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ETL402 – Assignment 2: Reflective Blog Post

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During the subject ETL402 I have experienced numerous critical points in my learning about the concept of literary learning and the importance of children’s literature. The teacher librarian (TL) has a fundamental role to:

– Promote the benefits of reading a wide range of fiction

– Encourage students to read fiction independently

– Provide students with access to a wide range of genres (and formats) in children’s literature

– Collaboratively develop, teach and assess literary learning programs to embed fiction across the curriculum

  • Early on in ETL402 I listed strategies that could be used to increase my professional knowledge of children’s literature (Walker, 2014b)
  • I was on the right track with many of these strategies, in particular the necessity for me as a TL to read more widely, that is, read children’s literature across all genres
  • In the process of completing Assignment 2 (A case for literary learning) I have gained a deeper understanding of why it is vital for the TL to have an extensive professional knowledge and understanding of children’s literature
  • Professional knowledge will enable the TL to support teachers in understanding the educational benefits of embedding fiction into the curriculum (Cremin, Mottram, Bearne & Goodwin, 2008, p.459)
  • The TL can assist teachers to select fiction which can be utilised as a teaching and learning tool to engage students in their learning
  • In Module 1 for this subject we were asked to write about why reading fiction is important for students
  • I included three reasons: improved comprehension, creating meaning and improved literacy and language skills (Walker, 2014a)
  • Adding to this, I have learnt that children who read more often and more widely will improve in their academic success (OECD, 2002, p. 3)
  • During the course of this subject I have gained a deeper understanding of why it is essential to engage students in literary learning programs, regular independent free reading and reading aloud to students. The reasons include:

– Improved understanding of story structure

– Encouraging imaginative thinking

– Improved logical and critical thinking skills

– Motivation to learn

– Creates empathy

– Improved writing skills

– Improved memory

– Provides pleasure and enjoyment (Haven, 2007, pp. 89-121)

  • Reading fiction engages students in other worlds, experiencing different cultures, different perspectives, different environments, possibilities, historical events, complex issues and imaginative worlds
  • Professional knowledge of children’s literature will enable the TL to provide the school learning community with access to children’s literature in many different formats; print, digital and audiobooks
  • The TL’s role includes utilising professional knowledge to collaboratively develop, team teach and assess student learning outcomes in literary learning programs
  • Such programs will enable the TL to meet the learning needs of the students by matching readers to fiction texts that meet their reading / cognitive levels and any special needs
  • Literary learning programs can provide a wide range of content/themes which engage students in such a way that the they want to read more independently and gain pleasure from reading (Cornett, 2007, p. 106; Cremin et al., 2008, p.459)
  • TLs can develop effective literary learning programs which address learning outcomes for the Cross-curriculum priority areas and General capabilities in the Australian curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2015)

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). Australian curriculum. Retrieved January 30, 2015, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/

Cornett, C. E. (2007). Creating meaning through literature and the arts: an integration resource for classroom teachers (3rd ed.) Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Cremin, T., Mottram, M., Bearne, E., & Goodwin, P. (2008). Exploring teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(4), 449-464. doi:10.1080/03057640802482363

Haven, K. (2007). Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story. Retrieved from EBook Library.

OECD. (2002). Reading for change: Performance and engagement across countries: Results from PISA 2000. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/edu/school/programmeforinternationalstudentassessmentpisa/33690904.pdf

Walker, M. (2014a). ETL402 – Forum post 1: Why read? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com/

Walker, M. (2014b). ETL402 – Personal mastery: Strategies to increase professional knowledge of children’s literature [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com/

ETL402 – Personal Mastery: Strategies to increase professional knowledge of children’s literature

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This is a list of some strategies that I could use in the future to increase my professional knowledge of children’s literature:

  • Read more widely – try reading children’s literature from many different genres, especially those that I would not normally choose
  • Talk to children and teens about what books they are reading and why they like these books, what would they like to see more of in the school library collection
  • Maybe survey students in the library about the fiction they like to read and why – what are their favourite genres
  • Use online tools such as WorldCat Genres to research the literature available for children and teens
  • Read reviews on children’s literature
  • Look at awards for children’s literature and what are the books receiving these types of awards
  • Look at the children’s literature sections in bookshops and in libraries – what is being stocked and collected
  • Talk to other TL’s about children’s literature and genres – pick their brains to gather information about possible books to look at and read

I’m sure this list will be added to as I progress to learn more in this subject.

EER500 Assignment 1a – Draft Research Question

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Research Topic or Problem

Children’s fiction has a vital influence in helping children understand and make sense of the world they live in, including the development of their understanding of gender and their own gender identity. Research has shown that there is a persistent gender stereotyping and an unequal representation of male over female protagonists in children’s fiction. These gender issues in children’s fiction reinforce a dominant message that males have a more interesting and important role in society than females. Children’s fiction and gender is one of the topics mentioned on a news item for the Gender Institute at The Australian National University, Canberra (2014). This news article sparked interest in this topic.

 Draft Research Question

 Does gender stereotyping in children’s fiction have a negative affect on how girls see their importance and value in society?

 From Literature to Research Question

The research articles used for this task both suggest that the implications of persistent underrepresentation of females and gender stereotyping in children’s fiction is a concerning issue. The articles suggest these gender issues influence how children develop gender identities. The dominant message being that boys and men have a more interesting and important role in society than do girls and women (Leland, Harste, & Clouse, 2013; McCabe, Fairchild, Grauerholz, Pescosolido, & Tope, 2011).

The first article focuses on the persistent underrepresentation of female protagonists in children’s picture books and book titles (McCabe et al., 2011). In this study over 5000 children’s picture books published in the twentieth century were analysed. It is suggested that the disparities in children’s fiction may contribute to children’s ideas (in particular girls) about gender identity (McCabe et al., 2011, p. 221). The authors use the term “symbolic annihilation” (Tuchman, as cited in McCabe et al., 2011, p. 198) to describe the underrepresentation of girls and women in children’s fiction.

The second article focuses on stereotyping in children’s picture books. A group of children analyse picture books published from 1995 onwards and identify gender stereotyping and how male and female characters are represented. This study goes further by arguing that “stereotypical portrayals hurt both girls and boys by positioning them as certain kinds of people they might not wish to be” (Leland et al., 2013, p. 6). The research question narrows the focus to the negative affect gender stereotyping has on girls.

Practical Importance

The research question could be important in raising awareness among educators about the persistent gender stereotyping in children’s fiction and the social implications for ignoring the negative affect this may have on children, with a focus on girls.  This awareness could be transferred in to practical use by influencing educators to start regular conversations with children about gender stereotyping in children’s fiction. Educators could teach children to acknowledge, question and challenge gender stereotyping in children’s books (Leland et al., 2013, p. 8).

References

Leland, C. H., Harste, J., & Clouse, L. (2013). Talking Back to Stereotypes. Journal of Reading Education, 38(2), 5-9. Retrieved from http://oter.coedu.usf.edu/index.html

McCabe, J., Fairchild, E., Grauerholz, L., Pescosolido, B. A., & Tope, D. (2011). Gender in twentieth-century children’s books: Patterns of disparity in titles and central characters. Gender & Society, 25(2), 197-226. doi:10.1177/0891243211398358

The Australian National University, Canberra. (2014). Fun with Dick and Jane: Gender and childhood [News item]. Retrieved March 4, 2014, from http://genderinstitute.anu.edu.au/news/fun-dick-and-jane-gender-and-childhood

ETL401 Assignment 2: Part B – Critical Reflection (Portfolio)

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At the commencement of this subject I was completely naive to the complex and vital role that the teacher librarian (TL) plays in the school learning community. An essential learning for me has been gaining a deeper understanding of how crucial the role of the TL is in supporting students to become information literate. This subject has shown me that the primary purpose of the TL is to support the learning and teaching needs of the school community.

A proactive role

The TL needs to be proactive in garnering Principal support (Oberg, 2006, p. 16). I stated that one of the reasons why the Principal may not be supportive of the TL is due to a lack of understanding of the TL’s role. The Principal may not read the literature available which illustrates how the role of the TL is vital to student achievement (OLJ, March 25, 2013). I was on the right track when I wrote that the TL needs to demonstrate to the Principal the value they add to the learning community (OLJ, March 25, 2013). I needed to go further in stating how this can be done. These are some the actions a TL can take to garner Principal support:

  • Evidence based practice – collecting evidence to support their claims
  • Initiate collaboration with teachers
  • Be proactive in curriculum design – integrating IL skills into the curriculum (Eisenberg, 2008, p. 45)
  • Nurture the relationship with the Principal – initiate collaboration
  • Strategic planning that is a result of asking the Principal what they expect from you (the TL) and the library (B. Combes, personal communication, April 7, 2013)

Collecting evidence

It is essential for the TL to gather evidence demonstrating how they support students’ learning outcomes (OLJ, April 26, 2013). This subject has given me a better understanding of practical ways to do this. I have learnt that being an advocate is good but it is not enough, the TL needs to have evidence to support their claims (Hay & Todd, 2010, p. 37). Providing students with opportunities for reflective writing about how library instructional lessons support IL is one way to collect evidence (OLJ, April 26, 2013). After doing the assignment on comparing IL models, I can see clearly where opportunities to integrate IL skills into students learning could occur. The ISP and Big6 models offer opportunities for students to reflect on the process of learning and the product. This type of evidence is useful in demonstrating how the TL supports student achievement.

Fostering lifelong learning

An essential learning that I experienced during this subject is the importance of the TL’s role in IL. It is the TL’s role to foster the skills for lifelong learning and critical thinking in students. I understand that the TL can continually be looking for opportunities within the curriculum to integrate IL skills and incorporate the use of technologies (Eisenberg, 2008, p. 45). As information technologies are constantly changing, IL includes students keeping abreast of these changes (OLJ, May 12, 2013). I would add to this that the TL also needs to stay abreast of these changes. The TL is also a lifelong learner, continually seeking more efficient methods of supporting students’ learning needs. An excellent TL understands and uses IL theories and practices. These practices enable the TL to support students to develop and apply skills for lifelong learning (Australian School Library Association, Standards section, para. 9). These skills are essential for students in the 21st century (OLJ, May 12, 2013). As I commented on in my OLJ (April 12, 2013), there are many advantages of the integrating IL in to the curriculum. Kuhlthau suggests that each time students engage in a guided inquiry task they are engaging in five kinds of learning. These are “curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence and social skills” (2010, p. 19). This illustrates to me why the TL’s role in implementing IL models in to the curriculum is of enormous importance. The TL can be a leader in the area of IL within their school.

References

Australian School Library Association. (2012). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47. Retrieved from http://publications.drdo.gov.in/ojs/index.php/djlit/index

Hay, L., & Todd, R. (2010). School libraries 21C: The conversation begins. Scan, 29(1), 30-42. Retrieved from http://scan.nsw.edu.au/

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibrarymonthly.com/index.html

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18. Retrieved from http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/

Walker, M. (2013, March 25). ETL401 – blog task # 1: Principal support [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com

Walker, M. (2013, April 26). Blog task # 2: Evidence based practice [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com

Walker, M. (2013, April 26). ETL401 – topic 4.1 guided inquiry [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com

Walker, M. (2013, May, 12). ETL401 – blog task # 3: Information literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://marieleewalker.wordpress.com