HOW THIS LEARNING WILL ENABLE ME TO BECOME AN EFFECTIVE TEACHER LIBRARIAN IN THE FUTURE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV1Z7OybDk0&feature=related
Created by Glenda Morris, a teacher librarian at an all-girls secondary school  from Melboune. Interested in all things Web 2.0 and assisting teachers to integrate technologies into the curriculum.

The Role of Teacher Librarian

My studies improved my understanding of what a teacher-librarian means. It empowered me for a role that entails teaching learners, managing the library in the face of limitations, changes in learning, pedagogies, information and technologies including Web2.0 tools to meet the needs of 21st century learning, school’s mission and acquire lifetime skills.

I’ve realised that if I’m to be an excellent teacher-librarian as ALIA and ASLA (2004) state in the Professional Knowledge standards I should “1.1 understand the principles of lifelong learning ”and  “3.1 model and promote lifelong learning” I have acquired many valuable lessons by teaching students techniques or skills through inquiry/research on how to critically and independently decide and identify what they need, take out quality information from the great number of relevant sources and use it effectively. These transferable skills will assist the students in problem-solving, studies, research or work.  It is hoped that teaching students how to learn independently will empower them in acquiring key competencies, tackling future challenges, gaining self-confidence and valuing their contribution to the society. To address individual differences, tutorials, lectures and activities will be promptly provided to help any student in need of direction or motivation. I must encourage learners to keep studying, observe ethics in creating and sharing information using new technologies and encourage reading throughout their school life and beyond in readiness for the future.

Another essential standard is “1.2 know about learning and teaching across the curriculum areas and developmental levels” which can be seen through collaboration with teachers and school community members through curriculum resourcing, classroom lessons and projects for learning and teaching through different year levels. I was able to adapt what I have learned through the library lessons I have given to different classes with regard to researching for their assessments in art, religion and science in collaboration with teachers. Such partnerships built community spirit, personal relationships, respect and understanding for teachers as well as students also allowing mastery of the curriculum and “1.3 have a rich understanding of the school community  and  curriculum”.

My studies and readings equipped me to “1.4 have a specialist knowledge of information, resources, technology and  library management” and guide students how to critically evaluate information, formats and resources in the library through the research they did on artists for their assessment. I helped students complete their work by using the online catalogue, laptops and iPads efficiently. For their work they were able to create PowerPoint presentations and share with others what they have learned.

For professional development as recommended by ALIA (2012), I should join conferences, online training, Incite, SCAN and Australian Library Journal and professional development schemes. I must attend seminars by Syba Signs such as The Daring Librarian, Hands-on workshops and How2 of Web2.0: online learning program. I must be forward-thinking, flexible and dynamic in undertaking my duties in the library with teachers, students and other school community members.  I should exchange ideas and strategies with others through social networking within and outside the school community.

Information Literacy

I’ve learned how to “2.1 engage and challenge learners within a supportive, information rich learning environment “ by running a library that is responsive to the needs of students to read, improve their information and computer literacy and develop critical and independent thinking. I was able to achieve this by helping put up book displays and competitions on reading, guiding them through the research process, providing the best available resources in various formats and assisting them in using laptops and iPads that truly involved them. In the process they were able to report in class and get good marks on their test.

I learned to2.2 collaboratively plan and resource curriculum programs which incorporate transferable information literacy and literature outcomes” and 2.3 provide exemplary library and information services consistent with national standards”.

My studies and readings assisted me in collaborating and consulting with teachers, parents and students in assessing what resources or services are needed, recommended and required to support the curriculum.  The library acquired good reading and study materials that both interest teachers and students as well as comply with the Australian standards. Moreover, library lessons on research were organized to instil good study habits that students can use in tackling assignments, reports and tests. The combined effort encouraged the search for knowledge, created learning opportunities, and developed good study habits.  Another outcome of this collaboration was the chance to “2.4 evaluate student learning and library programs and services to inform professional practice”. I have learned that as an efficient teacher-librarian I must ensure that students learn through the resources and services the library provides. To show evidence is to collaborate, consult, study, survey, interview and test the learners. The regular evaluation can be used for improvement and development. I must focus on teaching and providing fundamental information literacy lessons, literary appreciation and services to students through interaction, using various formats, levels or languages required. They must motivate students to learn, create and share.

http://jefflewisbocessls.wikispaces.com/file/view/TimesChanging.jpg/266674210/480×608/TimesChanging.jpg
Created by Jennifer LaGarde , a former language arts, now a teacher-librarian at Myrtle Grove Middle School, has only been in the library field for five years. Yet she’s having a big impact. Her knowledge-sharing presentations and library advocacy, most notably through the North Carolina School Library Media Association, influence librarians statewide. She is also one of the winners of the 2011 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times American Library Association I Love My Librarian! award.
 

I must consult ACARA’s (2011) curriculum developments to update me on resourcing and changes that will impact the students.  I must undertake ALIA’s (2012) professional development workshops, CEO (2012) training to educate me on current educational innovations or pedagogical changes, read SCAN for resources and educational developments and undertake TAFE’s professional framework for teachers, leadership or management courses to become an effective teacher-librarian. I should use Web2.0 tools to explore for more learning opportunities and growth.

Collection Development and Access

I learned to “3.2 commit to the principles of education and librarianship”by appreciating more than ever the importance of a library collection development policy in realizing the library’s mission, fulfilling the students’ needs and committing to professional service. To succeed here is to plan well, specify, concisely present and clearly write it with school community members to support the curriculum. I realised that an exchange of knowledge or ideas through networking can help in policy making.  To “3.3 demonstrate leadership within school and professional  communities,”I must lead in promoting reading- centered on learner’s needs and access to resources and services. As teacher-librarian, I must be proactive, flexible and attuned with 21st century learners by using new reliable technology and advancing literacy and development in the school community and beyond.

My studies encouraged me to “3.4 actively participate in education and library professional networks by supporting, connecting  and exchanging of ideas with community members in school and teacher-librarian organisations like OZTL_Net, oz-TeacherNet and ALIAnet (Cartwright, 2010). I need to improve professionally by participating in teaching, learning and library management courses or training workshops as recommended by ALIA (2012) and CEO (2006) to be an excellent teacher-librarian.

Maybe I can take part in what teacher librarians are doing for professional development as shown in the Australian school libraries research project, Report 1 created by ASLA, ALIA and ECU.

Reference

ACARA (2011). Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from                            http://www.acara.edu.au/curriculum/curriculum.html

ASLA/ALIA (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians.  Retrieved       from

http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.htm

ALIA (2011). Finding your way. Retrieved from http://www.alia.org.au/education/pd/finding.your.way.with.PD.pdf

ALIA (2012). 60+ideas for your Professional Development. Retrieved from  http://www.alia.org.au/education/pd/60_ideas_for_your_PD.pdf

Catholic Education Office, Sydney (2012). Professional development. Retrieved from http://www.ceosyd.catholic.edu.au/Teachers/Learning/Pages/ProfDev.aspx

Syba Signs (2008). Seminars. Retrieved from                        http://www.sybasigns.com.au/seminars.htm

TAFE (2006). The NSW Professional framework for teachers. Retrieved from       http://lrrpublic.cli.det.nsw.edu.au/ lrrSecure/Sites/Web/13289/aboutus/ ourwork/pdmodels/framework_teachers.htm

           

 

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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF MY LEARNING DURING THE TEACHER LIBRARIANSHIP COURSE

The Role of Teacher Librarian

I’ve learned that the role of the teacher-librarian is not easy or simple as it seems. Taking care of the library and educational needs of the school community may appear straightforward and clear-cut but may actually demand a lot more from the teacher-librarian. Herring (2007) speaks of a teacher-librarian as teacher, librarian, information services manager, information literacy leader, curriculum leader, information specialist, instructional partner, website developer, budget manager, staff manager, fiction and non-fiction advocate.

For Purcell (2010), there are five roles for School Library Media Specialist. Progress paved the way to changes in the tasks of teacher-librarians. They are expected to be leaders, program administrators, information specialist, instructional partners and teachers which AASL (2009) says are all interrelated and feasible through the support of others.

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I realise these roles can’t be done at the same time and as a teacher-librarian I need to prioritise them according to the existing needs of the students, staff and parents in the community.

Herring (2007) says the library must be acknowledged as a centre of learning first and a centre of resources second. The library and the school librarian are not separate from school but an integral part of the learning and teaching community that makes it up. At the heart of the school, where learning and teaching happens students are equipped with life-long skills and develop their imagination that will enable them to live as responsible citizens (IFLA/ UNESCO 2006 and ASLA 2004).

I realised the importance of teaching and guiding students with their studies, reading, research and assignments aside from providing them with the resources and services they need. As a teacher, I need to comply with the school’s mission, know the curriculum and be constructive with its changes. It’s my responsibility to be equipped with the knowledge that will work for the best interest of the students that will get them ready for the 21st century.

I must acknowledge that I cannot do this alone I should collaborate, cooperate and coordinate with classroom teachers. I must help take part in planning, evaluating and implementing school’s policies related to curriculum. I should be active in promoting information literacy and ICT through shifts in pedagogies and technologies.  It’s important that I don’t isolate myself nor deprive students and teachers access to the library’s resources and services. If possible, I must endeavour to offer teachers and students what they require and anticipate what they might need.

The enormity of my charge as a teacher-librarian is much bigger than when I took care of my classes as a classroom teacher. However, it gives me the opportunity, time and place to see the overall picture of the school’s goals and interdisciplinary commonalities such as topics, concerns and issues that I can help achieve through collaboration with other teachers. Taking care of the whole school is definitely challenging and will need careful study, planning, consultation and reflection.

Studies indicate better student performance where the teacher-librarian coordinates with the teacher, instructs information literacy, and provides individual tutoring for students in need. This learning and teaching role advances the instructional goals of the school (Lance 2002). I must encourage students and teachers to use a wide range of resources and technologies appropriately in order to learn, generate and apply new learning.

To be able to support and sustain the teaching role I need to fulfil, I realised that I have to manage my time wisely, prioritise my responsibilities and focus on academic needs of the school to give more time for instruction, provide relevant resources and collaborate with teachers in creating learning opportunities.  This teaching role extends to teachers and school community members as well for professional and personal development in accomplishing the school’s mission. However, paperwork on lessons and orientation with teachers, principal and school community members must be documented and updated to show cooperation and collaboration as well as support and contribution in achieving the school’s mission. For quality instruction and proof that students become better learners from library lessons and with student learning as the main goal, evidence based practice will show merit as well as significant contributions given to learning (Todd 2003).

As a manager, I must organise effective procedures in accessing resources, delivering services and coordinating events to promote reading, learning and literacy. I perceive how teacher-librarians can make a difference in preparing learners for the information and technology rich workplace of the future.  This justifies and proves their value in fulfilling the vital role required in schools, gaining community support and uplifting society

Teacher- librarians are truly very important.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=614dVp3H3WE

This clip is part of the series “what your teacher librarian can do for you”. Produced by Southern Cross University Library, and Independent Productions Credits: Lyn Howlin (Coffs Harbour Public School); Tony Watts & Mary Welsh (Mary Help of Christians Primary School, Sawtell); Megan Hart (Woolgoolga High School).

Information Literacy

I realised that information literacy is more than a set of skills.  On top of a deluge of information out there, students have to be properly equipped to discern what is good and what isn’t in their schoolwork, personal lives and future career.   It’s a fundamental ability in the 21st century information age that will facilitate personal, economic, social and cultural development (Corral 2007).

This is a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes (Abilock 2004). This development empowers learners to utilize, assess the copious information and utilise them responsibly and meaningfully in the face of technological developments.

Information literacy is crucial in appraising the validity, authenticity and reliability of sources necessary in decision making, studying and taking test in any discipline (Bush 2009) and vital  in the set of courses learners will study in the future (Herring 2007). It is a survival skill in the Information Age (ALA 2011) that will empower people of all ages to seek, assess and utilize various forms of print and non-print sources.

I realise that developing information literacy across the curriculum in school is a lifelong learning for students that can benefit their future. I can collaborate with teachers regarding similarities of objectives, issues, tools and concerns connecting key learning areas. However, excessive information and technology will not make learners more literate without the ability and deliberation to utilize information efficiently (CAUL 2001). As teacher-librarians we must guide learners to consistently utilize information sensibly, ethically and proficiently to advance progress.

I acknowledged that finishing a degree in education and librarianship is good but it can even be better if learning continues to embrace developments in education, librarianship and information technology. I must help enable students to be competent in inquiring critically, handling technology, decision-making, creating solutions to solve problems, striving for growth, sharing and collaborating with others to help the world they live in.

I realised that to deliver information literacy to students these days, I have to look into   the most up-to-date approaches like the Internet (Herring 2004) as well as different apps, mobile technology and  Web 2.0 tools to engage  and make them really want to learn and be inspired.  I can’t stick to old methods that do not give teachers and students control or ownership over their learning. Teacher-librarians must optimise the opportunities (Loerthscher 2010) for information literacy education and uptake of 21st century tools the young generation know and love.

I realise I don’t have all the answers nor am I the fount of knowledge. My task is to help students and teachers look for new knowledge (ALIA, 2006) acquire skills, enhance learning, create, think and responsibly share with others. I must empower students to recognise an information need, address and retrieve it, critically evaluate, adapt, organise and communicate information and review the process.  Learning is not confined in one place or person. We must interact, exchange, contribute, produce and share what we have learned to others in the community, country and the world through technology, innovation and social networking.

The process of creating pathfinders was a learning experience that helped me realise how constructive it is to teacher-librarians. Kunzt (2003) says some of them are developed as part of a collaborative effort with librarians, teachers, parents, community members, and even students. Brisco (2007) says as we create a more collaborative 2.0 school library environment, it provides an opportunity for students, teachers, parents, administrators, and community members to actively create new information for themselves and others while bonding relationships.

I must continue to explore and learn through technological innovations, information influx and social networking for the sake of the future learners.

I learned that an efficient and proactive teacher-librarian works with others in providing resources, knowhow and effectively utilizing them to bring about life-long learning that students might share to uplift the lives of many in the 21st century and beyond.

Collection Development and Access

Collection development policy is very important. Each and every library, big or small, must have a collection development policy (Arizona Library, 2005) especially by this time in the 21st century.  It’s essential that this policy should be carefully planned and specifically written to support and embody the mission and goals of the library (NLA, 2010) in this time of change, financial difficulties and global challenges.

I realized that the library to achieve its mission in meeting its clients’ needs, a well-planned collection policy is vital in defining the library’s purpose, who it serves and what it offers. It is useful in presenting guiding principles by which more reliable choices can be made in the future (Arizona Library, 2005).

A good library collection policy in the context of schools in the 21st century is essential in organising and managing the collection according to the specific profile of the students, teachers, parents or stakeholders within the context of the curriculum required in meeting the learning needs of the school community bearing in mind the effect of technological changes, discoveries and innovations going on in education.

The policy is essential in bringing together members of the school community especially the teaching and library staff in its development, planning and implementation. The policy is important in encouraging collaboration, using technology and innovation for the learners of the 21st century.

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Furthermore, the policy underpins the crucial role of the library and its collection (Wall and Ryan, 2010) not only in carrying out its goals now but for the future as well.

Debowski (2001) adds that a good school library collection policy is essential in supplying current comprehensive coverage of diverse issues and areas including religious values where expected sustaining all levels of student capabilities without prejudice in the latest formats accessible to all.

The collection policy is important in guiding library staff members on its organizational functions including training points, clarifying values, leading collection activities, focusing on specific clients, informing stakeholders of available services and resources, reinforcing procedures and decisions made (Hughes-Hansell and Mancall, 2005), provision of financial support (Kennedy, 2006) and settling disputes over items .

Kennedy (2006) asserts that a written policy is instrumental in assisting the staff in all their collection undertakings and signifying the objectives of the library’s collection development policy internally or externally to those who expressed interest.

The written policy assists in maintaining and improving the collection. It directs all efforts in managing and developing the collection in the library according to its goals, development and changing needs of its clients. The changes of time and technology in the 21st century require library collections to grow and adapt, the thriving written policy alleviates difficulties in adjusting with modifications and progress (Arizona Library, 2005).

A policy can greatly influence the decision making on selection, acquisition, evaluation, preservation and deselection of library materials (Kennedy, 2006). A well-planned policy generates strength and development in the collection where there are major changes in personnel or funding. It projects responsibility for its actions and decisions (Hughes and Mancall, 2005).    Lamb and Johnson (2003) point out that a written policy protects the library staff against difficulties like censors, copyright infringement, discriminations, disagreements and injustice and helps maintain professionalism, objectivity and impartiality.

I realised that written policies for teacher-librarians are good reminders of the reason behind the collection, the principles and values by which they believe in. NLA (2010) adds that library policies are important because they are declarations of ideals that define the meaning and substance of its collection pertinent to its clients in the face of societal transformations.

Although procedures are important in implementing policies they are not disclosed to the public. They outline manner and people involved in accomplishing the collection policy (Lamb and Johnson, 2003). This eases work, clears confusion, fosters working relationships, projects efficiency, and saves time and resources.

The collection policy once published or posted in the Internet is a useful source of information for stakeholders and a model for other librarians within or outside the community (Arizona Library, 2005).

At the end of the module, I acquired a deeper appreciation of the value and importance of collection policy in successfully managing a library. Collaboration in planning and in creating this policy will pave the way to realizing the mission and goals of the school, setting up priorities and preparing for future plans, changes or innovations. I recognized that it takes a lot of critical thinking, communication, diplomacy, sensibility, ethics and collaboration to create a good and sensible policy.

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21st Century Skills – The School Library

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STATEMENT OF PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY

I believe that dynamism, flexibility, currency, forward-thinking and commitment to lifelong learning create an effective teacher librarian.

The principal task is to be a teacher to the learners. Secondly, be a leader to teachers and school community members in educational innovations and technology. Thirdly, be a coordinator and collaborator in teaching and learning. Finally, be a forward thinking information services manager in reconciling client needs and available sources.

I think that the Teacher Librarian’s task is to guide learners, work with teachers and school community members to decisively choose and identify for themselves what they require and locate  valuable information from pertinent resources and efficiently utilize it for development and  literacy.

I consider it important in fulfilling my responsibilities to manage time wisely, organise and prioritise the tasks according to the needs of the school community.

I regard the Teacher Librarian’s role in connecting with the 21st century learners as vital, complex and invariably challenging.

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A BRIEF OUTLINE OF MY CAREER

My career in Teacher Librarianship blossomed from a family background that enjoyed reading, teaching and librarianship.  Educational training, interests and opportunities encouraged me to be a teacher librarian.

After completing my Bachelor of Science in Education, I taught intermediate primary children as subject teacher and class adviser for many years.  I helped write the curriculum for Key Learning Areas and headed an intermediate year level.  I also taught evening secondary classes for the less privileged. Summer breaks were spent mentoring kids and obtaining Masteral Studies in Theology Major in Religious Education.

I continued teaching primary kids, school leavers, job aspirants, migrants and secondary school children for several years while accomplishing my Diploma of Library and Information Services. My studies, skills and experience led me to pursue a course on Master of Education (Teacher Librarianship) and I’m presently learning and enjoying my work at both secondary school and public libraries while finishing my postgraduate studies. I have already completed Teacher Librarianship, Information Environment, Teacher Librarian as Leader, Organising Access to Information, Collection Management and Literature in Education. Professional Experience/Portfolio and Understanding and Critiquing Educational Research are the subjects I expect to fulfil before this year’s end.

Seeing how teacher librarians ” have always been in the vanguard of critical thinking and authentic learning” are important for the future, I will endeavour to be the best that I can be.

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TEACHER LIBRARIANSHIP-MY PORTFOLIO

MY PORTFOLIO

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Role%20of%20Teacher%20Librarian%20Valenza

   I.          A brief outline of my career

II.            Statement of personal philosophy

III.          A critical evaluation of my learning during the teacher librarianship course

        1.  The Role of  the Teacher Librarian
        2. Information Literacy
        3. Collection Development and Access

IV.            How this learning will enable me to become an effective teacher librarian in the future

        1. The Role of  the Teacher Librarian
        2. Information Literacy
        3. Collection Development and Access

 

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Desirable Features of a Collection policy in the 21st century and examples

A library collection development policy should be well-planned, specific, concise, presentable, thriving and clearly written.  It should include three major elements, such as a general idea of the principles governing the collection (library’s goal and patrons), analysis of the library’s collection (rationale behind collection, extent, formats, selecting and deselecting criteria and future plans) and policy statements on other issues regarding collection management (assessment, gifts, intellectual freedom, censorship, revision and digital materials) (Kennedy, 2006). 

Wall and Ryan add that a library policy in the 21st century should include the underlying principle for the collection, organisational methods used, quality and extent of the collection, sources of financial support and provision of fair access and circulation system. 

Debowski (2001) states that there are four major areas of concern a library policy should include, these are: 

“The collection function.” This talks about the extent of assistance the library can offer its clients, specific people it serves and   objectives of the collection. 

“Selection principles.” This element deals with various tasks in choosing library materials and reiterates the importance of sensible step by step process in the growth of a collection like “responsibility for selection, formats incorporated, other selection limitations, duplicate copies, cooperative acquisition, criteria for selection, donations and gifts, lost items and school coordination of purchasing.” 

“Acquisition policy.” This component includes values by which to follow in obtaining materials such as using a broad range of resources in choosing items that comply with the set purchasing guidelines. After careful evaluation of materials with regard to function, worth and assurance of funds can buying from approved suppliers and sellers transpire. 

Collection evaluation policy.” It is important that acquired materials meet the needs of the clients and empowers them. With regard to this policy are several principles like “collection appraisal, deselection of resources and review of controversial resources.” 

Lamb and Johnson (2003) affirm that a collection development policy offers a general idea of requirements and concerns of its clients founded on the mission of library and school community which might comprise selection, deselection, reconsideration and acquisition policies. It must consist of not only policies but answers to these questions:

“What is the purpose of your center?”

“Who does your center serve?”

“What is the focus of your center’s program?”

“How are center materials selected and deselected?”

“How will you deal with controversy?”

 Furthermore, Lamb and Johnson (2003) state that the desirable features in library collection development policy in the 21st century include: 

Introduction. It describes the use of the document, scope of the policy, audience and need for the policy. 

Leo Baeck  Institute Library

The policy is important in relating to users and other libraries why the Leo Baeck Institute Library created the policy and the mission of the library. The policy posted in the Internet is accessible for there is no need to register or log on to look for information.

 I. Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to define subject areas for collection development, and to determine how intensely we will collect in each area. The policy will be used to guide our decisions in purchasing, accepting donations and weeding.

A. Objectives

The mission of the library remains to build the collection in order to provide and preserve source material and services to support research on the collective history and culture of German-speaking Jewry. 

Statement of Philosophy and Goals.” This contains ideals, principles and aims in the context of clients’ profile, resources, curriculum and other concerns for the library. Declarations from authorized educational agencies from Australia or around the world like Department of Educational and Training, Board of Studies, National Library of Australia, Australian Library, Information Association and Association of School Libraries Association, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and American Library Association. Important principles on rights, ethics, freedom and values may be used and acknowledged in the policy to cover all the essentials required in the 21st century world of consumerism and identity crisis.

The Leo Baeck Institute Library policy is essential in identifying its specific clients.

B. User community

The researchers who come to the LBI can be classified as follows:

1.       Academic researchers (primarily German, Austrian, Israeli, and American scholars)

2.       Museum curators

3.       People working for the media

4.       General public (including genealogists).

Selection Policy.” This policy identifies  particular standards for choosing library materials,weeding and donations. It clarifies how materials are chosen and who chooses. Catalog of regular clients, subject areas and materials available to their specific needs must be included along with assessments done and their objectives. Electronic resources and databases must also be considered for currency, relevance, growth and development.

 Baltimore County Public School Library, Montana

The written policy is important in presenting clear standards by which materials are chosen, included in the collection or given to charity as seen in this case.  

  Selection Criteria for Library Media Materials

  • Appropriate for recommended levels
  • Pertinent to the curriculum and the objectives of the instructional program
  • Accurate in terms of content
  • Reflective of the pluralistic nature of a global society
  • Free of bias and stereotype
  • Representative of differing viewpoints on controversial subjects
  • Appropriate format to effectively teach the curriculum
  • Recent copyright date as appropriate to the subject
  • Acceptable in literary style and technical quality
  • Cost effective in terms of use
  • Appropriate for students with special needs

 The Herbst Library of the Urban School of San Francisco

The policy is essential in informing clients the course of action in giving gift books to avoid misunderstandings. 

Gifts

All gifts are judged with the same criteria as purchased materials, and accepted or rejected accordingly. Gift items must be in new condition with no highlighting or annotations. Unless arrangements are made with the librarian, gift books that are not added to the collection will be donated to a local charity.

 “Reconsideration Policy.” This policy is essential in integrating strict procedures in settling disagreements over items and preserving peace.

 Rogers Public School, Arkansas

The policy incorporates strict procedures in handling challenges and censorships with the support of American Library Association.

Guidelines for Dealing with Patron Complaints about Resources

Office of Intellectual Freedom-American Library Association

All libraries are pressured from groups and individuals who wish to use the library as an instrument of their own taste. It is the responsibility of every library to take certain measures to clarify policies and establish community relations.  They will provide a firm and clearly defined position if selection policies are challenged.  As normal operating procedure, each library should: 

1.      Maintain a materials selection policy. 

2.      Maintain a clearly defined method for handling complaints. 

3.      Maintain in-service training

4.      Maintain line of communication with civic, religious, educational and political bodies of the community.                                                            

 “Acquisition Policy.” This policy details how library items are obtained, sellers and suppliers are recorded, purchasing procedures and requirements are met and condition of chosen items are scrutinised.

 Gold Coast Council Library

This policy is essential in incorporating procedures that will successfully and quickly acquire materials.

The procurement of library resources is managed in accordance with Council’s Procurement Policy. Whenever possible, library suppliers listed on the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) Local Buy contract for the provision of library resources are used. A shelf-ready model for procurement is preferred so that library materials can be acquired and processed, in accordance with the library’s specifications, in the shortest possible timeframes.

 “Evaluation Policy.” This policy talks about how items are sustained and assessed in meeting the needs of the users.

Tasmanian School Library

The policy is essential in clearly listing the criteria for assessing the collection for currency, relevance, accessibility and value. The library staff equipped with   the criteria can appraise the collection fitted in the 21st century, recognize innovations and bridge the gap between the young and seasoned learners.

Collection Evaluation

Collection evaluation is a good way to make sure that the needs of the students and staff of the school are being met and resources are being kept up-to-date. The purpose of collection evaluation is to ensure that the collection reflects the reasons it was established and maintained.

This process should be ongoing and it should take into account the following:

  • Capacity of the collection to meet the school’s needs
  • Need to maintain up-to-date resources
  • Age and condition of the resources
  • Resources which are no longer relevant to the school’s needs
  • Resources are in a variety of formats
  • Technological developments
  • Online subscriptions versus hard copy
  • Access to computers versus access to hard copy materials
  • Library staffing, space and funding levels
  • License and access conditions for online resources
 “Related Policies.” In collaboration with other educational institutions and agencies,   ICT, “Networks Policy, Internet Policy, Email Policy, Copyright, Code of Conduct”, Confidentiality, Privacy, Cyber Safety, Cyber bullying, Intellectual Freedom, and  Policy Revision are added in the “Collection Development Manual” to accede to  21st century innovations without sacrificing moral values and principles.

Marshall Public Library, Idaho

This policy is essential in stating that regular reviews and amendments are governed by a specific body.

VI Policy Implementation, Evaluation, and Revision The Collection Development Policy of the Marshall Public Library will be reviewed on a regular basis. Revisions will be referred to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

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Importance of a Collection Policy in the 21st century

Each and every library, big or small, must have a collection development policy (Arizona Library, 2005) especially by this time in the 21st century.  It’s essential that this policy should be carefully planned and specifically written to support and embody the mission and goals of the library (NLA, 2010) in this time of change, financial difficulties and global challenges.

To help the library achieve its mission in meeting its clients’ needs, a well-planned collection policy is vital in defining the library’s purpose, who it serves and what it offers. It is useful in presenting guiding principles by which more reliable choices can be made in the future (Arizona Library, 2005).

A good library collection policy in the context of schools in the 21st century is essential in organising and managing the collection according to the specific profile of the students, teachers, parents or stakeholders within the context of the curriculum required in meeting the learning needs of the school community bearing in mind the effect of technological changes, discoveries and innovations going on in education.

The policy is essential in bringing together members of the school community especially the teaching and library staff in its development, planning and implementation. The policy is important in encouraging collaboration, using technology and innovation for the learners of the 21st century.

Furthermore, the policy underpins the crucial role of the library and its collection (Wall and Ryan, 2010) not only in carrying out its goals now but for the future as well.

Debowski (2001) adds that a good school library collection policy is essential in supplying current comprehensive coverage of diverse issues and areas including religious values were expected sustaining all levels of student capabilities without prejudice in the latest formats accessible to all.

The collection policy is important in guiding library staff members on its organizational functions including training points, clarifying values, leading collection activities, focusing on specific clients, informing stakeholders of available services and resources, reinforcing procedures and decisions made (Hughes-Hansell and Mancall, 2005), provision of financial support (Kennedy, 2006) and settling disputes over items .

Kennedy (2006) asserts that a written policy is instrumental in assisting the staff in all their collection undertakings and signifying the objectives of the library’s collection development policy internally or externally to those who expressed interest.

The written policy assists in maintaining and improving the collection. It directs all efforts in managing and developing the collection in the library according to its goals, development and changing needs of its clients. The changes of time and technology in the 21st century require library collections to grow and adapt, the thriving written policy alleviates difficulties in adjusting with modifications and progress (Arizona Library, 2005).

A policy can greatly influence the decision-making on selection, acquisition, evaluation, preservation and deselection of library materials (Kennedy, 2006). A well-planned policy generates strength and development in the collection where there are major changes in personnel or funding. It projects responsibility for its actions and decisions (Hughes and Mancall, 2005).    Lamb and Johnson (2003) point out that a written policy protects the library staff against difficulties like censors, copyright infringement, discriminations, disagreements and injustice and helps maintain professionalism, objectivity and impartiality.

Debowski (2001) affirms that written policies are essential in reminding librarians the purpose of the collection and the values by which they stand for. NLA (2010) adds that library policies are important because they are declarations of ideals that define the meaning and substance of its collection pertinent to its clients in the face of societal transformations.

Although procedures are important in implementing policies they are not disclosed to the public. They outline manner and people involved in accomplishing the collection policy (Lamb and Johnson, 2003). This eases work, clears confusion, fosters working relationships, projects efficiency, saves time and resources.

The collection policy once published or posted in the Internet is a useful source of information for stakeholders and a model for other librarians within or outside the community (Arizona Library, 2005).

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CHILDREN’S FICTION IN CLASSROOMS AND LIBRARIES IS FUNDAMENTAL TO LEARNING

I. Introduction

Reading is very important in promoting learning in classrooms and libraries. For children to survive in this world and do well in life they have to know how to read and read a lot. Nay (2007) states that “kids who read succeed and develop multi-literacy skills that allow them to have rich meaningful life living and working in an information society. A good starting point to read is children’s fiction in classrooms and libraries. There are several ways and means to read to facilitate learning and at the same time make the whole experience pleasant. Lamb (2001) points out several reasons why we should read which are as follows:

  • Real-World Reading. You need reading to survive. If you get behind in reading, you’ll have trouble in every subject.
  • Information Age Reading. You need reading for a career. Internet = Reading. Keeping up in a changing world requires good reading skills.
  • Communication Reading. You need reading to communicate whether you’re writing or reading a letter, email, or report.
  • Pleasure Reading. You need reading for leisure. It’s the only thing you can do on a plane, on the beach, or in a line that doesn’t require batteries! You can read anywhere.
  • Life Long Learning. You need reading for learning. Life is about learning. You need reading for life.

Sprainger (2002) offers some tips on how to select a good book for reading through BLIPA  with B for read the Blurb, L for look at the length and the size of the print, I for read a few pages to see if it’s interesting, P for looking at any pictures or illustrations and A to ask help from a friend, teacher or librarian. Sprainger (2002) continues that if that doesn’t work try the five finger test which are open the book any page and start reading, for any word that’s not known put down one finger on the left hand, upon reaching five difficult words from the same page and have placed down five fingers then the book is a bit hard at the moment. Put down the book and try again next term or next year.

 Teachers and teacher librarians must collaborate to provide students ample opportunity to read with in and out of school hours for the sake of learning and helping them succeed.

 II.

One of the crucial means by which to ensure reading takes place is to embed children’s literature in the curriculum. It’s imperative to make reading part of education in key learning areas like Science, Maths, HSIE, Art, PDHPE, DT and many others above and beyond what they have in  English. Introduction and exposure to literary pieces no matter how short, simple or trite will encourage academic curiosity, learning and craving for more. An example can be done in a Year 7 Science.

The St. Agnes Catholic High School Science Department wrote a rationale of the unit: The Earth and our Solar System. “A study of science should enable students to participate in scientific activities and develop an understanding of the nature and practice of science, including the importance of creativity, intuition, logic and objectivity. In this Unit, students describe features of the Earth’s structure, its atmosphere and space, describe the causes and effects of natural disasters, erosion and rock formation. They also describe the features of the solar system and discuss modern technologies involved in space probes.”  

This unit harmonizes with the syllabus from the Board of Studies (2010), Science stage 4, Unit Title: The Earth and our Solar System with learning outcomes 4.9 which states that “a student describes the dynamic structure of earth and its relationship to other parts of our solar system and the universe” and 5.9 that says  “a student relates the development of the universe and the dynamic structure of the earth to models, theories and laws and the influence of time” Learning about the natural phenomena of the Earth rotating, revolving and structure make students have a better understanding of what’s happening around them.

To describe the dynamic structure and movement of the earth, students are asked to read Core Science 1 Chapter 7.1 and 7.3.  It’ll be reading aloud of the article, direct teaching, discussion of the chapter and completing of activities using data, remember and think questions. The students in groups then create a coloured scale diagram of the Earth showing the different regions beneath its surface on A4 paper. The students investigate, imagine and experiment  to explain the different directions the Earth rotate. This will involve the students to critically think, evaluate, explore, collaborate and create to show new learning.

To enhance the students’ learning outcomes through children’s literature,  it is fitting to include the many stories, myths and legends that revolve around Earth, the planets, Solar system and Sun from all over the  world. They will also describe the size, distances and movements of the Earth, other planets, moon and sun in the solar system. The stories will also explain the different seasons, layers of the Earth, night and day and major features of the Universe.  Aside from giving meaning and explanation to how the world-Earth is the way it is, it also shows how people think, value and understand in the past. This will also garner appreciation and value for the impressive progress this generation has accomplished. This will support multiculturalism, respect for other cultural beliefs, build vocabulary and value individual differences. The use of resources in the library will enable the teacher librarian to share her expertise and instructional role to help teach the students achieve a better learning outcome. This is possible  not only  through the collection, computers and new vocabulary words learned but Information Communication Technology  skills, research techniques,  meaningful experience, better understanding of age old values and the world around them. The teacher-librarian Foster (2002) underpins this with her statement ”using literature in teaching is a way  of connecting across the curriculum and creating powerful learning experience.”

Literature Circles can be very effective and helpful in enabling the teacher and teacher librarian in teaching the unit on Earth for it will involve reading, thinking, interaction, teamwork and discussion from the students. Pitton (2005) states that  “Literatures Circles have been identified as one means of providing a collaborative educational experience. ” Lamb (2007) says that the use of literatures circles is a “learner-centered approach that focuses on students’ responses to the literature they read.” Noe (2004) declares that literature circles are “reader response centered, not teacher and text, part of a balanced literacy program not the entire reading curriculum, groups formed by book choice not assigned by teacher-assigned groups formed solely by ability, structured for student independence, responsibility and ownership not unstructured, uncontrolled “talk time” without accountability, guided primarily by student insights and questions not guided primarily by teacher-or curriculum-based  questions, intended as a context in which to apply reading and writing skills not as a place to do skills work, flexible and fluid; never look the same twice nor tied to a prescriptive “recipe.”

To utilize Literature Circles, there are several websites that can guide and provide booklists and printable forms needed for this strategy in teaching and learning. Lamb (2007) claims that Noe ‘s Literature Circles Resource Center “is by far the best resource on Literature Circles.” This can be accessed through http://www.litcircles.org/. It is an authoritative, accurate and up to date font of information and  learning materials from primary to secondary. Lamb and Johnson (2007)  also provide an authoritative, succinct and current  information on Literature Circles which also recommends other websites that offer suggestions on related topics. One of the substantial and helpful websites is that of Candler’s, http://www.lauracandler.com/strategies/litcirclemodels.php. Another good one is Kemsley’s free educational website for teachers packed with resources, strategies, links  and printable forms for any topic of choice. http://www.abcteach.com/.

The Themed Literature Circles will be used in this lesson on the Earth Unit. The value of appreciation, understanding, conservation and protection of Earth and the solar system from destruction will be explored and discussed in each of the  selected books.  Following Noe’s (2004) guidelines on choosing a book, four books were chosen for their ”compelling content with action, suspense, dialogue, humour and controversy, realistic characters that we can come to know or so real that can walk with us and picture books with strong colourful illustrations that support the story.” For the purpose of understanding and valuing the structure of Earth, its relationship to others, the Universe, progress of time, theories and the like-4 graphic novels were chosen. They all present interesting and exciting tales about the Earth. Graphic novels are popular to secondary students especially Year 7,  easy and quick to read, appealing to the children’s visual and artistic literacies and in this instance meaningfully related to the Earth Unit. Twenty graphic novels are available in the library and in the brainstorming in class and secret ballots (as suggested by Noe (2009), four emerged as winners.

Literature Circle books chosen were:

  1. Faust, D. (2009) After Earth: living on a different planet , Rosen: New York. -This book poses a question of whether there is other life in the Solar System aside from Earth and how do we protect it from destruction.
  2. Gaff, J. (2003) Superman’s guide to the universe, DK Publishing: New York. The superhero takes you to a magnificent voyage around the planets and the Universe.
  3. Hampson, F. (2005) The red moon mystery, (Dan Dare: the pilot of the future), Titan Publishing Group: London -Dan Dare with his dependable team will face danger to investigate the red moon that penetrated the Universe and threatened Earth.
  4. Nelson, J. (2009) Collision course: asteroids and Earth, Rosen: New York. –What happens when other heavenly bodies like asteroids hit the Earth and how do we prepare for such?

There  will be four groups made up of seven members who signed up for the book of their choice (Candler 2002) each according to the different roles outlined by  Lamb and Johnson (2009) and Kemsley (2006) which are: Discussion Director (lists questions to discuss about the book), Summarizer (write a summary of the reading), Vocabulary Enricher (write new and significant words in the story), Travel-Tracer (track where action takes place and describe them in words and images), Connector (connect the book to the outside world), Illustrator(draw a picture related to what was read or something it reminded  or any element of the story) and Literary Luminary (choose a paragraph or sentence from the book that can be focused on because it’s interesting, powerful, funny, puzzling or important from the book). “

The teacher’s main role is to make sure everything runs smoothly according to schedule and each student has a book to read. Observation is also crucial to assuring that books are understood and students are doing their roles well.  As this is to enhance and support the Earth unit, it will not take the whole lesson each time the science class meets. A portion of the period will be allotted to reading and the bulk of it on discussions, research,  experiments and assessments. There will be follow ups, monitoring and weekly meetings  to make sure everybody reads, does the designated role and learns.  Zieger (2002), a fifth grade teacher who has used the Literature Circles for the fifth time, observes that the teacher as a facilitator might need to participate “to help the discussion stay on track.” Pitton (2005) adds that teachers “circulate to help groups work out their differences.” To manage the students’ time well, the book is divided into three sections to read each meeting, discuss and attend to their roles (Candler 2002). The weekly meetings in the presence of the teacher, are initiated by the students specifically the Discussion Director who supervises the group questions until all has spoken and completed the forms which are to be kept and recorded in their student portfolios and logged in their name in the  G-Drive under Science reading of their teacher’s folder  until the next reading selection (Zieger 2002).  

Pitton (2005) points out that since reading has diminished through the years as students grow older and find interest in other things. It’s important that they are motivated to read, share this with others, think critically beyond the words and images if they want to succeed in the future.

Zieger (2002) claims that with Literature Circles ” In addition to raising the level of student engagement, peer collaboration, and reading comprehension, it gives my students the opportunity to develop important time-management skills that will help them in future years.”

Pitton (2005), after employing Literature Circles in a nine week team teaching of middle level classroom and its effect on students’ interest in reading and interaction states that “individual survey results and subsequent analysis show that some students were more enthused about reading following the literature circles unit and some really enjoyed the collaborative process.”

Zieger (2002) declares that “this approach gives my students the opportunity to develop the skills they need to be successful readers. The students gain valuable experiences as readers as they play one of the five roles each week. They begin to internalize the roles and strategies for comprehension because they become so familiar with them. “

Pitton (2005) goes on to say that “the most exciting results from this study/unit were the actual work produced by the students. Journal reflections and final products reflected a high level of thinking and creativity. By placing the learning in their hands and allowing them to work collaboratively with their peers, students met the teachers’ expectations. Student interest in reading increased for some students when they were engaged in this preferred learning method and some students developed a greater comfort level about sharing their ideas and collaborating in their study of literature.”

Clearly from both studies and experiences given by these educators, Literature Circles prove to be beneficial to students if they were to be motivated to read, work collaborately with others, think critically and manage their time well, they will succeed in the 21st century.

Dialogic and picture books can be used for those who have limited vocabularies and are challenged to read. Blackburn (2001) states that ” picture books are attractive, short and generally a more approachable text than a novel for reluctant and less-able readers yet can challenge and stimulate the capable student.”  The class is usually grouped by age and not abilities. There will be some students or small group of learners who might need more attention, motivation and guidance. To address the needs of these learners a teaching strategy is required. Lane and Wright (2007) state that  ” reading aloud to children can be a very powerful way to increase their vocabulary, listening comprehension, syntactic development, and word-recognition skills.” Abromitis (2009) declares that ” reading aloud is an effective strategy to use at all ages because it exposes students to more sophisticated text than they could read independently, and allows the teacher the opportunity to show by example what fluent and expressive reading sounds like – all while engaging children with a story or information that increases their own motivation to read.”  Sasson (2011) states that “effective read aloud time is all about creating a positive reading experience and educators should model enthusiasm for books and reading.”

Reynolds (2009) adds that “part of the key to helping students read difficult text is to allow them to ‘hear’ difficult text. When I read aloud to my older students it is a wonderful motivational strategy for:

  • Teaching another how to read
  • Seeing a teacher as a reading role model
  • Expounding upon the various theories of reading
  • Giving a sense of identity and respect to the text, and
  • Encouraging the goal to become a lifetime reader. “

For the strategy to work the learners will be invited to have some time with their teacher or in collaboration with the teacher-librarian some reading time in the library or corner of the classroom for reading aloud and oral reading. The teacher-librarian came come up with a list of recommended books  in consultation with the teacher on the topic or theme learned in Science which is the Earth unit in this case.

For reading aloud stories related to the topic learned in science, picture books for older kids  will be used. Osborn (2001) points out that ” picture books are a great asset to reading and a useful tool for teachers.” The picture books selected in collaboration with the teacher librarian will help learners understand the topic with the help of images and words that might be difficult to comprehend at first. Difficult concepts can sometimes be easily known through pictures and diagrams.

Some of the recommended picture books for reading aloud and oral reading are:

  1. Hirst, R. and S. (2008). My place in space. Allen & Unwin: St.Leonards.-Is a good way to present the wonders of the         Universe through Henry and Rosie.
  2. Heine, T.(2009) Star seeker, Barefoot Ltd: Cambridge.- Offers a tour of the Solar System on a magical horse.
  3. Macdonald, M.(2011). Stink, the solar system hero (Stink Series #5), Candlewick Press: Cambridge.-This is a stand for the little heavenly bodies and  appreciation of the wonders of the Universe.
  4. Sweeney, J. (2000). Me and my place in the space, Random House : New York.- Answers simple questions about the Universe in a playful way by the narrator in a space suit who takes the readers on space tour to understand the Universe.
  5. Guo, T. (1990). Er-Lang and the suns: a tale from China (Mondo Folktales), Mondo Publishing: New York.-This is a story of a hero who saves his people from the seven suns and gives them night.

These might be picture books but all of them carry the theme of the Earth unit: valuing, appreciating, understanding, conserving and protecting Earth and the Universe from destruction.

Similar to the Literature Circle in a simpler scale, questions will be asked and discussed about the books. Roles will be given out, monitored, accomplished and kept in the reading portfolio, log and journal until the next reading assignment.

To further draw the learners of this group to enhance their  learning of the Earth unit an online book can be used as a springboard to spark their interest.  With the use of a computer and the Internet,  accessed the site:

Joanne Cole’s The magic school bus lost in the solar system. http://www.librarything.com/work/96314Ms Frizzle takes her class for a trip transforms the school bus into a spaceship and wonders around the planets, moon, stars and sun in the solar system.

For the accelerated and advanced  group of students who still have time  after reading the books and online sources assigned to them. They will be asked to do the creative and challenging Solar System Adventure  at http://www.eduplace.com/rdg/gen_act/advent/solar.html with the help of the teacher librarian they will be given time in the library to do this ICT activity that will allow them to write science fiction story about the Earth unit following the directions as set out in the website. This will be posted in the school’s G-Drive with their name and homeroom of their teacher’s folder under the science heading and in the blog scrollingalong.wordpress.com. They have an option to meet the challenge of the Galaxy Page at http://www.seds.org or An Inquirer’s Guide to Universe at http://www.fi.edu. For these activities both will test their knowledge of the Earth and the solar system, look for more answers and create a science fiction of their own and will be published if chosen in the school’s magazine.

At the end of the Earth unit the students will be told that there is an assessment task at http://earthmovesnmiller.wikispaces.com/ which will be done in groups of seven according to the sign ups on the board. The due date will be four weeks from now which gives them ample time to plan, organize, read, research and use the books they have read in the Literature Circles. With the help of the teacher librarian, they can ask for expert advice in presenting their work, booking the computers, borrowing the multimedia equipment needed and research materials for the assessment. There will be time allocated for assessment to help the students accomplish all the tasks assigned to them. The two part assessment will deal with fiction and nonfiction studies of the Earth unit. The two studies support and enhance learning and understanding of the unit. Both will be  using books and online sources to show that students have learned and achieved the outcomes expected.  Bauerlein (2009) states that “certain aspects of intelligence are best developed with a mixture of digital and non digital tools.”

III. Conclusion

Literary learning through children’s fiction in classrooms and library, the collaborative work of teacher and teacher librarian, well planned curriculum, incorporating print and non print sources,  technology and instructional guidance assist the students in enhancing learning outcomes. The Earth Unit study using children’s literature in the form of Literature Circles and Dialogic and Picture Words, along with technology have become more exciting, real and comprehensible. The learning experience they had in reading, time management and collaboration with others will equip them with what’s to come in the future.  

 

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THE VALUE AND MERIT OF GRAPHIC NOVELS IN CLASSROOMS AND LIBRARIES

Graphic novels have value and merit in teaching literature to Australian secondary students and including them to the library collection. Schwarz (2002) explains that they present substance, diversity, and innovative medium for literacy that recognize the importance of visuals. These novels magnetize young people, are valuable across the curriculum, and tender varied choices to conventional texts as well as other mass media.

A lot of young learners take pleasure in graphic novels because the genre differs dramatically from the books educators traditionally have encouraged them to read (Bucher and Manning 2004 ). For the young, it is a respite from the conventional linear way of reading plain words. Griffith (2010) adds that students’ choice for reading graphic novels depend on content and clarity of materials which were formerly complicated in length and language usage.

Children today are very different from the kind of students educators have been designed to teach. In their young lives, they have used up  most of their time around the Internet, computer games or programs, face book, blogs, mobile phones, iPods, iPhones, iPads, Wiis and other  digital gadgets and social networking. They look for print media that contain the same visual impact and pared-down writing style and contribute to their enthusiasm for visual rather than written literacy (Bucher and Manning 2004).

Literature for children of all ages has undergone a tremendous shift in recent times (Fitzsimmons, 2007). Many children find the written word unappealing that reading can be overwhelming. Ireland (2008) reasons that the sense of imagination has not been developed and that visualization is difficult because the story is not seen with pictures for they have not been read to at all. Pictures can provide meaning and clarity to readers. Graphic novels present pictures and words that relate appealing stories, remarkable ideas, fresh points of view, and interesting art work (Schwarz 2002) that can stimulate the mind.

The present generation who have access to more than double the available technology we have now since then, through their exposure, practice and interaction will deal with  information differently if not dramatically. Perry (2011) attests that time and experience change the brain that eventually will lead to changes in learning and development.  The influx of digital technology, media, modern social networking and visual images  inevitably brought in additional skills of thinking and development in education with an increasing emphasis on visual literacy (McLoughlin and Krakowski 2001). Schools must be able to adapt and accommodate to the changes and additional skills acquired to meet the needs of this present generation.

Snowball (2005) explains  that secondary students  have a lot of things going for them and surrounded by diverse and increasingly complex media that they have high entertainment expectations and visual activities that necessitate visual literacy. Griffith (2010) states that graphic novels combine pictures and words in making characters move through the story within chronological art panels that convey action and characterization and help create tone and mood. Ireland (2008) adds that graphic novels short in length, convey an illustrated tale at a quick pace, comparable to other forms of visual entertainment popular today.

Downey (2009) succinctly infers that graphic novels today are utilized by teachers to engage reluctant readers, reach out to visual learners, and illustrate social and cultural themes and topics. Thompson (2007) adds that coping students find graphic novels less difficult and frightening for the visual format offers the much needed support to help students appreciate the text, comprehend hard vocabulary words, and move the story line along.

Graphic novels aid in giving the students a boost in understanding, motivation, developing love for reading more of the genre as well as venturing out to the more challenging literature. Downey (2009) states that when Will Eisner, thought of in the comic world as the father of the graphic novel, invented the term “sequential art” to describe comic books, the implication was that “the perception of sequential art requires more complex cognitive skills than the reading of text alone.”

As the young are encouraged to read what appeals to them, graphic novels  fit in  every library and when suitable integrated in the curriculum after considerable study and scrutiny (Bucher and Manning 2004). Much care and prudence must be given to ensure that students receive maximum benefit from this genre as is usually done in all learning materials and advance their learning. Fitzsimmons (2007) observes that this will aid in understanding  how the young perceive, interpret and unravel the world around them that might bridge the generation gap. Downey (2009) points out that graphic novels when employed in any key learning area can bring media literacy into the curriculum  by examining the medium itself in many ways incorporate the cognitive and literary elements for better and deeper understanding of learning materials.

Graphic novels come in different types, including Gorman (2002) writes superheroes, fantasy, science fiction, historical, action/adventure, realistic fiction, manga (Japanese comics) and humour”. Fiction is predominant but graphic novels also consist of nonfiction that include biographies, and autobiographies, adaptations or spin offs and satire (Weiner 2002).

Some of the recent children’s literature on graphic novels are the following:

In 1986, Maus by Art Spiegelman was published and brought respectability  to graphic novels. Murray (2007) states that Maus: a survivors tale is an autobiographical story of the author’s father Vladek, a Polish Jew who survived the concentration camp in Auschwitz and his relationship with him. The story moves from the past to the present from Czestochowa to New York.  Spiegelman uses remarkable animalistic metaphors of Jews as mice, Nazis as cats, Poles as pigs, French as frogs and Americans as dogs.  Spilsbury (2007) states that animals were chosen because Nazis talked about other races as if they were animals rather than people. It also offers to deal with the suffering of survivors’ offsprings. Kannenberg (2008) declares that it deserves to receive acclaim including a Pullitzer  Prize in 1992. Studies on literature, history, human rights and sociology can be done with the help of this novel.

In 2002, Frank Miller with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley adapted Bob Kane’s Batman in The dark knight returns. Batman is shown getting out of retirement to make things right in Gotham city.  He wages vengeance against the criminals despite his weakened state and lies thrown at him.  Superman of old is shown as a public servant no higher than a minion sent after him. The villains, the Joker, Mutants, and Two-Face  are mad, merciless and violent. Gravett (2005) points out that Miller utilizes four-by-four grid to instil claustrophobia and an adrenaline pumping  pulse interrupted by full-page shots to maximise surprise.

Kannenberg (2008) declares that this fantastically told and beautifully drawn novel was the backbone of the renaissance in re-imagining traditional superheroes in darker grimmer light. Literary criticism, ethics social injustice and psychology studies can be dealt in this novel.

Tintin in Tibet (The Adventures of Tintin#20) by Herge published in 2008 was first printed in 1960. It’s a tale of  action, mystery and adventure of the voyage of Tintin with his friends  Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and faithful dog Snowy through the Himalayas in search of their Chinese friend Chang, whose plane crashed near Katmandu. Tintin and his companions with the help of the  monks and  Abominable Snowman complete their journey successfully. Kannenberg (2008) attests that this is the greatest of Herge’s stories closest to his own life at the time he was plagued by nightmares. The snow symbolises his loss and Chang represents his friend he later reunites with. The story teaches trust, willpower and kindness against all odds that can be inspiring to learners.

Nelson Mandela: the life of an African statesman, a graphic biography by Rob Shone and Neil Reed is a good read about human rights, justice and equality. It relates the moving biography of Nelson Mandela, who worked hard and suffered so much to speak for the rights of the oppressed Africans. Important information about historical past, figures and terms are added to enlighten learners about Africa. Quality paper, good illustration and proper language helped in making this novel appropriate for students.

There are good websites that can help in selecting and acquiring graphic novels in the classroom and library as recommended by Gorman (2002).

Steve Raiteri, a librarian and writer has a website that recommends novels for young adults.: http://my.voyager.net/~sraiteri/graphicnovels.htm

 

Clare Snowball from Alia has a good website about graphic novels and comics to entice teenagers to read:

http://www.alia.org.au/~csnow/research/resources.html

Drexel  College of Information Science and Technology, with major support from the College of Information at Florida State University has a website with links about graphic novels and resources for educators, kids and teens.

http://www.ipl.org/

Johanna Draper Carlson, a writer, reviewer, scholar and editor has a good website on comics and graphic novels, reviews and guides for teachers and students:

http://comicsworthreading.com/

Lee (2005), a librarian recommends some Australian websites:

Sealight Books

http://www.sealight.com.au/

info@sealight.com.au

Australian company dedicated to providing graphic novelsfor educational and public libraries. Brochures are available online with title reviews and recommended audience. Includes recommendations lists.

Comic Kingdom

http://www.comickingdom.com.au/

Australian Based Suppliers. See the section titled Books/TPBS/GNS in order to find the catalogue list for graphic novels.

Scholastic

http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=1399

This teaching resource website for teachers, librarians and parents is very helpful, substantial and innovative. It has articles, tips, sources, websites, blogs, recommended lists of books and printable activities for students.

Supanova

http://www.supanova.com.au/

Comic book and graphic novel convention information in Australia.

Dymocks

http://www.dymocks.com.au/

Dymocks bookstore in Australia – keeps small collections of graphic novel titles.

There  are also some interactive websites that can guide students, teachers and librarians  through their literacy and literary learning and teaching. One of them is: http://www.classicalcomics.com/

This a work of UK publishers to bring back the classics, especially Shakespeare’s plays to life. There is a free demo to try but the interactive motion comic comes with a price.

The Collin Compendium has online comic books through links to over 300 issues and stories that are legal and free. They include DC, Marvel Comics, Vertigo, Tokyopop, Oni Press, Wildstorm Comics, Dark Horse E-Comics, Boom! Studios, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Ecomics, Elfquest, Golden Age Public Domain Comics, Independents and Non-fiction on 911 and Action philosophers like Descartes, Jung and Socrates. Some might need Adobe Acrobat Reader, Flash plug in or CBR format. There are also links to buy, email to write to and archives to check previous issues :

http://www.lorencollins.net/freecomic/

Laycock (2005) presents selection criteria for choosing graphic novels by answering the following questions: 

  1. Do the illustrations provide a subtle commentary and move the story forward?
  2. Are the illustrations of high standard, both artistically and technically?
  3. Does the cover do justice to the material inside?
  4. Are the words and pictures interdependent?
  5. Does the book treat race, gender and social class positively?
  6. Is violence part of the nature of the story or is it gratuitous?
  7. Is the text legible or is it obscured by illustrative matter, making it difficult to read?

Graphic novels are here to stay. They are fascinating and kids love them. They present fast-paced exploits, evocative adversities and daring escapades. Haunting and unforgettable images offer stories contextual meaning and understanding. They talk about personal and social issues that plague the young like rites of passage, sexuality, isolation, trials, growth and triumphs. The amazing heroes of remarkable traits like Superman and Batman provide inspiration, critical thinking and pleasure. These can be presented in key learning areas from the characterization, theme, language, plots and setting of each story portrayed. Graphic novels that are adapted from the classics like Pride and Prejudice, Romeo and Juliet  that are otherwise hard to read become more accessible to the young and will bridge the generational gap.

The young are at home with the illustrated novel for its similarity to computer games and programs they have learned and mastered. The pictures and images sequentially shown from panel to panel are like moving pictures they see on TV or theatre. They have acquired the visual literacy skills to decipher and decode the images and text they see in graphic novels.  It also awakens appreciation for art and its various styles  that might lead to creativity and further reading.

Aside from improving reading or ICT skills, visual literacy is learned and mastered in reading graphic novels. On a daily basis, visual literacy is needed to reason, extract information from a map, chart or table and signify this in words. Visual thinking is integral to problem solving, as to explain things logically, through a diagram, calculate or show steps involved reaching a solution. Visual representation can play a role in communication, for instance using diagrammatic and visual  forms to communicate information, represent data and show relationships (McLoughlin and Krakowski 2001).

Butcher and Manning (2004) state that schools and libraries can benefit from the popularity of graphic novels by choosing appropriately for the collection and curriculum those that fit the age and content of their learners or clients.  Griffith (2010) adds that themes are essential and should be suitable to the students level of understanding. Snowball (2005) adds that graphic novels can be “stepping stones” or “bridge to other things”  like more challenging genre or just for the pleasure of reading more,  art appreciation and exploring roads not taken before.

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