Cooperative and collaboration in the library.

johnhain / Pixabay

 

We recently hosted the Year 9 Mathematics cohort for a few lessons over this past term.  Traditionally, the Information Centre rarely hosts Mathematics classes, but a recently graduate Mathematics teacher wanted a more collaborative approach to learning.  He devised a series of lessons that were aimed at developing the student’s skills in geometry through collaborative learning groups but needed additional bodies and space to ensure it ran effectively.  By using the library and its flexible learning spaces to run these collaborative learning sessions, the students were able to gain assistance from their peers, their own teachers and the teacher librarians.  This mean that there was more specific support available for facilitating the learning, which led to an overall improvement in student outcomes.  From a teacher librarian perspective, these sessions were a wonderful way to develop student learning through collaboration and cooperation, and a fantastic outcome for all.   

Classes come to the Information Centre from across the school to access the library for resources, the flexible learning spaces, as well as gain assistance from the teacher librarians.  This assistance may be in the form of information seeking, but the fact is that the primary focus of any teacher librarian is to facilitate the teaching and learning of their school community (ALIA & ASLA, 2004).  Research from over thirty different studies across the world has indicated that the presence of qualified teacher librarians has a strong positive correlation to improved learning outcomes (Hughes, 2013).  This access can occur in a variety of ways but most often occurs in the form of team teaching with the classroom teacher, explicit instruction, targeted assistance with inquiry learning, as well as informal and formal research support, essay writing workshopsthe implementation of literacy and numeracy strategies, and various other teaching and learning programs.  This breath of access means that the teacher librarians themselves can be considered a resource to improve student learning because they enable students and teachers to use the library and all its resources to its fullest potential (ALIA & ASLA, 2016).   

School libraries are more than just book repositories, but rather they are dynamic spaces where information can be accessed, and knowledge constructed for a range of purposes.  The reality is that time spent into the library in the pursuit of knowledge often leads to improved efficiency and efficacy because of the qualified teacher librarians that support student learning.   

 References. 

ALIA & ASLA. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. https://read.alia.org.au/alia-asla-standards-professional-excellence-teacher-librarians 

ALIA, & ASLA. (2016). Statement on Teacher Librarians in Australia. Australian School Library Association. https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/policy_tls_in_australia.pdf 

Hughes, H. (2013). School libraries and teacher librarians: evidence of their contribution ot student literacy and learning. Curriculum & Leadership Journal 11(12).   http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/school_libraries_and_tls,36453.html?issueID=12777 

Leading from the middle – Teacher Librarian as a Middle Leader at School.

 

Leading from the Middle. 

Strong educational leadership has been clearly linked to a positive learning culture and increased student outcomes as effective leaders have a strong vision, are able to lead by example, manage their resources in a flexible manner and are able to develop strong collaborative teams (Leithwood, Harris & Hopkins, 2020; Yeith et al, 2019, p. 452). But whilst there are numerous types of leadership styles, research has indicated that distributed leadership (DL) has the greatest influence on students and their learning outcomes (Leithwood, Harris & Hopkins, 2020, p. 12; Bartlett, 2014, p.1).  DL advocates for the distribution of leadership roles within the school community based on expertise rather than a formal position of power, and as such is fundamentally based upon positive and collaborative interactions between colleagues and teams (Leithwood, Harris & Hopkins, 2020, p. 13-14.  It is these interactions and team development that leads to the promotion of middle school leaders and the development of teacher librarians as leaders of information literacy, innovative pedagogy and educational technology.  

Middle school leaders (MSL) are an important aspect of educational environments as their position of responsibility operates between senior leadership and teaching staff (De Nobile, 2018).  They are often responsible for mentoring new teachers, leading a team, a project or a faculty, as well as managing the traditional aspects of classroom teaching  (Lipscombe et al., 2020, p. 408-411; De Nobile, 2018, p.398).   Unlike principals whose leadership role is based upon actions,  MSL’s responsibility  is often linked to maintenance of resources, professional development, school improvement plans and thus their role is dependent on interactions with others and on their individual context (De Nobile, 2018, p.398; Lipscombe et al., 2020, p. 408-409).  

In primary schools, MSL are often team leaders or year level coordinators, whereas in secondary schools, they manifest as faculty heads and or leaders of wellbeing (Lipscombe et al., 2020, p. 408).  As experienced teachers, MSL are able to combine classroom teaching with leadership positions, and therefore are well placed to make a direct and positive impact upon the teaching and learning (Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.407-408).   Whilst the context may differ, MSL operate on behalf of the school leadership team as they are often required to interpret the agenda of senior management as well as expected to develop and staff towards the principal’s shared vision (De Nobile, 2018, p. 400).  

The efficacy of MSL is dependent on several clear parameters.  The variability of the role and range of possible contexts means that there is no distinct career pathway or associated professional development.  Therefore, in order to be effective, these emerging leaders require clearly established responsibilities, explicit support from the principal, a positive learning culture, expertise in their field and a framework for professional development, so that they can successfully meet the expectations of their school community (De Nobile, 2018, p. 401; Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.407).  Due to the lack of a formal career pathway, Lipscombe et al., (2020) advocates  AITSL’s Australian Professional Standard for Principals as a framework for informing current practice as well as providing direction for future MSL professional development (p. 412).  This framework is useful because there is little structure for leadership development within the professional standards for teachers (Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.412).  Unfortunately not all MSL have clearly defined expectations, or adequate sufficient support from the principal, and this can severely impact their ability to effect change within the school especially when it comes to innovations in pedagogy (De Nobile, 2018, p.401; Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.419). This inability can impact the MSL’s capacity for job satisfaction and can lead to increased attrition rates (Stroud, 2017). 

The main purpose of MSL is to improve and innovate pedagogical practices and positively impact learning outcomes (Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.417).  By these parameters, teacher librarians (TL) are ideally suited to the task based upon their Masters of Education, as well as the significant overlap between their role in the school and the requirements of MSL.  Unlike ATSIL’s Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher which is focused on using classroom teacher’s expertise to develop professional practice in others, teacher librarians are required by their professional standards to demonstrate leadership within school communities, have thorough knowledge of the curriculum and actively promote collaborative learning (AITSL, 2019, p.3; ALIA & ASLA, 2004; Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.412).  Additionally, from a school hierarchy perspective, most TLs are classified as coordinators or as faculty heads,  and therefore their position within a school is literally in the ‘middle’.   TLs are able to  lead from the middle by supporting their colleagues with their expertise, promoting collaborative teaching and learning as well as modelling good pedagogical practices (ALIA & ASLA, 2004). 

The reality is that even though teacher librarians have a great capacity for leadership, their ability to fulfill that role to the best of their ability requires adequate time, support and structure (Johnston, 2015).  Time is the most desired resource as TL do require adequate time to balance the roles of managing an information agency, along with the developing informational literacy as well as sufficient time to plan strategically for future educational trends (Lipscombe et al., 2020, p.412).  Unfortunately many TLs are restricted in their ability to strategically plan, co-plan and collaborate with their colleagues due to significant teaching loads, lack of support from the principal and insufficient authority.  

Middle school leaders have a great capacity to improve student learning  by sharing their expertise, promoting professional development and collaborative learning as well as by modelling best practice pedagogy.  Teacher librarians make ideal middle school leaders because of their human and social capital.  They are academically qualified, have the necessary professional knowledge, extensive curriculum understanding and collaborative approach to education.  As such their ability to significantly improve learning outcomes is immense provided they are supported by their principal, a positive learning culture and sufficient time to do their role properly.  

 

References:

AITSL. (2014). Australian professional standard for principals and the leadership profiles. Education Services Australia. 

https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/national-policy-framework/australian-professional-standard-for-principals.pdf?sfvrsn=c07eff3c_6

AITSL. (2019). Certification of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers in Australia. National Policy Framework https://www.aitsl.edu.au/docs/default-source/national-policy-framework/certification-of-highly-accomplished-and-lead-teachers.pdf?sfvrsn=227fff3c_8

ALIA & ASLA. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. https://read.alia.org.au/alia-asla-standards-professional-excellence-teacher-librarians

Bartlett, J. (2014). The power deep in Org Chart: Leading from the middle. Library Leadership & Management 28 (4). https://journals.tdl.org/llm/index.php/llm/article/view/7091/6307

De Nobile, J. (2018). Towards a theoretical model of middle leadership in schools. School Leadership & Management 38 (4). pp 395-416, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2017.1411902

Gurr, D. (2019). School middle leaders in Australia, Chile and Singapore.  School Leadership & Management, 39:3-4, p278-296, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2018.1512485 

Leithwood, K., Harris, A., & Hopkins, D. (2020). Seven strong claims about successful school leadership revisited, School Leadership & Management, 40 (1), 5-22, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2019.1596077

Lipscombe, K. Grice, C. Tindall-Ford, S., & DeNobile, J. (2020). Middle leading in Australian schools: professional standards, positions, and professional development. School Leadership & Management 40 (5) pp.406-424. DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2020.1731685

Johnston, M. (2015). Distributed leadership theory for investigating teacher librarian leadership. School Libraries Worldwide 21 (2). doi: 10.14265.21.2.003

Stroud, G. (2017). Why do teachers leave? ABC News – Opinion. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-04/why-do-teachers-leave/8234054

Yeigh, T., Lynch, D., Turner, D., Provost, S., Smith, R., & Willis, R. (2019).  School leadership and school improvement: an examination of school readiness factors. School Leadership & Management, 39:5, pp434-456, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2018.1505718

#IWD2021

#ChooseToChallenge
 

IWD2021’s theme of #ChooseToChallenge is a call for a more inclusive society by challenging outdated ideologies.  This theme suggests that we as individuals can quietly watch gender bias, discrimination and equality occur around us, or we can call it out.  Our role in the Information Centre and as teacher librarians is to call out the gender bias in literature.   

Literature is a reflection of society because the storylines, characterisations and language of the time are captured by the author (Zanfabro, 2015).   This is why Austen’s Elizabeth Bennett, Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Mitchell’s Scarlett O’Hara, Collins’ Katniss Evergreen, and Dahl’s Matilda Wormwood are so memorable.  They were the rebels of their time and as such inspired other women to challenge prevailing standards and rebel against societal expectations of femininity.  Literature has a great capacity to inspire, provoke and challenge the reader, but the presence of strong female protagonists is not the norm.    A recent study of books published indicates that less than 30% of fiction texts have a strong female character (Green, 2018).   The primary theory for this disparity is that males don’t like reading books with female protagonists, whereas females are less discriminatory about their reading material.  Therefore, it is safer for publishers to print books that feature male protagonists as they have a wider appeal (Rebel Girls, 2017).   

Gender bias in literature and publishing has ramifications.  Strong female characters are excellent role models for both sexes (Green, 2018).  Female protagonists in fiction texts normalise physically and cognitively strong women, point out that it is ok for females to have a leadership role and mostly, that strong women do not mean boys are weak (Green, 2018).  Interestingly whilst strong female protagonists are found in varying forms of literature in many differing capacities, they are rarely captured as leaders, unless based upon a historical figure or a biography (Green, 2018).   

Our role in the Information Centre and as teacher librarians is to curate literature that portrays strong female and male role models. We are continuously seeking to ensure our collection reflects the educational, emotional, cognitive and developmental needs of our school community… And that includes making sure our girls and boys get to read a range of texts about strong women.   

We #ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes in literature. 

References:  

Green, S. (2018). Do we need strong female characters? The Irish Times. Retrieved from https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/do-we-need-strong-female-characters-1.3513651 

Magras, D. (2019). Feminist AF: Hearing Their Voices: Supporting Female Empowerment in Middle Grade Fiction for Tweens and Teens. School Library Journal.    

Rebel Girls. (2017). The ugly truth about children’s books [Video].  Retrieved from http://rebelgirls.co/ugly_truth 

Zanfabro, G. (2017). Gender matters: What is at stake in dealing with children’s literature? TRANS- Revue de Litterature Générale et Comparée 21. DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/trans.1440 

 

What does a library do?

How does a library influence the teaching and learning of a school?

 

How does a school library, its services and resources contribute to teaching and learning?  When I started my course two years ago, my understanding of the capabilities of a library and a teacher librarian was restricted to resourcing the curriculum and providing recreational reading.

Now, five units later, I am starting to become more aware of what a well staffed school library and teacher librarian is capable of.

The above concept map is how I feel my school library contributes to the teaching and learning within the school.  I was amazed at how many adaptations I had to make to the original flow chart.

This is my original flow chart of how I thought the library as the information centre contributes to the overall learning outcomes.  But flow charts do not show the relationships between areas or how one impacts the other.

For example – The cycle of Pedagogy, curriculum and assessment is continuous and requires regular reviews.  For example, pedagogical practice impacts learning outcomes and requires teachers review their practice to ensure best practices is maintained.  

But you can’t show those relationships on a flow chart or a hierarchal chart…

 

 

Leadership – The beginning of ETL504

The action of leading a group of people or an organisation.

 

Leaders are people with the ability to use social influence rather than formal authority to convince others to follow their vision.  Leaders can be appointed or emerge from the ranks, and thus the qualities of leadership are not correlated to seniority, nor a person’s position in an organisation.  This is because the ability to inspire others is based upon their ability to influence rather than power or authority (Kruse, 2013).

There are two main objectives of a leader, the first one is to use their influence to convince people to work cohesively together, and the second one is to have a task, vision or goal in mind to focus their influence upon (Mindtools, 2016).  This leads to the summation that the type of leader will be dependent upon the vision, the cohort and the environment the leader is working with and that there is no one correct type of leader.   Consequently it can be theorised that leaders and leadership style will vary depending on the circumstances in which the organisation finds itself in (Mindtools, 2016).  This means that unlike previous years where good leadership was assumed to be within the realms of charismatic individuals, the modern perspective of leadership is instead perceived to be situational and team based (Klingborg et al., 2014; Kruse, 2013; Mindtools, 2016).  

Unfortunately, leadership roles and management are often confused for each other.  This is a fallacy as leaders are not necessarily managers.  Whilst there are similarities between the two roles, there is a difference in the spheres of influence.  Both leaders and managers can be appointed to their positions and the efficacy of both can impact an organisation, but in different ways.  Ingram (2019) points out that leaders are focused on the future and therefore provide goals and incentives for their team to achieve, whereas managers are focused on the achievements of the day.  This means that leaders are required to provide opportunities for personal growth and collaboration in order to promote individual and group performance (Ingram, 2019).  Managers are not mandated to provide the same level of access to personal development as their task is to use their legitimately appointed power to ensure tasks get completed on time, whereas leaders are tasked with using their socially influenced power to induce others to engage and participate in their vision or goal over a period of time (Kruse, 2013; Ingram, 2019).  Whilst leaders are not always managers, it is helpful for managers to also possess leadership qualities or traits.   

References

Ingram, D. (2019, February 4). Transformational leadership vs transactional leadership definition. Hearst Newspapers: Small Business. http://smallbusiness.chron.com/transformational-leadership-vs-transactional-leadership-definition-13834.html

Klingborg, D., Moore., D, & Varea-Hammond, S. (2006). What Is Leadership? Journal of veterinary medical education. 33. 280-3. 10.3138/jvme.33.2.280. 

Kruse, K. (2013). What is leadership? Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/04/09/what-is-leadership/?sh=3bcbe1115b90

MindTools. (2016). Core leadership theories. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/leadership-theories.htm

Going backwards to move forwards.

 

I have often wondered how students can appear to be engaged and respond appropriately to a particular topic one day, and then the next day/week/month –  look at me perfectly blankly when I bring up the same topic for discussion. 

The blank faces and looks of confusion make me want to pull my hair out and develop a dangerous drinking habit.  It is very frustrating for teachers when students seem incapable of transferring gained information and knowledge from one class to the next class, let alone another subject or even the real world!

Bang your head just there…

 

As teachers we query our lesson structure, our pedagogical practice and our sanity for that matter! We wonder what is going on in the heads of our students and in our own!  

After all didn’t someone once say…

 

Well I am not Einstein but I am determined to make a change to my practice.  

One theory about this daily dilemma is that the curriculum and associated resources are often constructed with the focus on content rather than outcome (Fuglei, 2020).  This means that the learning outcomes of the lesson or unit of work can be missed as they were not explicitly addressed in the teaching and learning. 

This then poses the challenging question –

How do we increase the statistical probability of students achieving these learning outcomes?

The answer is… 

Backward design process, or commonly known as backward by design (Fuglei, 2020).  

The backward design process (BDP) is a strategy that focuses on the learning outcomes to be achieved by the students and then working it backwards to what the assessment criteria will be and then the pedagogical strategies that meet those needs (Ziegenfuss & LeMire, 2020).  It is the opposite of forward design that organises learning in the form of content, lessons and then exam.  Aviles & Grayson (2017) point out in forward design, student understanding and master is often misdiagnosed as the learning activities do not contain evidence of such learning.  BPD is very effective in classroom instruction as its student centered focus allows for the teaching and measuring of established learning outcomes (Ziegenfuss & LeMire, 2020).  Wiggins & McTighe (2012) cited in Aviles & Grayson (2017) point out that this student mastery can be observed and documented in discussion groups, formative and summative tasks, or anything that shows metacognitive awareness.  As comprehension and understanding is assessed throughout this process, the student is able to connect theory to applications, and this fosters knowledge acquisition, increases reflective practices and therefore becomes constructivist in nature (Ziegenfuss & LeMire, 2020).  

Aviles & Grayson (2017) indicate three roles in BPD. 

  1. Direct teaching – connecting and engaging students to the lesson. 
  2. Facilitating Learning – socratic seminars, reciprocal teaching, graphic organisers for conveying information, reflective practices
  3. Coach to student learning – provide feedback and opportunities for independent practice.  

The process of BDP makes it very conducive to education and library practices, as it requires the educator to identify the outcomes prior to planning the learning experiences and classroom resources (Gooudzward, 2019).  This means that the activities integrated into the teaching and learning are designed to meet the specified learning outcomes and the students cognitive needs(Ziegenfuss & LeMire, 2020).  Whilst BDP can be utilised in all curriculum areas, it has great value in the teaching and learning of information literacy (Ziegenfuss & LeMire, 2020; Fox & Doherty, 2012).  

Fox & Doherty (2019, p.145) point out that there are three definite stages in BPD.  

  1. Identify the results (learning outcomes, curriculum outcomes, general capabilities)
  2. Determine mode/format of evidence (Aviles & Grayson, 2017)
    1. Assessments of learning – Summative
    2. Assessments for learning – Class discussion/Socratic seminars 
    3. Assessments as learning – reflective practices/ metacognitive process 
  3. Plan teaching and learning activities that meet those needs.  

 

Kurt (2018) and Gooudzward (2019) both indicate that a hierarchical scale needs to be used to determine curriculum content priorities in determining which learning outcomes are crucial and which are just worth being familiar with.  Once these outcomes have been determined, assessments or evidence of learning needs to be appropriately linked to them.  

As the stages indicate, the primary focus of the BPD is on what the students learn or achieve rather than what the teacher thinks is important.  This makes BPD a student centred approach to learning, and as it requires the teacher to understand the student’s level of understanding prior to commencing the lesson.  Therefore this process aligns with the constructivist approach to education. 

 

References:

Aviles, N., & Grayson, K. (2017). Backward planning – How assessment impacts teaching and learning. Intercultural Development Research Association. Resource Centre. Retrieved from https://www.idra.org/resource-center/backward-planning-assessment-impacts-teaching-learning/

Fox, B., & Doherty, J. (2012). Design to learn, learn to design: Using backward design for informational literacy instruction. Communications in Information Literacy 5 (2).   144-155. Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/193813175.pdf

Fuglei M. (2020). Begin at the end: How backwards design enriches lesson planning. The Resilient Educator.  Retrieved from https://resilienteducator.com/classroom-resources/backwards-design-lesson-planning/

Goudzwaard, M. (2019). Slides: Backward design for librarians. New England Library Instruction Group 2. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.umass.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=nelig

Jensen, J., Bailey, E., Kummer, T., & Weber, K. (2017). Using backward design in education research: A research methods essay. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education 18(3), pp1-6. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5976040/pdf/jmbe-18-50.pdf

Kurt, S. (2018). What is backward design. Educational Technology. Teaching and Learning Resources.  Retrieved from https://educationaltechnology.net/backward-design-understanding-by-design/

NSW Department of Education. (2019). Backward design model. Teaching & Learning – Professional Learning. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/teacher-quality-and-accreditation/strong-start-great-teachers/refining-practice/planning-a-sequence-of-lessons/backward-design-model

Ziegenfuss, D., & LeMire, S. (2020). Information Literacy and Instruction: Backward Design: A Must-Have Library Instructional Design Strategy for Your Pedagogical and Teaching Toolbox. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 59(2), 107-112. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/rusq.59.2.7275

 

 

Assessments require rubrics!

I have just finished writing another saga about the the process that goes into evaluating digital resources for a school collection and it occurred to me that assessing resources would benefit from a rubric.

So I made one up.  This way TL can grade the digital resources.  The marking system emphasises the higher value some criteria have over others.

The sources for my brilliance are below.

 

References for this rubric:

 ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (2018) Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries. American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport/selectionpolicytoolkit/criteria

El Mhouti, A., Nasseh, A., & Erradi, M. (2013). How to evaluate the quality of digital learning resources? International Journal of Computer Science Research and Application. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260392089_How_to_evaluate_the_quality_of_digital_learning_resources

Learning for the future: developing information services in Australian schools 2nd edition (2001). Curriculum Corporation, Carlton South. Retrieved from http:// www.curriculumpress.edu.au/main/goproduct/12405.

Leu, D.J, Forzani, E.,Timbrell, N., & Maykel., C. (2015) . Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in primary grade and upper elementarty grade classroom. Reading Teacher 69: (2), p.139-145. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1073399.

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).

Mitchell, P. (2011). Resourcing 21st century online Australian Curriculum: the role of school libraries. FYI: The Journal for School Information Professionals 15(2). Retrieved from CSU Library.

National Library of New Zealand, (n.d.a). Your library’s digital collection. Service to Schools. Retrieved from https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/digital-literacy/your-librarys-role-in-supporting-digital-literacy/your-librarys-digital-collection

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.b). Selecting and purchasing resources. Service to Schools. Retrieved from https://natlib.govt.nz/schools/school-libraries/collections-and-resources/selecting-resources-for-your-collection/selecting-and-purchasing-resources

Walker, S., Jameson, J., & Ryan, M. (2010). Chapter 15 –  Skills and strategies for e-Learning in a participatory culture. In Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., & de Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age. Retrieved from CSU library.

Yokota, J., & Teale, W. (2014). Picture books and the digital world. The Reading Teacher 67(8), pp.577-585.    DOI:  10.1002/trtr.1262  

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).

The evolving nature of literature for the digital classroom.

DarkWorkX / Pixabay

 

The advent of technology, the internet and plethora of personal devices has forever changed the world and in turn, the paradigm of a secondary classroom. 

Whilst teenagers and society in general have embraced technology in its multiple forms for personal, social and recreational purposes, Education Departments and schools are often delayed in their digital pedagogical practices.  This delay in the embedding of digital technologies and literature has exacerbated the disparity between the information literacy skills that society demands, and the ability students have when they finish school.

This digital gap is even further widened in areas of lower socio-economic success, rural and remote communities, and First Nations peoples, who lack the personal means and access to devices and reliable internet connections (DIIS, 2016).  

For further information on the deepening of Australia's digital divide .. click here!

MCEETYA made a concerted effort to address this disparity by advocating for the embedding of ICT in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians .  The argument put forward by the creators of this declaration, was that ICT is an essential skill required for active citizenship in a digitally rich information society (MCEETYA, 2008)Therefore ICT skills and competencies are essential to ensure each student is able to gain entry into this new paradigm.  ACARA’s response to this declaration was to create curriculum learning outcomes that allow students opportunities to access, analyse, modify and create a range of hybrid, digital and multimodal tasks (ACARA, 2018).  Examples of these include access to digital literature for classroom activities, explicit teaching of new literacies and assessments that require students to explore, create and analyse multimodal texts.  

The simplest form to introduce students to digital literature is within classroom practice.  Digital literature can be defined as texts that utilise computer technology and a device in order to access and engage with the text (Rettberg, 2012).  Unfortunately this may be a limiting factor for many students and schools that lack the financial means to secure devices and internet connectivity.  This issue became glaringly obvious in the recent nationwide school lock down which shifted learning to from onsite to online. 

Check out this article by the ABC published back in March 2020. 

Coronavirus opens education’s digital divide, as COVID-19 forces schools into online learning 

The level of computation associated with the digital literature varies with the device and format.  It can range from the most simple form of a scanned book on a website, to the interactive hypertext narratives with multimodal features in a mobile application (Maneti, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018; Rettberg, 2012).  The middle of this digital literature continuum contains genres or hybrid genres such as e-stories, linear e-narratives, interactive stories, hypertext narratives and electronic games narratives (Walsh, 2013).  

My own knowledge of digital literature is rudimentary at best as I am strictly a user of digital content rather than being a creator – though this blog would be the only exception to the rule.  Whilst I do use my kindle and am able to engage with digital texts, it is a matter of expediency rather than personal pleasure.  By that token, I prefer reading digital texts rather than listening to audio-books and am  completely disinclined to use digital narratives (or anything that is non linear in nature) as I find those sources too overwhelming for indepth analysis.  But as a teacher librarian I need to be aware of the various formats and educate myself as to their benefits to student’s learning and literacy.

  The irony is that this Masters course has caused me to test, trial and experiment with more digital media than I ever would have in my life!  

Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing several different examples of digital literature that can be used in classroom practice as part of my own learning journey into literature in the digital space.   Each review will discuss the source’s value to the curriculum, to learning and literacy and to digital competency.

References:

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2018). Literacy. In Australian Curriculum – General Capabilities. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/literacy/

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

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)

MCEETYA (2008) Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Curriculum Corporation. Australia. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/national_declaration_on_the_educational_goals_for_young_australians.pdf

Rettberg, J.W. (2012). Electronic literature seen from a distance: the beginnings of a field. Retrieved from http://www.dichtung-digital.org/2012/41/walker-rettberg.htm

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 Austr

Task 1 – INF533 – Reading, literacy and digital literature in the classroom.

xxolaxx / Pixabay – Reading in a digital landscape.

 

The advent of technology, and plethora of personal devices has revolutionised the reading paradigm to the point where, texts are no longer restricted to print, but are now available through multiple formats and platforms.  Digital literature utilises a continuum of technology to convey meaning, and the level of computation varies from a scanned book, to the interactive hypertext narratives with multimodal features  with a host of genres and hybrid genres such as e-stories, linear e-narratives, interactive stories, hypertext narratives and electronic games narratives. in the middle (Walsh, 2013; Maneti, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018; Rettberg, 2012).  These new formats as Lamb (2011), and Sadokiesiski (2013) point out, require additional literacies to engage, process, evaluate and communicate. 

This is because reading has evolved from text decoding, to constructing meaning from symbols (Lamb, 2011) . 

ACARA’s (2018)  response has been to define literacy as the ability to interact with, engage and communicate across modalities for personal, social, economic and recreational purposes. 

This definition clearly indicates that teaching practice needs to include a variety of texts, in print, digital and hybrid formats (Leu, Forzani, Timbrell, & Maykel, 2015).  But whilst there are strong arguments and mandates to include digital texts, there are are complications.  

Many students struggle with digital text comprehension, as the simultaneous synthesising of visual, audio and text information causes information overload (Jeon, 2012; Mangen, Walgermo & Bronnick., 2013).   Students with poor fundamental literacy are at further disadvantage, as they are easily distracted away from the content by the multimodal elements, as well as being unable to locate information due poor visual ergonomics (Lamb, 2011; Leu, McVerry, OByrne, Kili, Zawilinski, Everett-Cacopardo,Kennedy, Forzani, 2011;  Jeon, 2012; Hashim & VongKulluksn, 2018; Mangen et al., 2013, p.66). 

geralt / Pixabay – Feeling overwhelmed???

 

I have noticed that here is a strong disinclination for teachers to include the creation of hypertext narratives and games in their practice (Mantei, Lipscombe & Kervin, 2018).  This hesitancy could be attributed to the premise that it requires both the student and the teacher to be competent in the additional literacies  (Leu et al., 2015).  Whilst many students could be considered digital natives and may possess the necessary skill set to create such hypertext, many teachers would be considered digital immigrants and therefore lack the confidence to implement such technologies in their classroom.  Unfortunately by excluding creation of digital texts, students are disadvantaged by the lack of potential extension and consolidation of learning. 

Armstong (2020) Bloom’s Taxonomy. CC – BY – NC

Remember Bloom – By failing to include a creative element – students are being denied opportunities for higher order thinking.  

In an effort to address some of these concerns, our library team has a balanced collection of print and digital literature, as well as have recently implemented an information literacy scope and sequence  (Leu et al., 2015).  Our students have access to a robust physical collection, e-books and audiobooks through a BorrowBox subscription, as well as online databases such as InfoBase, Gale, Britannica, EBSCO, Trove, and World Book.  

Anecdotally from my position as a teacher librarian, I can see the students vastly prefer print for recreational reading, but have a strong preference for digital resources for informational purposes.  I regularly see many teachers include digital texts into their teaching practice through reading and viewing of e-books, online databases and web based texts.  Through our information literacy program, we are endeavouring to teach digital literacy skills, such as, how to locate, evaluate and synthesise information, as well as problem solving in both online and offline scenarios (Leu et al., 2015, p. 140).  

Digital literature has transformed society, the definition of literacy and the landscape of pedagogical practice.  Time will only tell if our scope and sequence improve digital literacies and competencies in both the faculty and the students… stay tuned for further updates

 

 

References 

Armstrong, P. (2020). Bloom’s Taxonomy. Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/. Image licenced under CC – BY – NC 

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2018). Literacy. In Australian Curriculum – General Capabilities. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/literacy/

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. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

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 

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/ login.aspx?direct=true&db=ehh&AN=67371172&site=ehost-live

Leu, D., McVerry, J. G., O’Byrne, W. I., Kiili, C., Zawilinski, L., Everett-Cacopardo, H., Kennedy, C., & Forzani, E. (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 55(1)5-14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Leu, D.J, Forzani, E.,Timbrell, N., & Maykel., C. (2015) . Seeing the forest, not the trees: Essential technologies for literacy in primary grade and upper elementarty grade classroom. Reading Teacher 69: (2), p.139-145. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1073399

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).

Rettberg, J.W. (2012). Electronic literature seen from a distance: the beginnings of a field. Retrieved from http://www.dichtung-digital.org/2012/41/walker-rettberg.htm

Sadokierski, Z. (2013, November 12). What is a book in the digital age? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/what-is-a-book-in-the-digital-age-19071

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, p.454-466. doi: 10.1007/s10583-015-9243

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).