ETL505 Assignment 2, Part C: Critical Reflection

This is my third year working as a Teacher-Librarian and in that time I have learned a lot about cataloguing and organising resources. Or at least I thought I had until I attempted ETL505. This subject has been a very steep learning curve however it has been one that has helped me to make more sense of tools I have been using (Clickview, SCIS and Library Management System AccessIt).
I have been using SCIS and AccessIt to catalogue library books and resources but there has been a lot about both resources that I have not understood. About a year ago, we changed Library Management Systems, moving from an older version of Oliver to AccessIt. I was frustrated at how poorly the material from Oliver was merged into AccessIt and how much had to be manually adjusted but learning about access points, interoperable metadata and crosswalks has helped me to understand why this was not a very smooth transition. I now have a greater appreciation of why this was so difficult for the AccessIt technicians to complete.
SCIS was a website I used to catalogue materials and if I needed an OPAC, I would always go to Trove. Getting to know the SCIS site, particularly the OPAC and the Subject Headings, has really helped me to understand the information contained in catalogue entries, and how controlled vocabularies have really made the system far more accessible and effective than it would otherwise be. The notions of authority control and controlled vocabularies are not something I had considered but the consistency they bring to the cataloguing process makes the search for information far more reliable.
Getting to know Dewey was quite difficult. As an avid library user, I have understood the Dewey basics for years but the rules and complexities were not something I was aware of until completing ETL505. I had to revisit the module notes and exercises repeatedly as well as constantly experiment with the website, trying to find ways to work things out.
We have recently implemented Clickview in our school. Many programs that our staff have requested from the exchange (a huge range of previously recorded TV programs available for downloading to our own school database) have not been catalogued beyond titles and screening dates. Learning about subject headings and being able to use SCIS to look them up will make the records we create for these programs far more accurate and consistent with the terms used in the rest of our library catalogue.
I am under no illusions that I now have adequate skills to do independent cataloguing. However, completing this subject has given me a greater awareness of the importance of ensuring our cataloguing is consistent with existing systems. I am grateful for what I have learnt in the hours experimenting with RDA, SCIS and Dewey as it has given me reference points to go to for future cataloguing issues and questions.
The organization of information and resources in school libraries will continue to improve as the supporting organisations like SCIS continue to develop, focusing particularly on user needs and the language they use, ensuring the consistency and relevance of the information they include in their catalogue records. My job as a teacher librarian, is to ensure this consistency across our whole school collection so that our students can have confidence in the value and relevance of the information we make available to them.

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ETL507 Final Reflection

ETL507 Reflective Portfolio
HL 507 PDF

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ETL402 Assignment 2 Reflective Blog

Whilst the phrase ‘literary learning’ is not common in academic literature, the concept of utilising fiction to enhance the learning process is not new. This is a technique that teachers have been using for a long time. When using this practice, it is important for teachers to assess the works of fiction for historical integrity before advising students to include them in their studies. It is possible students may receive misinformation from texts so the selection process needs to be comprehensive to ensure the information is consistent with the content being taught.

Studying this subject and writing this assignment has highlighted how complex the evaluation process is and how limited the choice of reliable texts may be. Part of the role of Teacher Librarian is to provide appropriate resources to support staff in their implementation of the curriculum documents. The new priority area of ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander/Indigenous people’s histories and cultures’ has certainly motivated publishers to increase their range in this area but there is a distinct shortage of chapter books for this topic. Picture books are appearing to satisfy this demand, but chapter books are not so common. It has been difficult to find literature that has been exclusively about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island life prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

There are a number of advantages in including fiction in the curriculum that I had not been aware of. Firstly, student familiarity with the narrative structure contributes to the ease with which the students read it (Negrete & Lartigue, 2004). Incorporating fiction within units of work has the potential to increase the learning effectiveness of the unit (Negrete & Lartigue, 2004). It increases the likelihood that students see the perspective of a minority viewpoint (children, women, the socially and financially challenged) as fictitious narrator comes from all walks of life, contrasting with the patriarchal presentation of history textbooks.  This gives them the opportunity to explore a different viewpoint (Turk, Klein & Dickstein, 2007) to what has traditionally been presented.

Narrative fiction also has the benefit of relational processing where the story details are processed together, rather than separately as for non-fiction texts (Marsh & Fazio, 2007). This enhances a student’s ability to remember events in sequence and to understand the context. Narrative texts also include incidences of ‘ordinary, day to day’ events, allowing students an insight into how people lived at the time. These details may not be available in text books.

Whilst literacy learning clearly has a place in the curriculum, it needs to be implemented carefully to ensure a student’s learning experiences are not compromised by confusing information. Carefully selected fiction texts can really enhance the learning experience, complementing the factual information students are given. They can help students to understand the context, develop affinity with the characters, identify the pivotal events and see how certain events influenced others. Teacher librarians can support staff and students by directing them to appropriate fiction that will support their learning.

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Mod 2 Blog – what I have learnt and how I could apply it

Write a 300 word post outlining 3 new things I have learnt and how I might apply this learning to the school library…

  1. One thing I have learnt in this module is about WorldCat and how to use it. This could be particularly good at school because students sometimes ask for titles that we do not stock in the school library but it would help me to let the students know where the book is available locally for them to borrow.
  2. Post-modernism is an area that has been a little hard to understand for students and some staff. The resources in the post-modern section of the module gives me references to direct people to and also helps to demonstrate how to analyse a post-modern picture book and what post-modern elements are included in that particular text. Learning about this also helps me to direct senior students when they come in looking for a post-modern text for their extension English courses.
  3. Learning about the different children’s book awards from around the world and how they are judged gives you more information to consider when you are thinking about adding a book to the collection and helps you to find books that are particularly relevant or helpful for certain areas.
  4. And one more…Steampunk. This has been an area I have not understood so it was really good to get to know more about the term, how it originated and the elements that contribute to that particular genre. I think student awareness of this genre is limited so it would good to create a stronger awareness and perhaps capture the attention of some of our adolescent readers who are not particularly enthralled by the traditional books in the collection.
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Children’s Literature – how to increase knowledge

There are many things I could do to increase my knowledge children’s literature.

These include:

Visit review sites / read reviews in journals, ask students what they like to read,  talk to booksellers, look at lists / online lists, talk to other teachers and librarians, read the books in my library and in the local public library, browse book catalogues…

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Response to Zipe

Module 1 pt2 Blog Entry

Zipes’ comment seems to be right – just based on my readings and personal experiences. Sustained reading is not a part of every readers’ experience and this is something we need to consider when we are teaching reading strategies. Many children only read what they see on computer screens. And unfortunately they do not have strategies beyond cutting and pasting for using this information. I truly believe that sustained reading is beneficial for all children but, regardless of what I believe, there are many children who will never see reading in that way. And our job is to teach them to manage information in a way that works for them. When we are actively teaching ‘reading’, we need to do so in a range of modes and technologies. We need to help them find the meaning in all sorts of texts and to think critically about what they are reading. As a book lover and a returned student, I find it hard reading off computers so there are skills that can be taught to make it a more meaningful experience. Furthermore, our students need opportunities to experience a range of text types, rather than just read formulaic series books.

The implications for teacher librarians are significant – whilst their class teachers may well be the teachers who teach them to ‘read’ per se, we have a great opportunity to broaden their skills and experiences by ensuring they are exposed to a wide range of genres / modes and the opportunities to develop skills that will ensure ‘reading’ in any form is an experience that they can gain maximum benefit from.

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Children’s literature – key elements

The definitions of children’s literature are varied and broad.  They do seem to have a common element: the literature  must be written in a way that children can read and understand.  While much of what we would classify as children’s literature is written with the intention of entertaining children, it is not necessarily a key element.  If children can read, understand and enjoy it, then it surely qualifies as children’s literature.  Obviously a lot of children’s literature is written specifically for children, is developmentally appropriate for children, and is intended to develop their understanding of the world.  And that’s good. But many children can also read and understand things not targeted at them and still benefit from it so a concise and definitive way of defining children’s literature does not seem particularly worthwhile.

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