CONTRAINDICATIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF AUGMENTED REALITY USE IN THE CLASSROOM
There are a few issues with implementing innovative teaching practices such as AR into classrooms. These reasons include misconceptions with using ICT in the classroom, teacher reluctance and insufficient access to technology and the internet.
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ICT IN THE CLASSROOM – There is a significant disinclination from some educators about the inclusion of digital technology into classroom practice. This reluctance can stem from a belief that technology causes students to become passive in their learning and that encouraging the use of personal devices increases class distractions (Wu et al., 2013). Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya (2015, p.1) disagree vehemently and argue that AR actually causes the learner to become more interactive with the learning content as it requires the student to think critically and be able to make meaning from their interactions. Wu et al. (2017) suggests that the use of mobile phones promotes social interactivity and student collaboration when using through networked devices.
TEACHER RELUCTANCE – Many teachers are not comfortable with emerging technologies due to their own lack of knowledge with the medium (Pope, 2018a). Wolz (2019, p.6) points out that teachers, like students, develop self efficacy from their own ability, observing others and verbal affirmation. Self efficacy of teachers and educators is essential, as there is a strong correlation between teacher competence and inclusion of digital technologies in the classroom (Wolz, 2019). Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya (2015, p.1) argue that all teachers should be required to continuously keep abreast of new products as part of professional learning and development. Unfortunately, requiring all teachers to be familiar and confident with emerging technologies is simply unfeasible. Many teachers are already overworked and overwhelmed with their current workloads. Therefore, it is more viable that each school has dedicated ICT teachers, or teacher librarians, that are tasked with embedding emerging technologies into classroom practice. This method allows both classroom teachers and students to improve their digital literacy skills and develop ICT acuity concurrently. For schools with a library, it makes sense to ensure the TL has self efficacy with AR/VR technology as most AR installations are sourced in their teaching and learning spaces.
DIGITAL DIVIDE – This is a significant hurdle to the implementation of digital technologies such as AR in Australian classrooms. The high cost of technology has inhibited its diffusion across classrooms, but the recent rapid advancements and price has reduced this barrier significantly (Wolz, 2019, p.2). It is not common for all students and schools to possess mobile devices and or have available data to have transactions with AR. This issue is more common in rural areas and within lower socio-economic families and schools (DIIS, 2016). The extent of the digital divide has been highlighted and under scrutiny by the recent COVID 19 school closures, where the lack of internet and device access caused many students to be unable to access home learning.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE
Oddone (2019) and Zak (2014) suggest that VR and AR will become mainstream technology soon and it behooves educators to equip students with the necessary skills to maintain their digital literacy. Previously access to these technologies was extremely expensive and many schools were unable to gain access due to lack of funds. However, rapid changes in technology have led to a significant price reduction, but even with the decreased costs, AR installations are still out of reach for many schools. For schools and educational institutions that can afford these emerging technologies, there are educators that lack confidence in their ability to use AR, and there are others that find the available AR content is not suited to the needs of their students (Wu et al., 2013, p.46). Whilst centralising emerging technologies into the library addresses the lack of self efficacy of teachers, it does not solve the issue of unsuitable AR content.
Hannah et al., (2019) proposes that schools create their own 3D content objects that suit their students and align to the curriculum as needed. As part of this approach, images are curated and integrated into the library management system that shares knowledge and collaboration. This method allows all the images that are created in the school by both staff and students to be stored for future use whilst acknowledging the authorship and intellectual property ownership of the images. This proposition is an extension of Zak (2014) idea of using AR in information seeking as mentioned previously. Whilst collection management is part of a librarian’s repertoire, the curation of 3D images requires new vocabulary and ontology, and requires further exploration of the relevant literature. Therefore, it makes logical sense that AR installations and its other forms of hardware and software are centralised in the library and the teacher librarian tasked with cataloging the 3D images, embedding AR and other emerging technologies across the curriculum.
Bit of a hiatus since the last post… I decided to go on holidays.
ROLE OF TEACHER LIBRARIAN
The library and the teacher librarian hold a central position in the school learning and teaching dynamic and thus are ideally positioned to engage in collaborative planning and teaching across the curriculum. Like libraries, the role of the teacher librarian has evolved in response to the metamorphosis of repository spaces to information gateways. ASLA (2016) clearly defines the foci of a modern teacher librarian to; learning and teaching, resourcing the curriculum, management of the library and its resources, providing leadership, collaborating with their peers and engaging with the school community.
Even though libraries and the role of the teacher librarian has evolved, their main purview in a school has not changed. Information seeking is the core of each school library, and the main point of the teacher in teacher librarian is information literacy and the explicit teaching of ICT (ALIA & ASLA, 2004). This teaching role extends to both staff and students, as teacher librarians are required to model good practice, and explicitly teach information seeking behaviour and information literacy to everyone in the school community (ALIA & ASLA, 2004; ALIA, 2014).
All teachers in Australia are required to integrate technology into their teaching and learning, but many classroom educators are unaware of the benefits of emerging technologies such as AR and VR (AITSL, 2017). Consequently, the task of educating staff about emerging technologies falls onto the teacher librarian. This is because teacher librarians are required by ALIA & ASLA (2014), ALIA (2014) and ASLA (2014) to be familiar with emerging technologies, provide access to and integrate them into library practice, programs as well as support the school community in using them effectively.
There are many traditional ways of introducing these technologies, such as staff emails or meetings, but there are innovative ways of introducing emerging technologies to the school community. Townsdin & Whitmer (2017) suggested AR embedded library marketing as an effective way of promoting the library and its services whilst improving information literacy, whereas Wolz (2019) points out that using AR in information seeking covertly introduces colleagues to the technology whilst they overtly search the catalogue. Pope (2018a) proposes that AR can be introduced through team building exercises, and Zak (2014) suggests the use of AR embedded resources as an effective method of introducing AR into classroom practice.
Whilst all those listed are valid methods of introducing the school community to new technologies, the most effective manner is by using AR embedded classroom resources. By using emerging technologies in teaching resources, students and staff are gaining access to high quality information that meets curriculum needs and student development. The secondary and almost furtive asset is that students gain access to these new technologies and are given opportunities to experiment in a low stakes environment. This tactic also gives classroom teachers an opportunity to experiment and play with the technology themselves, so that they can effectively use them in their classrooms (Zak, 2014). From a library management position, teacher librarians are required to regularly evaluate their strategies and services to ensure that it meets the needs of their community, and this extends to AR programming and resourcing (Zak, 2014). This evaluation must also broaden to include any mobile applications, 3D image repository or hardware that the library choses to maintain as part of their collection and digital technologies program (Zak, 2014).
Language and literature has always been part of educational practices.
This is because language is central to cognition and therefore needs to be implemented in all areas of thinking and learning. Literary learning is the use of literature across the curriculum. It is based upon genre theory as language is learned in context and a variety of genres and formats should be made available for all students to (Derewianka, 2015). Whilst the emotive and behavioural benefits of literature are well documented, some teachers may believe that a variety of genres in teaching and learning are unnecessary. Cornett (2014) points out the many cognitive values of literary arts in the curriculum such as promoting literacy, supporting active meaning construction and provoking inquiry, lifelong learning, problem solving and increasing critical thinking skills. The role of the teacher librarian and educator is to increase the implementation of the various forms of literature, such as narratives, expositions, discussions and recounts, in order to increase student exposure to the heterogeneity of discourses available in their subject area.
Literacy for learning is when a student moves from simply being codebreakers and text participants, to using text for learning and analysing. The basis of literary learning is genre theory and programs such as ‘reading to learn’ places an emphasis on students using a variety of literature formats in schooling (Derewianka, 2015). Genre theory has had a great influence on education practices in Australia. It is an extension of Vygotsky’s and Halliday’s theory of language development occurring in social contexts (Derewianka, 2015). The extension is based upon the view that students need access to a variety of genres within their subject matter in order to be able to engage in discourse (Derewianka, 2015). Since each genre has its own identifiable format, it is important that educators offer a variety of genres to maintain equity (Derewianka, 2015). Derewianka (2015) also elucidates the pertinent fact that each key learning area has a particular vocabulary, and that students need to understand and develop experience with this specific language and various formats in order to achieve academic success.
ACARA places great emphasis on literacy, language and literature in the curriculum. It requires students to use language as a method of participating in the learning process (Derewianka, 2015). I have previously elucidated on the importance of literacy, so I will not go into any more detail about that now. But within the General capabilities curriculum, there is a requirement for students to be able to make meaning and critically analyse. Therefore, the use of a variety of genres within teaching and learning practices ensures students are able to meet the learning outcomes set by the standards within the curriculum.
From a pedagogical perspective, literary learning is a child centred approach to teaching and learning. Derewianka (2015) points out that the shift from teacher to child centric pedagogy requires student’s engagement in order for them to participate in the learning. Literature can be used as a method to learn about subject matter as it provides a increased engagement for students and also has a higher recall compared to expository texts (Cornett, 2014, p. 151). Besides being a mode of conveying information, the use of good quality literature has been proven to support construction of meaning, deepen understanding of complex social issues and meet the aesthetic needs of students (Cornett, 2014, p. 151). The latter is very important as motivation is a commitment to extend the reader’s aesthetic experience (Cornett, 2014).
There are some educators that are skeptical of the need to implement literature across the curriculum, even though the implementation of language, literature and literacy across key learning areas has been part of teaching practice for the last few decades. One of the arguments against the implementation of literature, is that some students would struggle against having to negotiate meaning from the text. Students with low literacy and those who speak a second language could find some genres more problematic than others. But Cornett (2014) refuted this argument by determining that literature based learning is beneficial to students combating aliteracy or illiteracy. This is because students that have literature at the core of their learning improve their overall reading levels in comparison to those that do not (Cornett, 2014). Ironically, the use of standarised tests have been proven to have no benefit in improving literacy outcomes but they still happen at regular intervals (Cornett, 2014). But whilst literature have been proven to address cognitive, emotional and developmental needs, not all students (and teachers) like all aspects such as narrative literature. Since choice is an essential aspect of engagement and motivation, it is important to implement a variety of genres and resources in educational practices when planning a unit of work. Astute educators will know that it makes sense to balance pragmatism with literature.
Literary learning is the implementation of literature across the curriculum. By using literature as a method of conveying subject specific information, teachers are improving the learning outcomes of the students. From an evidence based perspective, literature based learning is the better option for students as it allows students to construct their own bank of knowledge from information which is more easily read, understood and comprehended. It allows students to put into context the subject specific vocabulary they have learned and use correctly the variety of formats and genres that are applicable to their discipline. Students no longer just learn to read… they read so that they can learn.
Cornett, C. E. (2014). Integrating the literary arts throughout the curriculum. In Creating meaning through literature and the arts: arts integration for Classroom teachers (5th ed,) (pp144-193) USA
Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In J. Turbill, G. Barton & C. Brock (Eds.), Teaching Writing in Today’s Classrooms: Looking back to looking forward (pp. 69-86). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literary Educators’ Association. Retrieved from https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2620&context=sspapers
Stories are more than just tall tales, they are humanity’s way of imparting information, values and language (Macdonald, 2013, p.2).
Our ability to understand language is intrinsically linked to our own literacy identity (Anstey & Bull, 2006).
Literature’s greatest value is from the discussion that it stimulates (Allington & Gabriel, 2012).
Student learning outcomes are around a shared reading experience (Fisher & Frey, 2018).
Genre variety is important as it increases discourse and efficacy in understanding nuances within literature (Tobin, 2012).
Afterall, how can we expect students to understand the differences between memoirs and biographies, expository texts to essays or picture books and graphic novels if they are not exposed to them?
We need to equip our students with the skills and strategies for navigating and analysing hypertext and multimodal literature in our classroom practice (Rowberry, 2018). Their ability to be active citizens in the 21st century depends on those decoding and analysis skills to utilise literature in all its formats – digital, audio, graphic novel, and picture books.
So what does this mean for my understanding of Literary learning?
so I asked for help (and I wrote a gazillion blog posts. Check them out!)
Murphy (2020) pointed out that literature circles are ideally suited to the history curriculum in his forum post.
Thurling (2020) argued that the social aspect of literature circles is often undervalued.
Armstrong (2020) suggested that book trailers suit visual learners and embeds technology effectively into learning in her blog.
My work colleague advised that teachers could incorporate both strategies together as part of a guided inquiry unit.
I realised that it was all correct!
Students participate in a Literature circle to analyse the text,
And then use that analysis to make a book trailer (or another creative piece), to show their understanding of the topic whilst using technology. WINNING!
Now that I have had my revelation about the value of discourse…… I wonder, what does that mean for my role as a teacher librarian? It is clearly obvious that my role is no longer just the promotion of reading, and but has now morphed into the advocacy of literature in classroom practice to promote READING to LEARN !
This means I need to:
Work with classroom teachers to plan their units of work with literature at its core.
2. Collaborating with colleagues to embed literature throughout the curriculum.
3. Be willing to team teach using digital literature and digital technologies.
After all, you cannot have literacy without literature. Its just ‘racy otherwise.
Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In J. Turbill, G. Barton & C. Brock (Eds.), Teaching Writing in Today’s Classrooms: Looking back to looking forward (pp. 69-86). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literary Educators’ Association. Retrieved from https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2620&context=sspapers
Society has always approved of vigorous discussion regarding books. Book clubs, reading circles and literature groups, are places where people, mostly adults, meet to discuss classic novels or the latest best seller. These discussions facilitate a shared understanding of the text, which increases comprehension, pleasure and aesthetic motivation (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108). Known as a reader response method, literacy circles seek to challenge the reader to interpret the text through their own lens, such as their perspectives, knowledge and viewpoints, to make meaning from what they are reading (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108). As a response strategy to literature, literature circles require the reader to critically analyse the text and justify their reasoning (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108).
Whilst discourse does occur in disciplines that participate in research and further study, it is rare for the general public to meet and discuss information texts or nonfiction. This can prove to be detrimental as much of life involves the interpretation or making meaning from texts (Daniels, 2002; Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108). There are two main benefits for including literature circles within a high school classroom. The first and main benefit is that it is an excellent literary strategy that captures how a reader responds to a text. The other main reason is that it fosters collaborative learning (Bedel, 2016).
High school literature circles (LC) are structured similarly to adult book clubs. They consist of small groups of students sharing discourse about a specific text (Daniels, 2002). Bedel (2016) describes literature circles as places where students are able to practice their communications skills and improve their reading strategies (p.96). Predominantly used as a tool to investigate fiction, LC can also be used to investigate narrative nonfiction, news articles, journals, reports, essays, exposes, memoirs and information books across all disciplines (Daniels, 2002, p.7). Daniels (2002) cautions the use of reference books and school textbooks within LC as they are not suitable (p.10). Their prescriptive nature means that they forgo narrative and literary features, and are overloaded with content (Soiferman & Straw, 2016, p.10 ). This means that the minimum requirements for a text to be included in a high school LC are that it is engaging, of good quality and provokes vigorous discourse (Daniels, 2002, p.8). Since most high school students find their school textbooks of little interest, they can be excluded quite easily by those benchmarks. After all, who gets emotive over a review of differentiating quadratics?
Literature circles are based upon Rosenblatt’s reader response strategy. It acknowledges that readers make meaning from text with their own background acting like a lens and that every reader will have a different interpretation (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110). Its constructivist approach is why LC are so effective in classroom practice. It appreciates each student’s input as a valid contribution to collaborative learning, and makes the students active agents in their learning, rather than passively absorbing the teacher’s response as gospel (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110). There is also an increased immersion in the text when students are reading aesthetically, as LC requires the students to consider diverse reasons and perspectives, and utilise background knowledge or experience (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). Recall why LC do not work with information texts such as textbooks and reference books? It is impossible to breathe life into reference encyclicals (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111)!
One of the greatest benefits of literature circles from a classroom teacher’s perspective is that it is an appropriate reader response strategy for a diverse classroom. LC is able to meet the cognitive and developmental needs of the differently able learners, as all contributions and interpretations of literary works are welcomed equally (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.109). LC also have low technological requirements. Whilst some teachers can choose to use digital technology such as wikis and forums to conduct their literature circles, it is not required. LC can be run in a classroom, an oval, a garden or online. All this reader response strategy requires is an engaging text that meets literary standards and a group of students willing to participate.
Literature circles are adaptable for all levels of high school, and across all key subject areas as all they require for effective practice is that members of a group have to read the text. This can prove problematic for a few reasons. Firstly, that it may be financially nonviable to purchase multiple copies of the same book (Daniels, 2002, p.11). Whilst some schools have a book hire scheme in place, they may not include the titles required. A suggestion is to locate an online version that students can access on their devices. Another reason is that some students may baulk at the idea of reading a whole book. This is a very common occurrence in high schools and some teachers seek audiobooks as a suitable alternative. Finally, some students lack the ability to read due to illiteracy, learning difficulties or have another first language. But both Cornett (2014) and Bedel (2016) disagree and state that literature based learning has higher success rates in students with low literacy than when it is not at the core of learning. Journal articles, essays and book extracts are suitable alternatives to large novels, but picture books, either fiction or nonfiction, have a high success rate due to their engaging format and brevity. There is a plethora of sophisticated picture books available for most subject areas.
Efficacy within literature groups is dependent on the functionality of the group of students working together to achieve a collaborative goal (Bedel, 2016, p.97). Due to the student driven nature of LC, participants in LC must be willing to share their individual connections to the text as well as any feelings or judgments they have in order to make meaning from the text (Daniels, 2002, p.13). Efficacy within groups is measured by equal participation in discourse, ability to reflect upon the author’s intent and purpose, as well as identifying the effectiveness of the literary devices used within the text (Daniels, 2002, p.13). As a valid reader response strategy in high schools, LC increases the comprehension and connections a student makes between themselves, the text and the world.
Reader response strategies like literature circles, book bento boxes and book trailers, all require the teacher to be a facilitator of learning rather than an instructor (Woodruff & Griffin, p.109). This means the role of the teacher is there to support and guide students as they understand the text and derive the author’s intent (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). Sometimes a teacher may need to intervene if students need redirecting, or encouraging if the students persist in viewing the text from a single perspective (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). The other task of the teacher is to possibly assign roles within the literature groups. In traditional LC, each student has a specific task that increases the effectiveness of the collaborative learning group (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.112).
Literature based learning has proven educational benefits for students of all ages but specifically for high school students. Unfortunately, the persisting trend towards nationwide standardised tests is making it difficult for teachers to use literature based learning in their classrooms. But why is there such a disinclination from state education department heads to embed literature across the curriculum? Teachers are often dealt with the short end of the stick as they are forced to teach using dry and content overloaded texts to students that are disengaged and disinclined. They are continuously looking for ways to make their practice more engaging and relatable to the students but are hampered by education boards that fail to realise that it is not how students are taught but what they are given to read that makes the difference. By embedding literature across the curriculum and utilising reader response strategies like literature circles, student’s learning is fostered, as is their ability to work effectively with their peers. Teachers should be encouraged to use literature circles as a method of investigating and analysing texts across all disciplines, as it meets the needs of the student and promotes a life long love of reading.
Woodruff, A., & Griffin, R. (2017). Reader response in secondary settings: Increasing comprehension through meaningful interactions with literary texts. Texas Journal of Literacy Education (5) 2 pp.108-116. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1162670.pdf
Book trailers are often referred to as audiovisual representations of texts (Gron, 2014, p. 91). Gron (2017) defines reader’s book trailers as a pedagogical tool to promote literary learning and multimodal literacy (p.94). These trailers are very different to the ones produced by authors and publishers for promotional purposes. Author and publisher produced trailers are more inline with movie trailer characteristics as they both seek to lure rather than show the user’s understanding and comprehension of the text (Gron, 2014).
Book trailers (BT) can range from complex short digital stories with interactive media, to simple slideshows of still images, to animated videos using claymation (Tobin, 2012, p43). Predominantly used for fictional texts, BT have also recently been used as literary analysis for non fiction resources, as well as essays and other multimodal texts (Tobin, 2012, p.40). They provide a useful way of integrating ICT in the classroom and provide a digital alternative to literary circles and book reports (Bernardo, 2019). Reader’s book trailers work in a similar manner to literature circles, as they provide a space for students to engage with the text and to form connections between the text, the world and themselves. Gron (2014) points out that BT offer a synopsis of the text through the perspective of the reader, which will differ depending on the reader’s own knowledge bank and the connections they make to the text and real life (p.95). They provide an audiovisual depiction of the text from the lens of the reader, with their perspective and understanding as influences (Gron, 2017, p.93).
Within a classroom, book trailers are flexible as a teaching tool or as an assessment piece (Tobin, 2012, p.40). They can be used as enticement, as a tool to engage students at the commencement of a unit, or as a comprehension task at the culmination of one. BT’s strongest efficacy is at the culmination of a unit, but often the idea of creating a BT can be an enticement for students to participate in the course. There are three main educational benefits to using book trailers in the classroom. They include, promoting engagement with the text and reading in general, as well as increasing comprehension, understanding and analysis of the text. They are also an ideal activity for collaborative learning groups. Lastly, BT increase critical thinking, visual literacy, social and emotional literacy as well as improve multimodal literacy of students.
Book trailers can be used for narrative and expository texts (Tobin, 2012, p.47). Their format engages students in the task and the successful completion of the trailer provides intrinsic motivation for reading as a pleasurable activity (Ginsberg, 2013; Festa, 2017). The creation of a BT requires the reader to delve into the book, identify and analyse key events, themes and character development (Tobin, 2012, p.48). This analysis of texts, especially fictitious ones, can lead to a cognitive change, which also provides additional motivation for reading.
Students need to summarise the story into key events and stages, analyse how these events affected the story as a whole and their own understanding of it (Bernardo, 2019). They also need to be able to understand the genre of the text, and ensure that the trailer is consistent with the author’s intent (Gron, 2014, p.92). Festa (2017) points out that illustrations need to be evaluated for their effectiveness, which is especially important when creating a BT for picture books.
Student learning is heightened within social contexts, and the literary efficacy of book trailers is increased by collaborative group work. This is based upon Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory, that learning in student-centred environments is more successful than in isolation (Tobin, 2012). Collaborative groups are ideal for the implementation of BT, as they allow for the exchange of ideas, discussion of themes, events and character development which leads to optimum understanding of the text and topic. (Tobin, 2012, p. 41). Dialogue and discussion is very important when deliberating over social and moral issues, as well as when evaluating author’s bias, veracity and use of literary devices.
When working in collaborative learning groups, it is optimum that students are assigned a specific role or task to complete (Tobin, 2012, p.41). Whilst many students may prefer to make their own collaborative learning groups, teachers ideally create diverse learning groups and assign roles to ensure that the task is equitably distributed. This is especially important if the BT is used for summative assessment purposes. Group selection can be intentional, or via a method of random allocation. Working in collaborative groups also meets curriculum outcomes within the General Capabilities – Personal and Social Capabilities, as it promotes interpersonal skills and allows students to develop effective strategies for interacting with their peers (ACARA, 2014a).
By allocating roles, each student is given a purposeful direction to interact with the text and an active role in their learning. This orchestration gives the student ownership of the final product and thus promotes engagement with the task and the text. Festa (2017) suggests that students complete a reflection of the task, peer review and a self evaluation of their own efficiency and efficacy as an assessment tool (p.109-110). But caution should be used if BT are to be considered a summative assessment if there is an inequitable access to personal devices.
The inclusion of book trailers in education increases critical thinking, visual and multimodal literacy as it provides a social context to develop these 21st century skills (Tobin, 2012, p. 41, Festa, 2017, p.112). At its core, BT are essentially a miniature inquiry task as it requires the students to work on their metacognitive processes to ensure that planning, implementing and evaluation occurs appropriately (Tobin, 2012, p.42). Inquiry tasks are an accepted teaching practice and often used as a pedagogical method to build critical thinking and critical literacy in students (Tobin, 2012, P.42).
Technology has often been cited as a method of engaging students in the classroom, and BT allow students to use their devices for legitimate learning activities (Moore & Cahill, 2016). Since the actual act of creating a book trailer requires students to convert a written literary source into an audiovisual production, it obliges the creators to combine images, sound and texts together using some form of digital software (Gron, 2014, p.91; Festa, 2017, p.112). In constructing these trailers, students become creators as well as users of digital media (Festa, 2017, p.112). This transfer of representation can be difficult for some students therefore, teachers will be required to facilitate learning by providing scaffolding to increase personal imagination and interpretation of text (Gron, 2014, p.98).
From a practical perspective, there are specific steps that are necessary when creating a book trailer. The first step is to ensure that students have read and understood the text, either in a group read- aloud or individually. Picture books are consummate for book trailers. Research has shown that picture books can be used to teach older students multiliteracies, curriculum content and broach sensitive subjects (Marsh, 2010). Their format promotes the action of ‘reading aloud’ and their brevity creates a sense of security for reluctant readers and students with low literacy. Many sophisticated picture books are an ideal for BTs within classroom practice. They provide a valid alternative as a class text for disinterested teens, reluctant readers, students with low literacy and those that do not speak English at home (Marsh, 2010).
Book trailers require the reader to connect the text to the real world and themselves as part of their reader response. Some students may struggle with the disconnect between a physical book and digital book trailer (Gron, 2014, p. 97). This means that students need to envision the text in an alternate setting to a book as they both use different languages (Gron, 2014, p.97). This envisaging can be difficult for some students and that is why collaborative groups are essential in tasks such as this (Gron, 2014, p.97). Additionally, the format and illustrations of picture books gives students with minimum faculty for imagination a starting point for structuring their BT (Tobin, 2012, p.42). A storyboard template can be used as a scaffold for students to set and frame their scenes as well as provide a sense of direction for the task (Tobin, 2012, p.43). These templates can be paper or digital. Suggestions for online storyboard sites include Canva, Wideo, Comicmaker and The Plot. Paper templates can be downloaded from here.
The role of the teacher or teacher librarian when using book trailers is in a support function. Teachers are required primarily to support discourse by providing a series of questions that provoke dialogue (Tobin, 2012, p.45). They are also required to facilitate the creation of collaborative learning groups and provide scaffolding for the student’s ICT capabilities. The latter is important as students often get distracted when using their personal devices and teachers will be required to redirect if the distraction proves to be recurrent (Tobin, 2012, p.45). Teachers may also be required to monitor the creation of BT to ensure that they are complying with school policy and legislation requirements.
Teacher librarians can support classroom teachers and students by providing additional technological assistance and information regarding the use of creative common images and copyright laws (Earp, 2017). This may be required in higher levels for teachers who are less sure of their own computer proficiency. Using book trailers as a teaching and learning activity can bolster both the teacher and the student’s multimodal capabilities.
Book trailers are not the literary derivative of movie trailers. Rather it is a valid reader response strategy to texts studied in classes across the curriculum. The inclusion of book trailers into teaching and learning has many educational benefits and is an excellent way of incorporating meaningful use of digital technologies into the classroom. Whilst a fairly new method, there is ample scope to include this multimodal literary learning strategy within the curriculum. Book trailers are an excellent method of illustrating the reader’s comprehension and analysis whilst increasing interpersonal skills and boosting multimodal literacy.
Moore, J., & Cahill, M. (2016). Audiobooks; Legitimate ‘reading’ material for adolescents? Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved fromwww.ala.org/aasl/slr/volume19/moore-cah
Literacy is influenced by social, cultural and technological change and the information revolution has increased the modes of communication available for children, teenagers and adults alike. (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.24). As technology evolves, social and cultural practices need to adapt to this new paradigm.
To be an active and informed citizen individuals need to be multiliterate. This means a person needs to be confident in a range of literacies, across a variety of modes and able to translate those skills across all sectors of their life (Anstey & Bull, 2006, pp. 19-22). In order to have mastery with these multiple literacies, individuals need to be able to adapt their practices to suit the whichever context is available (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.20).
Anstey & Bull (2006) have summarised the skills of a multiliterate person:
As the diagram above shows, a person’s ability to be multiliterate (ML) is also multifaceted. A ML person is able to determine the context of work and then instinctively switch to the literacy that best suits that mode of communication, for example, reading an email to watching a TikTok video, to listening to an audiobook. This flexibility is essential in modern society and requires the reader, or text user, to be able to alternate between different forms of text that may present in daily life.
What does this mean for pedagogical practice?
The notion of text has evolved significantly over the past few decades. I have mentioned this shift in a previous blog post about literature in digital environments. Therefore, a shift in text types means there needs to be a shift in literacy based pedagogical practices (Anstey & Bull, 2006). Remember literacy is influenced by social, cultural and technological change (Anstey & Bull, 2006)!
Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) point out that since language and literacy exist within the ACARA’s multiliteracy framework, there is firm mandate to include multimodal texts within educational practice. Anstey & Bull (2006) concur, and believe that pedagogy to promote multiliteracy needs to address the changing nature of texts, that literature is learned in a social context and critical literacy is essential for informed action.
Within classroom practice Anstey & Bull (2006) argues the importance of balancing the variety of genres and formats for teaching and learning purposes. Whereas Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) believe that long term exploration of texts across the curriculum using text exemplars and features, as well as the explicit teaching of semiotics and critical thinking are better suited to student learning.
Anstey & Bull (2006) emphasis the fact that literacy identity is pivotal to multiliteracy (p. 36). As literate practices are linked to social and cultural development, literacy identity is the combination of experiences from both the real world and the school world (Anstey & Bull, 2006). By being aware of their own literacy identity, a person consciously understands their own abilities to decode a set of resources and their faculty for critical literacy (Anstey & Bull, 2006). Hepple, Sockhill, Tan & Akford (2014) point out that the best results for teaching multiliteracies occur when it is taught using active learning and a student centred approach (p.220).
Critical literacy is a tenet of multiliteracy (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.37). This is based upon the fact that students are exposed to a variety of texts from all contexts of life including, education, employment, social and recreation. But not all texts hold equal authority. Accuracy and validity are not guaranteed, and students need to learn to be able to differentiate between reliable resources and false information, especially on the internet. By exposing students to a range of texts from a trusted adult like a teacher or teacher librarian, through literary learning or via book bento boxes and book trailers, they are given opportunities to develop their critical and multimodal literacy with the hope of translating those skills to life outside the classroom (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p.38).
The name intrigued me immediately. I began to imagine miniature books presented artistically in a bamboo box. Then I remembered how un-artistic I am and the most creative experience I have had lately is using blue eyeliner instead of the stock standard black. Then I began to get hungry.
But I digress. Here is a Book Bento Box I prepared earlier using physical items.
Cover reproduced with permission from Kokoda: Teen edition by Peter FitzSimons, Hachette Australia, 2016.
Book bento boxes (BBB) is a multimodal and interactive reader response strategy to literature that promotes visual literacy, critical thinking and multiliteracy (Bales & Saint-John, 2020; Anstey & Bull, 2005). According to Bales (2018), BBB are adaptable and can be used at the beginning of a novel study to predict the events, in the middle to explain critical features or themes, or at the end of a unit of work to show understanding and comprehension. Most commonly used within the English curriculum, BBB can be successfully adapted to use across other disciplines for teaching and inquiry learning (Bales & Saint-John, 2020).
The concept underpinning book bento boxes is straightforward. Common household items or images are artistically arranged and used as points of reference for significant themes or events within the text (Bales & Saint-John, 2020). Their simplicity and scope for differentiation makes BBB an excellent strategy for capturing understanding in a formal or informal setting (Bales, 2018).
Far different from traditional book reports, BBB provides an alternative and creative method for promoting discourse (Anstey & Bull, 2006, p. 22). It allows the student to engage with the text and respond in a manner that utilises their own knowledge bank and best suits their abilities, as each reader’s comprehension of the text will differ to their peers due to the disparity in views, perspectives and mental acuity (Derewianka, 2015).
We have acknowledged that discourse is important for improving student understanding and success and the traditional method for discourse has been literature circles and book reports. I have previously discussed this in other blog posts, for example The books we read aloud are the ones that resonate the most so I will leave it here. BBB are an ideal reader response strategy for high school classrooms as they can be easily differentiated for diverse learners and promote multimodal literacy.
Here is a Book Bento Box I prepared using digital images (all with CC 4.0 or 2.0).
BBB can range from simple posters, to interactive digital images with embedded links for videos and external websites (Bales, 2018). They can be created individually or in collaborative learning groups, for teaching and learning as well as for assessment purposes.
Pre tech days of the old school poster.
Remember the poster presentation from days before Powerpoint? In the world before Powerpoint and mobile devices, students would create posters using cardboard, paper, coloured pens and magazine collages. This BBB option is still available for young children, or older students with minimal access to devices and software. In most Australian secondary schools, many students have access to mobile devices such as laptops or smartphones, so they are able to create digital images with or without embedded interactive features. By including annotations or a rationale with their work, the reader is able to justify the inclusion of their supporting items and thus illustrate their knowledge and understanding of the text (Bales & Saint-John, 2020).
The process to create a book bento box is quite simple and more detail instructions are here:
Select a text.
Select items or images that correspond to themes or events in the text.
Arrange the items as artistically as possible.
Take a photo.
Edit the photo either using Powerpoint or your camera filters.
Upload the image to Thinglink or you can keep using Powerpoint or Prezi or a poster.
Add the interactive features (if desired).
Add annotations or rationale (if desired).
Share to learning management systems and emails (if desired).
So why is there a need to implement BBB into teaching and learning? Why change things up?
To put it simply, the reading paradigm has changed and therefore pedagogy must also change to support students in this new world (Mangen, Walgermo & Bronnick, 2013). As mentioned earlier, there are sufficient pedagogical reasons to use book bento boxes in teaching and learning. Firstly, exposure to a variety of good quality texts embedded across the curriculum has been proven to extend ICT capabilities, intensify engagement, improve cognition, boost emotional development and increase recall. By using this reader response strategy, students are increasing their visual literacy, critical thinking and consequently multiliteracy capabilities. It is also a whole lot of fun!!
Bales, J. (2018, September 23). Book Bento Boxes. [Blog]. Retrieved from https://jenniebales.wordpress.com/2018/09/24/book-bento-boxes/
Bales, J., & Saint-John, L. (2020) Book Bento Boxes: Creative reading response. SCAN, 39. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan/past-issues/vol-39-2020/book-bento-boxes–creative-reading-response
Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In J. Turbill, G. Barton & C. Brock (Eds.), Teaching Writing in Today’s Classrooms: Looking back to looking forward (pp. 69-86). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literary Educators’ Association. Retrieved fromhttps://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2620&context=sspapers
I have already completed my review of Peter Fitzsimons’ masterpiece “Kokoda”. But whilst I was drifting across social media I came upon the idea of Book Bento Boxes. Now these are quite fascinating so I had a play creating one using Powerpoint and Thinglink.
I am pleasantly surprised… stay tuned for a more comprehensive analysis of book bentos and their application in teaching and learning.