A Literature Companion for Teachers by Lorraine McDonald has certainly been a companion to me! As an example Chapter 2 – Types of Literary Texts overviews a variety of genres and provides inspiration for practical approaches to provide meaningful learning experiences with reference to specific texts.
Recently I created a Genres Guide that students could refer to. This guide was used with Year 4 students to introduce the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Younger Readers chapter books. Reading an extract from the books and referring to the guide the students were able to identify the main genre. Providing students with extracts from a variety of book genres and getting them to examine and respond to the main genre with evidence from the text is another way to enable students to build knowledge of literary genres.
Inspired by the SCAN article Book bento boxes: Creative reading response by Dr Jennie Bales and Louise Saint-John, I found myself absorbed collecting objects to design book bento boxes for two very special books. The experience was extremely rewarding and I look forward to working with students on creating their own book bento boxes.
This year I have created a guide for colours and symbols as some students struggle relating colour and understanding a symbol as one object linked to the story. Past examples of the CSI summaries can be found here.
Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan and illustrated by Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr provided a superb way to explore change over one day.
This delightful book was read to Kindergarten, we focused on the sentences related to the changing day. For example, Here comes Cloud, huffing and puffing. First, the children drew a bird onto card, each illustration was cut out. Children were then provided with a sentence from the book – their task was to illustrate a background related to the time of day. The little birds were added to the background. Below is a selection of beautiful responses and connections to the story.
Providing students with an understanding of primary and secondary information sources and guiding location and selection of such sources is fundamental. After a deep search for a suitable educational video, I decided it was time to create one.
As part of our staff professional learning to kick start the school year, we had the perfect opportunity to deepen our learning and build our practice with visible thinking routines. The presenter Simon Brooks was engaging and notably competent of cultures of thinking and encouraged us to share our thinking and extend our ideas using a selection of thinking routines.
Over the past few years I have implemented some thinking routines into my teaching and learning sequences – particularly See Think Wonder, Colour Symbol Image and Step Inside the Character. However, spending a full day immersed in visible thinking has assisted my approach to teaching and learning planning.
A key takeaway from Simon Brooks was the idea of removing the front-loading of information to allow thinking to occur. The session also assisted me to consider what thinking routine would suit a lesson and year group. Whatever the lesson focus is I will consider – how could visible thinking be embedded.
To follow is a brief overview of how I started the year:
Year 1 – Introduction to a series of lessons on what can we learn from Fables, Stories from other Cultures and Aboriginal Dreaming Stories. The image from the fable The Lion and the Mouse from the delightful book Children’s favourite animal fables retold and illustrated by Graham Percy, 2000, provided the stimulus. Following the steps of the Zoom In routine, a section of the image was revealed in stages. Students were asked to look closely and respond to the question – What do you see or notice? What ideas might you have about this image.
Revealing a little more of the image the students were asked
What new things to do you see? Has the new information answered any of your wonders or changed your previous ideas?
What new things are you wondering about?
On the final reveal, the key question was
What questions remain to you about this image?
This routine inspired thoughtful discussion and anticipation as the image was revealed. Depending on the time, some of the Year 1 classes just had time for the thinking routine, while one class had time for the story in one session. It did make me smile when children shared fascination in seeing the same image in the story.
In the past, I had started the series of lessons introducing the word fables and getting right into it – pretty much front loading. I have in mind to read three fables before we even think about the connections between the stories and lead into what is a fable and what have we learnt from each story?
See Think Wonder
Year 2 – The thinking routine See Think Wonder allowed me to slow down and start with thinking for the first lesson of the year with Year 2 classes. The image from Emily Gravett’s book Wolves provided the stimulus to respond to the visible thinking routine questions:
What do you see? (I see…)
What do you think about that? (I think…)
What does it make you wonder? (I wonder…)
Wolves by Emily Gravett
By taking the time to view the image and respond to the questions the students demonstrated engagement with the task and took turns to talk and listen. When I revealed the book Wolves it was encouraging to hear connections to the image and excitement while reading and when the page was opened in the book.
Year 5 organised breakout groups to introduce students to Ghana as part of a geography and science inquiry unit. My lesson was based on folktales from Ghana. I had not used the 4C’s thinking routine before, however, the overview highlighted making connections, asking questions and identifying key ideas and seemed a good fit.
The book How Anansi got his stories by Cooke and Violet was short enough to read fully and allow time for students to respond to 3 of the 4C questions.
Connections – What connections do you draw between the text and your own life and/or other learning?
Concepts – What key concepts or ideas do you think are important and worth holding onto from the text?
Changes – What changes in attitudes, thinking, or action are suggested by the text, either for you or others?
Although the time to respond felt rushed and I did not feel confident with this new thinking routine some of the responses were reflective and valuable as a whole group summary. I look forward to working with this routine again.
At the end of 2019, I graduated from the Master of Education Teacher Librarianship – Charles Sturt University. The learning journey over the past three years provided me with guidance to grow professionally and enhanced my passion for librarianship and the role of the school library. At the end of the course, I admit I felt burned out, hence the limited activity with this Blog in the past few months. However, outcomes of study include the ability to focus constructively on change, enhancement of attention to detail and most enjoyably, the spark for creativity and extending my learning in different directions.
My Sewing Tool Kit
Truth be told, during my final assessment, I became a little distracted and found myself viewing sewing machines. It was not long until a sewing machine arrived, it did sit in the box for a while, then one day I had the confidence to give it a go.
I am certain the recent dedication to study provoked me to immerse myself into a new interest, sewing books (borrowed from my local library), sewing Blogs and sewing Youtube clips have made it possible for me to endeavour a new learning journey. To start with Learn To Sew and Guide To Commercial Patterns from the Stitch Sisters kept me occupied for hours. The discovery of the site CreativeBug and the fact that one of the patterns I had planned to make was outlined step by step enabled me to complete a full task.
Over the school break, I have been able to dedicate time to sewing which provided many hours of relaxation and challenges, there were times I felt I had set up a sweatshop at home (the Sydney humidity did add to this). Sewing projects included simple envelope cushions, a dog bed (with piping) and two different styles of skirts. My Pinterest ‘Sew What’ has allowed me to collate many ideas which I have been frequently adding to and visiting, I now have many projects in plan – an important aspect will be managing my time and planning accordingly to allow this new interest to flourish.
It has not all been sewing since completing my studies and particularly during the summer break, I have had family time and many hours absorbed in audiobooks by Bolinda Audio (again loaned from my local library via the Borrow Box app). Jobs around the house, strength training, dog walking, cooking – mini meringues and cheesecake just to add variety to the summer salads, visits to the library and oh I almost forgot, time spent at the fabric stores.
The importance of clarity about the role of the teacher librarian is highly significant. Although day to day capabilities as a TL are similar, depending on the school the day could look very different. What I have found very valuable for my own clarity is to review key guidelines and standards regarding TL’s and the role of a school library. The process of consulting research literature and professional publications allows us to stay attuned to the challenges, changes and directions of our profession. Compiling a succinct profile for the school library assists guide not only the library team but provides insight and direction to class teachers, the executive and the school community of our purpose and value to education. Below is the library mission statement that was creative during Term 4, 2019.
Library mission statement
To engage learners with access to relevant information, literature and recreational reading resources to promote a culture of reading. To deliver information and digital literacy learning opportunities to the school community that contribute to inquiry-based learning. To provide a flexible learning space for active learning that fosters creativity.
The library profile focuses on three key segments:
Culture of Reading
Flexible learning space
The following books and weblinks are well worth investing time into, they certainly assisted my planning and focus for the library and provide direction and inspiration for teaching and learning opportunities:
On reflecting on the purpose of School Library Owl, it was encouraging to read Elizabeth Hutchinson’s post Why blog? 6 concepts I’ve learnt along the way. Having a break from my Blog has allowed me to undo other passions. Taking time to consider the purpose of this Blog, I strongly feel my original idea is still there to be explored and extended.
School Library Owl – a place to share lesson ideas, work samples, displays, accomplishments, professional learning and library knowledge that needs to be told.
Specialist in delivering literature-based and information and digital literacy teaching and learning experiences.
Strength in school library collection development, literature and reading promotion.
As the new school year promptly approaches I look forward to what is ahead and making the most of all teaching and learning opportunities.
In July this year, I spent two engaging weeks as an intern at the State Library of NSW. An overview of my learning journey can be found on the SLNSW Blog Internship at the State Library.
Sydney from the North Shore, 1827 / J. Lycett. Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales
A highlight of the internship was spending time in the Exhibition Galleries to observe and select paintings from the collection suitable for a learning activity. One particular painting Sydney from the Nort Shore, 1827 by the convict artist Joseph Lycett, provided the inspiration to explore visual literacy and aspects of History – First Contacts for Stage 2 (Years 3-4). This lead to the creation of a learning activity which is now available on the SLNSW Learning at the Library resources ‘Visual Grammar – responding to historical paintings.’
As mentioned in the Blog Post ‘the two weeks at the Library was inspirational, I have grown from the experience, and I am energised and excited about what is ahead.’ Thank you Information and Access and Learning Services at the State Library of NSW for allowing such an experience.
In April 2019, I received the exciting news that my paper Information literacy, young learners and the role of the teacher librarian was selected for the Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship. The Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship is funded by the National Council of Women of NSW and the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Associations to commemorate Miss Arnot a former librarian with a remarkable career of 47 years at the State Library of NSW. In May, I was honoured to attend the Jean Arnot Memorial Luncheon at NSW Parliament House with my mother.
The motivation in writing the paper was triggered by interest in the topic and awareness of limited literature available regarding information literacy in the early years of schooling. In addition, I was preparing for a conference based on showcasing information literacy teaching and learning experiences with students in Years 1-2. The conference presentation can be accessed via:
Staff training lead by Jean Arnot. Mitchell Building, photograph by Ivan Ives, Pix Magazine Collection A7417037h https://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryofnsw/32331882277/
To follow is the speech I gave at the Jean Arnot Memorial Luncheon:
It is an honour to be here today to receive the Jean Arnot Memorial Fellowship. I wish to thank the National Council of Women of New South Wales, the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Associations, and the State Library of New South Wales for making possible such a prestigious award that acknowledges, recognises and commemorates female librarians. Learning of Jean Arnot’s dedication to librarianship and commitment to women is inspirational, and I am proud to be associated with this award.
In reflection, I realise 2019 marks for me twenty-five years of service to the library and information profession. However, libraries have played a role throughout my life. Libraries allowed me to borrow books beyond my abilities as a child, developed me as a teenager, informed me as a young adult, and allowed bag loads of books to be loaned to my own children. Libraries continue to educate me, deepen my knowledge, stimulate my curiosities, provide hope, and are always there for me.
Back in 1994 when I worked as an information specialist at McKinsey and Company, our team had a dedicated computer where we had to plug the right coloured cable in to connect to the Internet. We had specialised training about URL’s and how to search the World Wide Web. Since 2002, my role as a teacher librarian has allowed me to be at a school library each day surrounded by young minds, literature, information and technology. The pace of change is astonishing, what I once taught to twelve-year-olds I now have adapted and teach to children in their first years of schooling. When I recently asked a Year 2 class with an information need ‘how can we find out?’ there was a pause, I was hoping to hear ‘look in a book,’ expecting to hear ‘Google,’ but was not prepared when one child quietly replied ‘Ask Siri.’ How far we have come from plugging a cable into a dedicated computer to using voice recognition to search for information.
Commitment to learning and near completion of the Master of Education Teacher Librarianship at Charles Sturt University has provided me with strength and direction to adapt, and allowed me to enhance my commitment as a teacher librarian. I look forward to what is ahead.
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. The CBCA short list books offer schools an abundance of opportunities to engage with reading, responding to, and celebrating literature. When responding to the theme for Book Week Reading is my Secret Power, children in grades K-2 suggested that reading helps you learn, builds knowledge, and gives you the power to relax and be in the book.
Engaging with the short list books builds students’ literacy skills through incorporating rich, objectively selected, and aesthetically valuable texts. Leading up to Children’s Book Week the six Early Childhood Books were shared with classes in Years K-2. In Year K, we discussed the main character of each book and will be creating a book character bunting based on the books. Year 1 focused on the thinking routine – Step Inside the Character and will respond to the books with drawing and writing. Year 2 discussed and wrote about story elements such as setting, messages, symbols and connections. They will be creating a diorama in small groups to represent the books. Students in Years 3-4 were introduced to the short list Picture Books which were selected for their artistic and literary unity of text and illustrations.
A highlight of Children’s Book Week was an exhilarating K-3 Book Week Assembly. The atmosphere was set with an outstanding opening performance of Pure Imagination by the Primary School Choir. We sat back and relaxed as we enjoyed viewing I am Jellyfish by Ruth Paul on Story Box Library, a captivating story set in the deep blue sea. Children in Years K-3 sang Oompa Loompa and bopped to the tune. The book character parade allowed each student to parade across the stage and display their stunning designs. It was truly magnificent to see such a wide variety of book characters appear from favourite books and show their true style.
This year we had three author’s visit us to share their stories and insight. Years K-2 met Lesley Gibbes who read her award-winning book Scary Night to Year K. Years 1 and 2 learnt behind the scenes information of the characters in the book series Fizz – a fluffy white dog who wants to join the police force. Lesley’s recently published book Searching for Cicadas was written from memories of searching for the Black Prince cicada in her garden. Lesley’s advice for writing great stories was to always think about ‘What if?’
Years 3-4 met Deborah Abela who informed us that for her ‘every week is book week.’ Deborah shared stories of her childhood and hinted how her own experiences and personality are imbedded in her stories. The Spelling Bee book series was inspired from her experience with spelling when she was in Year 4 where her teacher introduced a Spelling Olympics each Friday where the girls versed the boys. Deborah’s concern and passion for the environment inspired the book series Grimsdom, New City and the newly released book Final Storm – Deborah had us sitting on the edge of our seat as she read extracts from this action pack series. Deborah also provided advice on writing an exciting story – she highlighted that it is vital to always consider ‘I wonder what would happen if?’
Lian Tanner presented to Years 5-6 and shared stories from her life experiences and how she was able to take aspects of these and weave them into her books. Lian indicated that she enjoys writing exciting action scenes with characters getting into trouble. A wealth of ideas of writing inspiration are provided on her website. Lian’s advice for writing was to take notice of what is happening around you, use your senses to imagine what it might feel like, choose interesting words, and to allow time to daydream and stretch your imagination.
Thanks to The Children’s Bookshop Speakers’ Agency for the superb author visit recommendations. It is always encouraging to see the author’s books leave the library instantaneously as hot property after we have had the pleasure of meeting the author and having them read to us.