What I’ve Been Reading

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted what I’ve been reading…

Books

I’ve read The Darkest Minds and Never Fade by Alexandra Bracken.  I have the third sitting on my bedside table to read this weekend and the fourth on reserve at the library.  My 15yo daughter is reading them after me.

I bought my first comics from Kings Comics in Sydney – Issues 1-3 of Water Weed, part of the Rivers of London/Peter Grant series.  I listened to the free audiobook A Rare Book of Cunning Device – a short story from the same series.

I read Perfect Sinners.  Are you my Mother? by Alison Bechdel.  Willy’s Stories by Anthony Browne.  A pile of graphic novels – Fahrenheit 451, The Night Bookmobile, Blue, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Lie and How We Told It, and Pitch Black.  The Night Bookmobile is more of an adult’s picture book than a graphic novel and a nice short story.

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig.  I gave this 5 stars.  It’s not a brilliant book that will win awards.  It was just exactly the book I needed to read.  I’ve loaned it to someone else who could do with its message.  Then I’ll read it again.

Web

Galiwin’ku library abandons Dewey Decimal System for one based on local Indigenous Knowledge.  I’m really excited about this.  I can’t fathom why we take the classification system of a racist, sexist, dead white guy and apply it to all libraries, everywhere.

Bear Finds a Voice is a digital story about bias in children’s literature.  Well worth five mins!

YA Books about social anxiety.  This issue is near to my heart and this list of books is quite long.  I’ve only read one book on this list – Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell (which I mentioned when discussing fanfic).

Book Week

I’m not currently working so I didn’t have to worry about Book Week preparations except to get my own kids ready for it.  My 8yo son has autism and has never wanted to dress up for Book Week before so I didn’t worry that he wanted to be Dash from The Incredibles (and, hey, there are Incredibles books!) and then my younger daughter wanted to be Jack Jack.  Older daughter should be self-explanatory.

Book Week 2018.  Composite photo of my children dressed up as Dash and JackJack from The Incredibles and Hermione from Harry Potter alongside pictures of those characters for comparison.

Multiliteracies

Literacies and Learning

This module opens with comment on the changes in literacy in modern times, including the tendency to skim read rather than read deeply.  In the last 48 hours, The Guardian has published a piece about how modern readers skim, which doesn’t give their brain time to do the deep thinking they need.  That we aren’t reading deeply, using our critical faculties and we are going to lose them.

This is why I am so upset by the dumbing down of our course.  We aren’t given much to sink our teeth into.  There isn’t much that invites critical reflection.

Especially this module.  I feel like we are just rehashing old ground.  We covered literacy and multiliteracies in ETL401.  We covered critical thinking.  We’ve covered picture books for older children in a previous module.  And this reading isn’t building on our old work and deepening it.  It’s just more of the same banal fluff.

What evidence is there that the library supports transliteracy practices? What do you think could be done better?

My public library offers free wifi access, free computer access with basic word-processing and some limited use of the internet and paid computer use with full internet access.  They provide a free tech help-desk service every day where people who are having tech issues can have them solved by a librarian.  Outside of the library our community is well serviced with free computer classes for seniors, and the library has offered these also from time to time.

Literary Learning

So, apparently “literary learning” isn’t really a thing its just a term they made up for our course to differentiate it from literacy.  Literary learning just means learning through literature, which presupposes a degree of literacy for it to be effective.

Then, to illustrate “literary learning” we get to watch this inane video, set to Vivaldi’s Spring, that is a glorified slideshow showing covers of books, sorted into maths concepts.  The content would be more useful in a list form, for starters, and maybe something that some teachers may find useful, but its not an academic source.  The video isn’t even Australian and, in my experience, a lot of the books on recommended lists like this that come from America aren’t readily available in Australia.  The only use I can see for this video is perhaps “creative ways you can promote your own school’s collection to staff”. But that’s not what it’s in the module for.  Not to mention this video is now seven years old (and the other video we needed to watch is nine years old).

Literacy and Learning

In part two of a three part module we have three pre-internet definitions of literacy from 1979-1990.  When we finally get to a proper reading (that isn’t a slideshow or a video) its only available if you borrow the book from the uni library.  It’s not digitised.  We are covering critical literacy all over again.

Anstey & Bull (2006) provide a useful definition of multiliteracies from A. Luke & peabody (2000), describing flexibility and the need for continued learning to maintain mastery, they have ignored several elements of literacy, including context and community.  This is where Belshaw’s Elements of Digital Literacy (2014) does a better job of outlining the different aspects of literacy across contexts.

The Eight Essential Elements of Digital Literacies
The eight essential elements of digital literacies. Licenced under Creative Commons Zero licence (Belshaw, 2017). Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ugnOTDQ9wGBl3DeGNvpFS3aBQ80GCuXdv2z4ZAi0ks8/edit#slide=id.g35464f8dbf_0_168

The definition of a text as something consciously constructed is interesting and would have been useful in previous sessions’ discussions about the nature of information.  The list of semiotic systems: linguistic, visual, aural, gestural, and spatial is helpful to keep in mind when teaching multiliteracy.  We covered intertextuality when we looked at post-modern picture books but the additional information in this reading is useful for conceptualising what intertextuality really is.  Intertextuality simply means that a text is referring to other texts to enrich the readers’ experience.  One example is the movie Shrek which relies on solid knowledge of fairy tales and the conventions of fairy tales, such as a magic, transformative kiss, and an epic quest to slay the dragon.

 

Transliteracies in the Library

I have not taught (in a paid fashion) for a very long time.  Too long.  But reading about the things I need to teach, and they ways I can teach them through picture books (Anstey & Bull, 2006; Winch, et al., 2014) are making me excited about the prospect of teaching again.

Brueck (2014) talks about how we have nearly the sum total of human knowledge in the palm of our hand in the form of a smartphone with internet access.  However, this is not true.  Only a small percentage of the web is freely accessible.  A vast majority of the content on the web is paywalled.  Even on a publicly accessible website such as Wikipedia, less than half of the articles cited in wikipedia entries are open access, according to analysis done by the Wikimedia Foundation.   The vast majority of human knowledge is not accessible to the average person.  Just wanted to clear that up.

After viewing (Break, 2014), think about ways you could develop the understanding of teachers and students through collaboration and implementation in your library. Can you think of a possible application to support literary learning? Share your ideas in the Module 5 Discussion forum.

Understandings of what? I think that you’re sorely mistaken if you think that a majority of teachers think that everything is still linear.  I think the speaker is also forgetting that people in their late 30s grew up with computers and had the internet in their teens.  Perhaps he learned to read and write only from paper but that doesn’t go for everyone.  Even in my little corner of outer western Sydney, a high proportion of the staff at my local primary school have Masters degrees.  Teachers aren’t stupid.

 

References

Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Teaching and learning multiliteracies: Changing times, changing literacies . Newark, Del.: International Reading Association. 

Belshaw, D. (2014). The essential elements of digital literacies. Retrieved from <http://digitalliteraci.es&gt;

Brueck, J. [ideastream]. 2014, November 18). 2014  IDEA talk: Jermey Brueck – Developing transliteracy [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/BpQrfPQA1Ao

Winch, G., Ross, J. R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2014). Literacy: reading, writing and children’s literature. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

Qualitative Research Methods

Interviewing

My current plan for my assignment is to have some initial questionnaires and then follow that up with some exemplary case studies.  I envisage that the case study information will be drawn from interviews and possibly student work samples.

Based on the information in Bryman (2015) I am likely to take a semi-structured interview approach.  I’m interested in the possibilities of giving the interviewees the questions in advance, so they can think about their answers. I think this would lead to more considered answers (like in an email interview) but also has the advantage of spontaneity.  I would probably limit these interview case studies to three, half-hour interviews (which then would take about 3 hours each to transcribe).  Ideally these would be face to face interviews, but depending on how I do my sampling, the participants may be too remote to access physically, and in that case an interview via Skype or similar, providing a face to face live online interview.

Combining Qualitative and Quantitative Research

The method I intend to use is called a Explanatory Sequential Design where I use quantitative data to explain the qualitative data I have gathered, both the quantitative data is weighted as more important, and comes first.  The quantitative data will also be used as a method of identifying potential case study participants.

References

Bryman, A. (2015). Social research methods. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

 

Quantitative Research Methods

Using Existing Data

Part of (what I hope will be) my research project proposal will draw from existing data – NAPLAN Data. So I chose this chapter (Bryman, 2015, Chapter 14) as my starting point (in two weeks of readings where there are seventeen readings to choose from).

Bryman (2015) discusses secondary analysis of data sets and details how to access that in the UK, but I wonder if we have anything comparable in Australia.  I know we have NAPLAN data and Census data, but I wonder if there is anything else publicly available and/or accessible?

The benefits of using existing data are that a small scale research project, such as a student project, will have access to a larger data set than they could survey in the time available, official statistics tend to be an unobtrusive method of researching, and the large sample sizes mean that the samples are more likely to be representative.  Some of the downsides are the manipulation of public data to make departments (such as the police department) look better, and how representative that data actually is, such as not all crimes being reported.

Using NAPLAN data falls somewhere between secondary analysis and official data because students sitting NAPLAN do know they are being tested, but it is official Government data.  My assignment will also use ABS census data for sampling purposes and this definitely comes under official statistics, although, again, people know they are being “examined”.

Self-Administered Questionnaires

I intend for the first part of my research project to include a self-administered questionnaire.  I would post this out, including a stamped, self-addressed envelope, but also include a link to an online version of the survey to mitigate the problems with postal surveys being lost.  The benefit of a self-administered questionnaire is that there is no researcher bias (either in influencing the answers given or the interpretation of the answers), the answers are returned relatively quickly, are easy to code afterwards and take much less time than face to face or telephone interviews.

 

References

Bryman, A. (2015). Social research methods. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

Respected Professionals?

Teacher librarians are facing a public relations crisis.  We know from the House of Representatives report in 2011 that teacher librarians are either seen as “dragons in pearls” guarding the collection, or as poor-performing teachers placed in a role where they can “do the least harm”.  Schools around the world are shutting their libraries in favour of online media services.  The public wonders why we even have libraries in the days of Google.  Libraries in the US, UK and now Australia are losing government funding.  As teacher librarianship students we are told that we are training to be specialised professionals with valuable skills and knowledge to offer, but studies and actions show that teacher librarians are not highly valued.

Right now, I don’t know that I can argue differently.  In my post-graduate studies I am confronted with twaddle. For those not familiar with Charlotte Mason, books that are twaddle are ones that are dumbed-down (amongst other things).  I feel that I am not getting what I am paying for.  Or, really, what the government is currently loaning me money to pay for.

I am sick of my recommended readings in course content being filled with slideshows of 20+ slides that contain roughly 200-500 words with some pretty images and no real content.  I’m sick of videos of trailers for picture books, opinion pieces by book bloggers and videos that were obviously produced for high school or early college assignments.  I’m sick of out of date readings that refer to “up and coming” innovations like the Nook.  I’m sick of opinion pieces that are all fluff and no substance.

If we don’t have an evidence base for our practice, then how can we call ourselves a profession?  Article after article I read suggests that while we can show correlation between having a teacher librarian (or school librarian or other local variant) and improved academic performance on standardised testing, we don’t have a solid base of evidence for *what* a teacher librarian does that improves outcomes.

And why aren’t we engaging with controversial issues?  Maybe we will cover some of this when I get to cataloging next year, but I’ve read more on the controversial nature of cataloging that I imagine we will ever read in our course.  Why aren’t we looking at alternate career paths, the things that our library degree can train us for even when the job title doesn’t mention “library”? Why aren’t we examining the colonisation mentality that pervades libraries, and how we can knock down the institutional barriers to engaging meaningfully with indigenous people and respecting their knowledge, right to self-determination and a voice on their own matters?  Why aren’t we discussing that libraries aren’t neutral, that they aren’t a “safe space” for everyone?  Why am I learning far more from my own pursuit of professional development and knowledge than I am from a post-graduate degree?

Respected professionals?

Teacher librarians are facing a public relations crisis.  We know from the House of Representatives report in 2011 that teacher librarians are either seen as “dragons in pearls” guarding the collection, or as poor-performing teachers placed in a role where they can “do the least harm”.  Schools around the world are shutting their libraries in favour of online media services.  The public wonders why we even have libraries in the days of Google.  Libraries in the US, UK and now Australia are losing government funding.  As teacher librarianship students we are told that we are training to be specialised professionals with valuable skills and knowledge to offer, but studies and actions show that teacher librarians are not highly valued.

Right now, I don’t know that I can argue differently.  In my post-graduate studies I am confronted with twaddle. For those not familiar with Charlotte Mason, books that are twaddle are ones that are dumbed-down (amongst other things).  I feel that I am not getting what I am paying for.  Or, really, what the government is currently loaning me money to pay for.

I am sick of my recommended readings in course content being filled with slideshows of 20+ slides that contain roughly 200-500 words with some pretty images and no real content.  I’m sick of videos of trailers for picture books, opinion pieces by book bloggers and videos that were obviously produced for high school or early college assignments.  I’m sick of out of date readings that refer to “up and coming” innovations like the Nook.  I’m sick of opinion pieces that are all fluff and no substance.

If we don’t have an evidence base for our practice, then how can we call ourselves a profession?  Article after article I read suggests that while we can show correlation between having a teacher librarian (or school librarian or other local variant) and improved academic performance on standardised testing, we don’t have a solid base of evidence for *what* a teacher librarian does that improves outcomes.

And why aren’t we engaging with controversial issues?  Maybe we will cover some of this when I get to cataloging next year, but I’ve read more on the controversial nature of cataloging that I imagine we will ever read in our course.  Why aren’t we looking at alternate career paths, the things that our library degree can train us for even when the job title doesn’t mention “library”? Why aren’t we examining the colonisation mentality that pervades libraries, and how we can knock down the institutional barriers to engaging meaningfully with indigenous people and respecting their knowledge, right to self-determination and a voice on their own matters?  Why aren’t we discussing that libraries aren’t neutral, that they aren’t a “safe space” for everyone?  Why am I learning far more from my own pursuit of professional development and knowledge than I am from a post-graduate degree?

What I’ve Been Reading

Books

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso is the first graphic novel to be longlisted for the Man Booker prize.  I bought myself a copy and read it on Saturday night.  It didn’t immediately resonate with me, and at first I was a little unsatisfied with the ending, but it has improved with time to ponder it.

Web

After talking about Literature Map the other day, I discovered this article about NoveList. It’s a subscription database, so it may not be available to everyone, but it sounds like fun.

In a world of standardised testing and the like, Storytelling in the classroom is dying.  Students are missing out on precious learning when we remove stories and just communicate bare facts.

The Guardian posted a list of 10 graphic novels everyone should read.  There’s plenty of inspiration here for me!

Why Reading for Pleasure is Important. I wish I could have incorporated this into my assignment (but I ran out of word count).

Graphic Novels 101. I love the three criteria at the end to assess the value of the graphic novel.