Monthly Archives: August 2013

Book Week is over. Reflecting now.

Book Week has been my main focus and the focus of my colleagues for many weeks now. And it’s over.

I’m happy, relieved, grateful, reflective, critical, and future-focussed all at the same time.

The posts on our Melbourne High School Library blog are here, here, here, here, here and here, (in reverse order) if you want to have a look at what we did.

I’m not entirely happy with the title ‘Book Week’. It’s ridiculously oversimplified, but then, it does the trick. I don’t think we can make a satisfactory conglomerate of relevant terms, for example, Literature-Reading-Literacy-Makerspaces-Community-Promotion-Art-Library-IdeasExplosion-HeadsTogether-SupporingCauses-Fun-Week  –  could we? Perhaps we could use a descriptive term – but again, you couldn’t just use one; you’d need to use many. Here are some that come to mind:

Making the library a space for whimsy and serendipitous adventure; Reminding the school community that the library is alive and kicking – come and see for yourselves; Combine forces with the other planet in the school solar system that concerns itself with Literature – the English Faculty (hello, we have so much in common); Making books come alive and Pulling out ideas and richness from them – oh, I could go on, but I might never stop, so.

Did we do all this? Some of it. We did so much, and we had varying success. We celebrated our successes, and we learned from our disappointments. We have ideas for next year which we should write down before we forget about them. We did it together.

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Seeing is thinking, feeling, understanding – let’s not neglect visual literacies

Pablo Picasso

The SLAV conference, ‘Transliteracy, multiliteracy, makerspaces: how can you participate?’ I attended recently (16 August) gave me much to think about, as they always do.  The featured address, ‘Ways of seeing’: The visual in Australian curriculum by Helen Kent and Catherine Reid from Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, highlighted an often neglected area of  focus on important visual literacies at the secondary level.

There does seem to be a stronger focus in schools on the analytical responses, and I am concerned that students are missing out if we ignore the visual aspect in favour of what we see as the more important textual analyses. I agree with Helen and Catherine that we need a response to the aesthetics, not just analysis, in our approach to the curriculum. Visual literacy is extremely important in the 21st century, and is particularly engaging to students, and must include affective responses if we want to develop emotional intelligence.

What happens to children who are surrounded by rich visual content in their early childhood and primary years who enter secondary school where this is suddenly cut off?  My guess is that, firstly, engagement decreases, and secondly, they miss out on developing the essential skills that come out of visual analysis. It’s not realistic to pretend that we live in an exclusively text-centred world, especially with the immediacy of images and multimedia at our fingertips now.

Are we mistaking visual literacy as being tied exclusively to the Visual Arts? The occasional comic prompt in an English paper? I realise I need to look again at AusVels to see where exactly I can find opportunities for students to articulate an emotional and aesthetic response – History, Civics and Citizenship, Maths and Science, for example, offer the opportunity for aesthetic responses, so I need to have a closer look.

Some takeaways which I’ll follow as leads for futher investigation:

  • First We See: the National Review of Visual Education which recommends  a whole new pedagogy to deal with visual literacies
  • the term ‘wreading’ – interconnected fluid process of learning reading and writing
  • Do we need a new term ‘Visualcy’  which describes the connection between literacy and numeracy ?

What we should be looking for is a pedagogy that enables emotional response to visual prompts. We have the Arts and teachers of the Arts to look to in learning about how to develop visual literacy in our students.

One of the questions which arose from the session was ‘Can we assess students’ emotional responses?’ I would be interested in a good conversation about this with people who have a keen interest or experience. In any case, as our speakers said, what is curriculum for? If it’s to guide us in addressing goals and skills acquisition, and if ‘viewing’ is one of the strands, then we should seriously develop this more in our curriculum to align ‘viewing’ with the other strands. Interesting to note that the rationale doesn’t emphasise enough the importance of visuals in Indigenous culture.

                                                                                                                    Rene Magritte – Ceci n’est pas une pipe

I haven’t summarised the entire content of the two talks, and I don’t intend to. I’d like to share resources I’ve been creating that might be helpful for anybody thinking about resourcing Visual Literacy in their schools. At this stage, my resources are targeted at English teachers, but I’ll make an effort to keep my eye out for visual prompts for different domains. Some of these below may possibly be adapted for others but I haven’t looked at this specifically yet. The images can be deconstructed, used as writing or discussion prompts, but these are just some of the suggestions – it’s really up to the focus of the teacher in deciding how the images can be used. Often they can be used for more than one purpose or approach. So, it’s over to you to think about how some of my collections can be used. Don’t be shy to share your ideas in the comments section of this post. It would make my day.

An old blog, Storyteller, with various writing prompts, including visual.

My Pinterest boards (selection) –

Art Inspiration

Awesome

Banned books

Bigger Picture

Clever

Imagine

Looking out

Lost

Maps

Mathematics

Old stuff

Photography

Story

Visions of the future

Words

Well, that’s it from me. For now. Hope you’ll share your ideas – look forward to the conversation.

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No more razzamatazz – Libguides go light

After an initial leap into Libguides a couple of years ago (inspired by Joyce Valenza’s passion and inspirational examples) when we crammed our guides as tightly as we could with fantastic content, images and videos, I’ve decided to go the other way and start stripping my pages down in favour of user-friendliness. Of course, in the teacher librarian world, we delight in our bounty of wonderful websites, infographics, and the such, and we want the world to see and marvel. But we must eventually admit that the world is not always marvelling because they are running away in fear – isn’t it overkill? and doesn’t it stop people from doing what we really want them to do – FIND stuff?

My friend and (now distance-) colleague, Dawn, helped me see the light but not without some time passing, during which I remained in denial, and stubbornly held on to my bursting boxes in our libguides, my pages which had to be scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. Oh, and how could I forget my tabs – crowded clusters of them, but wait! under these tabs I also had more pages.

Enough!

At some point I have had to accept the unpleasant truth – that I’ve been carried away with sharing with the world my resplendent array of finds (every day – from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Diigo, Feedly, and similar places). I’ve had to admit with a heavy heart that it’s been more about ME (look what I can do!) and less about my readers – students, teachers, others. Sigh.

So, it’s going to be a long, hard slog, but I will get there, and my online resources will be easy to find, logically organised, selected with restraint.

I promise.

See, the library webpage is much neater and more inviting.

libraryfrontpage

Currently I’m working on English. Got rid of 5 tabs today; moved the pages into the body of the guide as hyperlinks.

englishlibguide

What do you think?

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