LIBE 477 – Final Reflection

As I have been preparing to write this final reflection for LIBE 477 I have had many thoughts go through my mind. Firstly, I am thinking about the fact that this final post will conclude my 8th course towards my Teacher Librarian Diploma. I must admit that I have not exactly sped through this diploma program, opting for one course a semester and taking a couple semesters off here and there due to life and its not so linear nature. As I think about this, however, I am realizing that maybe, going slowly has actually been beneficial due to the nature of this program and the work we do. By going slowly my learning has been extended and I have continued to grow professionally over the course of these past few years as opposed to jamming it all together just to get it done. Needless to say, completing the diploma is a goal of mine (that I plan to have accomplished by April of next year!), but just as we tell our students, learning is more about the process than the end result and going slowly has, indeed, allowed for the process to be more meaningful in terms of its impact on my teaching and growth as an educator.

In considering my biggest take away from this course I believe it would have to be the discovery of the work of Edgardo Civallero, the Argentinean librarian who has done an incredible amount of work and research into libraries in South America with specific attention to the role of libraries in Indigenous communities. It was so interesting to see the parallels between the issues facing Indigenous communities in two countries that are so far apart geographically and, that seem on the surface, so different from one another. Discovering Civallero’s work was personally motivating to me and I felt empowered by the fact that I was reading and understanding an academic paper written entirely in Spanish. It is true that if there is a personal connection present then the learning will be more powerful and rewarding… for students and teachers alike! I look forward to reading more of Civallero’s work and discovery further connections between the two countries I have called home.

I have also found it very interesting, throughout this course, to take a look at what other TLs are doing throughout the province. We can sometimes become so focussed on what is going on in our own small communities that we forget to look around at what is happening at other schools, in other districts, or even in other countries. When we remain enclosed in our own bubble we miss so many potential opportunities. Opportunities for learning, sharing, collaborating, teaching, inspiring, and, of course, being inspired. While I have had a chance to look at a few Vision of the Future Projects so far I look forward to exploring more in the next few days as I know that doing so will lead to rich learning and new ideas.

Creating my own Vision of the Future resource was something that I felt held purpose and was, therefore, a valuable endeavour that I hope will help to guide colleagues in trying something new in their classrooms. I do not claim to be an expert in technology, far from it. But I am not scared to try. I think that fear is what lays beneath many teachers hesitation to bring technology into the classroom and I hope that the Toolkit I created will help ease some of that fear and make it seem more manageable because it is, indeed manageable, and incredibly worthwhile as we strive to do all we can to teach our students the skills necessary in today’s world.

I am very thankful for the learning that has stemmed from this course and I look forward to my final two courses in the TL Diploma Program as I continue to learn and grow as an educator.


I pressed ‘publish’ on this post an hour or so ago and yet I felt drawn to come back after just reading something that resonated so strongly with me and felt connected to this course and my reflections. I won’t say much more about it as it truly speaks for itself…

“Educate Me” by Lebanese-Canadian author, speaker, and educator, Najwa Zebian.

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Zebian, N. (2018). Mind platter. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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Vision Project – iPads in the Grade One Classroom: a Toolkit

For my final vision project I decided to go back to the beginning of the course and look at one of the initial areas of interest that I highlighted during the first Reading Assignment. This was something I have had interest in since before even beginning this course and so I felt as though it would be worthwhile to spend more time delving into the topic and to create something that would be of use to my colleagues. The area of interest, technology in early primary, with a specific focus on iPad instruction/use in Grade One, stemmed out of a collaboration with a Grade One class this past year in which we have worked together weekly to teach iPad skills and to bring new apps to the classroom.

Working with the Grade One class demonstrated to me the power that iPads can have in enhancing classroom practices and also the value in structured teaching in using these devices as tools for learning, creating, and sharing.

For my Final Vision artifact I decided to create an iPad in the Classroom Toolkit for Grade One/early primary teachers. This Toolkit begins with a rationale and explanation of the background from which it is based and continues to highlight a selection of apps that have proved worthy in the Grade One classroom accompanied by several examples of student work. My hope is that this Toolkit will enable primary teachers to feel more confident in introducing apps to their students in a structured way with the confidence that these apps are ‘tried and true’ in the early primary classroom. Another reason I decided to create this Toolkit is because I will be away on the leave for the fall term and I wanted to be able to leave a possible framework behind for my colleagues who are hoping to work with the iPads with their classes starting in September.

While students today are, in many ways, more comfortable with technology than most adults, this does not mean that they automatically know how to use it as an effective tool for learning. In his article “Can we teach digital natives digital literacy?” Wan Ng speaks of the role that educators have of introducing “the range of educational technologies that the digital natives” (our students) can use for learning (p. 1066). I firmly believe, as Ng states, that students “need to be taught about these technologies, just like people born into a community needs to be taught how to speak the language or use tools and equipment that are available to the community” (p. 1066). The responsibility, to teach our students to navigate the wide range of technologies available cannot fall solely on the Teacher Librarian and, as such, I created this Toolkit with the hope that it could help serve as a guide to primary teachers who are hoping to bring iPads into their classrooms.

In his book, Why School? Will Richardson lays out the 21st Century Literacies as outlined in a policy by the National Council of Teachers of English. This policy echoes the Ng’s sentiment, stating that students must “develop proficiency with the tools of technology,” (2013) amongst other recommendations. How else can we achieve this goal without the intentional teaching, modeling, and practise with the different technologies in the classroom, beginning at an early age?

The BC Ministry of Education also lays out a series of 6 different skills/understandings that we should be teaching in schools in relation to Digital Literacies, including, but not limited to, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making, Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration. All of these skills will be practised through the use of the apps and activities outlined in the Toolkit. While this Toolkit will remain a living document due to technological advances and developments, it will, I hope, prove to be a useful and informative tool for colleagues who are looking to move forward with technology and digital literacies in their classrooms. 

References:

British Columbia Ministry of Education. BC’s digital literacy framework. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/kindergarten-to-grade-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy-framework.pdf

National Council of Teachers of English. (2008). The NCTE definition of 21st century literacies. Retrieved from http://www2.ncte.org/statement/21stcentdefinition/

Ng, W. (2012). Can we teach digital natives digital literacy? Computers and Education, 59. Retrieved from https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/S0360131512001005/1-s2.0-S0360131512001005-main.pdf?_tid=709411ba-038f-4b20-9b81-25ea83a3a5e9&acdnat=1530559134_8301d58d5468855747a359526ee24fcc

Richardson, W. (2012). Why school? New York, NY: TED Conferences.

Cambiar el destino de la comunidad – Changing the destiny of the community

While I began this week unsure of where I was going to end up in terms of the topic introduced I ended up coming across a publication that excited and engaged me in new and challenging ways. In fact, I would say it was one of the most interesting things I have read in a long time, perhaps because I felt a connection to it and we all know that when reading something we are personally connected to we will be all the more motivated to not only read it but to also learn from it.

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La Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno in Buenos Aires

When I read through the module introduction my initial thought was that I wanted to see if I could find anything written on the topic of libraries in more remote areas of Argentina. Having spent time in Argentina teaching, and also through my own familial connections to the country, I was drawn to learn more about what is happening there in terms of libraries. While I was in Argentina last summer I visited the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno in Buenos Aires and met with the new Director, Alberto Manguel, who happens to also be both Canadian and Argentinean (it was this article from the Globe and Mail that first prompted me to contact Manguel about meeting). It was very interesting to speak with Manguel about his role in the National Library and the plans he has to bring about changes, especially in terms of educational offerings and a library centered on Indigenous Peoples of Argentina. Through this discussion, however, I did not obtain a bigger picture of what is happening in smaller communities in the country and so that led me to want to learn more.

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 12.06.37 PMWhen I came across Edgardo Civallero’s (2007) publication entitled, “Bibliotecas en comunidades Indígenas: Guia de acción y reflexión”  – Libraries in Indigenous communities: A guide for action and reflection – I was instantly intrigued as it was not only related to the week’s topic of world libraries but also related to two other great interests of mine, Indigenous Cultures and Argentina. The fact that this publication is written entirely in Spanish caused some slight trepidation at first but as I began reading I felt motivated by the fact that I was not only understanding but greatly appreciating the wise words written. It also demonstrated how similar our stories are… Argentina and Canada may be far apart geographically but the commonalities are strong, especially in terms of issues related to Indigenous Peoples today, the challenges being faced, and the work being done to try and repair the damage caused by years of ignorance and prejudice.

 

Liberar Mentes y Salvar Vidas – Open Minds and Save Lives

Civallero begins his publication writing about the power of libraries in terms of their ability to open minds and save lives. Through libraries the eyes of the poor and marginalized can be opened and he states that this can cause those in power to become scared, especially if their power was built upon the ignorance and misery of others. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and so withholding knowledge is, in fact, a way of keeping the power in the hands of a select few. It is up to those people who have the opportunity and the resources to ensure that knowledge through libraries is accessible to all people.

“De nosotros depende que el niño aprenda a leer y escribir en su idioma materno, que la historia sea contada permitiendo que suenen todas las campanas, que los que nunca tuvieron voz puedan escribir sus memorias y sus recuerdos, y decir sus palabras y hablar sus voces, antiguas y siempre calladas” (p. x). 

It depends on us whether a child will learn to read and write in his mother language, that history be told accurately, that those who have never had a voice can write their memories and say their words, speak their voices that have previously been silenced.

 

Pulmón Cultural y Gestora de Memorias – Cultural Lung and Storehouse of Memories

It is impossible to translate everything directly – Pulmón Cultural sounds so much better than Cultural Lung even though it is the literal translation. But when you think about what it implies, a library as a “cultural lung” does, in fact, make sense. Lungs are what sustain us, through our lungs we breath in the air that is necessary to live. In this same way libraries can be seen as necessary to sustain cultures, but as Civallero points out, “así como podía recuperar y salvar una cultura, también podía ser la herramienta idónea para aplastarla, borrarla y negarla” (p. ix). In other words, he is saying that while libraries do have the immense power of being able to save a culture they can also be a tool to crush, erase, or deny a culture if the power is in the wrong hands. If done right (and I will discuss more about what this might mean) Civallero argues that libraries have the power to:

  • Help restore history and lost identities
  • Strengthen oral traditions and weak/threatened languages
  • Promote literacy and bilingual education
  • Guarantee basic human rights and equality
  • Share information about health, employment, and sustainable development
  • Teach about wellbeing, social inclusion, and democratic participation
  • Provide materials allowing people to obtain a variety of resources, texts, and images which will enable them to make connections with others in different places and times
  • Provide entertainment, training, and information
  • Connect Indigenous communities with International communities.

In order to reap these significant benefits, however, it is essential that the building of libraries in Indigenous communities be done properly. And Civallero suggests that this means being innovative and responsive to each specific community and not simply trying to adapt pre-existing models.

 

Bibliotecas y Desarrollo Social – Libraries and Social Development 

In his publication, Civallero suggests many important factors to consider when planning the implementation of libraries in Indigenous Communities if we hope to achieve the aforementioned benefits in the communities.

  1. It is essential that the librarians know the community extremely well. They must listen to and recognize their own specific needs and work to attend to those needs in an appropriate manner for the community.  Civallero goes on to give an example of how governments have donated computers to communities of people who are, by majority, illiterate thinking that this will be helpful when really the money could have been better spent on books and education campaigns to build literacy skills necessary to even be able to use a computer. There is no ‘one size fits all’ method and the only way to know what will help a specific community is to spend the time getting to know the people and listening to their needs and concerns.
  2. We must forget about the traditional library model, take down the walls and allow for the development of more flexible and dynamic spaces. Whether that be in the streets, in schools, in community centres, neighbourhood associations, cultural organizations, in the most poverty stricken neighbourhoods. As this is where the inequality lies, and this is where the libraries must work to assist the people in regaining their own power through knowledge while embracing and strengthening their own culture, language, and way of being.
  3. The librarians working in these areas must be life long learners themselves. Be open to trying new strategies and ways of doing things.
  4. The librarians must also see themselves as a part of the community and be active in community life. This will ensure that the library remains relevant and vibrant as opposed to “un depósito de saberes anticuados y de páginas polvorientas” (p. 25) – a deposit of outdated knowledge and dusty pages. One of my favourite quotes from the publication echoes this sentiment. It emphasizes the importance that those working in a library do not see it as being work done solely for the ‘other’ but work done for all people…

Que no existen “bibliotecas indígenas” y “bibliotecas no indígenas”, sino “bibliotecas”. Y que no hay “mi mano”, “tu mano” y “su mano”, sino “nuestras manos”. Y nuestra imaginación (p. 3).

That there be no ‘Indigenous Libraries’ and ‘Non-Indigenous Libraries,’ only libraries. And that it is not ‘my hand,’ ‘your hand,’ or his/her ‘hand’ – only our hands. And our imaginations.

 

Acción Real – Real Action 

Civallero proposes big ideas. He has big dreams in terms of the power that libraries can have in Indigenous communities in Argentina (and around the world). He is clear to state, however, that these will remain as ideas unless we begin. Unless the ideas are accompanied by action and open minds. Yes, it may not be an easy task, and there is, indeed, much work to be done, but  as Civallero says, “dejemos de hablar, dejemos de mirar como espectadores inertes… y hagámoslo” (p. 28) – let’s stop talking, stop looking on as spectators, and let’s do the work.

Libraries are powerful. Civallero reminded me of this and I feel very fortunate to have found his work as it has left me feeling inspired and rejuvenated at a time when I have been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by my work and this role. I know I will continue to read more about his research and projects not only due to my interest in his work in Argentina but also due to the fact that the links to our own situation here, in Canada, are so strong. Civallero writes, “una biblioteca puede… cambiar el destino de su comunidad de usuarios. (p. 44) – a library can change the destiny of its community… I agree with this powerful statement and feel inspired by the work already done and motivated to continue with the work we still must do.

 

References:

Civallero, E. (2007). Bibliotecas en comunidades indigenas: Guía de acción y reflexion. [PDF file]. Cordoba, Argentina: Wayrachaki. Retrieved from https://www.aacademica.org/edgardo.civallero/18.pdf

Nolen, S. (2017, May 12). Argentina’s page turner: How a Canadian author became the leader of a library revolution. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/argentina-alberto-manguel-national-library/article34966600/

“Fearless, Playful, and Connected”

As a classroom teacher it is possible (unfortunately) to get away with shutting yourself off in your own classroom, with your own kids, without much contact or collaboration with the rest of the school. As teacher librarians, however, this is definitely not the case… at least if we hope to do our jobs well. As teacher-librarian I have found that I am much more involved in admin-type activities than I ever imagined when I first began in this role. Teacher librarians are involved in so many aspects of the school, it is much more than just the purchasing of books and the managing of book exchanges. It is also much more than the teaching of students and the organization of student activities as in this position we also take on the role of teaching and engaging our staff in new and exciting ways.

In her article “School Librarians: Vital Educational Leaders” Martineau (2010) recognizes the shift in the TL role from the traditional librarian to today’s teacher librarians, especially in terms of ICT skills. She notes that “teacher librarians are increasingly acting as professional development providers of digital literacy skills” (p. 5). Martineau makes another important point in her article saying that in order for it to be possible for TLs to be leaders in terms of staff professional development as well as collaboration and teaching then it is important that there is sufficient support in the library to assist with the necessary day to day tasks of running the space. It would be impossible, even if the TL role was full-time, to do everything to keep a library running while also doing everything else. I feel fortunate to have a trained library technician who works two days a week. She does most of the processing of new books, the cataloging, and most of the book exchange sessions. Without her it would be impossible for me to do the teaching and collaboration that I currently do. 

In my few years as teacher librarian I have worked to try and help my colleagues move forward with new technologies especially in terms of our school iPads and Chromebooks. We have held some learning lunches to teach different apps and also spent some time during staff meetings to introduce the iPads and the routines/expectations for using them in the classroom. I think it is important to start the year off with this as it introduces the tools to any new teachers and ensures that everyone is on the same page with how the tools are used at our school. This helps to keep the iPads running and organized so that they can be properly shared with the whole community. At the beginning of this year I created and shared this Google Slides presentation for these purposes. 

 

As another year has gone by with the iPads and we have  learned more and added another set to our collection I would make some updates to the presentation for next year, but the basic idea would be the same.

The team of teachers from my school who attended the iOS Summit in Vancouver also did a share out at a staff meeting. We each shared a different app we had learned and explored and teachers went around to whichever app they were interested in learning about, or rotated through all four. Working as a team with other teachers who went to the summit allowed us to share more with our staff than if only one of us had presented.

I also recognize that while I may hold the position of Teacher Librarian I am, by no means, an expert in all ICT areas and so I do what I can to bring in others who are more knowledgeable to help teach and guide us as we strive to integrate new technologies into our practices. This year, for example, we were fortunate to have our District IT Expert (not actually sure what his official title is… but he is indeed an expert in all things tech!) and two other GSuite experts (one of whom is a TL in the district and the other a teacher at middle school) come to our school to offer a Google Sandbox session. Teachers came with questions about GSuite tools (Read Write and Classroom in particular) and these three experts helped teachers through their questions in a small group setting. We were also able to have a colleague from another elementary school who has done a lot with Spheros come to a Pro D day and we ran a session on coding together, I did a short session on paper coding and then she led us in some great exploration time with our brand new set of spheros.

A new experience for me last month was being invited to a school district up island  to present with a colleague at their Curriculum Implementation Day on an inquiry project we developed a few years ago. We gave two presentations to a total of about 75 educators and while I was definitely a bit nervous at first, we were well received and were able to engage in some really excellent discussions with the teachers who attended. While not necessarily directly related to technology, there were aspects that were ICT related, including, on a basic level, the platform on which we now store and share the project. Using a Google Drive folder has allowed for it to be easily shared to educators across our district and others in BC and Canada. It also allows it to be a living document, one we are always updating and adding to as we find new resources to improve the project and ensure it remains relevant.  

In their article “The power of Web 2.0: Teacher-librarians become school technology leaders” (2011), Branch-Mueller and deGroot from the University of Alberta state that in order to be an effect TL in the 21st Century one must be “fearless, playful, and connected” (p. 25). What great descriptors for our role. While sometimes it can be overwhelming, I do strive to do all I can to embody these characteristics in my role as teacher librarian in order to ensure I am doing all I can for our school community, students and staff included.  

 

References:

Branch-Mueller, J. & deGroot, J. (2011). The power of web 2.0: Teacher-librarians become school technology leaders. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(2). Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=8dd84a5a-1dcf-4dd5-ba9d-325c9422d053%40sessionmgr4006

Martineau, P. (2010). School librarians: Vital educational leaders. The Education Digest, 75(6). Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=753a16d9-45d7-4933-811f-20d763a0fcd3%40sessionmgr4007

Embracing Connectedness and Life Long Learning

If we hope our students will become lifelong learners then we really must be modelling this behaviour ourselves and, as such, it is important that we are continually learning and stretching our thinking throughout our careers. 

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Some of the TLs in Saanich celebrating our Professional Book Club on Trevor Mackenzie’s Dive Into Inquiry

I think one of the most valuable ways in which I have learned and grown in my role as teacher librarian has been through the amazing network of teacher librarians in our district. We are so fortunate in Saanich to have a strong and committed group of people who are truly dedicated to this work and I feel so grateful to be a part of this team. Whether it be through the sharing of resources or initiatives, collaboration in terms of TL advocacy, or professional book club discussions, there are always opportunities to learn and grow from one another. As a relatively new teacher librarian I have also appreciated the informal mentorship offered through this group, we are there to support one another and those who are more experienced are always willing to lend a hand or answer questions. If you do not have a TL association in your district I urge you to consider starting a discussion with your colleagues about the possibility of monthly meetings to collaborate, support, and learn from one another. 

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Attending Pro D events with others from your school/district can be so valuable… not to mention, fun!

Another way I have worked to learn and stretch my thinking in terms of ICT and education is through attending professional development workshops including the iOS iPad Summit in Vancouver in 2016 and 2017 as well as the Google Summit here in Victoria this past Fall. These workshops are amazing opportunities to learn and be inspired by so many educators both local and international. What impresses me most about these events is the passion that the presenters have for their subject area and their willingness to share with all attending.  While I do find that I leave these workshops feeling quite exhausted, it is a good kind of exhausted.

The courses I have taken over the past few years as I have been working away at my TL Diploma have also been great sources of learning and professional development. While it is definitely not an easy task to balance coursework on top of full time work I do recognize the impact the courses have had on who I am as an educator today. Looking back through this blog that I created for the diploma program reminds me of the ways in which I have grown and also all the different people and resources I have learned from along the way.

Learning through the network of educators I follow on Twitter has also been significant. It is amazing how a platform such as Twitter has really taken the education world by storm in the past few years, making it possible to share across the globe and be inspired by one another. I will admit though, that looking at Twitter does sometimes leave me feeling overwhelmed and I find myself having to be careful not to get stuck in the comparison trap where I am looking at what others are doing and thinking how everything they do is so much better than what I could ever possibly accomplish. Instead of getting trapped in this comparison mindset, however, I remind myself to remain open to the ideas and instead let myself be inspired. Being a part of a network such as Twitter also includes a level of responsibility. I think it is important that as educators we try not to be passive participants but that we also share things happening in our own schools and in our personal professional development. In Why School? (2012) Robinson speaks about the importance of educators sharing beyond the walls of their classroom saying that many would argue that this, in fact, a duty.

In an article entitled “Together we are better: Professional learning networks for teachers” (2016) authors Trust, Krutka, and Carpenter speak of the value in a network such as Twitter in allowing teachers to develop their PLNs (personal learning networks). They suggest that if teachers are expected to be continually learning and deepening their practices then “they could benefit from broad, holistic, and flexible networks” and the accessibility of PLNs and “their capacity to respond to educators’ diverse interests and needs” can be very valuable in achieving this goal (Trust, Krutka, & Carpenter, p. 16).

I have been teaching for six years, something that feels pretty hard to believe in that I still feel like a new teacher much of the time. There is the danger in this career (and most other careers too for that matter) that once you begin you turn on your blinders and just plow forth doing the same day in and day out. We must be so careful, however, to not allow this to happen because the results from this kind of teaching will not lead to beneficial learning environments for our students. We must approach each day new, and be willing to let go of old ideas or ways of doing in order to ensure our teaching is relevant to our students’ changing needs. And the wonderful thing is, we do not have to do this in isolation. As educators we are part of a global network of people who are striving to do their best for students each day and by recognizing and embracing this network we will be able to move forward with our students’ best interests at heart while also remaining engaged and passionate about the work we do.

 

References: 

Richardson, W. (2012). Why school? (Kindle Edition). TED Conferences.

Trust, T., Krutka, D., & Carpenter, J. (2016). Together we are better: Professional learning networks for teachers. Computers & Education, 102. Retrieved from https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/S036013151630135X/1-s2.0-S036013151630135X-main.pdf?_tid=6826c544-71e0-439a-a1e2-1eee69f966bb&acdnat=1527864853_2a6565793d0980f001cea50eec41196b

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Building a Culture of Reading = Common Vision & Purposeful Planning

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The Brentwood Library Learning Commons

Today I had a small group in the library after lunch who were finishing up their Book Club on The One and Only Ivan. Three of the four students had finished reading and were working on an activity at a table while one student had a few chapters left to read. She didn’t want to read, but I suggested we sit and read together, taking turns, one page at a time. She agreed to this idea and so there we sat, side by side, reading though the last pages of her story while the chatter of a class of Grade One students filled the air as they searched for books during their weekly book exchange.

I start with this story because it was, for me, an important reminder of why I do what I do. To be honest, I have had many moments lately where I have struggled with this job, struggled with the task of dividing myself between teacher-librarian and classroom teacher, never feeling like I can give quite enough to either role. I recognize that this is probably a result of my perfectionist nature and something I have to learn to let go of but it is not all that easy. Sitting there today though, with my attention devoted to one student – reading one book – together, I was filled with a deep sense of peace. We finished the book and chatted for a moment about how it was a sad story, but that it ended well, Ivan was going to be ok (Applegate, 2012). 

This little moment in time did not impact many students. It was not some school-wide event, it did not require any pre-planning. And yet I do believe it illustrates the reading culture in our Learning Commons, and in our school. A culture in which taking the time to sit one on one with a student (one who probably does not have many opportunities to read with an adult at home) for half an hour to read is seen as a valuable use of time.


Much research can be found on the development of cultures of reading in schools and how this positively impacts students and communities. In an article entitled “Developing a Culture of Readers Through Effective Library Planning” (2013) co-authors Kay Wejrowski and Mat McRae (Teacher Librarian and Principal at a high school in Michigan) speak of the this very topic, explaining that it was not by chance that their school library became the hub of their school but it was a result of collaborative planning, stemming from a common vision. This vision included aspects such as ensuring their library was welcoming and accessible to everyone in the community, that it be a part of every aspect of school life (making it the ‘hub’), and that, as a result, a culture of readers would be nurtured and thrive.

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I share the vision of Wejrowski and McRae and I too work to make sure our Library Learning Commons is a welcoming place for our whole community and I do believe that we have had success in this area. Every morning at 7:55, without fail, when I am sitting at my desk preparing for the day I hear a little knock at the library window as my first two visitors arrive. They are dropped off early at school and head straight to the library to read, draw, or help out with whatever small jobs I can give them. These two are soon joined by others and by the time our bell rings at 8:35 the library is a pretty busy place. And I love it. Because is this not what it should be? A place where students don’t just come when they HAVE to but a place they come whenever they WANT to.

Another way that I strive to build a culture of reading at our school is through listening to the students and actively encouraging them to request books. Author, Neil Gaiman, is a strong advocate for the importance of giving children choice in their reading. In a lecture he gave at the Reading Agency in London he proposed the idea that there is no “such a thing as a bad book for children” (2013, para. 11) and while I realize this quote is a well used one, it is for a reason in that it is so true and so crucial in our attempts to build cultures of reading (I highly recommend you check out the rest of Gaiman’s lecture here if you have not yet read it.)  If students ask for a book we do not yet have I do all I can to get that book in for them. Seeing the look on students’ faces when you hand them a book that they have specifically requested is definitely up there in terms of my favourite moments in the library. By purchasing a book that a student requests you are sending the message: “You matter. I care about you. Your ideas and opinions are valued in this place.”

This importance of giving students choice in terms of their reading is so critical when building a strong culture of reading at a school. This is further enforced in an article by Mathers and Stern entitled, “Cafe Culture: Promoting Empowerment and Pleasure in Adolescent Literacy Learning,” in which they discuss the fact that elementary students often have quite a positive perception when it comes to reading and one of the reasons for this is due to the choice they have when reading. Sadly, this is something that tends to fade as students get older and reading becomes more about reading to get the job done instead of reading for the pleasure and joy of getting lost in the pages of a good book. Fortunately, I know there are fabulous Teacher Librarians at the middle and high school levels who are working hard to keep the reading spark alive for their students and their communities as a whole and hopefully this helps to ensure that the pleasure of reading does not fade away. 

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Kindergarten Thing 1 and Thing 2 on Family Literacy Day

Building a reading culture also includes events at our school such as Family Literacy Day (where students come to school dressed as their favourite book character), author visits, Red Cedar Book Club, other book clubs (including two student run book clubs this year), and the promotion of new books. We have also seen the connection of a strong reading culture with writing culture as we have had this year a spontaneous (and now very substantial!) collection of books written by students in their own time that they have brought to the library to be shared with the community.

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A few of the many student written/illustrated books that make up the student author section of our library.

I will end this post with a book trailer by two Grade 3 students who are a part of our Wednesday Grade 2/3 Book Club. They finished this trailer the other day and are very excited to share it with the rest of their peers. When students begin recommending books to each other I think it is fair to say that a healthy reading culture is in place… and I must admit… even I am interested in checking out this book after watching their great little trailer.

 

References

Applegate, K. (2012). The one and only ivan. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Gaiman, N. (2013, October 13). Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming?CMP=twt_g

Mathers, B. G., & Stern, A., J. (2012). Café culture: Promoting empowerment and pleasure in adolescent literacy learning. Reading Horizons, 51(4), 251-278. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=96ea23fb-168c-44be-b025-ae92b8de1f6d%40sessionmgr4010

Wejrowski, K., & McRae, M. (2013). Developing a culture of readers through effective library planning. Knowledge Quest, 42(1), 38-43. Retrieved from http://web.a.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=1&sid=41dd196c-8c37-47c2-b230-41ad5c1fe9ec%40sessionmgr4010

 

LLED 477B – Reading Assignment B

In beginning my exploration of resources connected to my topics in the previous assignment I was unsure of where I would end up. I focused in on the two themes I am most interested in at the moment: technology in early primary and core competency development in connection to digital literacies. I decided to begin my search with the UBC Library page and was able to find a variety of very interesting and relevant resources written by experts in the field from around the world. Upon further investigation I narrowed down my search in order to draw out four resources that I believe will prove helpful to myself, and anyone else interested in these areas of education.

We are so lucky to have databases such as that provided by UBC as they allow us to learn from one another no matter where in the world we are situated… this connectedness, made possible by technology, allows educators from around the world to move forward together in strengthening the educational experiences of our students, something that I find very exciting and empowering.

Resource Collection

Technology in Early Primary

Screen Shot 2018-05-19 at 12.36.12 PMYoung Children in a Digital Age (2016) is an exciting resource that includes writing and research from a variety of educators working in the field of early childhood education and technology. This collection, edited by Lorraine Kaye of Middlesex University in London, is intended to provide pedagogical reasoning and research supporting and justifying the use of technology in early years. Found in the introduction of this resource is, perhaps, the most critical piece that we must keep in mind as we consider the role of technology in our early primary classrooms in that it is essential that we provide even our youngest learners educational experiences that reflect “the world in which they operate” (Kaye, p. xiii).  And there is no doubt that the world in which we currently operate in is one that is highly technological and it is, therefore, essential that we bring these skills into our classrooms in order to ensure we are educating students to live in the world as it is today… and as it might be once they graduate. While I feel this whole book could benefit my practice, the chapters that perhaps feel most relevant to me in terms of my current areas of interest include, Language acquisition in a digital age, Supporting children’s technological development: The role of the practitioner, and Personal and socio-economic development and technology.

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Apps, Technology and Younger Learners: International Evidence for Teaching (2016) is another relevant resource in terms of technology and the early primary years. Like the previous resource, it is a compilation of articles written by a number of different educators in the field and, therefore, provides a larger breadth of information and research than if it had been written by one individual. This book looks at current practices while also taking a look into the future in terms of the direction(s) we may be headed with respect to technology in the early years. The preface of this book contains an important and interesting idea and it is encouraged that the reader keep this idea in mind while reading the resource. The idea comes from a book written by Lisa Guernsey entitled, Into the minds of babes: How screen time affects children from birth to age five (2007) and consists of the importance of taking into account the ‘3Cs’ – Context, Content, and the Individual Child – when evaluating technology usage and effects on children. This means that we should be paying careful attention to the context in which an app or a technology is being used, the content being taught or shown, and, so importantly, attention to the individual child and how a certain technology may affect him/her based on his/her own unique situation (including socio-economic factors, cultural considerations etc.) Editors Kucirkova and Falloon (2016) suggests that we also keep in mind the fourth C of Connectedness in terms of the fact that all 3Cs need to be taken into account in an “interlinked nature” (p. xviii) when considering the use of certain technological tools in the classroom.

Digital Literacy and the Core Competencies 

What are the 4Cs? by Common Sense Education (2016) is a short video clip explaining the idea of the 4Cs (different from the 3Cs previously mentioned… seems like ‘C’ is the letter when it comes to digital literacies!) Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration are the 4Cs described with the idea that in order to teach our students to become digitally literate in terms of their use of technological tools in a safe, responsible, and productive manner then we must focus time strengthening these competencies in our students (Dowd, 2017). While these 4Cs may not be exactly the same as the new Core Competencies as outlined in the BC curriculum they are in essence, the same, except for one key aspect that I feel is left out of the 4Cs, that of Positive Personal and Cultural Awareness. Encouraging students to reflect on using technology in a way that aligns with their own values is important, just as we encourage students to collaborate and communicate with others. Using technology in the classroom allows for the teaching of these important competencies in a natural way, as I experienced in my own classroom when working with the iPads and Spheros.  These competencies will be important to students not only in school but as they enter the ever-changing world beyond school as well.

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Source: https://blogs.absolute.com/digital-natives-not-necessarily-tech-savvy/

Digital Natives: What Are They Learning, If Anything?  by Marilla Svinicki (2017) from the University of Texas is a short but thought provoking read that includes some very relevant considerations that we must take into account when thinking about our students and digital literacy. The idea of today’s children being ‘digital natives’ is widely accepted. Children today are growing up in a very different world than those of past generations (even than those who went through school just a decade ago) and as such their experience of the world is, in many ways, very different than that we experienced growing up – especially in terms of technology. What Svinicki suggests, however, is that just because our students are growing up in this new age with technology at their finger tips, it does not necessarily mean that they know how to use it in away that will strengthen them in terms of the core competencies of Communication, Critical and Creative Thinking, and Personal and Social Responsibility that are now a part of our curriculum. It is my belief that these competencies can be taught and practised through the use of technology but only if this technology use is meaningful, modelled, and practised.

Conclusion

This assignment has enforced for me, once again, the value of collaboration and connectedness, especially in terms of our work as educators. While I have highlighted four main resources, I came across many more in my time investigating these topics and it is evident that these are areas in which many are focusing their learning and professional development at this time. It is interesting to see what is being done not only in our own province but also internationally, and this sharing is made possible through the use of technology.

Resource Collection References:

Common Sense Education. (2016, July 12). What are the 4cs? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrEEVZa3f98

Kaye, L (Ed.). (2016). Young children in a digital age: Supporting learning and development with technology in early years. London: Routledge. Retrieved from https://www-taylorfrancis-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/books/e/9781317618959

Kucirkova, N., & Falloon, G. (Eds.). (2016). Apps, technology and younger learners: Internation evidence for teaching. London: Routledge. Retrieved from https://www-taylorfrancis-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/books/e/9781317402473

Svinicki, M. (2017, March 21). Digital natives: What are they learning, if anything? The National Teaching and Learning Forum, 26(3), 11-12. https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/full/10.1002/ntlf.30112

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Other References: 

British Columbia Ministry of Education. Core Competencies. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/competencies

Dowd, E. (2017, April 24). Digital literacy and the importance of the 4 C’s in a global context. [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.levelupvillage.com/digital-literacy-importance-4-cs/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=Blogpost_4_24&utm_content=Erin%27s_Global_Digital_Literacy_P21%27s_repost

Guernsey, L. (2007). Into the minds of babes: How screen time affects children from birth to age five. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Schweber, A. (2015, August 7). Digital natives not necessarily tech savvy. Retrieved from https://blogs.absolute.com/digital-natives-not-necessarily-tech-savvy/

University of British Columbia. Library. Retrieved from http://www.library.ubc.ca

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