits its target audience, infants and primary students, with the right amount of enthusiasm and humor while still maintaining clearly delivered information. Although this is an American produced resource it has strong links with the Australian curriculum (ACARA, 2016). Positively, the series is free and accessible worldwide, though asks for support through their Patreon account.

The attached websites to the video, both used as references and avenues for further information. Provide some interactive features such as definitions of difficult words when clicked and hyperlinks to further information. They are an excellent resource for students to continue to explore information about the topic. (BioKIDS, 2016; Journey North, 2016; Animal Corner, 2016)

Negatively the singular video is a one hit wonder, watching it more than once would become tedious to most students, excepting revision. Although the hyperlinks provided are an avenue for further investigation and reading younger students would struggle to find their way to them, as they are not easily accessible on all platforms (particularly Ipods). Another negative is the lack of interaction, although with Youtube comments a discussion can occur below the video it is not a particularly school friendly resource in that regard. However, the video does encourage students to interact with the web series by emailing in their own suggestions for future videos, which would be a good discussion starter in the classroom.

This is not a resource that pushes the boundaries of digital literature but rather a good example of where digital literature developed from and a resource that could easily be incorporated into a larger transmedia website, something I personally would love SciShow to do. It still exhibits clear text features and is built in the digital environment. It is designed for use with an adult and as a result would be a little difficult for younger students to navigate on his or her own. It is a resource that students themselves could explore making on a similar topic and integrate into a larger assessment or unit of work.

To conclude, though this resource is controversial (see critical reflection), it is a good example of simple but effective digital literature. It is engaging, simple and aligned with the curriculum.

3/5 Stars

References

Animal Corner. (2016). Worms. Retrieved from https://animalcorner.co.uk/animals/worms/

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). Science Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/science/curriculum/f-10?layout=1#level5

BioKIDS. (2016). Oligochaeta. Retrieved from http://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Oligochaeta/

Journey North. (2016). Earth worms FAQ. Retrieved from https://www.learner.org/jnorth/search/WormNotes3.html

SciShow Kids. (2015). Worms are wonderful. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-zc_1vjLnI&list=PLw2cuKNQvZ2d9b3Wqhu32dkjX28qokaiA&index=26

Wikipedia. (2016, July 4). SciShow. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SciShow

ABC Splash – Solar System and Space Exploration

ABC splash is a remarkable website that provides high quality educational resources for Australian schools and the public. One of its resources is a range of ‘digibooks’. For this assignment I will be focusing on the ‘digibook’ ‘Solar system and space exploration’ (Australian Broadcasting Corporation [ABC] Splash, 2012) and its associated website ‘Voyage to the planets’ (ABC, 2010). The resource is non-fiction and provides information on the Milky Way through a series of video and interactive media. Despite the ABC giving this resource the title of ‘digibook’ it really fits into two categories. The initial webpage is designed as an enhanced e-book, however the integrated website is a transmedia resource due to its use of a wide range of media (Lamb & Johnson, 2010) including, video, podcasts and interactive animation.

The quality of the content is exceptional, it is engaging through videos and the wording is simple enough for most upper primary students to understand. For school users the information is up to date and detailed enough to peak the interest of the students. It is designed by an Australian website for Australian schools and therefore has strong links to the Australian science curriculum (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2016).

In my opinion most of the digital content is a positive feature. It only adds to engagement and information as opposed to printed media. The inclusion of text means that what the student does not pick up in videos can be read over again. However, in the ‘digibook’ itself the text is quite small and the layout, with the text to the side, does make it difficult to read at times. The fact that this is an interactive book on a website means that it can be used across any platform with a web browser. Finally, the links within the text and the attached website are easy to use with a simple touch or click, meaning that students can freely explore on their own without too much guidance. A real highlight is the digital guidebook provided on the website. It offers a variety of ways for students to explore planets with information ranging from weather to your standard how big it is and how far away it is while all in a humorous manner.

One of the highlights of this text is that there is so much information presented in an engaging manner. It is a text that could be explored over a number of lessons and in students own time. Students could even create their own ‘digibook’ by copying the simple format of this resource, therefore exploring the online text features. Splash (ABC Splash, 2016) itself has recreated the formats on a range of other topics.

There are some negatives to this resource. The first being that there is no real opportunity to give feedback easily, though you can contact the creators if so required. Secondly there is no built in intrinsic motivation for students beyond their own interest and passion for learning. This could be because the resource is aimed at upper primary where intrinsic motivation is not as important. Finally the videos attached to this website are only available in Australia this is a huge negative for a teacher like myself who works overseas, however it does not make the other interactive elements any less useful in the classroom.

To conclude, this text is one that could easily be used in Australian classrooms. Although this resource is not on the cutting edge of digital literature it is a solid example that is clear to understand and simple to use in an every day context. It is interactive, engaging and a format that can easily be reproduced.

4/5 Stars

References

ABC Splash. (2012). Solar system and space exploration. Retrieved from http://splash.abc.net.au/home#!/digibook/618096/solar-system-and-space-exploration

ABC Splash. (2016). Resources – all Digibooks. Retrieved from http://splash.abc.net.au/home#!/resources/-/all/all/digibook

ABC. (2010). Voyage of the planets. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/tv/voyage/default.htm

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]. (2016). Science Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/science/curriculum/f-10?layout=1#level5

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2010). Divergent Convergence Part 1: Cross-Genre, Multi-platform, Transmedia Experiences in School Libraries. Teacher Librarian37(5), 76-81.  Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/609449034?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo

 

ETL401 – Assessment 1

Reflecting on your experiences as a teacher, write a 500-word piece about your understandings of the role of the teacher librarian in schools.

What do I think the role of a teacher librarian is?

                        Miracle Worker and Jack of all trades

In my experience teacher librarians have so many roles that vary slightly in each school and each circumstance that it is often hard to identify exactly what the role of a teacher librarian is because it covers such a large array of jobs that combine so many different aspects of the educational system.

Firstly, teacher librarians (TL) are information service managers. Australian professional standards clearly define TL’s as information specialists placed in schools to educate students about information literacies. They also educate teachers on how to best utilise resources available to the school both online and physical present (ASLA, 2014). As a result TL’s need to have a wide and varied knowledge of their resources and most importantly know where to find out information if they themselves do not know it immediately (Purcell, 2010).

Secondly, they are a creative force. Teacher librarians need to be constantly challenging themselves to find creative ways to encourage lifelong learning and a love of reading in children. They need to creatively link resources together for teachers and students. They need to be creative about the environment they provide for students to study, relax and work in. (McMeekin, 2013)

Thirdly, they are a learner and leader. TL’s need to be always learning about new technologies and resources in todays complex multimodal environment. Libraries are no longer just books they encompass the online environment and often include resources beyond books that students can borrow e.g. musical instruments, laptops, video cameras. They are leaders and teachers because we need to be teaching and sharing this information with our colleagues and encouraging them to do the same for their classroom environment. This can take the form of mentoring, running classes or just chatting to other staff and building professional relationships. (Lamb, 2011 & Valenza, 2010)

Finally I believe that teacher librarians need to be community outreach advocates. By this I mean that teacher librarians often have a unique ability to run after school clubs, to meet and share with parents and to build community partnerships. These can be beneficial for the students to learn outside the classroom and to encourage parents and community members to get involved in there local area. (Brown, 2010)

References

Australian School Library Association [ASLA]. (2014). What is a teacher librarian?. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/what-is-a-teacher-librarian.aspx

Brown, J. (2010). Community outreach in school libraries. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/ilyhwqahpmzc/community-outreach-in-school-libraries/

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialists palette. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55, 27-36. DOI: 10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3

McMeekin, M. (2013). 27 Things your teacher librarian does. Retrieved from https://anethicalisland.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/27-things-your-teacher-librarian-does/

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books, right? A look at the roles of a school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29, 30-33. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?sid=1494c574-6d79-4540-824d-947a33aec09e%40sessionmgr106&vid=0&hid=123&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=eric&AN=EJ907292

Valenza, J. (2010, December 3). A revised manifesto [blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

INF533 – Initial thoughts…

Assessment 1

Using your readings and interaction with the subject to date, develop a statement about your current knowledge and understanding of concepts and practices in digital literature environments, tools and uses, within the context of your work or professional circumstances

Before beginning this subject I knew that I did not have a firm grasp of what digital literature environments were beyond what I know as a 24 year old computer literate adult. That is ebooks, websites, computer programs, apps… and a strong sense of the overwhelming nature of technology in todays society.

To begin with my current knowledge is very limited to what I have experienced as a student, what I have used in the classroom and what I use in my everyday life to unwind and explore personal interests. I know how to use a blog, I know how to play around with Scratch, I know how to download ebooks and apps; but unfortunately in my professional experiences I have had very limited use of technology within the classroom. Most schools I have worked in have struggled with technology because of outdated resources (old computers, broken Ipads, an ageing staff without a ‘techy’ etc.), and like most teachers I’ve had to work with what we’ve got and make the best of it. However, I have have had the good fortune to have gone through university where training in using smartboards, web 2.0 and a variety of other technologies were explored during my studies.

While reading the initial first module of this subject I’ve been challenged to think more deeply about some of the concepts surrounding digital literature environments, things to be honest I haven’t thought about since I was last studying at university. For example, how literacy is shifting from a linear book and knowledge imparting resources to a deictic or ever-changing multimodal environment (Leu, D.J. et al, 2011). I’ve been reminded of how linked inquiry learning is to technology (The agenda with Steve Paikin, 2013). I’ve been reminded of the importance of teaching online comprehension as much as book comprehension as they require different skills (The agenda with Steve Paikin, 2013). Finally I’ve been challenged to think about what digital literacy environments mean for creativity in classrooms (The agenda with Steve Paikin, 2013) which always reminds me of the Ted talk by Sir Ken Robinson. (Ted, 2007). For a new technology rich future we need to be teaching the future of the human race how to identify important questions, locate information, evaluate information, synthesize and communicate within the online environment (Leu, D.J. et al, 2011). 

Technologies tools and uses in school environments is constantly shifting as new technology is developed. As apple has trademarked “There’s an app for that” (Gross, D, 2010) and if there isn’t already I am sure there soon will be. Personally I have used some of these technologies to research, to create, for enjoyment and for social collaboration within the classroom and I look forward to discovering new ways to do so and how to better use these tools within my own practice and the context of being a teacher librarian.

Finally, my biggest take home idea so far is that technology is a tool that is changing the way we think and develop ideas. It is powerful and scary but it is something worth learning to use and something worth teaching so that our students can have the best chance at fulfilling their potential as 21st century learners.

References

Gross, D. (2010). Apple Trademarks ‘There’s an app for that’. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/mobile/10/12/app.for.that/ 

Leu, D.J. et al. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1)5-14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

TED. (2007, January 6). Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson TED. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/iG9CE55wbtY 

The agenda with Steve Paikin. (2013, October 4). Learning 2030: From books to scree. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/215NPpHsQPk 

My initial thoughts on “What is a teacher librarians role?”

What teacher librarians do is a hard question to answer because they do so much. In the lead up to beginning my training as a teacher librarian I had to think about the role and whether it was something I would want to commit to. For most of my life I’ve been surrounded by teacher librarians as my mother took on the role while I was in primary school. I also know quite a few people now undertaking training in librarian roles. It seems all of a sudden everyone wants to be a teacher librarian.

So what do they do? What is there purpose in the school?

Well… for the record here is what I think now:

  1. to inspire
  2. to develop research skills
  3. to support teachers
  4. to develop resources within the school
  5. sometimes the technology guru
  6. literacy specialist

In coming weeks Im sure that my ideas will change and develop. These are just my initial thoughts thrown out into the cosmos and are still very vague. How do I go about doing all these things? How dod I develop these skills? How will they change over the years? I have a lot of questions and I look forward to investigating all these thoughts buzzing around in my head.