Augmented Reality in a school library – Part 5.

So far I have covered ways in which emerging technologies such as AR can be incorporated into the classroom.  This next section is about this technology can be used in school libraries as part of resource management, pedagogical practices and collaborative learning.

ROLE OF THE LIBRARY

School libraries and teacher librarians play a pivotal role in technology access.  School libraries have long been known for providing equitable access for information (ALIA, 2014).  The digital revolution has changed the primary purpose of libraries from information repositories to being gateways to knowledge.  This is because a library collection is no longer limited to print texts but now extends to including ebooks, digital resources,online databases and emerging technologies.  Consequently, by extending this access to emerging technologies like AR and VR, school libraries are building the value of their resources and concurrently, reducing the impact of the digital divide on their students (DIIS, 2016).  There are several ways in which a library can introduce emerging technologies such as AR to their patrons.  These include:

 

  1. AR EMBEDDED TEXTS – These resources are also the most cost efficient method of introducing AR technology to students,  as it enables them to experience the technology but without the associated costs of setting up hardware and software (Brigham, 2017; Foote, 2018).  Magana, Serrano & Rebello (2018, p. 526) cite clearly there is an increased student understanding when multimodal resources such as AR embedded information texts are used when compared to traditional texts. The reason why AR technology has increased efficacy in informational resources is that haptic feedback is non verbal and students focus on that as the primary source of information and the text provides the support (Magana, Serrano & Rebello, 2018).  This method is currently in place in most schools and academic libraries and some libraries offer a smart device loan scheme as well to assist with AR resources for offsite learning.
  2. MAKERSPACES – Makerspaces convert students from users of content to creators of knowledge as they allow students to pursue individual projects in and out of class time,  as well as facilitate independent and cross disciplinary learning (Slatter & Howard, 2013).  Many libraries have designated makerspace areas to facilitate creativity and critical learning and free play.  Pope (2018a) points out that free play should be encouraged as it allows users of all ages to learn through experimentation, even if the original point was educational or recreational in purpose.  These areas also allow teachers to experiment with new technology for their own personal benefit or to embed into their teaching practice (Slatter & Howard, 2013).
  3. AR INSTALLATIONS – An extension of makerspaces are AR installations.  These areas, known as sandbox programming, are permanently devoted to experimentation, exploration and demonstrations of AR/VR technology  (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Some examples of AR installations are TinkerLamp and zSpace. TinkerLamp was the forerunner of AR technology and required a screen, a projector, experimentation board and an interferometer (Furio et al., 2017, p.3).  Whereas the more modern zSpace consists of a computer, stylus and specialised glasses (Foote, 2018).                                                                                                                 Foote (2018) correctly points out that it is not cost effective to implement AR technology into every classroom, and that AR elements are best served through shared spaces such as the library.  But even then, these installations are not common in schools as Merge cubes, as they are very expensive and the latter is cheaper and more flexible for group use (Pope, 2018a).  
  4. LIBRARY OUTREACH AND MARKETING – Library tours, displays and other promotional programs have an immense capability for AR.  AR embedded posters and displays are an innovative method to engage students, and can convey useful information about seasonal events, special collection, library skills and services (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  It is also possible to gamify library maps with embedded GPS tagging as a method of incentivising students to explore the various library spaces and facilities (Balci, 2017; Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017).  Besides being innovative, the use of mobile applications facilitates the collection of user data.  Library staff are able to analyse this data and use it to appraise student engagement, as well as illustrate the library’s effectiveness in adapting to advancements in technology (Townsdin & Whitmer, 2017). 
  5. INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR –  There is scope for libraries to implement AR as part of their learning management system, the delivery of information and the provision of data (Zak, 2014).  The modern student has a preference for technology based practices and this extends to information seeking (Wolz, 2019). Zak (2014) suggests that by using emerging technologies as part of information seeking, libraries are speaking the same language as their clientele.

 

REFERENCES:

Australian Library and Information Association. (2014). Future of the Library and Information Science Profession. ALIA Futures. Retrieved from https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/documents/advocacy/ALIA-Future-of-the-Profession-ALL.pdf

Balci, L. (2017). Using augmented reality to engage students in the library. Information Today Europe [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.infotoday.eu/Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/Using-Augmented-Reality-to-engage-students-in-the-library-121763.aspx

Brigham, T. (2017). Reality check: Basics of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality. Medical Reference Services Quarterly (36) 2. Pp 171-178. DOI: 10.1080/02763869.2017.1293987

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (2016). Australia’s digital economy update. Retrieved from https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2016/05/apo-nid66202-1210631.pdf

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

Magana, A., Serrano, M., & Rebello, N. (2018). A sequenced multimodal learning approach to support students’ development of conceptual learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 35 (4). DOI https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1111/jcal.12356

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

Slatter, D., & Howard, D. (2013). A place ot make, hack and learn: makerspaces in Australian public libraries. Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 62(4), pp.272-284. Retrieved from https://eprints.qut.edu.au/73071/1/73071.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

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 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 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

The implications of using digital literature in a secondary schools

Read this! 

Change is inevitable and society has seen great changes to the way it functions.  The current technology revolution has changed the way people earn, communicate, work, live, study and recreate.  According to Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory, reading and learning work symbiotically together with strong influences from language and technology (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  Therefore by this theory, changes in technology resonates how learning, language and literacy manifests in communities.  This is evident in the way the definition of literacy has expanded.  Previously the term ‘literate’ was used to describe individuals who were able to read and write.  But the current definition includes the skills and knowledge required to access, use, understand and express ideas, thoughts and feelings, across multiple modalities, and in all contexts of life (ACARA, 2014).  The broadening of the definition is directly related to the evolving nature of technology and its impact upon the way literature and books are read, comprehended and evaluated (Sargeant, 2015; Jabr, 2015). 

sik-life / Pixabay – The metamorphsis of the book

The concept of the book changes with every technology revolution and corresponding societal change.  From prehistoric stone tablets, to Ancient Egyptian papyrus and Roman vellum scrolls, to the innovative Gutenberg printing press, books have evolved with technology, and at each transformation, the reading paradigm changes (Mangen, Walgermo & Bronnick, 2013).  The modern definition of a book can include the traditional paper form, as well as electronic versions that can be read on devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops along with audiobooks, online books, and other digital products such as applications and websites (Springen, 2010).  This emergence of these new digital texts require additional skills and strategies in order for the reader to comprehend the narrative (Jabr, 2015; Mangen et al., 2013; Sekeres & Watson, 2011).  As part of evidence based practice, secondary school teachers are encouraged to adapt their pedagogical practices to address these technological and societal changes to ensure that their students possess the relevant skills and strategies to become active participants in society.  

geralt / Pixabay – A is for Apple, B is for Ball…

 

Reading has often been characterised as the product of an individual’s ability to decode and comprehend the text and is viewed as a fundamental human skill (Moore & Cahill, 2016, p.4). Engagement in reading is linked to improved student learning and long term academic success (Moore & Cahill, 2016; Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018). Unfortunately many teenagers and young adults are reluctant to read and this reluctance can impact their education as well as their social capital and identity formation (Moore & Cahill, 2016).  Many education departments across the world have increased funding for technology in schools to boost literacy and reading rates in an effort to halt declining literacy (Keen, 2016).  In turn, educators seek to identify pedagogical practices that will increase student motivation for reading and in turn, improve overall literacy.    

Technology has been often cited for its ability to improve educational outcomes due to its engaging format.  Morris & Cahill (2016) has determined that technology has a stronger preference in secondary compared to primary aged students.  Since motivation to read and cognitive experiences when reading works via a positive feedback mechanism, it makes sense that digital literature should lead to increased reading rates and improved literacy (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  Furthermore, Taylor (2018) suggests that the complex nature of digital storytelling is suitable for teenagers as they are familiar with using devices and are comfortable switching between screens and print.  

janeb13 / Pixabay – Portability of Ebooks

Technology in literature, also known as digital literature, encompasses ebooks, audiobooks, interactive media and mobile applications.  Each of these technologies, delivers narratives in their own individual way and requires a variety of skills and strategies for decoding and comprehension. Many teachers and teacher librarians are tasked with identifying technology based literature in an effort to increase engagement and improve educational outcomes.  

Sargeant (2015) defines an ebook as the static digitised version of a print text with its familiar features of virtual pages, book gutters and page turning animation.  Access to ebooks can occur both onsite and offsite as they can be retrieved and delivered digitally to mobile devices with embedded features (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  Examples include Kindle application, where ebooks purchased from Amazon can be accessed through, or BorrowBox and Wheelers, that allow for borrowing of titles and are often affiliated with public and school libraries.  Some ebooks for older readers have various levels of interactivity, such as hyperlinks and in built media are commonly found in secondary expository or information texts such as text books (Sargeant, 2015).   Their increased popularity with older readers is due to portability and ability to retain text anonymity (Dickenson, 2014).  But ebooks that are designed for younger and less literate readers have lower levels of interactivity and contain more skeuomorphic features to reduce distraction from the main point (Sargeant, 2015) . 

Jeon (2012) promotes the use of ebooks in schools as they support academic instruction, are time efficient as well as provide a dynamic and cost effective way of managing a collection. Ebooks can also be integrated into library management systems and thus are available for to be borrowed by students at any time, including in times of pandemics and forced isolation (Jeon, 2012).  These apps are designed to assist readers in retaining anonymity in title choice, as well as allow access to a wide range of reading levels which encourages independent reading and promotes bibliotherapy (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  

DariuszSankowski / Pixabay – Bibliotherapy

 

Audiobooks are increasing in popularity with readers from all generations (Moore & Cahill, 2016).  The most prevalent use of audiobooks in schools are, students with low literacy and learning difficulties as well as second language learners (Moore & Cahill, 2016, p.5).   Hiebert, as cited in Moore & Cahill (2016) argued that language and the fundamentals of narratives can be conveyed through auditory processes, as language-comprehension system in the brain permits text engagement and comprehension (p.3-4).  Other benefits to the implementation of audiobooks in teaching and learning processes include, improving vocabulary, promoting oral language, as well as strengthening links between oral and written literacies (Moore & Cahill, 2016, p.4).  Audiobooks can be easily accessed on personal devices and offer the same level of anonymity as achieved by ebooks.  Anonymity is very important in secondary schools, particularly for students with low literacy who need to access ‘different’ texts (Dickenson, 2014). 

sindrehsoereide / Pixabay – Listening = Reading

Whilst there are many different reasons why students struggle to read, the most common reasons in secondary schools include, insufficient vocabulary, incorrect decoding and a lack of fluency (Moore & Cahill, 2016, p.5).   Access to audiobooks allows students who struggle with the aforementioned inadequacies to engage with the text and develop their reading accuracy as well as potentially improving any behavioural management that arises from disengagement and disenfranchisement (Moore & Cahill, 2016, p.6).  Audiobooks address these needs and therefore it is possible to surmise that this technology is able to provide the reader the same rich experience that is afforded by print text.  

472301 / Pixabay – Mobile applications

 

Interactive media (IM) has exploded in recent years and this is impacting teaching and learning (Cullen, 2015).  Some examples of interactive media include digital books, online books, book applications and websites.  Lamb & Johnson (2010) argue that IM causes readers to shift from being passive receivers to active participants.  This is because IM is able to engage students in the content via multiple entry points and therefore encourages learning through experience and experimentation (Lamb & Johnson, 2010; Cullen, 2015).  IM narratives are able to tell dual stories, as well as bring the images to life whilst providing a brilliant way to connect emerging technologies to the curriculum (Cullen, 2015; Taylor, 2018).  

One example of IM are book applications (apps).  Book apps are software programs that are designed to engage students by delivering high levels of interactive media rich content (Sargeant, 2015).   They integrate multiple modes of communication so that the text and visuals are fused to create a story that requires the reader to transform into a user by their interaction in the narrative with a touch screen (Sargeant, 2015).  This process of action and outcome is based upon gamification principles already present in the rewards based system currently practiced across most school systems.  Gamification uses extrinsic motivation  in learning and teaching practice.  But Briggs (2016) cautions the use of gamification in assessment.  The reason for this caution is that the motivation to succeed arises from the low personal stakes the reader has with the text, as well as the elusive but reachable goals. 

 IM has the capacity to cater to the needs of a varied classroom because of a student’s ability to work at an individual pace and the multiple entry points allows for differentiation.  There is also a possibility for educators to use IM to create scenarios, as a mechanism to introduce students to new units of work, or introduce assessment pieces in an engaging format (Lamb & Johnson, 2010).  Cullen (2015) believes that application led learning bolsters motivation and engagement in students, which is essential for improved learning experiences and positive outcomes.   

RobertCheaib / Pixabay – Device distractions.

 

There are valid contraindications to the use of technology in educational settings.  Studies have shown comprehension is lower in narratives and expository texts when a device is used (Jeon, 2012; Mangen et al., 2013).  Jeon (2012) believes that within some forms of technology, the complex nature and formatting of the text causes too great a cognitive load on students and thus it negatively affects comprehension.  Hashim & VongKulluksn (2018) concur and point out that students often become distracted in their attempt to multitask on devices, which leads to decreased metacognitive regulation and reduces text completion.  

The format of text is also important for comprehension.  Digital literature in all forms have lower comprehension rates in comparison to traditional texts (Jeon, 2012; Mangen et al., 2013).  One of the other main reasons for this unfavourable comparison is visual ergonomics.  Visual ergonomics, such as lowered spatial stability, leads to a negative mental representation of the text (Mangen et al., 2013, p.66).  Good readers have a high mental recall of information positioning in text.  Consequently, limited mental representation restricts recall and makes it harder for students to construct new banks of knowledge from individual pieces of information. One suggestion to combat this limitation and to promote a more equitable approach in classrooms is to limit digital reading to short extracts only, and it to be of low stakes value rather than summative assessment (Mangen et al., 2013, p.66).  

I obviously have not taken my own advice and have written an epic instead of a synopsis!

Hashim & VongKulluksn (2018) suggests that whilst e-readers provide context and analysis, it lacks the social factor that discussion groups and literature circles provide. There is also an implication that educators fail to treat e-readers like they treat print texts, and therefore provide less scaffolding to students leading to lower comprehension rates.  This failure could be due to a lack of personal knowledge to the functionality of e-readers, or simply that teachers are not physically able to see how much of the text the student has engaged with and thus forget to offer assistance (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  Therefore, in the interests of equity, it is important that ebooks are scaffolded in the same way as a print books because, as students gain mastery in their reading, scaffolding can be adjusted to help their progress from a low to a higher mental function (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  

geralt / Pixabay – Pedagogy matters

 

There are other obstacles to using ebooks in educational settings.  Primarily, students are not motivated to use e-readers for learning.  This could be due to the fact that e-readers are no longer considered a novelty, that devices themselves are commonplace, and lastly, that traditional texts actually provide greater enjoyment than digital literature  (Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018).  Ebooks have also been known to cause eye irritation which in turn reduces surface legibility, and increases eye strain and mental fatigue (Jeon, 2012).  These physical demands lead to an increased error rate and reduces overall comprehension, which in turn leads  to a lower perception of ereaders and ebooks (Jeon, 2012).  Other than diminishing comprehension, ebooks can also be seen as tedious in comparison to other entertainment found on devices (Jeon, 2012). Though there is some suggestion that digital natives are resistant to these issues as they are more familiar with technology (Jeon, 2012). 

Some educators are reluctant to provide audiobooks to their students in lieu of print texts as they can be viewed as ‘cheating’.  But Dahl (2016) disagrees with and finds that audiobooks provide the same learning experience as reading after a certain level of literacy has been reached.  This is based upon the theory that the decoding specific to reading becomes instinctive after a certain point in literacy is achieved (Dahl, 2016).  The reasoning is that ‘reading comprehension’ is similar to ‘auditory comprehension’ and that echoic memory is comparable to the visual system of eye regression, though the concept of ‘flipping back’ is a bit more problematic in an audiobook (Dahl, 2016).  

The current predominate argument surrounding school is that digital media will engage reluctant readers and therefore improve learning outcomes (Springen, 2010; Cullen, 2015).  But some educators argue that these alternative texts lack equity as they are limited to students and schools with digital access and financial security (Sekeres & Watson, 2011).  Sekeres & Watson (2011) even go further to suggest that educators need to be aware that children are often targeted as consumers in their own right and therefore teachers need to be circumspect when they select digital literature that it actually leads to learning and not just entertainment. 

From a school collection perspective there are significant issues with ebooks and audiobooks, namely access and cost (O’Connell, Bates & Mitchell, 2015).  This is due to the fact that both ebooks and audiobooks require a personal device such as a mobile phone or tablet and many younger students do not have that level of access.  They also require a financial contribution and or a library membership, which again can be limiting for younger students to practice their digital literacy skills.  One suggestion to address the rising cost of digital literature is to promote public library memberships in schools.  Students who have library memberships at school, local and state libraries, have access to a wide range of texts in both print and digital formats.  Some larger institutions also offer electronic access to databases and periodicals which is very useful for secondary students.  This reduces the cost to the individual and school systems without limiting access to information.

Licencing and leasing are problematic when it comes to digital literature. Physical books are bought by the library, require no device to use, and are useful till the book gets lost, deselected or falls into disrepair.  Ebooks in comparison, are either downloaded (purchased), or borrowed and both require a device and the internet to be used.  These devices, such as iPods, ereaders, laptops and tablets can be quite expensive for school libraries and students to purchase and maintain (Gray, 2017).  Additionally, if a school library chooses to use a platform such as Borrowbox or Wheelers as their access point for ebooks and audiobooks, they are limited by that publisher’s collection as to what titles meet the developmental needs of the students and curriculum requirements (Gray, 2017).  Teacher librarians need to be cautious when selecting platforms for digital literature that they are not limiting their readers to resources based upon publishing contracts and nepotism.  Furthermore, the school may not own ‘loaned titles’ and may have to pay a leasing or access fee on a yearly basis.  So whilst there seems to be great flexibility, especially with regards to remote access, there can be some stringent financial restraints for schools when it comes to building a robust ebook and audiobook collection.  

O’Connell, Bates & Mitchell (2015) suggest that the goal of school libraries is to adapt to the digital needs of the student cohort, which means that the reading culture has to be addressed as well as ensuring a divergence of media is available.  Therefore, teacher librarians and school library collections are tasked with ensuring students are given ample access to the different forms of media for teaching and learning across the curriculum as well as for recreational purposes.  This means access to both traditional and digital forms of literature.  But promotion of wide reading programs and access to emerging literature trends needs to be buttressed by pedagogical practices that support reading and comprehension across the various domains.  

The question for teachers, teacher librarians and other educators is that will these new media forms benefit the teaching and learning practices in classrooms, and more specifically, secondary classrooms?  It is clearly evident that the information revolution has changed the way society is functioning.  Therefore it is important that students gain the skills and knowledge to succeed in this modern world.  From the evidence provided, secondary students are more receptive to digital literature because of its engaging format, portability and text anonymity.  But many lack the reading and comprehension skills to fully understand the nature of the text and therefore are at a literacy disadvantage.  Educators need to recall the importance of culture and tools in Vygotsky’s theory of learning and provide access to a range of literature across the various forms of media.  The reading paradigm has changed and teachers must change their teaching and learning to suit this new world.  

 

REFERENCES 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (2018). Literacy. In Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/literacy/introduction/introduction

Dahl, M. (2016, August 10). To your brain, listening to a book is pretty much the same as reading it. The Cut. Retrieved from https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/listening-to-a-book-instead-of-reading-isnt-cheating.html

Dickenson, D. (2014). Children and reading: Literature review. Australia Council 2014. Retrieved August 2016.

Gray, M. (2017). Ebooks: To subscribe or not to subscribe? Connections, 101. Retrieved from scis.data.com/connections/issue-101/ebooks-to-subscribe-or-not-to-subscribe 

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/

Jabr, F. (2013). The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens. Scientific American

Jeon, H. (2012). A comparison of the influence of electronic books and paper books on reading comprehension, eye fatigue, and perception. The Electronic Library, 30(3), 390-408. doi: 10.1108/02640471211241663 

Keen, N. (2016). Stopping the slide: improving reading rates in the middle school. Connections, 99. Retrieved from https://www.scisdata.com/connections/issue-99/stopping-the-slide-improving-reading-rates-in-the-middle-school/

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2010). Divergent convergence part 2: Cross-genre, multi-platform, transmedia experiences in school libraries.Teacher Librarian, 38(1), 64-69. Retrieved from http://teacherlibrarian.com/

Cullen, M. (2015, December 21). How is interactive media changing the way children learn. In EducationTechnology. Retrieved from https://educationtechnologysolutions.com.au/2015/12/how-is-interactive-media-changing-the-way-children-learn/

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 

Moore, J., & Cahill, M. (2016). Audiobooks; Legitimate ‘reading’ material for adolescents? Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved from www.ala.org/aasl/slr/volume19/moore-cah

O’Connell, J., Bales, J., Mitchell, P. (2015). [R]Evolution in reading cultures: 2020 vision for school libraries. The Australian Library Journal, 63(3), 194-208. DOI: 10.1080/00049670.2015.1048043

Sargeant, B. (2015). What is an ebook? what is a book app? And why should we care? An analysis of contemporary picture books. Children’s Literature in education, 46, 454-466. doi: 10.1007/s10583-015-9243-5

Sekeres, D. c. & Watson, C. (2011). New literacies and multimediacy: The immersive universe of the 39 Clues. Children’s Literature in Education, 42, 256-273. Doi: 10.1007/s10583-011-9133-4

Springen, K. (2010, July 19). The digital revolution in children’s publishing. Publisher’s Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/43879-the-digital-revolution-in-children-s-publishing.html.

 

Picture Perfect – The role of Picture books in a secondary classroom. 

Every man and his proverbial dog knows the importance of reading in young children and thus the inclusion of picture books into primary school libraries is heavily encouraged. 

rolandmey / Pixabay

 

There is skepticism when it comes to including picture books for a high school library collection.  The simple reason for this quizzical brow raise is that many people view picture books as infantile.  This is because picture books are by definition, mostly pictures with some text, the purview of the young and or uneducated (Marsh, 2010).  Their prevalence in schooling years tends to diminish with age because they are assumed to be less literary or simple in nature (Marsh, 2010). But this is a fallacy. 

Welcome to the world of sophisticated picture books.  

Literature has always been the core of schooling  (Ross Johnston, 2014). From Seneca to Homer, Chaucer to Fielding, Bronte to Orwell, Dickens to Zusak, literature has formed the framework of teaching and learning from the ancient Greeks to current digital natives.  ACARA (n.d.b) points out that the English curriculum is structured with literature, language and literacy at its core. This clearly implies that students need to achieve competency in all three strands in order to be considered proficient.

Literacy has evolved from its traditional stance of reading and writing in this information age.  ACARA (n.d.a) believes that literacy is the ability to access, interact with, decode, comprehend, use and present information in a meaningful manner.  Ross Johnston (2014) concurs that language is useful in organising thought and thus metacognition is the most profound aspect of literacy. Literacy is no longer limited to text but now includes multiple modalities such as written, oral, visual, print and digital forms of information; as well as non traditional text forms such as Braille, Auslan and other gestural sign language.  This plethora of modes means that students need to be proficient across multiple literacies for success in this new world order (Wolf, 2014).  

Picture books (PB) are commonly used in teaching and learning for young children.  Early childhood and primary school teachers often use picture books to teach literacy, content and concepts to their students.  But these books are pushing the boundaries in educational practice. Research has shown that picture books can be used to teach older students multiliteracies, curriculum content and broach sensitive subjects (Marsh, 2010).  Their use of illustrations and text provoke the reader to look past the overt narrative and search for the covert message. Picture books’s application in literacy and learning is extensive and therefore should be defined as literature.  

Traditional picture books follow a linear movement of text and images.  Marsh (2010), believes that both images and texts are required for decoding. Unlike illustrated books, where images are the supporting act to the main text event; picture books require images to be the central feature with text working concurrently with the picture (Barone, 2011).  Children are able to follow the story as images are often clear and the tone is developmentally appropriate (Marsh, 2010). Titles such as Mem Fox’s Where is the green sheep and Alison Lester’s Are we there yet are perfect examples of traditional picture books.  Their format is ideal for younger children as the illustrations assist the reader in decoding the text. 

Conversely postmodern picture books are designed to provoke and stimulate the reader with absent or contradictory text (Aitken, 2007).  The absence of text encourages the reader to ‘self author’ and fill in the dialogue (Aitken, 2007), as Wiesner’s Flotsam exhibits.  In Flotsam, the reader superimposes their own prior knowledge and understanding of the beach to decode the illustrations  (Panteleo, 2018). With most Australians living within an hour of the coast, readers readily identify with the illustrations and corresponding fantasies (ABS, 2017).   Older readers are able to see the overt message of escapism and fantastical stories as well as the covert message of tradition and conservation. Whereas another Wiesner’s book, Three Pigs, has several contradictions between words and images, forcing the readers to re-read the page and search for details previously missed (Aitken, 2007). 

 Compared to traditional picture books where the author’s voice is strong, postmodern picture books allow for a change in narration and perspective (Aitken, 2007).  In Flotsam, the reader superimposes their own knowledge onto the narrative.  This change allows the reader to engage more deeply with the storyline and characters, and in turn, more likely to experience an emotional or cognitive change in thought.  

Sophisticated picture books are also known as picture books for older readers, and they are extremely useful in secondary school classrooms. They have great capability to provide teaching and learning experiences and can be used as a vehicle to teach content, literacies and influence social and emotional development (Pantaleo, 2014).   Marsdens The Rabbits’ (1998), Tan’s Red Tree (2001), Whatley’s Ruben (2018) and Wild’s The feather (2018) are all excellent examples of sophisticated picture books.  It must be noted that post modern books can be for both younger and older readers, but sophisticated PB are primarily for older readers but can have postmodern elements.  Tan’s Red Tree and Marsden’s The Rabbits are both examples of sophisticated PB with postmodern elements.    

This ability to decode and make cognitive connections is not inherent.  Children and young adults often need to re-read such books multiple times and have a discussion with an adult and peers in order to understand the various nuances within (McDonald, 2013).  Additionally, these nuances will manifest differently to readers. The manifestations will depend upon personal cognition and experience. This means that sophisticated picture books are ideal for classrooms with diverse needs as the book itself differentiates the lesson.

There are many advantages to using PB in a secondary classroom.  The obvious advantage is their brevity. Brevity in books is a great tool for constructing engaging thematic units of work.  It also provides 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.  Another advantage is the innocence that surrounds PB (Marsh, 2010). Their familiar structure reassures students as many remember them from their own childhood and early schooling.  Consequently, these books are seen as non threatening and student’s resistance is reduced.     

The ‘image’ has become essential to daily communication and has supplanted the alphabet in terms of importance (Short, 2018; Ross Johnston, 2014).  One only needs to walk through playgrounds to know that tiktok, snapchat and instagram are the preferred social media platforms of teens.   Ross Johnston (2014, p.619) is adamant that students need to be competent in image analysis across various contexts. But in order for teens to be able to make successful connections between literacy and comprehension, they need to learn the skills to decode language and symbols. 

Since visual culture is proving to be a driving force for the 21st century, visual literacy needs to be explicitly taught and sophisticated picture books are eminently qualified for the task (Harvey, 2015; Short, 2018).   Exposure to picture books regularly encourages visual literacy as the reader is encouraged to use both the images and the text to decode and comprehend the story. These skills of decoding and comprehending are the cornerstone of literacy proficiency. As discussed previously, the notion of literacy has evolved over the past century and picture books promote multiliteracy as they are a multimodal form of literature.  Picture books connect well with popular culture and the new texts, technologies and literacies that accompany it (Flores-Koulish & Smith- D’Arezzo, 2016). 

Haven (2007) reminds us that storytelling is the most basic way humans have sought to understand the complexities of life. Therefore narratives are the base level of understanding and within everyone’s capability.  Traditional stories with clear demarcations of beginning, middle and end, allow children to organise information in a logical manner (Haven, 2007). But sophisticated PB with contrary and or absent text, force the reader to make their own connections which promotes critical thinking through their multilayering of overt message and underlying tone (Short, 2018).  

Critical media literacy is also enhanced by picture books.  In a world filled with fake news and the ‘Toilet paper gate of 2020’, it is patently clear that society needs immediate action regarding media literacy.   Flores-Koulish & Smith- D’Arezzo (2016) point out that media is part of the socialisation process and requires skills as it is intrinsic to cultural practice and will differ between societies. Unfortunately media literacy is not addressed appropriately and equally across Australian schools.  The combination of the digital divide and lack of appropriately skilled teachers has meant students are not taught the relevant skills, nor have access to technology required to decode and interpret images. The importance of media literacy can never be dismissed, after all, one only has to recall the bizarre result of the 2016 Presidential election to remember that media literacy cannot be treated lightly.  

It has been well established that emotional regulation is important for social development and is the basis of human interactions (Laurie, 2016).   Laurie (2016) believes that picture books provide an excellent framework to teach humanity about empathy and tolerance which comes under social and emotional intelligence.  This regulation, or emotional literacy, is the ability to regulate one’s emotions in social situations. In fact as Laurie (2016) pointed out, humans require skills in emotional regulation prior to social literacy competency.  Conflict resolution, common in playgrounds, sports grounds, canteens, boardrooms and bedrooms; all require competence in social and emotional literacy. In fact any positive social interaction between peers needs both parties to be emotionally literate.   Reading, discussing and the analysis of literature lures the reader into connecting with the character, which leads to increased levels of sensitivity and empathy. PB are able to broach sensitive issues with ease as their innocent appearance lulls readers into a sense of security (Barone, 2011).  

Literature’s strength lies in the fact that readers are able to vicariously experience the character’s conflict and thus develop an understanding of appropriate responses.  Sophisticated picture books use the illustrations and text to elicit an emotional response in the reader. Whatley’s Ruben uses monochromatic images to show the harsh dystopian world that the protagonist has to survive in.  Wild’s The Feather uses orientation to draw the reader into the image. Marsden’s The Rabbits draws the invaders as pompous, barrel shaped creatures who are oblivious to the presence of the original inhabitants.  This allegorical tale uses satire to point out the devastation the colonisers inflicted on the Indigenous peoples and forces the reader to re-evaluate the history book’s version of events.  Tan’s story of a forlorn child in Red Tree gives the reader a visual representation of what depression can feel like.  The vivid imagery of a monstrous fish, etchings of endless days and drowning gives readers a chance to understand how depression affects people.  It also gives students who suffer mental health illness a language to use to describe their mental state.  

Short (2018) reiterates literature’s ultimate purpose in identifying the inner humanity of individuals and ensuring fundamental experiences of life are accessible to all.  The current trend towards standardised tests and prescribed reading has disengaged students from engaging with books purely for emotional benefit (Flores-Koulish & Smith-DÁrezzo, 2016; Short, 2018, p.291).  As mentioned previously, due to brevity, older students can be encouraged to engage with picture books but without the guilt of ‘wasted time’.

Sophisticated picture books are an excellent tool for addressing the various cognitive, behavioural and developmental needs of the reader.  Images are superseding text in this modern age, therefore it is important that visual literacy is explicitly taught through the curriculum. But PB’s greatest impact on adolescents is upon the development of emotional literacy in adolescents.  Therefore, it can be argued that picture books are literature because they are able to affect the reader so significantly (Ross Johnston, 2014). Picture books are multimodal in nature and their sophistication in addressing issues of a sensitive nature as well as problematic relationships, makes it an important part of a high school collection. 

 

REFERENCES

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2017). How many people live in Australia’s coast areas? Year book Australia, 2004. Retrieved from https://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/1301.0Feature%20Article32004

ACARA. (n.d.a). EnglishF-10 Curriculum. Education Services Australia Limited.  Retrieved from https://australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/english/ 

ACARA. (n.d.b). LiteracyF-10 Curriculum. Education Services Australia Limited. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/literacy/

Aiken, A. (2015). Postmodernism and children’s literature. ICCTE, 2(2). Retrieved from https://iccte.org/journal/

Barone, D. M. (2011). Children’s literature in the classroom: Engaging lifelong readers.  Retrieved from Proquest Ebook Central. 

Cornett, C. E. (2014). Creating meaning through literature and the arts: An integration resource for classroom teachers (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River,  Prentice Hall. [Available from CSU DOMS Digital Repository]

Flores-Koulish, S. & Smith-D’Arezzo, W. (2016). The three pigs: Can they blow us into critical media literacy old school style? Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 30(3), 349-360. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2016.1178673

Haven, K. F. (2007).  Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Publishing Group. (pp. 89-122).

Hateley, E. (2013). Reading: From turning the page to touching the screen. In Wu, Y., Mallan, K. & McGillis, R. (Eds.) (Re)imagining the world: Children’s literature response to the changing times (pp. 1-13). Retrieved from Springer Link.

Laurie, H. (2016). Using picture books to promote social-emotional literacy. YC Young Children, 71(3), 80-86. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/

Marsh, D. (2010). The case for picture books in secondary schools. Lianza, 51(4), 27. Retrieved from https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/f7b0a0c2-d0c5-4ba3-8644-6955ea9850b6/1/marsh-d.pdf

Pantaleo, S. (2014). The metafictive nature of postmodern picture books. Reading Teacher, 67(5), 324-332. do: https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1002/trtr.1233

Ross Johnston, R. (2014). Children’s literature in the Australian context. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl & M. Holliday (Eds.), Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed., pp. 557-581). Retrieved from Proquest Ebook Central.

Short, K. (2018). What’s trending in children’s literature and why it matters. Language Arts, 95(5), 287-298.

Turner, C. (2014). Opening the portal: An exploration of the use of postmodern picture books to develop critical literacy and contribute to learning in the Australian Curriculum: English. Literacy Learning: Middle Years, (1), 52-61. Retrieved from https://www.alea.edu.au/

Wolfe, S. (2014). Children’s literature on the digital move. Reading Teacher, 67(6), 413-417. https://doi-org.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/10.1002/trtr.1235

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.  

Are Classroom libraries a real option?

It would come as no surprise to any of you that education budgets are constantly being stretched.

The slow erosion of funding has led many schools to debate the value of their resources to determine which ones need to be cut in order to survive fiscally.  Unfortunately, school libraries are the department that is being most adversely affected. This adverse effect can be seen either by the absence of a qualified teacher librarian and or the complete absence of a school library. Cook (2018) suggests that libraries are robbed of their funding because they are deemed useless in this internet age. I have spoken previously about the importance of a teacher librarian so this post is not about that.  But some schools, overburdened by numbers, convert their library spaces into additional classrooms. When this occurs, most often than not, these schools sometimes set up classroom libraries to combat the loss of a school library.  

According to Cook (2018), libraries are essential to a school’s success. 

But are classroom libraries the same as having a school library with a qualified teacher librarian?  We are all aware that exposure to books is positively correlated to improved literacy (Neuman, n.d.).  We are also know that not all households have the same bibliophilic tendencies. This means that there are a proportion of students who are not exposed to books in the home.  Neuman (n.d.) elucidates that it is the presence of books in close proximity that correlate directly to increased literacy.  

Schools historically are known for exposing young minds to the wonderful world of imagination and literature via the school library.  But with no school library, is the alternative a classroom library? But what if the classroom library is poorly executed? By executed, I mean poorly stocked and unable to meet the needs of the students.  This can lead to limited student engagement with the classroom materials and if there is no school library, then there is no safety net for these disengaged readers. Implementing an assortment of books in a box is not equivalent to the presence of a qualified professional. After all, teachers are not trained in information management and resourcing, and it seems foolhardy to leave the resource management to at the hands of an already overburdened classroom teacher.  

One suggestion is that the classes each have their own classroom library but they are managed by a teacher librarian. 

So rather that rather than a random assortment of materials, the books are carefully curated by the teacher librarian to meet the evolving needs of the students.  An example of this would be a box of books are rotated in regular intervals and that the reading levels within are appropriately aligned to the needs of the students (Sacks, 2018).  But whilst in theory is outstanding, the practicality is far more complicated. Sacks (2018) surmised that consistency and equity are the largest issues with classroom libraries as the titles will vary between classes.  The primary problem is that schools would need to almost double their collection for them to adequately service the needs of all their classrooms. This would incur extra costs for the school. There would also be greater difficulty in tracking the books and ensuring that they are maintained.   

The downside of having a teacher librarian manage physical classroom collections is that they are then limited in their ability to create, manage and implement information literacy programs.  

Lance & Kachel (2018) indicate that the research is clear about the correlation between high quality library programs and increased student achievement. Frierson & Virtue (2013) believe that it library programs that need to be embedded into classroom practice.  They go on to illustrate that this improvement is not just for affluent schools but for all schools. In fact, arguably the lack of a school library is discriminatory to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, that do in desperate fact, require regular access to libraries, their programs and books in order to engage equitably with educational practices.  

There are currently teacher librarians in Australia that are creating LibGuides that are specifically relevant to units of work and use the school’s learning management systems to reach their audience.

This method also means that students that are away from school due to ill health or other personal reasons are still able to engage with their learning off site.  An example of this would be the class novel study with appropriate supporting materials and related works. So with our Year 7’s currently studying the Jackie French novel “Hitler’s Daughter”, the LibGuide contains the ebook version as well as; study notes, worksheets, supporting extracts from other similar novels such as “Boy in a wooden box” by Jim Boyne, “Book Thief” by Mark Zusack and “Dollmaker of Krakow”by R M Romero.  I have also created an online museum with images relating to the book where students can view artefacts and watch short video-clips.  

All of this take time.  Time that I have because I am not curating classroom library boxes.  But if I was not there, or if the position of teacher librarian was not there, then students would not have access to these resources.  Yes, there are teachers who do have the time and energy to go beyond the normal to create amazing learning experiences for their students.  But with 50% of teachers leaving the profession within 5 years, and nearly ⅓ of employed teachers suffering from a mental illness and or addiction, overburdening them further is foolish.

If prisons have mandated librarians to ensure that their collections are servicing the needs for their community, then I think our children can have the same access.  Removing school libraries to minimise costs is short sighted.  It is not beneficial for the teachers, the students and society.  

Cook, H., (2018) Extending the shelf life of the school library in the internet age. SMH. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/education/extending-the-shelf-life-of-the-school-library-in-the-internet-age-20181016-p50a0l.html

Frierson, E., & Virtue, A. (2013) Integrating academic library services directly into classroom instruction through discovery tools; Bringing library resources into the online classroom. Infotoday.com. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/magazine/1G1-345277685/integrating-academic-library-services-directly-into

Lance, K., & Kachel, D. (2018) Why school librarians matter: what years of research tell us. Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from https://www.kappanonline.org/lance-kachel-school-librarians-matter-years-research/

Neuman, S. (n.d.) The Importance of a classroom library. Scholastic Teacher Resource. Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/products/paperbacks/downloads/library.pdf

Sacks, A. (2018) Why school librarians are the literacy leaders we need.  Teaching the whole story [blog].  Retrieved from https://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/whole_story/2018/05/why_school_librarians_are_lite.html

Language matters.

Tumisu / Pixabay – Languages matter

Language. 

What language/s do you speak?

For many people the language they use is indicative of their nationality, culture and geographical placement.  Language, especially a mother language, has the ability to motivate the individual to raise their strongest voice. 

My life is a linguistic soap opera.  Born in Mumbai, India, I completed the majority of my schooling in Brisbane before living sporadically along the eastern seaboard of Australia.  Currently based in Canberra, I am a Mumbaikar by birth to Goan parents that never lived in Goa. By this convuluted history, I should possess the linguistic arsenal of Konkani, Marati, Hindi and English from my childhood years; and be reasonably fluent in Yugara, from my time spent in Brisbane and be commencing to learn Ngunnawal, the language of Canberra.

But no.  Sadly I am only fluent in English, accented as it can be and possess a smattering of inappropriate words in a few other languages.   Think more like a sailor and less like a teacher, if you get my drift!

I am also sure that I am not the only emigrant with this linguistic dilemma with a dismal knowledge of my native tongue.  As new citizens, my parents so keen on assimilation that they discarded all linguistic connections to the motherland to ensure we settled in as quickly as possible. 

Unfortunately, this discarding of language has lead to feelings of inadequacy as an adult.  Besides feeling like a ‘fake’, the saddest aspect of my own inadequacies of language is that I cannot teach my children their heritage.  This death of language diversity can be attributed to numerous reasons, with emigration as mine. Other reasons include, political persecution, globalisation and civil war (Strochlic, 2018).  In Australia alone, over 100 Aboriginal languages have disappeared since Philipsy and his ruffian filled boats docked in Sydney (Strochlic, 2018).  You don’t have to try too hard to imagine why… do you? 

Strochlic (2018) reminds us all that over 200 languages have become extinct since the end of WW2, with every fortnight another language dying a silent death.  It is predicted that by the end of this century, another 90% will disappear.  This loss is tragedy for current and future generations. 

But all is not lost. Modern Hebrew, made a dramatic reappearance in the 18th century.  Conversational Hebrew had all but disappeared in the 4th Century and was revived in the late 18th.  As aspects of the language were preserved in copies of the Torah and Talmund across the world, the words and phrases within could then be extrapolated to frame conversational Hebrew (Bensadoun, 2015).

Another memorable reincarnation are the Egyptian hieroglyphs, which were decoded using the famous Rosetta stone.    This stone was paramount in aiding academics in understanding the amazing wonders of that ancient empire. The stone helped construe the pictorial script into ancient Greek, which could then be further translated into modern day English (British Museum, 2017).  

But what about languages with no written component?  What will happen to those mother tongues? The speed in which languages disappear is heightened when they are only exist in an oral form as there is no documentation to ensure preservation.  Communities with distinctive languages will become extinct and this death is a blot on society.  

What can we do about it?  

Well, there are several groups around the world that are seeking to preserve rare dialects and languages using wikis.  These groups use available technology to record, store and transfer these conversations for preservation purposes.   Noone (2015), additionally advocates the use of technology as a preservation tool to document and record languages for future generations.  Other ICT tools such as Skype or Facetime, can be used by people to converse with greater ease even if separated by large distances.  Language, like all other skills, becomes rusty with lack of use and regression is quite common when unused for extended periods.  By using these tools, people all over the world can converse and practice their skills. 

As teacher librarians, we can assist students and teachers access these audible resources.  Libraries are no longer just archives for the storing of information. Instead, they are centres of ‘resourcing’ information. The same technology that permits us to document and preserve these languages also enables us to access and share them.  

The State Library of Queensland has an impressive collation of Indigenous language resources on their webpage.  They are working towards preserving and documenting the various dialects of the region and are drawing these word lists from their range of historical texts within the collection (SLQ, 2019b).     I like the word lists.  It is a simple way for me to learn some common use terms for myself and then share them with my children.   SLQ also has another challenge on their portal called the ‘ Say G’day in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Language’.  As 2019 is UNESCO’s Year of Indigenous Language, SLQ is challenging Queenslanders to use an Indigenous language to greet their mates in an effort to help raise awareness and promote Indigenous cultural awareness.  

SLQ (2019) Languages of Queensland – including the Torres Strait

 

This sentiment is shared by this years NAIDOC’s them of “Voice, Treaty, Truth” as it places great emphasis on the importance of giving voice to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia.  But as indigenous languages fade into the history pages, the voices that speak these languages are then also muted. There cannot be a treaty if voices are not heard. For voices to be heard and understood, we must understand that Australia is more than just English. 

NAIDOC 2019 – Voices need to be heard

 

Whilst I do regret my inadequacy of mother tongue, I also regret not learning the language of land in which I stand on.  It never crossed my mind to learn the local Indigenous dialect. That in itself is something I need to resolve as I forge my way through this M. Ed. 

So I leave you with these greetings as I acknowledge that the language heritage and knowledge reside with the traditional owners, elders and custodians of the various nations. So from me to you,

G’day (English)

Galang nguruindhau (Turrbal)

Jingerri (Yugambeh)

Wunya (Yugara) 

Deo boro dis dium (Konkani)

Namaskar (Marathi)

Nameste (Hindi)

  

REFERENCES

Bensadoun, D. (2010) History: Revival of the Hebrew language. Jerusalem Post. Retrieved from https://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/This-week-in-history-Revival-of-the-Hebrew-language

Brtish Museum (2017). Everything you wanted to know about the Rosetta stone. British Museum Blog post. Retrieved from https://blog.britishmuseum.org/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-rosetta-stone/

Crump, D. (2015) Aboriginal languages of the Greater Brisbane area. SLQ Blogs. Retrieved from http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/ilq/2015/03/16/aboriginal-languages-of-the-greater-brisbane-area/

Noone, Y. (2015) How technology is saving Indigenous languages. NITV. Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2015/11/11/how-technology-saving-indigenous-languages

Strochlic, N. (2018) The Race to Save the World’s Disappearing Languages. National Geographic. Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/saving-dying-disappearing-languages-wikitongues-culture/

State Library of Queensland (2019b), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander word lists.  Retrieved from https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/discover/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-cultures-and-stories/languages/word-lists

State Library of Queensland (2019), “Say G’day in an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Language”.  Retrieved from https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/SLQ%20Say%20G%27day%20Wordlists%202019.pdf

 

The challenge is real – Module 5.3b

EliasSch / Pixabay

There are many challenges to teachers implementing guided inquiry lessons into their teaching and learning. They include among others; a misunderstanding of what inquiry learning is; inability to implement their own teaching activities; inability to collaborate with colleagues, lack of time and fear.

The first reason is that teachers (not teacher librarians who know better!) often confuse guided inquiry learning which is deep in knowledge, rich in skills and meaningful to the student,  with a superficial regurgitation of facts that accompany a traditional research task (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). Students are exasperated, teachers are frustrated, yet the loop of insanity continues from kindergarten to year 12.  Maniotes & Kuhlthau (2014) says STOP this insanity!

 Freedom to implement authentic teaching and learning practices is often hampered by the hierarchy within schools.  Whilst many teachers are given the flexibility to plan their own lessons and thus choose their pedagogical practices, they are often bound by the school and departmental parameters in regards to timelines and assessment (Templeton, 2019).  This is very evident in high schools where there are department heads and year level coordinators that manage assessments and their timelines for historic reasons, often completely unknown to anyone in this century. These obstinate teachers are unwilling to adapt and or modify their teaching practice with the advent of an information society.  The adage, “but we’ve always done it this way”is a common theme (Templeton, 2019 & Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). These parameters translate to an inability to structure longer guided inquiry units of work as teaching hours are crammed with explicit content instruction aimed at superficial tests and mindless research tasks that no one wants to do and even fewer want to mark.

 Lack of collaboration is often blamed for ineffective teaching practices by both teachers and teacher librarians.  These intransigent educators are reluctant to participate in collaborative practice and balk at co-creating teaching and learning activities (Ezard, 2019).  Often these stalwarts of inflexibility are also the ones that struggle to hand over the reins of learning to the students and or willing to practice team teaching.  This loss of controlling the learning is often translated as loss of control of a class, which is a complete contraindication of what a guided inquiry unit is. A vibrant class that is engaging with learning task is going to be noisy as noise usually is entwined with social discourse.  It does not mean that the students are disrespectful, nor does it mean that there is disharmony. Learning is a social construct and students learn better when engaging with their peers (Kools & Stoll, 2016). Teacher librarians need to understand that the resistance to guided inquiry is often due to the unwillingness of collaborative practice and not themselves as individuals (Ezard, 2019).

 As mentioned previously time is an issue in schools.  Teachers lack the time to collaborate with their peers to co-create inquiry tasks, and they often also lack time to allow actually put a guided inquiry into practice.  But what teachers often forget is that guided inquiry does not have to be a long unit of work that ends in a presentation. Guided inquiry can be as long as a term or as short as a week.  Ideally, the practice does require time to build and teach skills, but the flexibility of the framework allows the teacher to guide the lesson as much as the students require.  The true point of a guided inquiry task is to TEACH the skills, not the content.  Learning of these skills is a cumulative effect that requires constant practice across all classes and year levels.

 The last reason that inhibits the implementation of guided inquiry is fear.  Fear of the unknown; fear of rebelling against the system; fear of unemployment due to the previous rebellious behaviour; fear of losing control of a class; fear of failing to meet expectations; fear of not achieving learning outcomes; fear of trying something new; fear of failing.

 

References

Ezard, T., (2019) Leading the Buzz in your school. ASLA 50th Conference. Canberra

Kools, M. and Stoll L. (2016), “What Makes a School a Learning Organisation?”, OECD Education Working Papers. No. 137, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/5jlwm62b3bvh-en

Maniotes, L.K, Kuhlthau, C. (2014) Making the shift. Knowledge Quest. 43(2) 8-17

Templeton, T., (2019) Rantings of an emerging teacher librarian. I lost my mind 3 children ago. Retrieved from … lost weblink.