December 19

Professional Reflective Portfolio

My Personal Philosophy

An effective teacher librarian (TL) is intrinsically motivated to provide an information-rich environment that supports lifelong learning, community and diversity. They have an enthusiasm for learning and are committed to fostering and maintaining professional relationships with students and colleagues. A TL embraces change, understands that education needs to be flexible and ensures that the library they oversee reflects this. An effective TL leads from the middle, fostering and facilitating information processing skills, professional development and information literacy in all its forms. They are professional in all their dealings, are avid supporters of their school and are committed to assisting others.


My love of reading inspired me to apply for a casual position in a school library while also undertaking casual relief teaching. My first project was to oversee the move to generfying the fiction collection at both campuses. I thoroughly enjoyed this process, collaborating with staff and students to ensure a system that worked for all. This project awoke my interest in pursuing a career as a teacher-librarian (TL).

Consequently, I was offered a position as a teacher-librarian in the same school—a year after which I began my studies with Charles Sturt University. Last week I signed a 12-month contract heading up the library.

The evolving role of the Teacher Librarian

I am fortunate to be in a position to say that my drive and determination are the only limits to my role as a TL. The school where I am employed in values libraries and teacher librarians. From the beginnings of my journey in ETL401 when I saw the role as one of caretaker to today, where I believe the TL is essential to the smooth operation of a school (Taylor, 2019a, para. 1). My understanding of a TLs role has evolved significantly and what can be achieved in that role to benefit students fills me with excitement.

ETL401 highlighted for me the impact a TL can have on the overall literacy and wellbeing of the students (Taylor, 2019a, para. 2). According to a study, NAPLAN results are higher at schools that employ a TL (Hughes, Bozorgian, Allan, & Dicinoski, 2013). TLs can provide the skills students need to be digital literate, teach them information literacy, inform a love of reading and offer a safe and enriching environment. I have been working on the roll-out of a junior school reading program. Ability is measured, texts chosen at ability level, comprehension quizzes are taken, and data is evaluated and aligned to the curriculum outcomes. Intervention and extension programs can then be put in place. It is hoped that by targeting reading, literacy outcomes will increase school-wide.

Student diagnostic report

(School-based affirmation from the year 7 English teachers in response to my help with the reading program)

ETL504 then supported and expanded my viewpoint considerably. When a TL can work collaboratively across the faculties, they can assist in providing a school environment that supports students’ needs by supporting teachers. The first step I learned was the establishing of good relationships with colleagues and framing their perception of the role of a TL (Taylor, 2019g, para. 1). I consider it good practice to informally touch base with at least one teacher a day to discuss what they are currently working on in class and share with them the services the library could provide to assist them.  As Bishop (2011) suggests, showing an intrinsic interest in what teachers are teaching is beneficial to building effective teams throughout the school.

Email from Humanities

(Email chain from a Humanities teachers in response to assistance given in planning a collaborative lesson.)

Recently a science teacher who was looking to teach her students correct APA referencing asked if I was a ‘teacher, teacher’. She was trying to determine if I could teach a class without supervision. I was a little surprised by the question but realised quickly that I had further work to do in building relationships with my colleagues. As Bishop (2011) highlights, a school librarian needs to assume a leadership role in informing others about their role. It is an ongoing job.

As I enter a new stage, that of Head of Library, I am contemplating how ETL504 shaped my perceptions of the role of a TL as a leader within the school. To quote John C. Maxwell from my blog reflection of the time, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”, (Taylor, 2019e, para. 2). While I still currently agree with this quote, it has developed significantly. Today I find that I lean more towards quiet leadership or leading from the middle (Gottlieb, 2012). A TL, even without a leadership position, can identify areas that need attention, such as professional development and information literacy (Taylor, 2019f, para. 2). Leading from the middle allows me to be a quiet force of change, to see myself and others rise to their potential (Gottlieb, 2012). In my new role, I will oversee three staff members. I have no desire to ‘lead’ them in the traditional sense; instead, I want to guide them to be the best they can be for themselves and their role in the school community.

As the role of a TL evolves in my mind, I realise I will wear many hats for many different occasions. There is no simple role description for a TL. This I know all too well as I am currently trying to undertake this task – a role description for both a TL and the Head of Library position at my school. The Australian School Library Association [ASLA] includes a useful description to start with (ASLA, 2019). The TL is a curriculum leader, working with senior staff to create a shared vision for information literacy for the school; an information specialist, providing access and assistance to information resources; and a service manager; ensuring the day to day procedures of running a library are running efficiently. To add to this, a TL is a collaborator with colleagues, a collegial member of the TL community, and a wellbeing facilitator.


Throughout my studies, one area that stood out quite significantly for me was the benefits of a good collection development policy. Though contentiously my head of library and another TL, I worked with disagreed (Taylor, 2019d, para. 4). They had previously had a collection development policy that had only ever gathered dust. They no longer saw the value in the document. I was told that it was unnecessary as we all know what we need to do with the collection already, no need to write it down. This was in opposition to what I was learning about a policies usefulness in my studies.

It was ETL503 that brought collection development policies to my attention, to begin with. After reading the Reading Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management by Johnson and Selecting Resources for Learning by Hughes-Hassell and Mancall, I was surprised that a document like this wasn’t utilised in our library (2018; 2005). I question in my blog how could I possibly make a well-considered, relevant purchase that would be a good investment for the users of my library without such a document to guide me (Taylor, 2019d, para. 2)? I do acknowledge that the current library staff do know what to do with the collection, but this fact is changing. The recent retirement of the head of library illustrates this change along with the collective age of library technicians. It was apparent to me that a document should be put together utilising our current staff’s knowledge so that future staff can use these same practices.

Reflecting on ETL503 in my blog, I stated my plan to complete a policy to draft form and share it with the head of library to garner her thoughts (Taylor, 2019d, para. 5). This I have now completed. The draft collection development policy has been seen and edited by both the other TL and the outgoing head of library. Moving forward in my new role will see me share this document with library staff and see its use in our day to day dealings to test its usability and guide the drafting process until it is a reliable working document.

Two further documents complimenting the collection development policy uncovered while studying ETL503 was a procedures guide and selection criteria policy. Both of which our school library does not have. A situation I am longing to change. I realise there is a lot of areas I don’t have full knowledge of moving into my new role. Purchasing is one of those areas. While we currently employ an acquisitions officer and the outgoing head of library has in the past trusted his judgement when it came to purchasing, I would like to have an overview of how he makes his selections to guide my own (Taylor, 2019c).

According to Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005), a library should be following a selection criteria to ensure whoever is making the suggestions, has a clear picture of the curriculum and the units being covered in the academic year. As one of my goals for my new position is to work more closely with teachers to align our collection with the curriculum, I will be looking to make many new additions. Therefore I will need a solid selection criteria policy to guide me. I realise how far I have come in the past two years looking back on my blog post Fiction vs non-fiction where I reflect that I am happy and feel fortunate to be able to make purchasing suggestions (Taylor, 2019b). I no longer want to make suggestions; I want to make smart, well throughout, considered purchases that will benefit the students academically and otherwise.

Moving forward, I plan to alter the general selection criteria table I adapted and used for my first assessment piece for ETL503, from the Hughes-Hassell and Mancall model (2005). It was straight forward to follow and makes sense to me to continue to employ that model though adapted for our school library situation. To properly support the selection criteria and collection development policy, I need to compile a procedures document. New staff coming into the library should not be left wondering how to do their job, as I was when I started (Taylor, 2019c, para. 1). As stated by Johnson (2018, p.50) new librarians, even those with experience would benefit from a policies and procedures manual.

Various procedures in our library have been documented in the past though in a rather haphazard manner. The individual files were all stored in different locations depending on what area of the library the procedure belonged. I aimed to gather and update all the existing procedures and have the library technician’s document, photograph and video the missing procedures with the result being a single electronic working document that would be easy to navigate and utilise when required.

Remote learning gave me this opportunity. The head of library went on long service leave, and I was designated in her place. Without the day to day work with the students, the library staff had more time to compile and document their procedures, uploading them for me to edit and refine. While this task is ongoing and may take some time to complete to a satisfactory standard, I believe it’s a task worth completing.

Digital literacy

Surprisingly, given my choice of career, I love to read, and I will read across the genres and on multiple platforms; print and digital, sometimes simultaneously (Taylor, 2020a, para. 1). While our library has not yet included digital fiction in our collection, we utilise interactive digital textbooks. So I was very excited to undertake the elective INF533 Literature in digital environments as part of my studies and expand my knowledge of digital literature in all its forms, not just eBooks. I began the unit concerned about the quality of digital resources I had previously been exposed too, and that I needed to learn to locate and curate quality resources for my students. Leu, Forzani, Timbrell & Maykel’s (2015) comment that the online environment is a forest filled with new literacy ‘trees’ and it is up to teachers to ensure the right trees are chosen, struck home for me. I need a solid understanding before I can recommend these resources, and so began my exploration of online digital literacy.

Conducting the digital literature reviews was a valuable exercise in beginning to build my knowledge. I located three vastly different resources, an interactive graphic novel, a digital poem and a digital touch book. The process of reviewing them saw me take into consideration the story, its readability, the animation and special effects, use in the classroom and links to the curriculum. Giving me an overall picture of the resource and its usefulness in a school setting. I was beginning to learn how to find the right ‘trees’. Following this assessment, I continued to search and uncover digital resources to fit curriculum needs. A particular request from a history teacher saw me locate and review SBS’s interactive graphic novel ‘The Boat’. I was able to provide her with the review and link, so she was able to integrate it into her unit of work on the Vietnam War.

With my new-found knowledge, I sat down to my next assessment piece, producing an interactive digital story of my own. As I also teach a year 9 English class who were undertaking the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe at the time, I decided to channel my project in that direction to ensure its relevance. After extensive research, I decided on the use of Microsoft’s platform Sway to produce my story, which I combined with images and audio clips. My original plan was to give the digital version of the story to those students who had processing difficulties and language disorders. Therefore the font used was Dyslexic friendly (Taylor, 2020b, para. 4). In the end, after sharing it with the other year 9 English teachers, the digital story of Annabel Lee was given to all students. It was very timely as we had been forced into remote learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Being able to provide the resource for the students at home allowed the team to be more confident of the students grasping the intricacies of the poem that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible in an online environment.

(My digital story)

(School-based affirmation from the year 9 English teachers in response to using the digital story “Annabel Lee’)

My aim moving forward with my new role is to create a bank of this type of resource. Locate where possible, create when necessary. Using this type of resource with a class taught me many things, not least of all that many students have a preference for digital literature. Scharaldi, in her blog (2020) suggests that digital text provides students with the tools they need to change the format to suit their learning needs. A student can hear the words and sentences pronounced aloud if required; they can read definitions, use digital sticky notes to annotate and even change the font to suit themselves. Having a bank of these resources curated to match the curriculum would allow the teachers to cater to those students that require adjustments or if remote learning forces us to work and learn from home again, the ability of all students to hear and interact with a text.  Digital texts can stimulate visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and tactile senses, making them an excellent resource for all students (Neumann, Finger and Neumann, 2016).

ASLA and ALIA Professional Standards

The closer I come to completing my masters as a Teacher Librarian (TL), the more I come to realise how little I know about the field. That said, I have learned a great deal. However, there is still so much to learn. When I read through the standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians, as set down by the Australian School Librarian Association [ASLA] and the Australian Library and Information Association [ALIA], I realise that I am progressing well (ASLA/ALIA, 2004). This document allows me to reflect on my development as a TL, guide my professional development and assist in my lifelong learning of this field.

Being able to put theory into practice daily has been extremely beneficial to me, and more than anywhere else, this is evident in my professional practice. The second of the ASLA/ALIA standards, professional practice is where I feel I am approaching an excellent standard for a TL. Nurturing an environment that the students feel comfortable in, where they feel supported in both their academic and social needs is of utmost importance to me. The desire to ensure my library incorporates these principals was first highlighted to me in ETL401; looking at the significant role the TL can play if they put in the effort. I have found my thinking on this closely aligns to the article ‘The library as ‘third space’ in your school’ (Korodaj, 2019). Korodaj (2019) discusses how the third space for her school, supports the whole child through holistic education, providing social and emotional support as well as information and skills to assist their future development. My library incorporates this ethos. There are quiet areas for study and reading, relaxing spaces for socialising with peers, and more vibrant areas for gameplay and exploration. I make it a priority to be around at recess and lunch for my students, chatting and getting to know them and guiding those that require it.

Guiding my future direction and professional development is the need to nurture my professional knowledge. The first of the three standards according to ASLA/ ALIA, this is the area I can identify as the one I am lacking when striving to attain excellence as a TL (ASLA/ ALIA, 2004). The standard is broken up into four sections, and I believe I am making strides in all four, yet I have some way to go. Gaining knowledge of the curriculum will be my next professional goal. I did cover this to some degree during ETL402, Literature across the curriculum where I learned the importance of ensuring the library’s resources and programs supported the curriculum. The next step here is to build that knowledge up and gain a deeper understanding of current assessment theories and processes in line with the standards (ASLA/ ALIA, 2004). Several teachers at my school are currently undertaking a Masters of Education (Assessment and Pedagogy) and conversing with them is highlighting my lack of knowledge of this area. I will be looking for professional reading centred on assessment theory, rubric development and data analysis.

I look forward to continuing my journey as a lifelong learner.


Australian School Librarian Association [ASLA] and the Australian Library and Information Association [ALIA]. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian Library and Information Association.

Australian School Library Association [ASLA]. (2019). What is a teacher librarian? Australian School Library Association.,the%20development%20of%20lifelong%20learners.

Bishop, K. (2011). Connecting libraries with classrooms: The curricular roles of the media specialist. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Gottlieb, H. (2012, October 30). Leading from the middle: Bringing out the best in everyone. Creating the future.

Hughes, H., Bozorgian, H., Allan, C., & Dicinoski, M. (2013). School libraries, teacher-librarians and their contribution to student literacy development in Gold Coast schools. Incite, 34

Hughes-Hassell, S., & Mancall, J. (2005). Selecting resources for learning. In Collection management for youth: responding to the needs of learners (pp.33-51). ProQuest Ebook Central.

Johnson, P. (2018). Planning, Policies and Budgets. Fundamentals of collection development and management (pp. 77 to 111). EBSCOhost Ebooks.

Korodaj, L. (2019). The library as ‘third space’ in your school: Supporting academic and emotional wellbeing in the school community. Scan, 38(10).;dn=971230698213342;res=IELHSS

Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Timbrell, N. & Maykel, C. (2015). Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in the primary-grade and upper elementary-grade classroom. The Reading Teacher, 69(2), 139-145.

Scharaldi, K. (2020, January 30). Five reasons why struggling readers benefit from using technology. Texthelp.

Taylor, J. (2019a, March 3). Understanding the role of a TL in schools. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2019b, April 6).(b) Fiction vs non-fiction. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2019c, April 9). Ordering policies and procedures. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2019d, May 5). Reflective practice for ETL503. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2019e, July 11). My current understanding of leadership for a TL. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2019f, August 16). A blog about a blog. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2019g, August 31). Collaboration. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2020a, July 25). Beginning INF533 Digital Literature. Jannet’s journey.

Taylor, J. (2020b, September 4). Digital Storytelling Proposal. Jannet’s journey.

September 27

Context for Digital Storytelling Project

The creation of an interactive version of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem ‘Annabel Lee’ is planned to assist in differentiating the Victorian Curriculum for level 9 English students with Specific Learning Disorders as they move from remote learning to on campus. The secondary school situated in regional Victoria has 200 year nine students enrolled, with approximately 20 students identified as having a diagnosed learning difficulty that impacts their reading. Remote Learning impacted these students significantly in term 3. Curriculum assigned texts that should have been able to be read together as a class were unable to be. As term 4 will see a return to remote learning for week one, having a text that the students can have read to them will hopefully reduce this impact.

In term 4 students in year nine will be studying poetry and in particular works by Poe. This is a follow up from Term 3 when students looked at Poe’s short stories. It was evident during this unit of work that students with Specific Learning Difficulties had trouble comprehending Poe’s original language and struggled to engage with the content. By creating a digital interactive book for the students, it is hoped they will gain a clearer understanding of the writing and therefore be able to participate fully with their peers.

Copyright of the original text was considered before the development of the poem. According to the United States (U.S) Copyright Office “[A]ll works published in the U.S. before January 1, 1923, are in the public domain” (United States Copyright Office, 2011). As Poe wrote this poem in 1849, Annabel Lee is considered to be in the public domain and therefore not subject to copyright (Law, 1922).

Researching an appropriate platform for delivering the interactive story was the next step. Adobe Spark, Loom, Book Creator and Microsoft Sway were considered and tested. Ultimately Microsoft’s Sway application was chosen to present this traditional learning activity redesigned with digital tools. The secondary school where this interactive story will be utilises the entire Microsoft suite of programs. It is an application the students and teachers are familiar with and will not require teaching on how to read this book. Familiarity played a role, as did Sway’s programming features. Sway is a cloud-based, story-telling application that is easier to use than PowerPoint and allows for more narrative devices, hyperlinks and audio features.

The interactive book will break the writing up, using a reading technique called chunking, where larger sections of text are ‘chucked’ to make the text more manageable (Facing History and Ourselves, 2020). This helps to ensure students are not overwhelmed by the number of words as well as make it easier for them to arrange and synthesise information. There will also be the option to have sections of text delivered audibly if required. Research shows that having a text read aloud helps the student develop their information processing skills, their vocabulary and comprehension (Center for Teaching, n.d.).  Also included in the interactive book will be hyperlinked to further information to assist comprehension. Links to have definitions and pronunciations along with clarification on meanings of phrases and additional images to aid connection to the setting.

Poe’s original poem has a reading score of 14, making it suitable for 19-20-year-olds—according to the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease (WebFX, 2020). While some scaffolding will be required for all students to gain comprehension, the reading age of the students with Specific Learning Disorders in level 9 is significantly lower. The cohort includes students diagnosed with Dyslexia, processing difficulties and language disorders. Hazzard (2016) states that being read to increases, the comprehension attained for students. It is anticipated that having the poem read aloud to them as many times as they choose will achieve this comprehension increase.

This interactive story compliments Level 9 of the Victorian Curriculum F-10 for English which includes the descriptor VCELT438. ‘Analyse texts from familiar and unfamiliar contexts, and discuss and evaluate their content and the appeal of an individual author’s literary style (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [VCAA], 2020).  Students will analyse Poe’s poem Annabel Lee and examine how he used devices such as imagery and symbolism and how that has an effect on audiences today. Another descriptor that will be linked to this unit is VCELA428. Investigate how evaluation can be expressed directly and indirectly using devices, including allusion, evocative vocabulary and metaphor (VCAA, 2020). Students will compare the language used in Annabel Lee to another text that uses evaluative language and how that comparison directs the views of the readers.


Center for Teaching. (n.d.). What are the benefits of reading aloud?

Facing History and Ourselves. (2020). Teaching strategies: Chunking.,students%20have%20used%20this%20strategy.

Hazzard, K. (2016). The Effects of Read Alouds on Student Comprehension. Education Masters. 351.

Law, R. (1922). A Source for Annabel Lee. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 21(2), 341-346.

United States Copyright Office. (2011). Duration of Copyright.

WebFX. (2020). Readability test tool.

VCAA. (2020). Level 9, In Victorian Curriculum Foundation-10.

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September 4

Digital Storytelling Proposal

Proposal topic:

To create a digital version of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem ‘Annabel Lee’ and differentiate the level 9 English curriculum for students with Specific Learning Disorders.

Digital tools:

The story will use Microsoft’s Sway program as a base to allow for the inclusion of text, images, hyperlinks, narration and video. From there it is hoped to use video editing software such as Filmora9 to overlay the static background with animation and music. Before exporting as a MP4 file. The aim of using a MP4 file is to allow access from home in the advent of remote learning or at school.



The digital retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem Annabel Lee is intended for students with Specific Learning Disorders in year 9 in a Victorian school. All students will be looking into Poe’s work and in particular, Annabel Lee, which has a readability score of 14—suitable for 19-20-year-olds—according to the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease (WebFX, 2020). Scaffolding of tasks is required for these students, as all have a Personal Learning Plan. Their learning needs are varied, and the cohort includes students diagnosed with Dyslexia, processing difficulties and language disorders.

The learning needs of these year nine students vary, but their approximate reading age is around 13 years, making Annabel Lee extremely difficult for them to comprehend. Research does state, that being read to increases the comprehension attained for students (Hazzard, 2016). For this reason, this digital retelling will include the text alongside optional read aloud verses and imagery. There will be links for students to select to hear the verses audibly, hyperlinks throughout for word definitions and examples and a Dyslexia friendly font of Veranda will be used, along with images to aid connection to the setting.

Several storytelling digital tools were trialled before Sway was selected for use. Microsoft’s program Sway can be viewed on multiple devices and does not require students to sign in to view the contents once shared. The program allows integration of the necessary technology for this digital storytelling, with the ability to include narration, video and hyperlinks. The school also supports the Microsoft suite of programs, and all are installed on student devices for ease of access.


Hazzard, K. (2016). The Effects of Read Alouds on Student Comprehension. Education Masters. 351.

WebFX. (2020). Readability test tool.

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August 20

Critical Reflection of Digital Literature Experiences

It is fair to say I was filled with self-assurance when beginning my digital literature experience this semester. I was confident that I had a solid understanding of what a digital text was and its applied benefits in the field of education. I began perusing links and suggestions before discovering a wealth of various forms of digital literature, some that I struggled to comprehend and others that blew me away with their creativity and coding. It appears I had drastically underestimated my knowledge. Lamb’s (2011) definition of what constitutes a book assisted in my development, with a book being defined as ‘a published collection of related pages or screens’. With that definition and contemplating Walsh’s (2013) features of digital narratives, especially his point on ‘scrolling or ‘mouseover’ effects, I began to grasp how much scope was possible.

What stood out dramatically was the range in the quality of these digital texts. Students need to be engaged with their reading material if the quality of the writing is not evident; it will not matter if the version is digital with all the bells and whistles if the content is substandard. I love to read hard copy novels, the scent of the paper, the sound of turning pages, holding something substantial in my hands. That said, however, I read mostly in digital. Digital literature usually is cheaper, easier to access and are convenient to carry around. I like highlighting and accessing hyperlinks, and it is practical to jump from what is being read to researching words or definitions in another screen. I cannot imagine giving a hard copy away for good, but both have their place.


The cognitive research conducted by Gardner (as cited in Lane, n.d.) suggests that students have various ways of learning, remembering and understanding, so need to be taught in ways that support these differences. These multiple intelligences align well with the benefits of digital literature. As stated by Neumann, Finger and Neumann (2016), digital texts can stimulate visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and tactile senses. At the same time, Lamb (2011) explains that eBooks benefit children with learning difficulties and English as second language learners. Digital text provides learners with the ability to hear words and sentences pronounced out loud, read definitions, use digital sticky notes to annotate that display inferencing and analysis and as suggested by Scharaldi (2020) even change the font of the text to one such as Open Dyslexic typeface.

While discovering the diverse range of digital literature available, I came across a number that amazed me for their beauty, depth of story and integrated technology. The one that surprised me the most was Core Values, a digital poem written by Benjamin Laird (2017). This poem surrounds you, incorporates you into it and draws you into another world. The words to this poem scroll across your vision, ensuring that your gaze follows its movements. However, this piece raised in me a concern. It was hard to read; for all its attraction, it was challenging to follow. I realised that Core Values had a readability issue.  Bouchardon and Heckman (2012) believe that digital literature can present several problems, including readability, they suggest that hypertextual navigation contributes to disorientation and compromises the reading. This is significant and should be kept in mind by educators, a poem such as Core Values could be used in a senior classroom as a comparison piece. Still, the difficulty in reading should be highlighted as a potential issue.  

Ascent from Akeron does not have a readability this issue. There is an ease to reading it that differs substantially to Core Values. This interactive graphic novel, written by William Maher releases a frame only when clicked or mouseover’ed by the reader (Maher, 2019). This feature ensures that the reader is in complete control of the events unfolding and that they can read at a pace that suits them. Applications for this piece in the classroom are vast. I could easily see a unit of work built around this graphic novel for use in a year 9 or 10 classes.  An introduction to graphic novel features and metalanguage would begin the unit before reading the four episodes from Ascent from Akeron. This would start a building of knowledge that would include annotating frames, discussing literary devices and analysis of language before moving onto a creative writing piece where the students would write a fifth episode in the series. A unit such as this could assist the students in achieving outcomes for the Victorian Curriculum F-10 in year 9 English in VCELA429, VCELT447, VCELT448 and VCELY450 (VCAA, 2020d).

All I know at the moment is the world of digital literature is evolving and growing rapidly, and if I want to gain back my self-assurance on all things digital, I had better keep searching and reading.



Heckman, D. & Bourchardon, S. (2012). Digital manipulability and digital literature. Electronic Book Review.

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from

Laird, B. (2017). Core values [Digital literature].

Lane, C. (n.d.). The distance learning technology resource guide.

Maher, W. (Author), & Garcia, G. (Illustrator). (2019). Ascent from Akeron [Interactive graphic novel].   

Neumann, M., Finger, G., & Neumann, D. (2016). A conceptual framework for emergent digital literacy. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45(4), 471-479. doi: 10.1007/s10643-016-0792-z   

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2020d). Victorian Curriculum: Foundation-10; English: Level 9.

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).  

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August 20

Digital Literature Review: Dunggula

Dunggula is a digital touch book based on an Aboriginal creation story about the Murray River. It is a story that has been shared orally and passed down through the generations. This interpretation was a combined effort of primary students and the Sharing Stories Foundation. Dunggula is a curious mix of images. The children’s drawings are rudimentary but capture the essence of the story perfectly. They are then animated and move across the screen. Interspersed between this are aerial images of the land. The story is simplistic in nature but in listening to it in the language of its creation gives it true power to engage the listener and reader.

The story is spoken in part in the Aboriginal language of Bangerang and partly in English. Spoken by Roland Atkinson a member of the Bangerang community (Australian Government, 2019). His uncle Sandy Atkinson was considered the custodian of the story before his passing. Keeping this ancient and vanishing language alive is of vital importance to Atkinson and that emotion is in evidence in the recording of it for Dunggula. The creating of the story has now brought a new motivation to the community with a 700-word dictionary of Bangerang language being produced. Future generations will be able to learn this historic language thanks to Dunggula.

Dunggula uses student-created artworks, animations, sound designs and drone footage in its version. It tells the story of the creation of the Murray River and the journey of Gunyuk, a wise old Bangerang woman who meets with the god Baiami, to request water for her people. Baiami, sends the rainbow serpent to make a riverbed before delivering rain that fills the Dunggula (the Murray River).

Sharing Stories, the foundation behind Dunggula, works with multiple Aboriginal communities to help children and elders record ancient creation stories in various digital formats for use in their communities (Sharing Stories, 2020). With permission from the elders, some of those stories are then utilised for educational purposes. The books they produce, combine old and new effortlessly to create something that will help preserve the rich Aboriginal history for generations to come.

The making of Dunggula saw a lovely melding of cultures in which 12 Indigenous children chose 12 non-indigenous children to partner with. The children were then taken to key sites around the Murray River and immersed in the story by elders from the community (Bock, 2020). The students used a combination of old and new including drawing and painting, Photoshop and Garage Band to produce an imaginative multidimensional story.

While rudimentary, the artworks in Dunggula appear tactile and give the impression of paper rather than of a digital media. While current research suggests that there is little difference in comprehension between paper and screens, consumer reports do state that modern devices fail to recreate the tangible experience people enjoy (Jabr, 2013). Dunggula’s textured appearance goes a long way to connect with this experience.

Dunggula has a wealth of application potential for every classroom. The Victorian curriculum English strand for year 7 includes the descriptor VCELA370 (VCAA, 2020). This content descriptor requires the students to learn to analyse how point of view is generated in visual texts, comparing choices for point of view in animations and experimenting with digital storytelling. Tasks could be built around the students listening to and reading Dunggula. Before moving on to create a digital story themselves.

There are also a number of cross-curriculum priorities that can be met utilising Dunggula. In levels 7 and 8 alone, the book when built into a unit of work could assist in helping the students achieve outcomes in Media Arts, Visual Arts, and Civics and Citizenship (VCAA, 2020c). In Visual Arts at level 7 and 8, students could explore the techniques, technologies and processes used throughout Dunggula to meet the content descriptor VCAVAE034.

A digital touch book such as Dunggula definitely closes the gap between what is a book and what is an audio-visual resource. As defined by Lamb (2011) a book is a published collection of related pages or screens. Dunggula meets that criteria but how close to the line can other books go. Readers today want books that entertain them, that allow them to be immersed in the material in a similar way they are immersed in online gaming (Larson, 2009). Dunggula does this in a highly simplistic manner. With its childlike imagery and ideas, this books is produced by children, aimed at children and will help them all to context with the topic.


Australian Government. (2019). IY2019: Primary students bring Murray River story to life. Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Bock, A. (2020). Children and elders go digital to tell ancient Indigenous stories.

Jabr, F. (2013). The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens.

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from

Larson, L.C. (2009). Digital literacies. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 53(3), 255-258.

Sharing Stories Foundation. (2020). About us. In Sharing Stories Foundation website.

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2020). Victorian Curriculum: Foundation-10; English: Level 10.

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2020c). Victorian Curriculum: Foundation-10; Cross-curriculum priorities.


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August 20

Digital Literature Review: Core Values

Core Values is a digital poem written by Benjamin Laird. The writing is displayed in a three-dimensional box which can be viewed in a browser or through a virtual reality headset. The author wrote Core Values in response to the classic Australian poem My Country by Dorothea MacKellar (2016). Core Values, shortlisted in 2018 for the QUT digital literature award, is innovative and inspiring. It has to be seen to be understood. The reader needs to fight a sense of vertigo and claustrophobia to read it in its entirety. It is definitely worth the effort.

Click image to access the poem

Laird (2017) updates the original text used by MacKellar then proceeds to cut it up before it scrolls up the screen in seemingly random order. Laird intersperses the sentences with map coordinates, GIS data and what Groth, a writer for The Writing Platform, refers to as ‘technobabble’ and dehumanising jargon (2018). The background of the three-dimensional box is made up of historical maps, giving one the optical illusion of being trapped.

Reviews of Laird’s work are sparse. Wright (2019), echoes the idea that Core Values gives the feeling of claustrophobia and believes the work is Laird’s way of critiquing Mackellar’s poem and giving the reader an Australia where one feels trapped. With its innovative ideas and compelling language, Core Values invites the reader in, not trapped but free to move about. Trying to figure out how to read it is step one and is engaging in itself (Unsworth, 2006). The constant scrolling of the text in an upwards motion, as the screen rotates, make it difficult to look away. A reader is invited to stick around and see what the next set of words might be. With sentences such as “A melanoma for a sunburnt country” as a contrast to Mackellar’s well know “I love a sunburnt country”. Laird’s version may be the updated one Australia needs.

Digital poetry such as this, integrates hypertext; computer-generated animation and coding to make the text come alive and allow readers to interact with it in ways they previously could not with concrete poetry.  You could print out Core Values, but the dynamic, image-rich, digital environment that has been created would be lost and with it that extra dimension that immerses the reader in the poem. If Inanimate Alice was regarded as a benchmark for digital narratives then this may just be the benchmark for digital poetry (Hancox, 2013). Core Values utilises stereoscopic or 3D mode, which outputs two images, each intended for an eye, creating the illusion of depth (Groth, 2018). Reading Core Values in this setting brings the reader into the poem, the writing surrounds you, not on a page but scrolling in front of your eyes.

Digital poetry like other forms of digital literature allows a new breed of reader to discover them, young adults with whom computer games and MUDs (Multi-user domains) are everyday activities, may be bored with standard, concrete poetry. Digital poetry, on the other hand, embraces the same technology that is used in those activities (Poetry beyond text, n.d.). It brings young people to an environment that is familiar to them.

Core Values has applications in the classroom, as well. Teachers could share this piece in a year 10 English class using it as an example for poetry adaptation and linking with the content description for VCELA458, where students are required to produce and adapt existing print texts for an online environment. The students could research why poetry is adapted and work on changing one of their own. It could also link with the descriptor for VCELT477, which sees students create a range of their own spoken, written or multimodal texts (VCAA, 2020).

Cross-curriculum links are significant with this work also, such as linking Core Values with VCDTCD053 in a year 9 or 10 Digital Technologies class (VCAA, 2020). This could see the students using their own poem alongside a modular program, then applying data structures and coding using an object-oriented programming language, such as Python, the one used by Laird. In year 9 English, students could study the language variations and word choice between Core Values and Our Country as they meet the descriptor VCELA452 (VCAA, 2020). Students need to comprehend that Standard Australian English is a living language that changes and evolves.

Core Values encourages the reader to fall into the poem. It disturbs and engages at the same time. For lovers of Our Country who want an updated modern twist on it, to people who embrace new technologies and enjoy seeing its applications, Core Values may be the poem to read (Mackellar, 2016). For teachers hoping to engage their students in poetry, this might be the hook they are searching for. This is a poem for 2020 learning styles. Core Values is a poem that will appeal to many and for various reasons.


Groth, S. (2018). Screenshots: Core values. In The writing platform.

Hancox, D. (2013). When books go digital: The Kills and the future of the novel.

Laird, B. (2020). Benjamin laird.

Laird, B. (2012). (en)coded poetry: read, write, execute [Unpublished honour’s thesis]. RMIT University.

Laird, B. (2017). Core values [Digital literature].

Mackellar, D. (2016). My Country [Poem]. Official Dorothea Mackellar website.

Poetry beyond text. (n.d.). Digital Poetry.

Wright, D. T.H. (2019). From Twitterbots to VR: 10 of the best examples of digital literature. In The conversation.

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2020). Victorian Curriculum: Foundation-10; English: Level 10.

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August 20

Digital Literature Review: Ascent from Akeron

Ascent from Akeron, is an interactive graphic novel, written by William Maher and illustrated by Gustavo Garcia. It uses animation, soundtrack and visual effects to create a story that engages readers of all ages. Maher (2019) creates a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi world for his characters to navigate. A dark world without history, future or literature of any kind. It follows the journey of Machai, a 17-year-old boy who uncovers more about the hidden nature of the world than he should.

Maher’s (2019) exploration through his characters, of what a world without literature or comic books would look like is a thought-provoking concept. Ascent from Akeron responds to the question, without comic book heroes do people still have hope, or do they need them to instigate a change? Maher’s background working on movies such as X-Men is evident in his portrayal of his teenage heroes. They are flawed, complicated and well-considered characters to engage with.

Maher (2019) originally made Ascent from Akeron as a trilogy, before a fourth was added after crowdfunding, all four episodes are available free online. The story has substance; the protagonists have a lot more ground they could cover; it is a story with a lot of potential. The Ascent from Akeron website (n.d.) suggests that Maher has the scripts written, though only time will tell if more episodes are released.

Interactive graphic novels, sometimes called motion comics, are varied in their inclusions. Ascent from Akeron utilises animation sparingly, though with huge impact. Animator, Danne Bakker enhances the landscape, creating an unnerving atmosphere. At the same time, film composer Mark Tschanz musical score adds to the general feeling of gloom and mystery. Story, imagery, animation and music come together within a dynamic page layout that uses parallax scrolling to allow a feeling of depth to the images, promoting the sense of immersion in a virtual experience. The reader controls their encounter by using a mouse or arrow keys to move forward or backwards in the story. This ‘mouseover’ effect described by Walsh (2013) in Literature in a Digital Environment is a distinctive feature of digital narratives.

An interactive graphic novel is defined as one that cannot be easily printed. Young (2019) defines digital literature as ‘work that can only exist in the space for which it was coded – the digital space’. In fact literature like Ascent from Akeron is changing the way stories are told. Hunt (as cited in Unsworth, 2006) suggests that electronic media is changing the nature of stories and what is understood to be narratives. For this work to shine, it needs to be viewed on a digital platform. The aesthetics of it are embedded in the computation. The immersion in the landscape would vanish.

In the classroom, teachers could use Ascent from Akeron as a comparative piece, detailing and highlighting the differences between it and a standard graphic novel (Unsworth, 2006). For example, the graphic novel Maus (2003) is currently on many school booklists. Comparing Ascent to Akeron to Maus would allow teachers and students to see just how far graphic novels and comics have come and to discuss their potential growth in the future.

The added beauty of Ascent to Akeron is its ability to be followed by students with a processing difficulty. A student with a reading disorder can have difficulties decoding a story and understanding written words (Victorian State Government, 2020). As the reader has control of the pace of the book, they have time to process what they are seeing before being exposed to the next frame. In a standard comic book, a reader is subjected to multiple panels and frames which can lead to confusion.

Ascent from Akeron supports several literacy links to the Victorian Curriculum English strand including VCELA458 comparing structure and language in different media, and VCELT461 analyse and explain how text structures are influenced (Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [VCAA], 2020). It has numerous possibilities including, improving students’ digital, visual and multimodal literacy, as well as cross-curricular links to Media, Design and Technology and Digital Technologies subjects.

Ascent from Akeron sparks the imagination of the reader. For those looking for an eBook version of a graphic novel and stumbling on this instead, will find themselves captivated by the unexpected cinematic qualities of it. For the teen reader used to an interactive gaming environment, this may just be the book to begin to build an interest in reading. Yet the well-written story itself is enough to capture the imagination of those that love a well-composed character and narrative.


Ascent from Akeron. (n.d.). Ascent from Akeron.

Maher, W. (Author), & Garcia, G. (Illustrator). (2019). Ascent from Akeron [Interactive graphic novel].

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2020). Victorian Curriculum: Foundation-10; English: Level 10.

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July 25

Beginning INF533 Digital Literature

When considering my options for an elective while undertaking my masters, I stopped to think about what would be useful in my chosen career and what I would enjoy. INF533 Literature in digital environments fulfils the criteria for both considerations. We are all continuing to embrace the digital world, and while I will always have a soft spot in my heart for print literature; the smell, the texture and the turning of a page. I tend to choose digital literature three out of four times when looking for a new book to read for myself as well as ensuring there is a digital version available when considering book listed items.


As a teacher librarian (TL) in a secondary school, I deal with digital literature daily. To clarify not eBooks which we currently don’t have, but interactive digital textbooks. Our students tend to purchase both print and digital versions of their textbooks. They interchange their use depending on their circumstances. When studying, they prefer print, for research, they prefer interactive digital texts.

We currently do not utilise eBooks at our school; the current consensus with management is that it is a minefield to be waited out. Before Covid-19, I put a proposal in to change this thinking without positive resolution. After the pandemic caused so much disruption, I was left feeling I should have pushed harder. What I did achieve during this time, was to link up with the local public library’s online platform Borrowbox that loans both eBooks and audiobooks to our students.

With Covid-19 and remote learning, there was a need to embrace new technologies. Online digital literature went straight to the front of the line. As a TL working remotely, I was able to assist teachers in finding relevant materials they could use to facilitate their students learning. Including online eBooks with multimodal features that included web links, image s and embedded media and nonlinear, interactive, nonfiction texts that utilise hypertexts to navigate.

Lamb (2011, p.14) suggests that students today want to do more than merely read about their subjects, they want to be immersed in it, “information they can see and hear”. When I started reading module one for INF533, I felt vindicated, what Lamb was suggesting was what I believed, what I want to see more of in my school.

I think the one thing I need to be conscious of is ensuring my students know how to navigate digital environments. I wrote about this on my blog here, while undertaking ETL401.  FitzGerald (2016) discusses the need for the 21st-century learner to be fluent with digital literacy and be critical thinkers. Today’s students might be exposed to the digital world from an early age, but that doesn’t mean they have the skills to navigate it. Leu, Forzani, Timbrell & Maykel (2015) suggest that the online environment is a forest filled with new literacy ‘trees’ and it is up to teachers to ensure the right trees are chosen so that our students are prepared for their futures.

I’m looking forward to learning the skills I need to identify the best trees for my students.



Fitzgerald, L. (2016). Does Guided Inquiry Enhance Learning and Metacognition? Synergy, 14(1). Retrieved from;dn=216728;res=AEIPT

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from

Leu, D. J., Forzani, E., Timbrell, N. & Maykel, C. (2015). Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in the primary-grade and upper elementary-grade classroom. The Reading Teacher, 69(2), 139-145.

Australia, Cambridge University Press Education. [Cambridge University Press Education Australia]. (2019, October 10). Cambridge Science for the Victorian Curriculum [Video]. YouTube.

June 9

Two units left – time to reflect a little

Two units remaining and I will have completed my Masters. What a ride this has been. Next semester I will do Literature in the digital environment and my Professional practice – take two after a false start on this subject last semester due to Covid-19. So as I sit here contemplating the last two year and the remaining six months. I have begun to consider what I have learnt, what I still want to learn and if there are things that I know, but that I’m not aware yet of.

So what do I know? Do I feel ready to be a teacher-librarian (TL)? Yes, I do, I have been doing the job for a while now but a standalone TL? No, probably not. I can’t imagine putting a budget proposal together. I also shudder at the thought of having to do a stocktake. I must admit that while I’ve been doing the job, I have a lot of help. We employ someone to do all purchasing and acquisitions. He does all the data entry and cataloguing of the resources as well as book list for the school. The head of the library takes care of budgets, rosters and staying in touch with leadership. While the other TL looks after copyright and room bookings, I could probably be okay with most of that on reflection, but it would be overwhelming without help.

We currently don’t have any library policies, and I would like to produce a collection management policy at some stage as I was taught in ETL503 Resourcing the curriculum. I think having clear guidelines for procedures would make me feel more comfortable and ensure my ability to do my job correctly. I think I could produce this document with what I learnt during this unit and subsequent units that relate to it.

I would also love to use the knowledge I formed during ETL402 Literature across the curriculum. I think one of the more essential areas a TL can be involved in is collaborative teaching. The idea intrigues me, planning alongside another teacher and delivering lessons on researching skills would be interesting and make me feel like I was doing my job as a TL.

When I stop to think about what I don’t realise I know, I think about EER500 Intro to educational research. That unit just about sent me around the twist, but I received decent grades in. I suppose the idea of research scares me, but for me, it is probably achievable should the need arise. I believe I have learnt some useful skills during that unit that I could apply to my school library setting.

Library promotion is something I’ve always enjoyed, and I love that this is part of the role. In 2018 I compiled a proposal to develop and maintain a library Instagram page. It was accepted and I love curating this channel. I also enjoy coming up with new ways to promote library services, running competitions and creating displays.

What do I still want to learn? So much. I would like to learn more about how to be a curriculum leader. The Australian Schools Library Association (ASLA) website suggests that TLs are involved in curriculum planning and school curriculum committees. I think maintaining literacy is an essential component of being a curriculum leader, and I have just signed on to head up a reading program at our junior campus.

ASLA also discusses how TLs are information service managers. That they develop and implement strategies for evaluating the resource collection and determine curriculum and student needs. This is something I have been trying to implement for some time. I would like to develop our relationship with the faculty heads to the point where they share ahead of time the areas the students will study throughout the year. I would then like to use that information to develop the collection to reflect those areas of study.


April 13

Isolation 2020 – or #ISO

So as mentioned in my last post I’m completing ETL505 and while it’s not my favourite subject I’m glad I was able to enter it late and complete it this semester. I am still working toward my goal of completing my masters and becoming a qualified teacher-librarian. The world has completely turned upside down this year making me wonder occasionally if a teacher-librarian is a good career move, Covid-19 lives on cardboard for up to two weeks! I have to remember that not all of my jobs deal with physical books, that mostly it deals with people.

Let me quickly explain what is going on in 2020. Covid-19 or the Novel Coronavirus is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. They think it originated in a wet market in China – bats or an armadillo. The fact that we live in such a hyper-connected world with people flying all over the world regularly meant that the virus spread around the globe rapidly. Thankfully the Australian government has had the balls to lock us down. All international borders are as good as closed and Australians flying home have to be quarantined for 2 weeks upon entering. All state borders are closed as well. We are urged to stay at home, with fines issued if we leave the house for unnecessary trips.

The only reasons to leave include groceries, chemist, bank or post office or exercise. Stores like Bunnings are still open and lots of people are doing home renovations and gendering. All cafes and restaurants are closed except for takeaway. Schools closed early and as of tomorrow, I will be remote teaching – teaching from home. Which sounds so weird but I’m up for the challenge, though I’m nervous about helping my son with his online learning. It’s hard to imagine if someone had told me about this pandemic last year and how everyone around the world’s lives would be changed, I doubt I would have believed it.

A few statistics: America has currently the most dead from covid-19, 22,106 dead Spain has 17,209, while Italy has 19,899. Australia isn’t doing too bad with 61 dead. It’s weird to think of America being a first world country and they have to have mass burials of their unclaimed dead. Interestingly petrol is cheap – under $1 a litre (it hasn’t been that price in 10 years or more) but we can’t go anywhere so no one is buying it anyway. Toilet paper is finally back in stock in supermarkets after panic buying saw it disappear for 6 weeks. Only 10 people can go to a funeral and 5 to a wedding, there is tape on the floor in shops to keep us 1.5 metres apart.

How your weekly food shop is changing with social distancing | The ...

They say it might be 6 months before we can go back to work/school in a physical sense and I worry for our current year 12 students. I wonder how this will change the way we interact with each other in the long term and how this will affect our economy going forward – the current unemployment rate seems in increase daily and the government is subsiding a lot. I’m so very thankful I have a permanent position at school and that position is not under threat. In fact, teaching jobs are one of the most secure along with health care workers.

Most days my son and I spend our life inside. I’ve converted the garage to a home gym and we’ve put a herb garden in. Study is keeping me busy. While the PlayStation and Netflix occupy my son. I look forward to the day when I can see my extended family again, it’s been so long since I’ve hugged them. There is so much to be grateful for at the moment, but life is changing and I have to change with it. Uni studies sometimes feel a useless activity but it does keep my mind active which is vitally important at the moment.