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 workshops, the 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.
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
The group of Year 8 students had just finished a unit of work on the history of the Catholic Church from the fall of Rome to the Reformation as part of their Religious Education subject (Curriculum link – ACDSEH052/ ACDSEH054). At the culmination of the semester, they were supposed to go on an excursion to explore the various different Christian churches and analyse how their structure, design, and use of symbols support faith based practices (Curriculum link – ACAVAM119/ACHASSK198).
However, the COVID-10 pandemic and resulting restrictions prevented that adventure. Therefore, in an effort to address the gap in their learning, the teacher librarian and classroom teacher collaborated to create a lesson that would virtually explore various churches by introducing emerging technologies in the form of virtual reality to the classroom with Google Cardboard and Google Streetview. In the process students would learn essential note taking skills using a graphic organiser and paragraph writing skills. Evidence of learning would be the written TEXAS or TEEL paragraph illustrating their analysis of the building structure and design and how it supports faith practices and community.
Rosenblatt’s reader response theory was the underlying pedagogical principle for this activity (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110). Commonly used in literature circles, Rosenblatt’s constructivist theory acknowledges each student’s contribution as valid, which enables them to become active agents in their own learning, and the activity appropriate for a diverse classroom (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.109-110). However, instead of investigating texts in a literature circle, the students investigated and analysed religious sites in a similar immersive experience. This virtual exploration required them to combine the new visual information to their own prior experience in order to create new knowledge (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). The collaborative atmosphere allows students to have an equal exchange of ideas, increases their problem solving skills as well as developing interpersonal skills and promotes collegian discussion (ACARA, 2014a; Tobin, 2012, p. 41).
The students were given a choice of six different churches to visit and had to select three for comparison purposes. As location was no longer an issue, the TL identified a variety of churches from different Christian denominations across the world that were suitable. It is important that careful research be undertaken to ensure that the sites are accessible freely via Google Streetview and the associated images provide relevant information.
The students were requested to note down the similarities and differences between the different types of churches using a triple venn diagram. This part of the task involved student collaboration and ideally students would have selected a different church site each and then shared their information through discourse. However this did not happen as the students all looked at sites sequentially rather concurrently, which was a poor use of time from a teacher perspective, but did increase the length and breadth of discourse.
Teaching note taking and the use of graphic organisers simultaneously was a pedagogical strategy. Note taking is an essential skill that needs to be explicitly taught across the curriculum as the style of note taking and vocabulary choice will vary depending on the discipline. Good note takers have generally higher academic outcomes because they are able to succinctly summarise ideas, concepts and information using their own vernacular, and then use their notes to create content to communicate their understanding and analysis (Stacy & Cain, 2015). Graphic organisers have been proven to improve learning outcomes because it increases connections between ideas, and organises information in a visual and spatial manner (McKnight, n.d.; Mann, 2014). By utilising the two strategies together, the students are given an opportunity to explore different methods of learning which they can use throughout their learning both in and outside classroom walls.
Good notes lead to a strong author’s voice and content in paragraphs. The culmination of the task required students to create a paragraph identifying and describing the structure of the church and its alignment to faith based practices, as well as evaluating how the design of the church’s spiritual and aesthetic design holds value to their congregation and society. The question was created using Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive domains so that all the diverse learning needs of the class would be catered for appropriately (Kelly, 2019b).
Questions are an intrinsic and ancient practice of teaching (Tofade, Elsner & Haines, 2013). Carefully designed questions are all features of good pedagogical practice and are able to, stimulate thinking, promote discourse, further connections between prior and new knowledge as well as encourage subject exploration. (Tofade et al., 2013). Teachers that stage questions in order of Bloom’s taxonomy are addressing all the cognitive domains, as well as building students to achieve that higher order thinking (Tofade et al., 2013).
The virtual exploration of churches around the world was designed to compensate students for their inability to connect their learning to the real world to the pandemic. The task overtly sought to get students to experiment with emerging technologies, work in collaborative groups and communicate their learning in written form. In addition students covertly learned to note take using graphic organisers, engage in collegial discourse and use Bloom’s taxonomy to work toward higher order thinking. These skills are in addition to the content learning outcomes and even if the students did not learn any new content, they had a good crack at learning some valuable skills!
Overall content outcomes:
ACDSEH052 – Dominance of the Catholic Church and the role of significant individuals such as Charlemagne
ACDSEH054 – Relationships with subject peoples, including the policy of religious tolerance
ACAVAM119 – Analyse how artists use visual conventions in artworks
ACTDIP026 – Analyse and visualise data using a range of software to create information, and use structured data to model objects or events
ACHASSK198 – Identify the different ways that cultural and religious groups express their beliefs, identity and experiences
ACELA1763 – writing structured paragraphs for use in a range of academic settings such as paragraph responses, reports and presentations.
ACELY1810 – Experimenting with text structures and language features to refine and clarify ideas and improve text effectiveness.
(ACARA, 2014h; ACARA, 2014i; ACARA, 2014j)
GC – ICT -Locate, generate and access data and information
GC – CCT – Identify and clarify information and ideas
GC – Literacy – Understanding how visual elements create meaning (ACARA, 2014c; ACARA, 2014b; ACARA, 2014h)
GC – CCT –
Organise and process information
Imagine possibilities and connect ideas (ACARA, 2014b)
Collaborative Learning groups
GC – PSC
Appreciate diverse perspectives
Negotiate and resolve conflict
GC – IC –
Investigate culture and cultural identity
Explore and compare cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices
GC – Literacy
Compose spoken, written, visual and multimodal learning area texts
ACARA. (2014j). Visual Arts Curriculum. F-10 Curriculum – Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum. Educational Services Australia. . Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/the-arts/visual-arts/
Woodruff, A., & Griffin, R. (2017). Reader response in secondary settings: Increasing comprehension through meaningful interactions with literary texts. Texas Journal of Literacy Education (5) 2 pp.108-116. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1162670.pdf
Society has always approved of vigorous discussion regarding books. Book clubs, reading circles and literature groups, are places where people, mostly adults, meet to discuss classic novels or the latest best seller. These discussions facilitate a shared understanding of the text, which increases comprehension, pleasure and aesthetic motivation (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108). Known as a reader response method, literacy circles seek to challenge the reader to interpret the text through their own lens, such as their perspectives, knowledge and viewpoints, to make meaning from what they are reading (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108). As a response strategy to literature, literature circles require the reader to critically analyse the text and justify their reasoning (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108).
Whilst discourse does occur in disciplines that participate in research and further study, it is rare for the general public to meet and discuss information texts or nonfiction. This can prove to be detrimental as much of life involves the interpretation or making meaning from texts (Daniels, 2002; Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.108). There are two main benefits for including literature circles within a high school classroom. The first and main benefit is that it is an excellent literary strategy that captures how a reader responds to a text. The other main reason is that it fosters collaborative learning (Bedel, 2016).
High school literature circles (LC) are structured similarly to adult book clubs. They consist of small groups of students sharing discourse about a specific text (Daniels, 2002). Bedel (2016) describes literature circles as places where students are able to practice their communications skills and improve their reading strategies (p.96). Predominantly used as a tool to investigate fiction, LC can also be used to investigate narrative nonfiction, news articles, journals, reports, essays, exposes, memoirs and information books across all disciplines (Daniels, 2002, p.7). Daniels (2002) cautions the use of reference books and school textbooks within LC as they are not suitable (p.10). Their prescriptive nature means that they forgo narrative and literary features, and are overloaded with content (Soiferman & Straw, 2016, p.10 ). This means that the minimum requirements for a text to be included in a high school LC are that it is engaging, of good quality and provokes vigorous discourse (Daniels, 2002, p.8). Since most high school students find their school textbooks of little interest, they can be excluded quite easily by those benchmarks. After all, who gets emotive over a review of differentiating quadratics?
Literature circles are based upon Rosenblatt’s reader response strategy. It acknowledges that readers make meaning from text with their own background acting like a lens and that every reader will have a different interpretation (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110). Its constructivist approach is why LC are so effective in classroom practice. It appreciates each student’s input as a valid contribution to collaborative learning, and makes the students active agents in their learning, rather than passively absorbing the teacher’s response as gospel (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.110). There is also an increased immersion in the text when students are reading aesthetically, as LC requires the students to consider diverse reasons and perspectives, and utilise background knowledge or experience (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). Recall why LC do not work with information texts such as textbooks and reference books? It is impossible to breathe life into reference encyclicals (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111)!
One of the greatest benefits of literature circles from a classroom teacher’s perspective is that it is an appropriate reader response strategy for a diverse classroom. LC is able to meet the cognitive and developmental needs of the differently able learners, as all contributions and interpretations of literary works are welcomed equally (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.109). LC also have low technological requirements. Whilst some teachers can choose to use digital technology such as wikis and forums to conduct their literature circles, it is not required. LC can be run in a classroom, an oval, a garden or online. All this reader response strategy requires is an engaging text that meets literary standards and a group of students willing to participate.
Literature circles are adaptable for all levels of high school, and across all key subject areas as all they require for effective practice is that members of a group have to read the text. This can prove problematic for a few reasons. Firstly, that it may be financially nonviable to purchase multiple copies of the same book (Daniels, 2002, p.11). Whilst some schools have a book hire scheme in place, they may not include the titles required. A suggestion is to locate an online version that students can access on their devices. Another reason is that some students may baulk at the idea of reading a whole book. This is a very common occurrence in high schools and some teachers seek audiobooks as a suitable alternative. Finally, some students lack the ability to read due to illiteracy, learning difficulties or have another first language. But both Cornett (2014) and Bedel (2016) disagree and state that literature based learning has higher success rates in students with low literacy than when it is not at the core of learning. Journal articles, essays and book extracts are suitable alternatives to large novels, but picture books, either fiction or nonfiction, have a high success rate due to their engaging format and brevity. There is a plethora of sophisticated picture books available for most subject areas.
Efficacy within literature groups is dependent on the functionality of the group of students working together to achieve a collaborative goal (Bedel, 2016, p.97). Due to the student driven nature of LC, participants in LC must be willing to share their individual connections to the text as well as any feelings or judgments they have in order to make meaning from the text (Daniels, 2002, p.13). Efficacy within groups is measured by equal participation in discourse, ability to reflect upon the author’s intent and purpose, as well as identifying the effectiveness of the literary devices used within the text (Daniels, 2002, p.13). As a valid reader response strategy in high schools, LC increases the comprehension and connections a student makes between themselves, the text and the world.
Reader response strategies like literature circles, book bento boxes and book trailers, all require the teacher to be a facilitator of learning rather than an instructor (Woodruff & Griffin, p.109). This means the role of the teacher is there to support and guide students as they understand the text and derive the author’s intent (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). Sometimes a teacher may need to intervene if students need redirecting, or encouraging if the students persist in viewing the text from a single perspective (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.111). The other task of the teacher is to possibly assign roles within the literature groups. In traditional LC, each student has a specific task that increases the effectiveness of the collaborative learning group (Woodruff & Griffin, 2017, p.112).
Literature based learning has proven educational benefits for students of all ages but specifically for high school students. Unfortunately, the persisting trend towards nationwide standardised tests is making it difficult for teachers to use literature based learning in their classrooms. But why is there such a disinclination from state education department heads to embed literature across the curriculum? Teachers are often dealt with the short end of the stick as they are forced to teach using dry and content overloaded texts to students that are disengaged and disinclined. They are continuously looking for ways to make their practice more engaging and relatable to the students but are hampered by education boards that fail to realise that it is not how students are taught but what they are given to read that makes the difference. By embedding literature across the curriculum and utilising reader response strategies like literature circles, student’s learning is fostered, as is their ability to work effectively with their peers. Teachers should be encouraged to use literature circles as a method of investigating and analysing texts across all disciplines, as it meets the needs of the student and promotes a life long love of reading.
Woodruff, A., & Griffin, R. (2017). Reader response in secondary settings: Increasing comprehension through meaningful interactions with literary texts. Texas Journal of Literacy Education (5) 2 pp.108-116. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1162670.pdf
Book trailers are often referred to as audiovisual representations of texts (Gron, 2014, p. 91). Gron (2017) defines reader’s book trailers as a pedagogical tool to promote literary learning and multimodal literacy (p.94). These trailers are very different to the ones produced by authors and publishers for promotional purposes. Author and publisher produced trailers are more inline with movie trailer characteristics as they both seek to lure rather than show the user’s understanding and comprehension of the text (Gron, 2014).
Book trailers (BT) can range from complex short digital stories with interactive media, to simple slideshows of still images, to animated videos using claymation (Tobin, 2012, p43). Predominantly used for fictional texts, BT have also recently been used as literary analysis for non fiction resources, as well as essays and other multimodal texts (Tobin, 2012, p.40). They provide a useful way of integrating ICT in the classroom and provide a digital alternative to literary circles and book reports (Bernardo, 2019). Reader’s book trailers work in a similar manner to literature circles, as they provide a space for students to engage with the text and to form connections between the text, the world and themselves. Gron (2014) points out that BT offer a synopsis of the text through the perspective of the reader, which will differ depending on the reader’s own knowledge bank and the connections they make to the text and real life (p.95). They provide an audiovisual depiction of the text from the lens of the reader, with their perspective and understanding as influences (Gron, 2017, p.93).
Within a classroom, book trailers are flexible as a teaching tool or as an assessment piece (Tobin, 2012, p.40). They can be used as enticement, as a tool to engage students at the commencement of a unit, or as a comprehension task at the culmination of one. BT’s strongest efficacy is at the culmination of a unit, but often the idea of creating a BT can be an enticement for students to participate in the course. There are three main educational benefits to using book trailers in the classroom. They include, promoting engagement with the text and reading in general, as well as increasing comprehension, understanding and analysis of the text. They are also an ideal activity for collaborative learning groups. Lastly, BT increase critical thinking, visual literacy, social and emotional literacy as well as improve multimodal literacy of students.
Book trailers can be used for narrative and expository texts (Tobin, 2012, p.47). Their format engages students in the task and the successful completion of the trailer provides intrinsic motivation for reading as a pleasurable activity (Ginsberg, 2013; Festa, 2017). The creation of a BT requires the reader to delve into the book, identify and analyse key events, themes and character development (Tobin, 2012, p.48). This analysis of texts, especially fictitious ones, can lead to a cognitive change, which also provides additional motivation for reading.
Students need to summarise the story into key events and stages, analyse how these events affected the story as a whole and their own understanding of it (Bernardo, 2019). They also need to be able to understand the genre of the text, and ensure that the trailer is consistent with the author’s intent (Gron, 2014, p.92). Festa (2017) points out that illustrations need to be evaluated for their effectiveness, which is especially important when creating a BT for picture books.
Student learning is heightened within social contexts, and the literary efficacy of book trailers is increased by collaborative group work. This is based upon Vygotsky’s socio-cultural theory, that learning in student-centred environments is more successful than in isolation (Tobin, 2012). Collaborative groups are ideal for the implementation of BT, as they allow for the exchange of ideas, discussion of themes, events and character development which leads to optimum understanding of the text and topic. (Tobin, 2012, p. 41). Dialogue and discussion is very important when deliberating over social and moral issues, as well as when evaluating author’s bias, veracity and use of literary devices.
When working in collaborative learning groups, it is optimum that students are assigned a specific role or task to complete (Tobin, 2012, p.41). Whilst many students may prefer to make their own collaborative learning groups, teachers ideally create diverse learning groups and assign roles to ensure that the task is equitably distributed. This is especially important if the BT is used for summative assessment purposes. Group selection can be intentional, or via a method of random allocation. Working in collaborative groups also meets curriculum outcomes within the General Capabilities – Personal and Social Capabilities, as it promotes interpersonal skills and allows students to develop effective strategies for interacting with their peers (ACARA, 2014a).
By allocating roles, each student is given a purposeful direction to interact with the text and an active role in their learning. This orchestration gives the student ownership of the final product and thus promotes engagement with the task and the text. Festa (2017) suggests that students complete a reflection of the task, peer review and a self evaluation of their own efficiency and efficacy as an assessment tool (p.109-110). But caution should be used if BT are to be considered a summative assessment if there is an inequitable access to personal devices.
The inclusion of book trailers in education increases critical thinking, visual and multimodal literacy as it provides a social context to develop these 21st century skills (Tobin, 2012, p. 41, Festa, 2017, p.112). At its core, BT are essentially a miniature inquiry task as it requires the students to work on their metacognitive processes to ensure that planning, implementing and evaluation occurs appropriately (Tobin, 2012, p.42). Inquiry tasks are an accepted teaching practice and often used as a pedagogical method to build critical thinking and critical literacy in students (Tobin, 2012, P.42).
Technology has often been cited as a method of engaging students in the classroom, and BT allow students to use their devices for legitimate learning activities (Moore & Cahill, 2016). Since the actual act of creating a book trailer requires students to convert a written literary source into an audiovisual production, it obliges the creators to combine images, sound and texts together using some form of digital software (Gron, 2014, p.91; Festa, 2017, p.112). In constructing these trailers, students become creators as well as users of digital media (Festa, 2017, p.112). This transfer of representation can be difficult for some students therefore, teachers will be required to facilitate learning by providing scaffolding to increase personal imagination and interpretation of text (Gron, 2014, p.98).
From a practical perspective, there are specific steps that are necessary when creating a book trailer. The first step is to ensure that students have read and understood the text, either in a group read- aloud or individually. Picture books are consummate for book trailers. Research has shown that picture books can be used to teach older students multiliteracies, curriculum content and broach sensitive subjects (Marsh, 2010). Their format promotes the action of ‘reading aloud’ and their brevity creates a sense of security for reluctant readers and students with low literacy. Many sophisticated picture books are an ideal for BTs within classroom practice. They provide a valid alternative as a class text for disinterested teens, reluctant readers, students with low literacy and those that do not speak English at home (Marsh, 2010).
Book trailers require the reader to connect the text to the real world and themselves as part of their reader response. Some students may struggle with the disconnect between a physical book and digital book trailer (Gron, 2014, p. 97). This means that students need to envision the text in an alternate setting to a book as they both use different languages (Gron, 2014, p.97). This envisaging can be difficult for some students and that is why collaborative groups are essential in tasks such as this (Gron, 2014, p.97). Additionally, the format and illustrations of picture books gives students with minimum faculty for imagination a starting point for structuring their BT (Tobin, 2012, p.42). A storyboard template can be used as a scaffold for students to set and frame their scenes as well as provide a sense of direction for the task (Tobin, 2012, p.43). These templates can be paper or digital. Suggestions for online storyboard sites include Canva, Wideo, Comicmaker and The Plot. Paper templates can be downloaded from here.
The role of the teacher or teacher librarian when using book trailers is in a support function. Teachers are required primarily to support discourse by providing a series of questions that provoke dialogue (Tobin, 2012, p.45). They are also required to facilitate the creation of collaborative learning groups and provide scaffolding for the student’s ICT capabilities. The latter is important as students often get distracted when using their personal devices and teachers will be required to redirect if the distraction proves to be recurrent (Tobin, 2012, p.45). Teachers may also be required to monitor the creation of BT to ensure that they are complying with school policy and legislation requirements.
Teacher librarians can support classroom teachers and students by providing additional technological assistance and information regarding the use of creative common images and copyright laws (Earp, 2017). This may be required in higher levels for teachers who are less sure of their own computer proficiency. Using book trailers as a teaching and learning activity can bolster both the teacher and the student’s multimodal capabilities.
Book trailers are not the literary derivative of movie trailers. Rather it is a valid reader response strategy to texts studied in classes across the curriculum. The inclusion of book trailers into teaching and learning has many educational benefits and is an excellent way of incorporating meaningful use of digital technologies into the classroom. Whilst a fairly new method, there is ample scope to include this multimodal literary learning strategy within the curriculum. Book trailers are an excellent method of illustrating the reader’s comprehension and analysis whilst increasing interpersonal skills and boosting multimodal literacy.
Moore, J., & Cahill, M. (2016). Audiobooks; Legitimate ‘reading’ material for adolescents? Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved fromwww.ala.org/aasl/slr/volume19/moore-cah