At the start of this subject I was coming from a place where my work as an educational professional was somewhat at war with the digital environment, or at least with the engagement with it through the technology available in my last classroom-teaching experience. I discussed this with Helen in the forums (Styan, Simon, & Croft, 2018). I knew that integration of information and communication technology (ICT) was a requirement of the New South Wales (NSW) Syllabus (NSW Education Standards Authority, n.d.) and was seen as a key part of the role of teacher librarians (TLs) (Combes, 2016, paras. 42-45), but from hard experience, I had lost my enthusiasm for putting it into action.
My exploration of digital literature in the first half of the session was frustrating at times (Simon, 2018d), but I ultimately found some inspiration as mentioned on my blog (Simon, 2018e). Learning about the historical development of digital literature (Rettberg, 2012) was fascinating and readings from practitioners such as Annette Lamb (2011) and Maureen Walsh (2013) gave me practical ideas for how to evaluate and select pieces of digital literature and use them in classroom programs. I still wrestle with the idea that just because literature is digital it requires new literacies to comprehend it, as I discussed on my blog (Simon, 2018c) and in the forum (Simon, 2018a). Nonetheless, David Leu and his colleagues make a strong case for the importance of acknowledging and explicitly supporting specific skills required when reading digital texts (Leu, et al., 2011; Leu, Forzani, Timbrell, & Maykel, 2015). This new understanding underpins my conviction that it is essential for educational professionals to include digital reading experiences in their lessons and to explicitly instruct students in digital literacy across all levels of instruction.
My digital storytelling project (for best results, view in full screen or by clicking the link in the reference to view on the Microsoft Sway site.):
Simon, M. (2018). Stories from quarantine. Retrieved September 26, 2018 from https://sway.office.com/s/O8dzmIF7B634sIo3?ref=Link
Stories from Quarantine tells a combination of historical and fictional stories from the North Head Quarantine Station in Sydney, NSW. It is a multi-modal work based on and extending Inside the Quarantine Station (Simon, 2017). It does not fit neatly into the digital literature categorisations of Walsh (2013) or Lamb (2011), but exhibits characteristics of storytelling such as structure, linearity, connection and character enabled by digital affordances (Alexander, 2011, p. 14).
This project was prepared for use by a primary Teacher Librarian or casual classroom teacher in the North Shore area of Sydney. In both roles, one teaches students across various disciplines from Kindergarten through Year Six (K-6). This resource has the potential to be used across various curriculum areas from K-6. Data from seven schools in the locality show Indicator of Community Socio-Economic Advantage (ICSEA) levels ranging between 1151 and 1194 and National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) reading and writing scores that range from state average to well above state average (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.). There are minimal amounts of students needing significant learning support, but students from language backgrounds other than English (LBOTE) account for 23% to 53% of school populations making the learning needs of students learning English as a foreign language important to consider.
The Quarantine Station site is an important landmark on Sydney’s North Shore with historical and geographical relevance on all scales from personal to international/global. In addition to having relevance to knowledge area content across the K-6 spectrum, Stories from Quarantine particularly serves Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Inquiry and Skills outcomes from the Australian Curriculum relating to:
- data collection through observation and sources provided or located, and
- exploring points of view and distinguishing between fact and opinion (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2016b).