When motivation matters – integrating digital literature into classroom practice.

geralt / Pixabay

 

My journey into literature started very traditionally.  Like all members of my generation (after boomer but before Z), I learned to read from first readers to chapter books, series fiction and comic books ( more Jughead than Nimona) and all of them in print.  Consequently as an adult, my preference for recreational reading is for print and I do use digital journal articles for educational purposes but that is a matter of expediency rather than inclination. As I have documented my reading journey in previous blog posts so I will not go into that again. 

(But you are more than welcome to read about my love of reading/books etc.  Try this one when I fell in love with reading, or this one about the importance of storytellng, or this one about childhood favourites)

My personal  preferences for text formats have leached into my professional practice.  As an early career teacher I always favoured print texts for my classrooms because that was the medium I was confident and comfortable using.  I was reluctant to explore and use digital literature because I wanted to conserve my faculties for behaviour management and pedagogical practices.  I did not want to add in technology and digital literature to my already overloaded self.  

Fast forward two years and my foray into the role of a teacher librarian has forced me to extend my practice into the digital realm.  I have learned how to teach information literacy by navigating my way through ebooks, audiobooks and interactive books online.  I have downloaded and experimented with book apps, created bento boxes and book trailers.  Through this journey of discovery using digital literature and creating digital text, I have come to the conclusion that there are three main concerns when advocating for the inclusion of digital literature in the classroom.  These concerns are, students, teachers and the technology itself. 

The most commonly cited impediment for the implementation of digital literature into classrooms are the students themselves.  I have previously detailed the multitudinal issues relating to reading and comprehension of digital texts in another blog (see here), so I will just give a synopsis now. Besides the usual issues of forgotten, uncharged and missing laptops, many students struggle with reading digital literature because they struggle with visual ergonomics in digital texts.  Their inability to locate text leads to reduced comprehension and negative mental representation of the text (Mangen et al., 2013, p.66).  This lack of comprehension, combined with poor digital literacy (see this post!) and the fact that many students are easily distracted by games and social media can negatively impact the integration of digital literature in classroom practice. 

Teachers themselves are another liability when it comes to the implementation of digital literature in the classroom. Even though AITSL (2017) is very clear in the Teacher Standards that ICT needs to be included in teaching strategies (Std 2.6), and within resources selection (Std. 3.4), there is still a strong reluctance among many teachers to use digital literature meaningfully in their classroom practice.  This disinclination to use digital literature could be due to a myriad of reasons as Hyndman (2018) explains in this article.  One very pertinent reason is that many teachers feel pressured to suddenly become digital experts as they often assume they need to be the expert so as to instruct and assist students in their learning (Hyndman, 2018).  Hyndman (2018) goes on further to say that these feelings of anxiety can exacerbate in schools with  BYOD programs as the large variability in student device capability can cause increased technology anxiety.  But there is no expectation that teachers be experts in understanding the complexities of individual devices nor in how the digital literature was created, only that they use them in their teaching practice (AITSL, 2017; ACARA, 2014). 

geralt / Pixabay

 

The last crucial variable is the literature itself.  Digital literature comes in many formats and ranges from scanned books on a website, ebooks, enhanced ebooks, linear narratives, hypertext nonlinear narratives and mobile applications for tablets and smartphones.  Each of these literature formats may use different technology, require competency in different literacies and consequently need specific pedagogies for instruction.  The combination of these new formats and technologies can be overwhelming for many teachers.  Unfortunately, professional development for teachers regarding ICT and digital literature is often ad hoc and lack specific focus, which can inhibit the integration of these technologies into classrooms (Howard & Thompson, 2016). 

When you view these issues, it seems evident that the best way to improve the breadth and variety of digital literature in classrooms, is to explicitly motivate, introduce, and teach educators about the various formats and their applicability to classroom practice (Korthagen, 2017; Hyndman, 2018).  As teachers we have little control over student’s device selection and swiss cheese memories.  But we can have control over our own learning and behaviour.

There are a myriad of learning courses available for teacher education, and teachers are encouraged to extend their professional development.  This explicit instruction targeting ICT and digital literacies would be assumed to automatically lead to a cognitive change in teachers, which in turn would correlate to improved integration of digital literature in classroom practice.  (Korthagen, 2017, p.390).  But this assumption of correlation following a cognitive change is a fallacy as behavioural change requires more than just improved cognition, it requires motivation and affect too (Korthagen, 2017, p. 389-390)!   

Therefore it seems foolhardy of ATSIL (2017) and ACARA (2014) to mandate the integration of technologies and multimodal literature into classroom practice without accounting for the requirements of behavioural change (Korthagen, 2017, p. 389-390).  Simply dictating teachers to increase digital literature into classroom practice will not succeed in altering their behaviour, as this level of change requires cognition, affect AND motivation (Korthagen, 2017, p.390).  Affect not only has an impact on teacher behaviour but also on student motivation.  Teachers who are frustrated and disinclined with using digital literature are not going to translate the value of that format to their students.  Whereas teachers who gain pleasure from using ICT are more enthusiastic about it, and this has a positive effect on their motivation too.  Intrinsic motivation in teaching comes from teachers having a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness in their profession (Korthagen, 2017, p.391).   A teacher that has learned about digital literature, through formal professional developments or informal social learning is more likely to implement those new practices if they are enthused about it and that they can apply this knowledge in a manner of their choice.  

So it appears the best way for a teacher librarian to introduce and promote digital literature in schools is to:

  1. Run training sessions for teaching staff and support staff about various digital literature formats and how they meet specific learning outcomes.
  2. Share your ideas, enthusiasm and motivation about digital literature, model, talk, blog and boast about how it works for your classroom, and most of all, be positive and laugh about it –  After all, happiness and a smile are way more infectious than COVID-19.

Pexels / Pixabay

 

 

REFERENCES

ACARA. (2014j). Information and communication technology capability learning continuum. F-10 – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1074/general-capabilities-information-and-communication-ict-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

AITSL. (2017). Standards for Teachers. Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards

Howard, S., & Thompson, K. (2016). Seeing the system: Dynamics and complexity of technology integration in secondary schools. Educational Information Technology, 21, p.1877-1894. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s10639-015-9424-2.pdf

Hyndman, B. (2018). Ten reasons teachers can struggle to use technology in the classroom. The Conversation [Blog]. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/ten-reasons-teachers-can-struggle-to-use-technology-in-the-classroom-101114

Korthagen, F. (2017). Inconvenient truths about teacher learning: towards professional development 3.0. Teachers and Teaching, 23(4), p.387-405. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13540602.2016.1211523?needAccess=true

Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R. & Bronnick, K.A. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61-68.doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002 

Mantei, J., Kipscombe, K., & Kervin, L. (2018). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA)

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).

Augmented Reality in the Classroom – Part 4

Continuing with the series….

More ways in which AR can be applied in a school dynamic. 

6. NUMERACY

Numeracy skills can be enhanced using AR.  Wu et al. (2013) suggest that students can learn geometry, trigonometry, spatial relationships and collaborative problem based learning by using AR to supplement their learning.  Technologies such as the combination of TinkerLamp and Kaleidoscope are popular in Europe and can be used to explore symmetries and congruence.  Whereas the mobile application – AR Measure kit is useful in measuring distances, trajectories, angles, height and estimating volume  (Cuendet, Bonnard, Do-Lenh & Dillenbourg, 2013).  

7. SUPPORT LITERARY ARTS

Hannah et al. (2019) cited several methods in which AR can support the literary arts curriculum.  Students are able to create or visit real or fictional sites using the digital interfaces such as Merge cubeso that connections between the content and the real world can be made.  For example, Shakespeare comes alive with a tour of Verona, Japanese medieval history can be taught by analysing the structure of Kokura Castle, and students can investigate the structure of a steam engine, all with a single mobile app, a smartphone or tablet and a Merge cube.  

8. VISUAL ARTS

A very interesting use of AR is the ability to access and engage in an authentic exploration of real objects in an artificial space (Wu et al. 2013).  Many art galleries and museums around the world already have embedded AR to allow users access to additional information about the display, for example, some places use QR codes to inform the user of additional information about the artist or exhibit (Coates, 2020).  From a classroom perspective, students can support their own creative pieces by embedding their rationale using Thinglink, Padlet or Metaverse, and use QR codes on their paintings, sculptures, photographs or collages to link it to their rationale (Zak, 2014) .  

9. LOCATION BASED LEARNING

Wu et al., (2013) suggests that location based learning, such as field trips and excursions, can be augmented by the use of AR.  As previously mentioned, many museums, galleries and other institutions have already adopted the use of AR in their spaces (Coates, 2020; Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).   Some of them use the technology to provide additional information to the user about the collection, whereas other places use AR in their maps or tours  (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  By including relevant information within the augmented space, it encourages more authentic learning, which in turn improves student engagement and learning outcomes (Wu et al., 2013). 

Emerging technologies have also been adopted by some council reserves and state national parks as a means to inform users about local flora and fauna.  Visitors are able to use their devices and their inbuilt GPS systems to access pertinent information about the site they are accessing (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Some sites also offer remote access and this can be very useful for excursion preparation or for revision purposes.  Remote access would also be of great assistance when students are unable to attend excursions or field trips due to illness or pandemics. 

10. ASSISTING STUDENTS WITH DIVERSE LEARNING NEEDS

Technology has often been cited as an effective intervention method for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and educators seek methods in which to meet cognitive, behavioural and developmental needs (Sahin, Keshav, Salisbury & Vahabzadeh, 2018).  Digital methods are often favoured  for ASD students, as they tend to have a preference for electronic media due to their predilection as visual learners (Mahayuddin & Mamat, 2019, p.2176-2177).  Additionally AR offers them an environment that supports the tangible manipulation of abstract ideals, as well as a visual image of the learning content, and standardised and predictable outcomes as routine and predictability is very important to students with ASD (Mahayuddin & Mamat, 2019, p.2176-2177; Sahin et al., 2018, p.1).   

AR and VR are also able to assist ASD students in developing their socio-emotional skills.  This technology allows students to experience the world and its environmental hazards as well as engage and interact with their peers in a socially controlled environment (Sahin et al., 2018, p.2; Riva, Banos, Botella, Mantovani & Gaggioli; 2016).   Whilst tablets and smartphones can be used, Sahin et al. (2018) suggests the use of SmartGlasses as they can be preloaded with social and behavioural coaching software.  Another benefit is that AR experiences can be tailored and adapted to suit student’s diverse needs, which is important as many experience high levels of anxiety when there is disruption to their learning plan.  

 

Augmented Reality in the Classroom – Part 3

Continuing on the series….

Here are few ways in which AR can be applied in a school dynamic.

  1. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT 

Technology has often been cited as a tool to increase student engagement.  Bonascio (2017) and  Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2019) theorise that AR is able to prolong attention and focus, as when multimodal resources and haptic devices are used, higher levels of enjoyment are experienced.  This gratification is significantly reduced in students that do not comprehend the mechanics of the technology and indicated that whilst utilising AR can improve digital literacy, explicit teaching is required to ensure that all students are able to interact successfully with the technology (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2019). 

               2. INQUIRY LEARNING

Oddone (2019) and Foote (2018) both suggest that greater educational benefits arise from students creating their own interactive images and overlays rather than using supplied ones.  Apps such as Metaverse or Augment can be used by students to construct their own interactive content and would be an ideal cross curricular inquiry task across any discipline, but have curriculum value within the Science, History and Geography inquiry skills section. Examples of inquiry tasks include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. ABSTRACT CONCEPTS & STEM SUBJECTS

Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2018, p.526) believe that there is a positive effect to using multimodal resources and active learning for science and its related fields. This is because students often need assistance with visualising complex and abstract concepts (Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015; Riva, Banos, Botella, Mantovani & Gaggioli, 2016).  Abstract concepts can be problematic for many students because of the difficulty students can have in visualising theoretical postulations (Furio, Fleck, Bousquet, Guillet, Canioni & Hachet, 2017, p.2-3 ).  This struggle can negatively influence a student’s perception of the content material and lead to adverse learning outcomes (Furio et al., 2017, p.2-3 ).   AR technology allows students to visualise the concept, albeit in animation, and increase comprehension which leads to improved outcomes  (Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015, Wu et al., 2013).  This is because haptic devices allow students to manipulate and utilise their sensory faculties when they are constructing knowledge. Large and small phenomena, as well as anatomical figures, can be visualised using AR technology (Wu et al. 2013). 

 

High school curriculum linked examples include:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. READING – RECREATIONAL & INFORMATIONAL

AR books is the largest growing trend in children’s publishing and that many publishers are supplementing traditional texts with AR embedded resources (Levski, 2018; Zak, 2014). This is because AR books are seen as more innovative and able to improve flagging reading rates in children and adolescents (Levski ,2018, Zak, 2014).  Many young readers find the interactivity extremely engaging and the use of technology appeals to digital natives (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2019).

5. LITERACY

Mayahayuddin & Mamat, (2019) point out that the multimodal nature of AR improves literacy because the audio visual cues assist students in decoding.   Additionally,  AR enables students that have low focus or attention to enhance their learning as it grants access  to language in both formal and informal contexts, which is very useful for students with ADD, ADHD and those with social anxiety (Rafiq & Hashim, 2018, p.31; Mayayuddin & Mamat, 2019.  These benefits are further improved when AR is combined with gaming principles which provides additional interest and intrinsic motivation  (Mayahayuddin & Mamat, 2019; Levski 2018). 

 

REFERENCES

Foote, C. (2018).  Is it real or is it VR? Exploring AR and VR tools. Computers in Libraries. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=0&sid=6093ea4d-06fa-42b1-8400-75e5bd1dd875%40pdc-v-sessmgr03

Furio, D., Fleck, S., Bousquet, B., Guillet, JP., Canioni, L., & Hachet, M. (2017). HOBIT: Hybrid optical bench for innovative teaching. CHI’17 – Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Retrieved from https://hal.inria.fr/hal-01455510/file/HOBIT_CHI2017_authors.pdf

Levski, Y. (2018). 10 Augmented Reality Books That Will Blow Your Kid’s Mind. AppReal- VR [Blog]. Retrieved from https://appreal-vr.com/blog/10-best-augmented-reality-books/

Mahayuddin, Z., & Mamat, Z. (2019). Implementing augmented reality (AR) on phonics based literacy among children with autism. International Journal on Advanced Science Engineering Information Technology 9 (6). Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/296918932.pdf

Oddone, K. (2019). Even better than the real thing? Virtual and augmented reality in the school library. SCIS Connections. (110). Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/media/1921/scis-connections-110.pdf

Saidin, N. Abd Halim, N., & Yahaya, N. (2015). A review of research on augmented reality in education: Advantages and applications. International Education Studies, 8(13). Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.730.8456&rep=rep1&type=pd

Rafiq, K., & Hashim, H. (2018) Augmented reality game (ARG), 21st century skills and ESL classroom. Journal o fEducational and Learning Studies. 1 (1) pp29-34. Retrieved from https://journal.redwhitepress.com/index.php/jels/article/view/23/pdf

Riva, G., Banos, R., Botella, C., Mantovani, F., & Gaggioli, A. (2016). Transforming experience: The potential of augmented reality and virtual reality for enhancing personal and clinical change. Frontiers in Psychiatry 7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5043228/pdf/fpsyt-07-00164.pdf

Wu, H., Lee, S., Chang, H., & Liang, J. (2013). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented reality in education. Computers & Education, 62. Pp41-49. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.024

Zak, E. (2014). Do you believe in magic? Exploring the conceptualisation of augmented reality and its implication for the user in the field of library and information science.  Information Technology and Libraries

 

Augmented Reality in the classroom – Part 2

AR APPLICATIONS IN CLASSROOMS – Part 2 

The interactive and innovative nature of technology has often been cited as a positive influence on educational outcomes, and this benefit extends to the inclusion of AR in schooling (Oddone, 2019).   AR can be used to improve student engagement, address curriculum outcomes and increase digital literacy skills (Oddone, 2019; Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015).   It can be used in inquiry learning, recreational and informational reading, improving literacy and numeracy standards, developing STEM and ICT skills, supporting literary arts, visual arts and developing social emotional learning (Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015).  Like VR, AR expands learning beyond the textbook and classroom walls, as well as builds those critical digital literacy skills for life beyond the classroom (Wolz, 2019, p.3; Wu et al., 2014). 

The most sizable and unique benefit AR has on educational practices is that it uses 3D images to illustrate complex concepts to students (Zak, 2014).  By creating these images, AR enables the student to feel a sense of immediacy and immersion which fosters a realistic experience (Wu et al., 2013, p.44).  This realistic experience increases the frequency and depth of connections made between the student, the content and the real world (Hannah, Huber & Matei, 2019, p.278; Wu et al., 2013).  AR requires the user to activate the augmented data, therefore it can be described as student centred, contextual to the user and is a constructivist approach to education, and consequently aligns itself along the current prevalent pedagogical theories (Wolz, 2019, p.2; Zak, 2014).   Hence, when combined with holistic and authentic learning practices, AR has an immense capability to inspire affective learning. 

REFERENCES

Hannah, M., Huber, S., & Matei, S. (2019). Collecting virtual and augmented reality in the twenty first century library. Collection Management, 44 (2-4), pp.277-295. DOI: 10.1080/01462679.2019.1587673

Oddone, K. (2019). Even better than the real thing? Virtual and augmented reality in the school library. SCIS Connections. (110). Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/media/1921/scis-connections-110.pdf

Saidin, N. Abd Halim, N., & Yahaya, N. (2015). A review of research on augmented reality in education: Advantages and applications. International Education Studies, 8(13). Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.730.8456&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Wolz, K. (2019). Building faculty competence and self efficacy for using ZSpace virtual reality (VR) software in the classroom. All Regis University Theses. Retrieved from https://epublications.regis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1930&context=theses

Wu, H., Lee, S., Chang, H., & Liang, J. (2013). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented realiy in education. Computers & Education, 62. Pp41-49. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.024

Zak, E. (2014). Do you believe in magic? Exploring the conceptualisation of augmented reality and its implication for the user in the field of library and information science.  Information Technology and Libraries.

Augmented Reality in the classroom- Part 1

zedinteractive / Pixabay

The technology revolution, pervasive use of the internet and plethora of personal devices have changed the way society engages in employment, recreation, education and personal endeavours.

Educators need to keep abreast of emerging technologies so that they can ensure students possess the necessary digital skills and strategies to thrive in the 21st century  (Wolz, 2019).  Emanating software such as augmented and virtual reality are being trialed by many teachers seeking methods in which to improve engagement, bolster ICT acuity and meet the needs of the modern student.  This article seeks to define AR, identify its role in pedagogical practice, role in meeting curriculum outcomes, and inferences of future applications.  

WHAT IS AR 

Augmented reality (AR) is when a computer generated layer of information is placed over a person’s experience of the world (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017; Oddone, 2019).  Wu, Lee, Chang & Liang (2013) define AR as technology that uses accurate 3D visual representations to combine real with virtual worlds.  Generally viewed using mobile device applications or wearable computers, AR displays the augmented media in the form of images, sounds, videos, graphics or GPS data (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017; Wu et al. 2013). At this point, AR is already in use within military machinery, theatre, flight navigation, entertainment industry and various mobile applications, i.e. Pokemon Go (Pope, 2018a; Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  There are two forms of AR.  The first  form is when an interaction is stimulated between an image and a smart device, and the second is when the GPS triggers the digital information over the user’s location (Oddone, 2019, p.3).  Whereas virtual reality (VR) is when a user is completely immersed into an artificial world with the aid of technology (Oddone, 2019).  This technology has the ability to flood the senses and trick the mind into believing that the user is actually experiencing the event.  

AR resources are activated by an application that ‘reads’ a QR code, image or illustration so that the interactive content is released.   Levski (2018) points out that this added material could be as simple as a hidden photo or video, but could also be animated sequences or even an embedded game.  The addition of these interactive elements is based upon the gamification principle, which relies on positive feedback to keep students motivated.  By supporting interaction between the real and virtual world, AR allows the user to actively manipulate a tangible interface and thus increase the learner engagement and boost information retention (Saidin, Abd Hali & Yahaya, 2015; Wolz, 2019).  This interaction means that AR is self paced, promotes independent learning and allows students to progress at their own cognitive capabilities.  There is great potential for AR in educational practices, it can be embedded into print or digital resources, used across disciplines, and its multimodal nature gives diverse learners multiple entry points into the content (Levski, 2018).  

References:

Levski, Y. (2018). 10 Augmented Reality Books That Will Blow Your Kid’s Mind. AppReal- VR [Blog]. Retrieved from https://appreal-vr.com/blog/10-best-augmented-reality-books/

Oddone, K. (2019). Even better than the real thing? Virtual and augmented reality in the school library. SCIS Connections. (110). Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/media/1921/scis-connections-110.pdf

Pope, H. (2018a). Virtual and augmented reality in libraries. Library Technology Reports – American Library Association, (54)6.

Saidin, N. Abd Halim, N., & Yahaya, N. (2015). A review of research on augmented reality in education: Advantages and applications. International Education Studies, 8(13). Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.730.8456&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Townsdin, S., & Whitmer, W. (2017). Technology. Public Services Quarterly. 13. Pp190-199. DOI: 10.1080/15228959.2017.1338541

Wolz, K. (2019). Building faculty competence and self efficacy for using ZSpace virtual reality (VR) software in the classroom. All Regis University Theses. Retrieved from https://epublications.regis.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1930&context=theses

Wu, H., Lee, S., Chang, H., & Liang, J. (2013). Current status, opportunities and challenges of augmented realiy in education. Computers & Education, 62. Pp41-49. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.024

Location Learning – Virtual reality in the classroom.

When COVID-19 ruins your plans!

The group of Year 8 students had just finished a unit of work on the history of the Catholic Church from the fall of Rome to the Reformation as part of their Religious Education subject (Curriculum link – ACDSEH052/ ACDSEH054).  At the culmination of the semester, they were supposed to go on an excursion to explore the various different Christian churches and analyse how their structure, design, and use of symbols support faith based practices (Curriculum link – ACAVAM119/ACHASSK198). 

However, the COVID-10 pandemic and resulting restrictions prevented that adventure.  Therefore, in an effort to address the gap in their learning, the teacher librarian and classroom teacher collaborated to create a lesson that would virtually explore various churches by introducing emerging technologies in the form of virtual reality to the classroom with Google Cardboard and Google Streetview.  In the process students would learn essential note taking skills using a graphic organiser and paragraph writing skills.   Evidence of learning would be the written TEXAS or TEEL paragraph illustrating their analysis of the building structure and design and how it supports faith practices and community. 

Rosenblatt’s reader response theory was the underlying pedagogical principle for this activity (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110).  Commonly used in literature circles, Rosenblatt’s constructivist theory acknowledges each student’s contribution as valid, which enables them to become active agents in their own learning, and the activity appropriate for a diverse classroom (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.109-110).  However, instead of investigating texts in a literature circle, the students investigated and analysed religious sites in a similar immersive experience.  This virtual exploration required them to combine the new visual information to their own prior experience in order to create new knowledge (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111).  The collaborative atmosphere allows students to have an equal exchange of ideas, increases their problem solving skills as well as developing interpersonal skills and promotes collegian discussion  (ACARA, 2014a; Tobin, 2012, p. 41).  

The students were given a choice of six different churches to visit and had to select three for comparison purposes.  As location was no longer an issue, the TL identified a variety of churches from different Christian denominations across the world that were suitable.  It is important that careful research be undertaken to ensure that the sites are accessible freely via Google Streetview and the associated images provide relevant information.  

The students were requested to note down the similarities and differences between the different types of churches using a triple venn diagram.  This part of the task involved student collaboration and ideally students would have selected a different church site each and then shared their information through discourse.  However this did not happen as the students all looked at sites sequentially rather concurrently, which was a poor use of time from a teacher perspective, but did increase the length and breadth of discourse.  

Teaching note taking and the use of graphic organisers simultaneously was a pedagogical strategy.  Note taking is an essential skill that needs to be explicitly taught across the curriculum as the style of note taking and vocabulary choice will vary depending on the discipline.  Good note takers have generally higher academic outcomes because they are able to succinctly summarise ideas, concepts and information using their own vernacular, and then use their notes to create content to communicate their understanding and analysis (Stacy & Cain, 2015).  Graphic organisers have been proven to improve learning outcomes because it increases connections between ideas, and organises information in a visual and spatial manner (McKnight, n.d.; Mann, 2014).  By utilising the two strategies together, the students are given an opportunity to explore different methods of learning which they can use throughout their learning both in and outside classroom walls.  

Good notes lead to a strong author’s voice and content in paragraphs.  The culmination of the task required students to create a paragraph identifying and describing the structure of the church and its alignment to faith based practices, as well as evaluating how the design of the church’s spiritual and aesthetic design holds value to their congregation and society.   The question was created using Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive domains so that all the diverse learning needs of the class would be catered for appropriately (Kelly, 2019b). 

Questions are an intrinsic and ancient practice of teaching (Tofade, Elsner & Haines, 2013).  Carefully designed questions are all features of good pedagogical practice and are able to, stimulate thinking, promote discourse, further connections between prior and new knowledge as well as encourage subject exploration. (Tofade et al., 2013).  Teachers that stage questions in order of Bloom’s taxonomy are addressing all the cognitive domains, as well as building students to achieve that higher order thinking (Tofade et al., 2013).  

The virtual exploration of churches around the world was designed to compensate students for their inability to connect their learning to the real world to the pandemic.  The task overtly sought to get students to experiment with emerging technologies, work in collaborative groups and communicate their learning in written form.  In addition students covertly learned to note take using graphic organisers, engage in collegial discourse and use Bloom’s taxonomy to work toward higher order thinking.  These skills are in addition to the content learning outcomes and even if the students did not learn any new content, they had a good crack at learning some valuable skills!  

Curriculum links:

Overall content outcomes:

  • ACDSEH052Dominance of the Catholic Church and the role of significant individuals such as Charlemagne
  •  ACDSEH054Relationships with subject peoples, including the policy of religious tolerance 
  • ACAVAM119Analyse how artists use visual conventions in artworks
  • ACTDIP026 – Analyse and visualise data using a range of software to create  information, and use structured data to model objects or events 
  • ACHASSK198 – Identify the different ways that cultural and religious groups express their beliefs, identity and experiences
  • ACELA1763 – writing structured paragraphs for use in a range of academic settings such as paragraph responses, reports and presentations. 
  • ACELY1810 – Experimenting with text structures and language features to refine and clarify ideas and improve text effectiveness. 

                   (ACARA, 2014h; ACARA, 2014i; ACARA, 2014j)

Using VR

  • GC – ICT -Locate, generate and access data and information  
  • GC – CCT –  Identify and clarify information and ideas
  • GC – Literacy – Understanding how visual elements create meaning (ACARA, 2014c; ACARA, 2014b; ACARA, 2014h)

Graphic organisers

  • GC – CCT – 
    • Organise and process information
    • Imagine possibilities and connect ideas                (ACARA, 2014b)

Collaborative Learning groups

  • GC – PSC
    • Appreciate diverse perspectives
    • Understand relationships
    • Communicate effectively
    • Work collaboratively
    • Negotiate and resolve conflict

                                   (ACARA, 2014d)

TEXAS Paragraph

GC – IC – 

  • Investigate culture and cultural identity
  • Explore and compare cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices

GC – Literacy 

  • Compose spoken, written, visual and multimodal learning area texts
  • Use language to interact with others
  • Use knowledge of text structures
  • Express opinion and point of view
  • Understand learning area vocabulary

(ACARA, 2014f; ACARA, 2014c)

REFERENCES

ACARA. (2014a). Personal and social capability. General Capabilities Curriculum.  Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/personal-and-social-capability/

ACARA. (2014b). Creative and critical thinking continuum.  F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia.  Retrieved from  https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1072/general-capabilities-creative-and-critical-thinking-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014c). Literacy continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/3596/general-capabilities-literacy-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014d). Personal and social capabilities continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1078/general-capabilities-personal-and-social-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014e). Ethical understanding continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1073/general-capabilities-ethical-understanding-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014f). Intercultural understanding continuum. F-10 Curriculum – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1075/general-capabilities-intercultural-understanding-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014h). Information and communication technology capability learning continuum. F-10 – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/media/1074/general-capabilities-information-and-communication-ict-capability-learning-continuum.pdf

ACARA. (2014h). English. F-10 – General Capabilities Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english/?strand=Language&strand=Literature&strand=Literacy&capability=ignore&priority=ignore&year=11582&elaborations=true&el=15718&searchTerm=TEEL+paragraph#dimension-content

ACARA. (2014i). History Curriculum. F-10 Curriculum – Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. . Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/humanities-and-social-sciences/history/

ACARA. (2014j). Visual Arts Curriculum. F-10 Curriculum – Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. . Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/the-arts/visual-arts/

Kelly, M. (2019a). Organising compare-contrast paragraphs. ThoughtCo [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/organizing-compare-contrast-paragraphs-6877

Kelly, M. (2019b). Bloom’s taxonomy in the classroom. ThoughtCo [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/blooms-taxonomy-in-the-classroom-8450

Mann, M (2014). The effectiveness of graphic organisers on the comprehension of social studies content by students with disabilities. Marshall University Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. Retrieved from https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1895&context=etd

McKnight, M. (n.d.). Use graphic organisers for effective learning. TeachHUB.com. Retrieved from https://www.teachhub.com/teaching-graphic-organizers

Stacy, E., & Cain, J. (2015). Note taking and handouts in the digital age. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education (79) 7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4812780/

Tobin, M. (2012). Digital storytelling: Reinventing literature circles. Fischer College of Education. 12. NSU. Retrieved from https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=fse_facarticles

Tofade, T., Elsner, J., Haines, S. (2013). Best practice strategies for effective use of questions as a teacher tool. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 77 (7). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3776909/.

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

 

 

The books we read out loud are the ones that resonate the most. 

ANZAC Day 

The books we read out loud are the ones that resonate the most within us and are the ones we remember most clearly.  

Reading out aloud to children is an effective way of improving literacy and picture books are ideally suited to the task.  The whole concept of reading out loud is very familiar to students. Most children understand the notion of a bedtime story or just story time in general and do not view it as a threatening experience.  As the text themselves are quite brief and usually accompanied by illustrations, students who have learning needs and or have low literacy, are more likely to participate willingly.  Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg (2011) reminds us that literacy is a dynamic interaction between the reader and the text.  Discussion groups can be used to increase the relationship between the two as comprehension of the text increases if there are connections made between real life and the text (Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg, 2011).    

From a pedagogical perspective, there are several benefits to reading out aloud to students of all ages.  One reason is that the practice of reading to children (and teenagers), increases fluency and improves comprehension (Winch & Holliday, 2012, p.120; Allington & Gabriel, 2012).  This is because the proficient reader models pronunciation, tone and inflexion of the text, allowing the children to piece the visual images, text and sounds together to create a multimodal experience.  Other reasons include, increasing vocabulary, improving visual literacy as well as the ability to broach sensitive social issues in a delicate manner.  But the greatest benefit that arises from read aloud sessions is the discussion that occurs before, during and afterwards (Allington & Gabriel, 2012; McDonald, 2013). Fisher & Frey (2018) point out that discussions have a very strong influence on student learning as it is based upon the central concept of shared reading or common reading experience (Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg, 2011).  

Discussions can be done as a whole class or small groups, in a book club or literature circle (Fisher & Frey, 2018, p.92).  The point of the discussion is to allow students to collaborate with their peers and have a free exchange of ideas in order to critically evaluate the text (Fisher & Frey, 2018, p.92).  The role of the teacher and or teacher librarian in these discussions is not to lead the conversation but rather facilitate the collaboration by creating a safe space and implementing strategies that encourage lateral thinking (Fisher & Frey, 2018, p.92).  

Good narrative nonfiction picture books are able to give students the same pleasurable experiences and cognitive change as fiction (Kiefer & Wilson, 2010; Morris, 2013).  Their use of narrative techniques such as theme, character and plot are cleverly intertwined with factual information to create a format that is appealing and instructive (Morris, 2013; Cornett, 2014, p.151).  The picture books listed up above are all cleverly crafted and have the ability to increase cognition in the reader.  This cognitive change causes increased self awareness and actualisation within the student (Morris, 2013; Kiefer & Wilson, 2010). 

Non fiction picture books are also capable of increasing critical thinking skills.  I have previously mentioned the benefit of narrative nonfiction in my book review of “After Auschwitz”, so I will just briefly summarise the following.  The interweaving of factual information and prose forces the reader to sieve through the text to determine the critical information.   This sieving, analysis and evaluation of text increases critical thinking and promotes good media literacy.

  In a world full of medicinal bleach, fake news and click bait, critical thinking and media literacy are important!!  

There are many aspects within the role of a teacher librarian.  One of these roles is to advocate the role of fiction in the teaching and learning.  The reason for this is simple.  Fiction, or aka storytelling, is an innate part of being human (Cornett, 2014).  It is the simplest and most efficient way humans have of learning about ourselves, our identity, our history, society and language (Cornett, 2014).  By implementing narratives and narrative non fiction into the curriculum, educators are increasing the zone of proximal development between the student and the curriculum, which in turn increases engagement with the content (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  

 What does this mean for teachers and educators? 

 It means that there needs to be a more assertive role for narratives in pedagogical practice.  

So there!

 

References

Allington, R., & Gabriel, R. (2014). Every child, every day. Educational Leadership, Volume 69 (6).  pp.10-15. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=af8a4fab-9b19-447e-835f-78f39f145c0b%40sdc-v-sessmgr02&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=73183256&db=ehh

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

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2018). Raise reading volume through access, choice, discussion, and book talksReading Teacher, 72(1), 89-97. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1691

Hashim, A & VongKulluskn, V. (2018). E reader apps and reading engagement: A descriptive case study. Computers and Education, 125, pp.358-375. Retrieved from https://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-and-education/

Jewett, P. C., Wilson, J. L. & Vanderburg, M.A. (2011). The unifying power of a whole school readJournal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(6), 415-424. doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.6.3

Keifer, B. & Wilson, M. I. (2010). Nonfiction literature for children: Old Assumptions and new directions. In S. Wolf, , K. Coats, , P. A. Enciso & C. Jenkins (Eds). In Handbook of research on children’s and young adult literature (pp. 290-301). Retrieved from Proquest Ebook Central.

McDonald, L. (2013). A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association PETA.

Morris, R. (2013). Linking learning and literary nonfiction. School Library Monthly, 29(7), 39-40. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/

Winch, G., & Holliday, M. (2014). Chapter 6 – The reader and the text. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl & M. Holliday (Eds.) Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed., pp.109-128). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Graphic Novels – More than just for fun.

New part of the collection

 

My school library has recently acquired a variety of graphic novels, ranging from classics such as Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird” to swashbuckling tales of pirates, and fantastical stories of superheroes from the Avengers franchise.  There are multiple reasons behind the acquisition of these resources; tacking reluctant readers engagement with reading, boosting traditional and multimodal literacy and addressing the needs of the curriculum.  

BAM! Literacy and fun- TOGETHER!

 

Graphic novels have widespread appeal across generations.  From adolescent reluctant readers to highly literate adult geeks, graphic novels can inspire a cult following.  I can only chuckle when I reminisce about Sheldon Cooper and his obsession with comics in the popular TV series “Big Bang Theory”.  The popularity seems to stem from the presence of popular genres such as Manga, funny and superhero comics and their use of contemporary characters (Crowley, 2015; Hughes et al., 2011).  The Marvel and DC comic series in particular, have reached new zeniths in popularity due to the recent plethora of movies being released this decade.  

Literacy teachers common use graphic novels as a method of engaging students who are reluctant readers boosting literacy.   As mentioned in earlier blog posts, reluctant readers often struggle to engage with traditional texts for a multitude of reasons, most commonly, low literacy.  Aliteracy or illiteracy, can preclude students from comprehending large text paragraphs (Crowley, 2015). Graphic novels with their text juxtapositioned with pictures format allows students to use visual stimuli to assist with decoding text (Cook & Kirchoff, 2017).  The drawings create a tangible image for the reader allowing them to be captivated more easily by the narrative within. This engagement can often influence students with low literacy to become more prolific with their reading, which has a direct correlation to increased literacy and overall academic achievement.  Due to their popularity and narrative style, graphic novels epitomise the adage, ‘reading for pleasure’. For schools with wide reading programs, a strong graphic novel investment is highly advised.  

There are other benefits to adding graphic novels to a collection.  The advent of the information age has demanded a strong requirement for students to be literate across modalities.  Graphic novels with their images and text colligated together, confer visual, gestural and spatial elements simultaneously, causing the reader to engage with the material on multiple levels.   As mentioned previously, graphic adaptations of class texts and other classics are extremely beneficial in engaging students as it is unfortunate that prescribed texts often seem to lack appeal with the student cohort.  A graphic adaptation has the duality of both ENGAGING disinterested students and ASSISTING students with DIVERSE learning needs.  By adding graphic novel adaptations of class texts to the collection, a school library is acknowledging the diverse learning needs of their students whilst addressing curriculum requirements mandated by ACARA.     

References

Cook, M., & Kirchoff, J. (2017). Teaching multimodal literacy through reading and writing graphic novels. Language and Literacy.  Vol. 19 (4). Pp. 76-95

Crowley, J. (2015) Graphic novels in a the school library. The School Library. Vol 63 (3)  Pp140-142

Hughes, J., King, A., Perkins, P. & Fuke, V. (2011) Adolescents and the Autographics; Reading and writing coming of age graphic novels. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. Vol. (54(8). DOI: doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.8.

The good, the bad and the ugly of Roald Dahl

Authors are magicians. 

pendleburyannette / Pixabay  – Magician or Author

 

They capture your imagination with words and imagery. 

Similar to a siren singing her tune, an author draws the reader in with stories of heroes, villains, mysteries and magic.  There are several writers that come to mind when one thinks about  perspicacity at understanding a developing mind. Enid Blyton comes to my thoughts immediately, as it was her books of Faraway trees, Wishing Chairs, Mallory Towers and the adventurous children that beguiled and transformed me into a certifiable bookworm.  Other authors with these same mystical powers include Emily Rodda, A A Milne, Dr Seuss, C. S Lewis, Beatrix Potter, E.B White, Lewis Carrol, Eric Carle, Rick Riordan, J K Rowling and of course, Roald Dahl.

Dahl’s popularity has enthralled generations of children with his fantastical tales.  Even 30 years after the publication of perspicacious Matilda, the lure is still strong according to Kelly (2019) who recently published an article in the Sunday Times just short of the author’s birthdate.  Dahl’s books have inspired generations of children to read.  His stories of redemption and resilience appeal to both children and adults.  I found it particularly interesting that the books often seem to be narrated by the child protagonist.  By doing so, Dahl places the reader in the central position and thus immediately engages their interest.  The books often place the child in the role of an underdog and their eventual vanquishment of the bigger and older (usually an adult) enemy gives great satisfaction.  Darby (2016) believes that this narrative style is appealing to children as it makes them feel like “someone is in their court”.  

Studiolarsen / Pixabay – Victory at last

 

Some people assert that Dahl’s books are macabre and filled with violence, racial slurs, misogyny and vindictive behaviour.  Anderson (2016) argues that the books caused great disturbance among adult readers when they first started being published in the late 60’s. Stories where witches turn children into mice, people are fed worms and or eaten by giants, and let us not forget principals that swing cute girls by their hair like a discus and push children into nail studded cupboards.  

In fact, “James and the Giant Peach has been lambasted for its racism, profanity and sexual innuendo” Anderson (2016) states.  

punch_ra / Pixabay – Just Peachy

 

It appears Dahl was provoking everyone, as he offended numerous demographics in equal measure.  But I am starting to believe that the provocation is what lured children to read and re-read his books.  It was just that little bit naughty and disgusting. Just enough to make children feel superior and more wise than the character, but not too much as to disengage the reader.  Arguably this is probably what explains Dahl’s longevity as an author. Nice clean stories such as Wilder’s Little House series has its staunch clientele but it does lacks the Dahl’s drawcard in that the majority of children do not identify with these characters.  Kole (2018) suggests that it is when the reader can draw upon their own experience with the subject matter that engagement with the text occurs. This could be contended similar for L M Montgomery’s Anne or White’s Charlotte’s Web. All extremely well written and received books, but not as far reaching as Dahl.  Whilst their stories do have points of personal travail, they simply are not dark enough.  

KELLEPICS / Pixabay – Looking for the Bogeyman

 

This need for darkness is important for children’s literature

as Anderson (2016) and Kole (2018) further elucidate.  One can only think of the popularity of the Grimm fairy tales, Rowling’s Harry Potter, Collins ’Hunger Games and Meyer’s Twilight to realise that the desire for grim has not changed in centuries. The adage about literature reflecting life is the underlying support for this need for fear and fright in children’s books.  Stories of children overcoming great difficulty has the ability to build great resilience and empathy in the reader.  

johnhain / Pixabay – Empathy on your mind?

 

We are all aware of how reading builds empathy.  Readers identify with the characters in the story and thus the feelings from one are juxtaposition-ed on the other .  But reading fictitious stories of giants, witches and wizards, whilst unrealistic, also gives children an important cathartic release according to Bettelheim (2010).  Rochelle (1977) whilst dated, firmly believes that adults and children both require fantastical literature to interweave the complex strains of good and evil in humanity.  Fantastical tales give children innate strength to overcome hurdles life throws at them, no matter how bizarre it is (Kole, 2018).  Children are aware that these stories are unreal in the fantastical sense but the situation that the characters are facing are very real indeed (Rochelle, 1977). Wakefield (2014) agrees and points out that fairy tales are there to protect rather than terrify, as the protagonist is forced to seek inner strength to overcome the villain.  The stories illustrate that these situations can be overcome, and in that, give hope and possibly a way out. 

Fantastical tales are more than just entertainment.  In their own way, they give children (and adults) the ability to fight demons in both the real world and in their dreams. After all, the lives of children are not always filled with rainbows and unicorns.  Many children live in shadows. Reading stories such as Dahl’s encourage children (and adults) to go past their grim quagmire and find their inner strength.  

So this Roald Dahl day on September 13, read a fantastical story… and at the same time, gain some humanity.

References.

Anderson, H. (2016) The dark side of Roald Dahl. BBC Culture. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20160912-the-dark-side-of-roald-dahl

Bettelheim, B (2010) The uses of enchantment; the meaning and importance of fairy tales. New York: Vintage Books. Vintage Edition. 

Darby, S. (2016). 15 Must read children’s authors. BNKIDS blog. [blog]. Retrieved from  barnesandnoble.com/blog/kids/15-must-read-childrens-authors/

Kelly, L. (2019). Roald Dahl clan to share £6m dividend from licensing rights. Sunday Times. Retrived from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/roald-dahl-clan-to-share-6m-dividend-from-licensing-rights-bdtdt6qfd

Grinstead, R. (2016) Happy Roald Dahl day. Medium.com [blog]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@rhysgrinstead/its-roald-dahl-day-here-s-how-he-influenced-me-844a4e75bc19

Kole, K. (2018). The role of fairy tales in affective learning: Enhancing adult literacy and learning in FE and community settings. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 58(3), 365-389. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/2250950746?accountid=10344

Rochelle, L. (1977). The search for meaning through fantasy. The English Journal.  Vol. 66, No. 7, pp 54-55.  Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/814365

Wakefield, M. (2014). Why scary fairy stories are the best. The Spectator.  

Breaking down the barriers

Breaking down the barriers

 

Break out boxes are a fabulous activity that engage and excite students of all ages.  These boxes mirror how an escape room works in that students puzzle their way through to find the code that will unlock the box and obtain their prize! 

These boxes were amazing all throughout book week!! My fabulous colleague Jordan is a whiz at creating activities that stimulate the brain, evoke critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication.   Using the Critical and creative thinking continuum from the General capabilities, the puzzles were selected to address the various strands at the appropriate stage for each class.  Our students were thoroughly engaged in the pursuit of a grand prize.  TBH, the grand prizes were lollies as that was what the budget permitted.  

The boxes were such a hit that we have been clamoured with requests to repeat them with other classes.  The 2IC of RE has asked the boxes be available for Year 8 RE to sum up their World Religions unit at the end of next term as well as 7 RE for their unit on ‘Gospels, Parables and Miracles’.  9 History wants it for exam preparation in two weeks. 10 English want it next week to reinvigorate the flagging interest in ‘Lord of the flies’ that I have previously grumbled about.   We even managed to get an elusive science class requesting it – 11 Biology is going to trial one to introduce the next unit of work.  

So what does this mean for us as a TL?

Besides embedding the Gen Caps into the teaching and learning, breakout boxes draw in the skeptical teachers by breaking down barriers.  We all know there are teachers in every school that have strong aversions to libraries and teacher librarians.  There are ones that are not sure of what a TL can contribute to the classroom, and others that avoid the library like its a contagious disease.  Some are not even sure why we are there at all!

We have found that breakout boxes are so captivating that its plainly obvious how it can work in the classroom teacher’s favour.  But this indulgence comes at a cost…  They need to book a TL to do this activity either in the library or their classroom.  And maybe then they will see, we aren’t all that scary.  And then… maybe then, they will come back, to borrow books, request teaching spaces and most importantly, collaborate together in planning units of work.  

Maybe then they will understand what we do, and who we are.

Now who is feeling smug?

(my HOD…  this whole concept wasnt my idea, but as my HOD and colleagues are not going to blog about it. I might as well)