Focus on reading

As the new school year approaches and time has been taken to refresh and refocus, it is important to begin by articulating thought to the purpose and role of a teacher librarian. Two essential aspects of a teacher librarians role include reading and information literacy. This Post focuses on reading and highlights plans to ensure reading is fundamental to all students K-6.

It is appropriate to start the year with a reading action plan, in 2018 there was a significant decline in library visits which had a negative impact on borrowing numbers and scope of books loaned in the upper primary years. It is important to note that the decline was linked to a restructuring that incorporated inquiry learning blocks for Years 5 and 6. The new structure removed the more traditional library lesson and regular borrowing/reading time. In 2019, Years 3 and 4 are scheduled for such change and the concern for a negative impact on exposure to books and time scheduled to visit the library to browse, borrow and read are of utmost importance.

The recent work of Margaret Merga and Saiyidi Mat Roni provides practical ideas and strategies to ensure teacher librarians are proactive in encouraging continued reading beyond students reaching reading independence. Merga’s work is highly admirable and provides clear direction for all educators concerned for student reading. It is specified that it is essential for educational institutions to promote and support youth in the development of regular reading practices. The action plan to follow is based on a select few of Merga’s recent research papers. I look forward to reading Merga’s newly released book Reading Engagement for Tweens and Teens: What Would Make Them Read More? in the coming weeks and extending my learning journey.

“While libraries are sites of constant change in response to policy, resourcing, and technological developments, they remain essential sources of books for young people.” (Merga 2017a, p.609)

Focus on reading is a broad concept, in order to construct an action plan the specific area of interest is based on book reading – including fiction and nonfiction, and how the school library can support this. Although book reading is essential K-6 and beyond, it is necessary to promote reading for primary students in Years 3-6 due to the recent restructure in my workplace. Fortunately, the research of Merga concentrates on this age range which involves students who have reading competence.

"...effectively communicate the continued importance of engaging in recreational book reading” (Merga 2017b, p.220)

An action plan incorporates three elements – specific tasks, time frame, and resource allocation, to follow are initial ideas to execute.

Specific tasks

  • Review the 2019 timetable for classes K-6: does each class have a scheduled regular session to visit the library for the purpose of browsing, reading, being read to and introduced to suitable books, and borrowing? If yes, terrific, if no, immediate follow up with key participants to stress scheduled time will be essential.
  • Continually ensure the library collection is up to date and appealing to students. Fortunately, the fiction library collection has just had a stocktake and several books were deselected, there are also numerous new books ready to offer providing a sound range of choice. However, it would be beneficial to conduct a survey to gain student feedback on the collection and plan accordingly.
  • Teach and promote strategies to assist students to find engaging books. As noted by Merga many students did not have strategies helpful for finding books. “Children need to be explicitly taught choosing strategies”(Merga 2017b, p.220). Three key factors linked to choosing strategies involve “familiarity, complexity and interest” (Merga, 2017a, p.624-626).
    Familiarity Complexity Interest
    Series loyalty  Reading skill Page sampling
    Repeat reading  Matching skill level Book title and cover appeal
     Genre enjoyment  Extending skill level Author familiarity
     Supported choice Series engagement
  • Inform parents of the importance of encouraging and supporting their children to continue reading, make time for reading and reading together (Merga, 2018b).
  • Administer and provide summarised reports to class teachers of what their students are reading. It is important to note that the focus is not just on the borrowing statistics but looking at what the students are reading. A summarised report on borrowing by students would be valuable information for teachers during parent meetings. Library catalogue systems offer a wide range of reports, taking time to investigate is something that I plan to perform more regularly as a disappointing report at the end of a school year is not greatly helpful or encouraging.
  • Ensure teachers are aware of “…foster(ing) reading valuing and will.” Merga, 2018a, p.150
"Children's perceptions of the importance and value of reading can influence their motivation to read." Merga, 2018a, Abstract.

Time frame

  • Ensuring each class has a scheduled regular library visit – immediate
  • Library collection update – ongoing
  • Survey students – by the end of Term 1
  • Teach choosing strategies – during Term 1, therefore additional reading regarding this area is necessary
  • Inform parents – by the end of Term 1 and update during the year
  • Summarised reports – before the first parent-teacher meeting, at the end of Semester 1, end of the year, and on request
  • Promote ‘reading will’ to teachers – propose to share key findings in a staff meeting, share a selection of quotes by Merga during Term 1.

“Reading needs to be more successfully presented as a valuable and enjoyable recreational pursuit, with ongoing importance beyond independent reading skill acquisition.” Merga, 2018a, p. 148.

Resource allocation

  • Meet with key participants at school. In 2019 we have a new Head of Primary commencing having a constructive meeting will be helpful in relationship building.
  • Present the case to teachers formally and informally – courage and subtle persuasion will be necessary.
  • Continue to read Merga’s work and related research.
  • Survey students to gain feedback.
  • Utilise library catalogue reports and statistics.
  • Keep the library collection updated, fresh, accessible, exciting and appealing.

In 2017 I presented at the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Biennial Conference – Challenge to Change. My presentation and paper can be found via a previous blog Creating a Community of Readers – Our purpose is to make a difference. In reviewing the presentation and paper I was very happy to see reference to Merga’s earlier work, it is obvious Merga’s research will guide and influence teacher librarians and educators in the coming years.

References

Merga, M., & Roni, S. (2017a). Choosing Strategies of Children and the Impact of Age and Gender on Library Use: Insights for Librarians. Journal of Library Administration, 57(6), 607–630. doi:10.1080/01930826.2017.1340774

Merga, M. (2017b). What would make children read for pleasure more frequently? English in Education, 51(2), 207-223. doi:10.1111/eie.12143

Merga, M., & Roni, S. (2108a). Children’s Perceptions of the Importance and Value of Reading. Australian Journal of Education, 62(2), 135–153. doi:10.1177/0004944118779615

Merga, M., & Roni, S. (2018b). Empowering Parents to Encourage Children to Read Beyond the Early Years. Reading Teacher, 72(2), 213–221. doi:10.1002/trtr.1703

Children’s Book Week 2018 – QR Code Treasure Hunt

Sample question

Back by popular demand, the QR Code Short List Treasure Hunt is sure to engage students. The QR Code Treasure Hunt has a question for each of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Short List books in the Early Childhood, Picture Book and Younger Readers categories.

Instructions:

  • Print out the QR codes and place them around the library (or school)
  • Print out answer recording sheets for students
  • Students scan the QR code, a question will appear – answer the question on the recording sheet
  • Once all six QR codes have been found and six questions answered place answer sheet in an entry box
  • The first fully correct answer sheet drawn from the box wins a prize!

Continue reading →

K-6 Library Review 2017

As the final days of the school year wrap up it is great to look back and reflect.  It has been a busy but productive year, and we have worked tirelessly in the past weeks revamping the library collection, reorganising shelving and running a stocktake of the fiction books – it will be a fresh start next year!

I would like to acknowledge and thank the support and commitment of the library team and teacher librarian who taught the Year 6 classes.

The review is a snapshot of teaching and learning, special events, loans, resource use and top books loaned. What worked well, what requires change and improvement is in mind, but rest first is required.

Click the link to open the full review K-6 library review 2017

PS I used www.canva.com to create the Infographic.

The wonderful Paddington Bear!

It was a delight to create a library display in honour of this much-loved bear. There has been much excitement about Paddington Bear with the upcoming movie Paddington 2 and Paddington books on show in libraries and bookstores. It is wonderful to see children borrowing the books and reading of the many adventures of Paddington. There is much news of Paddington available from https://www.paddington.com/global/

Creating a Community of Readers article

Creating a Community of Readers was a presentation at the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Biennial Conference – Challenge to Change, 13-14 July 2017. Details of the presentation are provided in a previous Post.

The full article related to the presentation has been published in ACCESS the Journal of the School Library Association of Australia.

Creating a Community of Readers. ACCESS, Volume 31, Issue 3, September 2017.

Click below to obtain the article:

Laretive J ACCESS September 2017-2kldnxb

 

CBCA Book Week – Escape to Everywhere displays

The CBCA Book Week theme Escape to Everywhere has encouraged a lot of discussion with children about what happens when we read, how do we escape with a book, and what are the books we love to escape with.

Escape to Everywhere – Imaginative focus

Books featured:

  • A Child of Books by  Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
  • Return by Aaron Becker
  • Book by David Miles and illustrated by Natalie Hoopes

Images from Pinterest Book Interest

Escape to Everywhere – pack up and travel with a great book

The old suitcase was found not far from home on the side of the street, it still had the SYD Qantas tag attached! It was not hard to find classic book titles related to journies to fill the case and a create vintage style display. The poster Reading Takes You Places was from Scholastic Book Club. There are some authentic looking airline tickets that we created for book characters using an airline ticket generator (an idea found via The Book Chook) and few genuine looking travel tags that made the final touch.

Read, respond, celebrate: engaging with the CBCA short list

Each year The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) promotes and celebrates children’s books with the major event of Children’s Book Week during August. There are several Posts related to Book Week on this Blog as it is a very special part of the Library program. Recently SCIS Connections published an article I wrote focusing on using the Early Childhood and Picture Book short list books, as well as providing an insight into exploring the Younger Readers chapter books in the F–6 school context. The full article can be found via Read, respond, celebrate: engaging with the CBCA short list

Book Week suitcase

SCIS Connections 102 Read, respond, celebrate article PDF.

 

Creating a Community of Readers – Our purpose is to make a difference

Creating a Community of Readers – Our purpose is to make a difference, was presented at the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Biennial Conference – Challenge to Change, 13-14 July 2017.

Creating a Community of Readers highlights and explores aspects of The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians. The Standards aim to enrich teacher librarians’ professional engagement and develop student learning outcomes. The Standards comprise three facets – Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice and Professional Commitment. Within each of these, the focus and importance of reading is prevalent.

The Standards have been an essential companion to my experience and have assisted greatly with guidance and planning, promoting and strengthening the service of the library, and have provoked professional learning and connections.

News Flash – Article published!

The full article related to the presentation has been published in ACCESS the Journal of the School Library Association of Australia.

Creating a Community of Readers. ACCESS, Volume 31, Issue 3, September 2017.

Click here to obtain the article: Laretive J ACCESS September 2017-2kldnxb

Postcard from your reading journey

The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book Week 2017 theme Escape to Everywhere opens many opportunities to connect with literature and have fun. In addition to the Missing Book Character Poster activity planned for students in P-2 we are planning a writing reflection activity for Grades 3-4. The task encourages students to engage with a book they have enjoyed reading and write a Postcard imagining they are in the story. This activity aims to get the student inside the book, experience an event with the character and reflect on where else they could go within the story.

Steps to promote this activity:

Choose a book you have really enjoyed reading – it could be a picture book or chapter book.

Make a list of ideas, the questions below will help get you started – remember a postcard aims to capture where you are, what you are doing.

  • Who is the character(s) you are with?
  • Where are you? What you can see.
  • What activities are you doing?
  • Where might you be going?
  • Address you postcard to your class and remember to write your name and class
  • Draw a stamp for your postcard
  • Draw a picture that is connected to the book
  • Write the book title and author on your drawing so we all know what great book we can read next

I am planning on introducing this as a competition for students in Grades 3-4 to be done at lunch in the library, one entry per student to be entered. If you decide to run this at your school I would love to hear how it goes.

The guide and a postcard template is available for download.

Missing Book Characters

I am looking forward to Term 3 to share and explore the Children’s Book Week Short list books and exploring the theme Escape to Everywhere. A few weeks ago I wrote about a rabbit visiting the school library and a missing rabbit poster I spotted which inspired an idea! This idea has now come to a reality and we will be promoting a Missing Book Character poster competition for students in P-2.

Steps to promote this activity:

  • Promote Children’s Book Week – Escape to Everywhere to the school community
  • Introduce the Missing Book Character Poster to students in the selected grade(s)
  • Instruct students to select a book they have read and enjoyed
  • Follow the writing format Heading – Missing; Name of character; Last seen – choose a place in the book the character visits – a setting, Likes – think about what the character likes; If found – child’s name and class
  • Provide copies of the template – available for download below

I am planning on introducing this as a competition for students in P-2 to be done at lunch in the library, one entry per student to be entered. If you decide to run this at your school I would love to hear how it goes.