Inquiry Blog Post #2: Developing ICT Skills and Pedagogy

There are so many different ways that we, as educators and learners, can keep informed about new teaching practices, strategies, tools, and resources.  To be honest, I think that most teachers are always looking for more ideas to use in the classroom. With the Internet, we have so many endless connections and opportunities to learn, it can honestly be a bit overwhelming!

Image by Howard Rheingold via Wikimedia Commons.

I think the biggest thing is developing your own Personal Learning Network. Below are two youTube videos I came across discussing PLNs and Educators.

The first one (below) is by Kelsey Wilkinson, a student, and is called Importance of a PLN in Education.  In it, Wilkinson (2010) outlines the importance of developing an Online Personal Network so that you can learn collaboratively with others and share your own ideas. She emphasizes how we can use online tools such as twitter, blogs, wikispaces, and podcasts to become networked teachers by connecting not only with other teachers, but parents and students (Wilkinson, 2010). She outlines what Twitter, blogs, wikispaces, and podcasts are, describes how they can be used, and highlights their benefits (Wilkinson, 2010).

 

The second podcast (below) is by Skip Via (2010) and is called Personal Learning Networks for Educators.  In it, he describes how having a PLN with social networking tools allows you to create a network of colleagues and mentors, who can then provide you with help when you need it, provide for your own professional development, and help others (Skip Via, 2010).  He explains that PLNs can look a number of different ways, depending on how you create them (Skip Via, 2010).  Some elements of his PLN include ways to find answers (i.e. youTube, Wikipedia, Atomic Learning), reading blogs/news to keep up with developments (i.e. Google Reader, Instapaper, Diigo for social bookmarking, and Evernote to aggregate images, videos, and text), publishing and sharing his own works (i.e. flickr, youTube, PBWorks, WordPress), communicating (i.e. email, Skype, and Google Wave), collaborating (i.e. Diigo and other social bookmarking sites, Google Wave, IlluminateLive, PBWorks, Wikis), and following colleagues (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) (Skip Via, 2010).  He then outlines the importance of combining resources into only a few applications (i.e. HootSuite for Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, Google Mail for email and chats/messaging, Google Reader for blogs and newsfeeds, Diigo and Evernote for capturing and annotating resources he wants to keep) (Skip Via).  He then cautions that a PLN is only as good as the people you have in it, and suggests looking for colleagues in one’s field, seeing who they follow, and becoming an active participant (Skip Via, 2010). Please bear in mind that some of his PLN elements no longer exist (i.e. Google Wave), but the core of his message is very relevant (i.e. reading blogs/news to keep up with developments, publishing and sharing works, etc.).

Thus, if I want to continue my learning and growth, I need to make sure I have set up my own, unique personal learning network.  From the above youTube videos, the first thing I will have to do is start being more active in my participation on networking programs, such as Twitter and Facebook.  I need to seek out colleagues who are active, innovative, and who also share ideas/strategies they have learned from others. By “following” some colleagues, they will lead me to “follow” others and so on until my network has grown and transformed. The caution will be in making sure I do not get overwhelmed with all the people I am following.

There are, clearly, many ways to stay connected with others. Below, I have outlined several ways that I have come across, during my inquiry, to stay connected and informed using the Internet. By the way, this is my first time trying Piktochart and it was super easy and fun to use!  I loved all the templates and images/icons you could select from.

InternetConnected

Image by by Jon Tait (@teamtait) via Mark Anderson at ICTEvangelist.

 

Because there are so many ways that we can use the Internet to stay connected and informed, I think, to begin, I will narrow in on a few areas and expand as I get comfortable building my PLN. I am already fairly comfortable using search engines and online databases to find out information and get ideas informally through searches.  The areas I would first like to focus on is to more effectively use Twitter, Facebook, my Blog, and Pinterest. Because of this course, I now have a Twitter account (wahoo).  I had always been skeptical about Twitter, largely because I didn’t know exactly what it was about (and how one can use it effectively). However, even from just following a few different people, I am quickly seeing how many ideas one can get from it! As Olaf Elch writes, “I have found more resources and got more useful advice for professional development in 3 months on Twitter than in the previous 5 years without it. I’ll go further. The more I use it, the more useful it gets” (via Mark Anderson, 2011). I also came across “10 Ways Teachers can use Twitter for Professional Development,” which emphasizes the importance of creating a strong, professional profile, knowing who to follow, using hashtags and twitter tools, and sharing what you read.  The author provides great links to lists and tutorials for you to refer to on your Twitter journey.

In regard to Facebook, I would like to use my local union’s Facebook members page more and would benefit from joining groups that highlight new ideas in education. The Educational Technology and Mobile Learning site has a great list of 14 different Facebook groups to check out here.

In the context of blogging, I have done some personal blogging in the past (more related to my family as opposed to work).  However, doing a blog for this course (and a blog for LLED 462) has inspired me to keep going.  I really enjoy the process of writing a blog and sharing ideas and would like to continue this journey even after this course ends.

As for Pinterest, I do have a Pinterest account, but I haven’t actually started pinning anything.  There are so many amazing resources on Pinterest that I would like to start collecting, organizing, and sharing.  Again, it is important to find the right people to “follow.”

In addition to Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, and Pinterest, I would like to explore some social bookmarking and content curation sites, such as Diigo and Evernote.  I really haven’t spent much time exploring them, but as I delve more deeply into creating my own PLN, I will need to start organizing and accessing my resources and contacts better (especially as I continue to come across interesting blogs and websites, such as Mark Anderson’s blog, which I discovered on this inquiry project).  I would also like to spend more time exploring podcasts, webinars and MOOCs, as I really haven’t spent a lot of time with them thus far in my learning. Edutopia even provides a great list of webinars and MOOCs here and a list of podcasts here. I’d also love to spend more time utilizing our very own BCTLA webinars and online professional learning sessions here.

Ultimately, however, I think I need to block in a specific amount of time (perhaps an hour a week to start with) to dedicate towards networking and learning online.  It can be easy to go to both extremes (either neglecting it or spending too much time on it).  If I dedicate a specific amount of time per week, then I will ensure I continue my learning without burning myself out.

Shifting gears, below are possible ways to stay connected and informed in person.

InPersonConnected (Conflict Copy)

Although our world has opened up exponentially with the Internet, it is important to stay in contact with our in-person colleagues who also offer much learning and mentorship. Our District has several lead teachers (i.e. Technology Lead Teacher, Math Lead Teacher, Literacy Teachers, etc.) who can provide amazing insight, ideas, and strategies to implement in one’s teaching.  They are often available to come in and work with you in your classroom and many also offer workshops or book clubs after school periodically throughout the year. I should definitely make better use of their expertise.

We also have specialist associations in our district, such as the Library Specialist Association.  I know in the past I have attended some of our meetings, but they have started dwindling the past few years.  I should really try and reignite this, as I found the time we met (even if it was once a month) quite productive and interesting.  It is amazing how much a small group of people can share in a short period of time.

There are also many other ways to continue to connect and learn locally, such as in staff and curriculum meetings, through lunch room chats, and in collaborative planning. Many of these are simple, every day activities, but they all contribute to staying connected and informed.

Thus, I have many future avenues to stay connected and informed, both in person and online. The expertise of others is rich and spread throughout the world.  By building my own PLN, I can better access their ideas and knowledge so that I can implement it in my own teaching and learning.

References

Anderson, Mark. (2012). Teachers use Twitter as their preferred CPD tool. ICT Evangelist. Retrieved from http://ictevangelist.com/teachers-use-twitter-as-their-preferred-cpd-tool/

BC Teacher Librarians’ Association. (2015). The BCTLA Professional Development. Retrieved from https://www.bctf.ca/bctla/info/pro-dev.html

EdTech Team. (n.d.). 10 Ways Teachers can use Twitter for Professional Development. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/10/twitter-for-professional-development.html

EdTech Team. (n.d.). The 13 must know professional development websites for teachers. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/07/the-13-must-know-professional.html

EdTech Team. (n.d.) 14 Great Facebook Groups Every Teacher Should Know About. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/11/14-great-facebook-groups-every-teacher.html

EdTech Team. (n.d.) Top 8 web tools for teacher’s professional development. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/07/top-8-web-tools-for-teachers.html

Leoni, Elana. (2013). Ten tips for becoming a connected educator. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/10-tips-become-connected-educator-elana-leoni

Oxnevad, Susan. (2013). [Why Blog? Wordle image]. Retrieved from http://d97cooltools.blogspot.ca/2013/03/why-blog.html#.Vhb7lhFVikp

Parkinson, L. (2013). Why Twitter is essential for every teacher. Mr. P’s ICT Blog. Retrieved from http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.ca/2013/04/why-twitter-is-essential-for-every.html

Ray, Betty. (2015). Best Education Podcasts. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/best-education-podcasts-betty-ray

Rheingold, Howard. (2013). [Image of How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PLN.png 

Tait, Jon. (2012). [Infographic of To Tweet Or Not To Tweet]. Retrieved from http://www.edutait.co.uk/to-tweet-or-not-to-tweet/

Unknown Author. (2015). Weekly Update: Educational Webinars, Unconferences, Conferences, and MOOCs. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/events

Vaswani, Praveen. (2015). [Why Blog? Wordle Image]. Retrieved from http://www.dattamsha.com/2015/07/working-blogging-for-collabera/

Via, Skip. (2010). Personal Learning Networks for Educators. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6WVEFE-oZA

Wilkinson, Kelsey. (2010). Importance of a PLN in Education. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9eqkWbjbbE

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Inquiry Project Blog Post #1: Fostering Reading Cultures in Schools

How Do I Currently Foster a Reading Culture?

There are so many ways that we foster a reading culture in our schools.  Below, in my first ever PowToon video, are some of the ways that I currently do so.  Please note that when I tried embedding it with the html code that it automatically changed to a hyperlink (it requires a plugin which my version of WordPress does not allow).

http://www.powtoon.com/embed/f7tQyXLpHgw/

 

What Could I Do in the Future?

Even though I already do a lot to foster a reading culture in my school, there is always more ideas and new, innovative ways to inspire and motivate students.

An event I haven’t yet done, but have seen done in my School District is an event called Bookworms and Dragon’s Breath.  It’s an event that piggybacks off of our Battle of the Books competition by using the same books.  In Bookworms and Dragon’s Breath, the students in Grades 3-7 who want to participate create multi-age teams.  The catch?  They need kids from each of the three grade groupings (3/4, 5, and 6/7) and they need at least two adults (teachers, parents, staff members, etc.). The kids can read any of the books regardless of the age level (so if a grade 3 student wanted to read a book from the grade 6/7 grouping, s/he could). Plus, they can read as many or as few as they want.  The adults have their own books to choose from.  The teams meet weekly and have to come up with team cheers, team costumes/themes, and team banners. On the event night, they come together for a potluck, all dressed up and ready to go. There are points awarded for costume, theme, banner, song, and spirit.  They answer questions as a team, and the questions are quite interactive and fun (i.e. part of the question may involve a taste test or a song).  I’ve attended one and the participants all have a blast, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to do it yet!

I am also taking LLED 462 and we were just learning about cultivating life-long reading habits.  As part of the readings/resources, we read a variety of articles and viewed a youTube video by Stephen Krashen called “The Power of Reading,” which you can view/read below. I will warn you that the video is quite long (almost an hour), but it is an interesting watch (I will give you a brief summary below as I am assuming you may not have time to watch it right now).

 

The articles we read:

Kelley, S., & Miller, D. (2013) Reading in the wild: The book whisper’s keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.88-128.

Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading an daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming?CMP=twt_gu

Institute of Education, University of London. (2013, September 11). Retrieved from http://www.ioe.ac.uk/newsEvents/89938.html

As a gist (since I imagine you will not have time to read all the articles and watch the video in its entity), the articles/video discuss the extreme importance in reading for pleasure and in free voluntary reading, which, in essence, is allowing children to read whatever they want because they want to.  It has been found that children who read for pleasure do significantly better at school than children who do not, which includes the areas of math, vocabulary, grammatical construction, spelling, writing, and knowledge about the world (Institute of Education, University of London, 2013; Krashen, 2012).

In Kelley & Miller’s book, they discuss the importance of building reading communities in order to help readers develop connections with other readers, increase how much children read, challenge readers to think more critically, increase reader enjoyment and appreciation, and help readers share ideas (Kelley & Miller, 2013). They discuss the importance of building reading communities by modelling/ promoting/ sharing reading (to show that we value reading), educating parents about the importance of reading (and free voluntary reading), and increasing access to books (Kelley & Miller, 2013). Kelley & Miller (2013) suggest providing book recommendations and home reading tips in newsletters and on the school website, “I am currently reading” signs on doors and lockers, morning announcement book recommendations, partnering with the public library, and loaning classroom library books to parents and siblings. Some other creative ideas by Kelley & Miller (2013) that I would like to try out include:

 

Reading Graffiti

Kelley & Miller (2013) describe how they put up black butcher paper along
one wall of their classroom and invite students to share any lines from their favorite books.  It becomes a focal point and inspires students to read quotes, ask about titles/books, and encourages reading (Kelley & Miller, 2013). I could even see potential in doing this in the hallways to make it more school-wide.

 

Book Commercials

Book commercials are short testimonials about books, lasting about 5 minutes as a quick end-of-the-day or transitional activity (Kelley & Miller, 2013). The books are recorded and compiled on a list displayed in the classroom. Again, I could see this being used school-wide by doing it over the announcements or at an assembly.

Image by Donalyn Miller via Instagram.

Reading Doors

Kelley & Miller (2013) describe how Reading Doors can be used to start of the year by having staff members showcase what they like to read on their doors by making a collage or display of book jackets and screen shots of things they like reading. It helps to kick off the year by discussing and sharing texts and can later be taken over by students showcasing their likes/interests (Kelley & Miller, 2013). I think this would be a fantastic way to start the year and hope to get this going in 2016.

 

 

In addition to the above ideas, I came across some other ideas during my inquiry.  Since I am really keen on learning different ways to incorporate technology in my teaching, I thought I would look up different ways to use technology to help foster a reading culture.  Below are some ideas I discovered during my search (and from my reading review).

Book Trailers

I first came across the idea of Book Trailers in Beth Holland’s (2013) Projects to Engage Middle School Readers. She discusses how students can create book trailers using iMovie or Animoto.  It seems like an excellent way to get kids excited about stories while also incorporating persuasive writing, digital literacy, and seeing what they know about the story’s plot, setting, theme and main characters. During my inquiry, I also came across Bill Bass’s 2013 article called “From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Elementary Book Trailer Project” and Barbara DeSantis’s “Making Book Trailers with Animoto.”  These articles further demonstrate how to make book trailers with students.  Bass outlines a 14 day process using Photo Story while DeSantis explains the 5 steps she used with her class.  I could potentially see kids making these in the library and having them highlighted at weekly school assemblies to promote reading.

 

Postersposter_from_postermywall

Similar to Book Trailers, I came across the idea of making Book Recommendation Posters that could be posted on our library website and printed off and put up in the hallways or in the library.  There are so many programs out there that one could use.  I tried making one with PosteryMyWall.  It was a free program that had numerous templates that students could choose from.  It was quick and easy to use.

Library Website

During my inquiry, I came across David Loertscher’s 2008 article “Flip This Library.” I had read it this past summer, but rereading it reminded me how important it is to have an online presence in your learning commons.  He states, “In the virtual world, the learning commons is both a giant, ongoing conversation and a warehouse of digital materials – from ebooks to databases to student-generated content – all available 24/7 year-round. Thanks to social-networking software, information can flow not just from teachers to learners but in multiple directions: among students, from students to classroom teachers, from teacher-librarians to classroom teachers and students” (Loertscher, 2008, p. 47). Many other sites and blog posts reiterated this message (Johnson, 2014; Kirkland; Naslund, 2008). As a teacher-librarian, then, I can use the website to help foster the reading culture by making it more interactive and accessible to staff, students, and families. Some of the elements that I could include on the website are:

  • Space for parents, teachers, and students
  • Access to online databases and the OPAC
  • An area for book requests
  • Links to useful sites, games, and learning tools
  • Surveys and polls
  • Twitter updates
  • A Blog space for students to recommend books and other resources (and to highlight other important events or ideas)
  • Hosting online book clubs

Virtual Author Visits

Another idea that I got during my inquiry was from Doug Johnson’s “Top 10 ways to use technology to promote reading” article.  One of his tips includes doing virtual author visits, which has you bring an author into your school virtually using different video conferencing programs, such as Skype or Google Hangouts. He includes a link to Skype an Author Network which helps teachers connect with authors. I think it would be a fantastic way to get students excited about reading.

These are just some of the neat ways that we could foster a reading culture in our schools.  I’m excited to read about what others discovered in their inquiry.

References:

Bass, Bill.  (2013). From Inspiration to Red Carpet: Elementary Book Trailer Project. Edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-elementary-book-trailer-bill-bass

DeSantis, Barbara. (2015). Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Rodrick Rules. youTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_dqW8chyEM

DeSantis, Barbara. (2013). Making Book Trailers with Animoto. Animoto Blog. Retrieved from https://animoto.com/blog/education/book-trailer-videos/

Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading an daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming?CMP=twt_gu

Holland, Beth. (2013). Projects to Engage Middle School Readers. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/projects-engage-middle-school-readers-beth-holland

Institute of Education, University of London. (2013, September 11). Retrieved from http://www.ioe.ac.uk/newsEvents/89938.html

Johnson, Doug. (2014). Top 10 ways to use technology to promote reading. Blue Skunk Blog. Retrieved from http://doug-johnson.squarespace.com/blue-skunk-blog/2014/2/10/top-10-ways-to-use-technology-to-promote-reading.html

Kelley, S., & Miller, D. (2013) Reading in the wild: The book whisper’s keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. p.88-128

Kirkland, Anita Brooks. School Library Websites: The Brick and Mortar of the Virtual Library Space. Retrieved from http://www.bythebrooks.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/TMC2012_Paper_ABK.pdf

Krashen, Stephen. (2012). The power of reading. The COE lecture series. University of Georgia. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSW7gmvDLag

Loertscher, David. (2008). Flip This Library: School libraries need a revolution, not evolution. School Library Journal, 46-48.

Miller, Donalyn. (2015). [Untitled image of a Reading Door]. Retrieved from https://instagram.com/p/NtVKmgv8WT/

Naslund, Jo-Anne. (2008). Towards School Library 2.0: An Introduction to Social Software Tools for Teacher Librarians. School Libraries Worldwide, 14(2), 55-67. Retrieved from https://circle.ubc.ca/bitstream/handle/2429/30259/Naslund_J_and_Giustini_D_Towards_School_Library_2%200.pdf?sequence=1

Renwick, Matt. (2014). [Untitled image of a Reading Graffiti Wall]. Retrieved from http://readingbyexample.com/tag/reading-graffiti-board/

 

 

 

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Reading Review Blog Post #3: Research Synopsis

When I first started on this inquiry project, I was not sure where I wanted to go and what I wanted to learn.  I had an abundance of options stemming from my interests and foreseeable opportunities and issues.  I wanted to make sure that whatever I focused on I would be able to apply not only to my current teaching situation (as a teacher librarian and Grade One teacher) but also to potential positions in the future (since I am on the never-ending layoff/recall loop).  Not only that, but I wanted to be able to apply it right away and be able to share ideas/strategies with colleagues (don’t we get most of our most fabulous ideas from each other?).  Bearing that in mind, I narrowed my bubble.us brainstorm down into a number of possible keyword options which eventually led me down the path to my current research: using technology to motivate students in order to improve their (traditional) literacy skills (reading and writing).

As I mentioned in my previous post, my initial research venture was a bit overwhelming. I had started with the course reading suggestions, moved on to the UBC library website, and forayed into Google, but in the process, got myself confused as to what I was even trying to learn!  Once I refocused on my original goal (ways of using technology to improve and motivate students’ literacy skills) and decided upon what I wanted to learn (a variety of techniques/tools as opposed to focusing on one specific method, such as digital storytelling), I was better able to hone in on more appropriate articles, posts, and videos.

Image by nicubunu acquired from OCAL.

It really emphasized how overpowering the Internet can be (since it is inundated with information, it is easy to get lost in your research, which is something to remember when working with students).

In the end, I narrowed down my research to five articles and one video (which is directly connected to one of the articles).  Each of the five articles provides unique ways of using technology to motivate students and improve their literacy skills. There were definitely many other articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. that I could have used, but I chose the ones that I felt were easy to understand, quick to get to the point, and immediately useful.  I cannot tell you how many dry, longwinded studies I came across (particularly on e-books!), so it took a bit of time to find appropriate entries that met my needs. Although I narrowed my specific research to five articles, I did bookmark a few additional ones for future reference (some of which were related directly to an article I had focused on, such as using Inanimate Alice, or were additional ideas to use, such as other ways of using technology by Hani Morgan).

The article that played a primary role in focusing my research was Beth Holland’s Projects to Engage Middle School Readers.  I came across her article while I was browsing through Edutopia’s website (which had been recently recommended to me by a colleague). I liked that her article gave me simple, concrete ways to use technology in order to motivate students and improve their literacy skills. It was like a light bulb went off – this is exactly what I was looking for. In her article, Holland (2013) describes how she “ruined at least two amazing literary works by assigning horrifically dull reading projects.”  I could not help but chuckle at her Charlie Brown clip where Lucy counts every single word of her writing project – we all know students who begrudgingly write their assignments to the exact word counts.  Rather, Holland suggests how to meet literacy objectives through more creative, engaging, and motivating means (as opposed to essays or book reports), by having students make book trailers, podcasts, choose your own adventure books, illustrated character analyses, and augmented reality author studies using technology.  For each project, she suggests what program to use, provides samples, and links it directly to literacy learning.  Book trailers, for example, built with iMovie or Animoto “ensure that students have a firm grasp on the story’s plot, setting, theme, and main characters, but they also provide an opportunity to address persuasive writing as well as digital literacy concepts like copyright and publishing” (Holland, 2013). See one of the samples below:

I really enjoyed seeing specific samples and having specific technology suggested for implementation so that I would not have to spend hours finding just the right program.  This helped focus my topic, because I knew right away that I wanted to find out more ways to use technology to motivate and improve students’ literacy learning.

With that in mind, I continued to browse Edutopia’s website and came across Laura Fleming’s (2011) article, “A New Model of Storytelling: Transmedia” where she wrote, “Over the years, I have seen many children who struggle with reading because of lack of engagement with traditional books and stories…After some experimenting within my classes, I found a way to successfully engage and capture the attention of all of my students. As a result of this, a new model of storytelling emerged for me: Transmedia.”  I had never (perhaps embarrassingly) heard of the term, transmedia storytelling, before, but since it, according to Fleming, had such a powerful effect on her students, I was curious to discover more. This, in turn, led me to her journal article called “Expanding Learning Opportunities with Transmedia Practices: Inanimate Alice as an Exemplar.”  Although her article is probably a bit drier in reading than my other entries, I found it very fascinating. She describes how transmedia storytelling uses multiple platforms (both virtual and physical), various entry points of learning, integrated technology, real-life experiences, collaboration, and constructivist and connectivist teachings to engage and motivate students (even reluctant learners), focusing on Inanimate Alice as an example.  I had never heard of Inanimate Alice, but it sounded really unique in that it involved games, puzzles, sounds, and visuals to enhance the storyline and required direct participation from the reader. Reading about Fleming’s experience with Inanimate Alice got me excited and I found a few more articles on it, including Amanda Hovious’s 2014 article entitled “Inanimate Alice: ‘Born Digital’” and Kate Story’s 2011 article “Who the heck is Alice?”  Their articles helped paint a better picture of the digital novel and how to use it as a teacher or teacher-librarian. Hovious states, “In order for students to comprehend the story, they must go beyond reading words on screen – they must also make meaning out of images, sounds, and actions” (Hovious, 2014, p. 43). She compares reading Inanimate Alice to a role-playing game, as readers need to do more than just read – they have to explore Alice’s world. Inanimate Alice is separated into different episodes which focus on Alice at different times in her life and which end at very teachable times. As Story points
out, “This fascinating tale is unfinished and undecided and that is where our students stumble upon the treasure…[where we] teach students to apply critical and creative literacy skills to deconstruct and recreate digital fiction” (Story, 2011, p. 6). It got me so curious and excited that I went to Inanimate Alice’s website and viewed the first episode.  It is truly compelling and quite the experience (a bit scary even!), such that I highly recommend everyone visits the site to at least get a better understanding of the digital novel and its potential for learning. I can definitely see how transmedia storytelling can captivate and engage even reluctant readers.

After exploring Inanimate Alice, I further researched transmedia storytelling (there
are a wealth of links and ideas on it), which brought me to Patrick Carman’s TEDx talk and article, where he depicted his own use of transmedia to hook readers. I have heard of his books (and our library has many), but I had never really taken the time to explore what exactly they are (or how they were different).  This is such a guffaw on my part once I realized what they were! It further emphasizes the importance of truly knowing your collection (not just the titles, but what they are actually about!). His books are definitely quite different from Inanimate Alice, but the article and his video again highlighted the importance of using technology (in his case movies) to motivate students (in his case, to read). After exploring Inanimate Alice, however, I see potential in taking his books further for additional literacy learning (aside from just hooking kids to read) and can see really having fun using his books (and videos) in different ways.

With reading in mind, I came across Hani Morgan’s article entitled “Multimodal Children’s E-Books Help Young Learners in Reading.” I had already seen reading highlighted through transmedia storytelling (Inanimate Alice) and interactive texts (Patrick Carman), but I also wanted to find something that would apply to my younger students as well as my older students. Morgan’s article focused on multimodal e-books (also known as CD ROM storybooks, online storybooks, talking books, or e-book apps), which can be used for all ages, including young readers, as they provide guidance through additional text tools (i.e. visual displays of words, repeated text, animation, and sound). These tools help struggling readers understand the meaning of the story. However, Morgan explains that these tools can also be distracting to students if they aren’t designed properly, and students can become too dependent on them. Thus, he emphasizes how important it is that teachers use e-books carefully and make appropriate e-book selections. I found this article particularly useful as my current library is lacking in e-books, so having a basis for choosing them would be beneficial.

Lastly, I focused on digital storytelling as my final research article. Yuan and Bakian-Aaker’s article highlighted how to use digital storytelling with a 2nd grade classroom in order to help motivate students and improve their literacy skills.  I liked that the authors provided a step-by-step guide, an example, and links to free tutorials and resources, so that I could easily apply it to my classroom or library almost immediately.

I have thus ended my research and inquiry experience.  In the end, I had several different technology tools, lessons, and ideas that I could use almost immediately with my library classes in order to help motivate students and improve their literacy skills.  I have a repertoire of ways to motivate students to read (transmedia storytelling, interactive texts, multimodal e-books) and to write or think critically about their reading (digital storytelling, book trailers, podcasts, choose your own adventure books, illustrated character analyses, augmented reality author studies, and transmedia storytelling). Ultimately, I have learned that there are numerous ways to use technology to motivate and improve students’ literacy skills. However, when using technology, it is still extremely important to ensure that we are using it properly while scaffolding students’ learning and in a way that is motivating and purposeful. We should not just use technology to use it – we need to use ensure we are using it effectively in order to serve a purpose (i.e. to motivate readers, to get students to think critically, etc.).

References:

Carman, Patrick. (2011). Read Behind the Lines: Transmedia has changed the very notion of books and reading. School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.patrickcarman.com/2011/11/read-beyond-the-lines-transmedia-has-changed-the-very-notion-of-books-and-reading-school-library-journal/

Carman, Patrick. (2011).  TEDxNYED. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-hrBYvv5UU&feature=player_embedded

Fleming, Laura. (2011).  A New Model of Storytelling: Transmedia. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/transmedia-digital-media-storytelling-laura-fleming

Fleming, Laura. (2013). Expanding Learning Opportunities with Transmedia Practices: Inanimate Alice as an Exemplar. The National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Journal of Media Literacy Education. 5(2), 370-377.  Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1124&context=jmle

Holland, Beth. (2013). Projects to Engage Middle School Readers. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/projects-engage-middle-school-readers-beth-holland

Hovious, Amanda. (2014). Inanimate Alice: “Born Digital.” Teacher Librarian. 42(2), 42-46. Retrieved from: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/1637635961?pq-origsite=summon&accountid=14656

Morgan, Hani. (2013). Multimodal Children’s E-Books Help Young Learners in Reading. Early Childhood Education Journal. 41, 477-483Retrieved from http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/article/10.1007/s10643-013-0575-8/fulltext.html.

Story, Kate. (2011). Who the heck is Alice? Practically Primary.  16(2), 6-7.  Retrieved from: http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=29b9a9a7-38d8-48f8-9eba-e2cbee260efc%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=107

Yuan, Ting, and Lauren Bakian-Aaker. (2015). Classroom Digital Storytelling in Grade K-2: Writers Make a Movie for the Reader. Childhood Education, 91(5), 402-404. Retrieved from: http://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/pdf/10.1080/00094056.2015.1090860

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Reading Review Blog Post #2: Literature Research and Data Collection

Collecting and finding resources on my topic was a bit more overwhelming than I thought it would be.  I started by looking through the course readings/links, moved on to the UBC library, and then the infamous Google. I very quickly had numerous tabs open with potential journal articles, blog posts, videos, and reports centered on my keywords. I started getting myself confused as to where I was even going with my research!  However, after browsing through different sites, articles, and posts, I decided to pause and revisit what I was trying to learn.  Ultimately, I wanted to find out ways to use technology to improve and motivate students’ literacy skills. Thus, I tried to narrow my data collection to more specific ways of doing this (i.e. what programs and pedagogical practices would directly improve students’ motivation and traditional literacy (i.e. reading and writing). I tried finding selections that were useful, easy to apply to my teaching (as in read, experiment, apply), and with a solid basis (i.e. directly linked to student learning and based on methods used in classrooms). Even though I narrowed down my selection to a more specific topic, I still had a ton of options to choose from. At first I thought about focusing in on one specific area (i.e. digital storytelling), but then I realized that I would rather have more teaching strategies/ideas to implement than a number of articles all on the same specific topic/strategy. With that in mind, I narrowed down my list to five selections (well, technically 6+). Because I wanted to experiment with technology (and since using technology with literacy is my whole inquiry project at the moment), I decided to try use Prezi (a new-to-me program) to summarize my selections.  Enjoy!

Prezi Presentation

Collection List (details and descriptions are in my Prezi Presentation).

Carman, Patrick. (2011). Read Behind the Lines: Transmedia has changed the very notion of books and reading. School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://www.patrickcarman.com/2011/11/read-beyond-the-lines-transmedia-has-changed-the-very-notion-of-books-and-reading-school-library-journal/

 Carman, Patrick. (2011).  TEDxNYED. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-hrBYvv5UU&feature=player_embedded

Fleming, Laura. (2013). Expanding Learning Opportunities with Transmedia Practices: Inanimate Alice as an Exemplar. The National Association for Media Literacy Education’s Journal of Media Literacy Education. 5(2), 370-377.  Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1124&context=jmle

Holland, Beth. (2013). Projects to Engage Middle School Readers. Retrieved from: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/projects-engage-middle-school-readers-beth-holland

Morgan, Hani. (2013). Multimodal Children’s E-Books Help Young Learners in Reading. Early Childhood Education Journal. 41, 477-483Retrieved from http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/article/10.1007/s10643-013-0575-8/fulltext.html.

Yuan, Ting, and Lauren Bakian-Aaker. (2015). Classroom Digital Storytelling in Grade K-2: Writers Make a Movie for the Reader. Childhood Education, 91(5), 402-404. Retrieved from: http://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/doi/pdf/10.1080/00094056.2015.1090860

Posted in Libe 477B, Reading Review | 2 Comments

Reading Review Blog Post #1: Where My Mind Takes Me

When I first read the directions for this assignment, I felt a bit overwhelmed.  There are so many things I would love to research and learn. I began by jotting down keywords that popped into my head.  Then, realizing it was a sort of haphazard approach, I decided to make a mind map using bubble.us.  I am currently taking LLED 462 and had just used it to help myself brainstorm my essential question that would guide me through the course.  It was my first time using the program, and I really enjoyed it, so I figured I might as well use it again for this project.  One of my goals is to get a better understanding of different technological tools to use in my teaching, so I figured why not start right away?  I started off using the initial question as my prompt: “What issues, interests, or opportunities do you anticipate arising in your teaching in the near future?”  My brainstorm flowed from the three areas (issues, interests, and opportunities) with the hope that I would see a pattern forming.

To provide some context, I have been teaching in my district for nine years. Yet, I still get laid off and recalled every year.  I never really know what I will be teaching, just that it will be at the elementary level. Fortunately, most of my teaching has been at the early primary level. Because of the nature of my district’s layoff/recall practices, I need to be flexible in my teaching.  Thus, when I started to brainstorm ideas about what I wanted to research, I wanted to think more widely in the sense of what can I apply to whatever situation I end up being in each year and/or what area could I improve upon the most?

Below is the mind map I created when brainstorming my keywords.

ReadingReviewBrainstorm_4jbrm49k

Looking at my mind map, I can see that one of my issues, clearly, is that I never know what I will be teaching. This year, I am in Grade One (three days a week) and in a K-7 library. Ideally, I would like my research to apply to the library and to students at all levels, with a larger focus on the intermediate grades, as I have taught early primary (Grade One and Kindergarten) most of my teaching career, so I find it to be my “comfort zone.”

bcpointsofinquiry

Image by BCTLA via BCTF website.

When I first think about the library, then, my mind immediately gravitates towards my interests, such as inquiry-based learning, new technologies, and meeting the individual needs of 21st century learners.  I would love to be able to refine my ability in these areas and apply them in the library, hopefully in collaboration with classroom teachers. I think it would be purposeful and something I could use immediately in my teaching. Furthermore, it would be easy to apply digital technologies to these areas.

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Image by Paul Klintworth via Flickr.

In an increasingly digital world, I also see the need for teaching online safety and ethical behaviour.  We are entering an era where being online is the norm. I remember when I was a kid, I did not even have “dial-up” internet until I was in high school (and that was a novelty!).  Nowadays, kids are plugged in almost from birth (yes, my baby daughter beelines it for the laptop if she sees it open, not that we allow her any TV/computer time). As a result, it would be a disservice not to show them the IMGP7346ropes of online etiquette and safety.
Yet, my true passion lies in literacy and in motivating students (which are terms I repeated throughout my mind map).  I am extremely interested in developing a better understanding of all the various types of literacy (digital literacy, critical literacy, transliteracy, media literacy, information literacy, etc.) and figuring out how to better teach them to my users. Growing up, I loved books. I was a bookworm and would spend endless hours reading (I even wrote my first “novel” in elementary school and sent it to publishers.  Nothing ever became of it, but it was a passion from an early age.). When teaching Kindergarten and Grade One, I see this passion in the kids every single day.  They love books.  Teaching in the library, however, I slowly see this spark, or fire, diminish as the kids get older.  Yes, there are many kids who, like me, are bookworms.  It is the kids who drag their feet coming into the library, who would rather be anywhere else, that stick out to me. As a result, I want to see how technology can reignite this spark.  How can we use Web 2.0 and other computer programs to motivate our students to embrace literacy and reading?  Can we use these tools to improve our students’ ability, interest, and motivation?  My goal is to discover how to use technology to improve and motivate students’ literacy skills.  This would be something that I not only could immediately apply to my current role as a teacher-librarian, but that I could also continue to use in the classroom, regardless of what grade level I end up with in the future. Furthermore, it could be something that I could potentially share with the staff and school as a way to help meet our school goal on literacy and improving students’ reading levels.

Thus ends my pondering and brainstorm.  At this point, I can definitely see where my mind has taken me.  Perhaps it will change and my research will lead me in a new direction.  Regardless, I am eager to see where this course takes me!

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Image by Samantha Marx via Flickr. Image has been modified.

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