Recent Posts Subscribe to posts
Showing posts 1 - 3 of 12. View more »
World Poetry Day has, after our very first year, become one of our favourite literary celebrations here at the Learning Resource Centre. The kind of enthusiasm that our students show for creating art with words in interesting ways brings a smile to any teacher or librarians face. In 1999, UNESCO proclaimed 21 March as World Poetry Day to celebrate linguistic diversity through poetic expression. “World Poetry Day is an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person’s creative abilities” (Bokova, 2013). The LRC staff are always ones to politely accept an invitation and have now, for the first time, incorporated World Poetry Day into our regular schedule of literary celebrations.
After developing a series of activities for students during the Lunch break, we extended UNESCO’s invitation to students in Tutor, providing stimulus to produce a short poem in their tutor groups, the results to be unveiled during the lunch time celebrations in the Library.
Often creativity is born of constraint, and so we developed
several ways for students to create
different light. Creating poetry by stacking books on each other proved a popular pursuit for students who wanted to create something quickly that only exists in a brief period of time before another student will dismantle the poem and recycle the words.
Other students chose to devote more time to their art by creating a cut-and-paste poem. Using old issues of The Economist, students cut and pasted headlines to create poetic images on paper. Other students produced wall poetry. Using a set of words already cut out, they stuck them to a wall to evoke images in a temporary space.
For the truly devoted poet, we gave space to create a new poem using new words. We provided a few prompts to kick-start creativity, but student’ imaginations were fecund, many producing several poems during lunch time.
Helping students use poetry to reflect, understand, celebrate and criticise is uniquely rewarding for a Librarian who spent much of her youth composing lyrics to songs no-one would ever hear.
Bokova, I 2013, World Poetry Day : UNESCO Director-General's Message, United Nations, New York, accessed 25 March, 2013, <http://www.un.org/en/events/poetryday/2013/dgmessage.shtml>
Yesterday was the first meeting of the newly established Classy Club. A small group of library regulars was ready to brush with Jean Valjean, Mr Darcy and Anna Karenina, but then decided to venture into a wilder territory. The group has decided to read Lord of the flies by Golding and discuss it in the next meeting. This is fine by me as long as we are retaining our classy status.Suzana Sukovic
But, why classics?
It is timeless literature. Classical stories survived the test of time because they are beautiful, wise and interesting.
It gives us insights into different times and spaces. By reading books from different times and countries, we gain new perspectives and develop understanding for different ways of thinking. A book written by a modern American or English writer about another country or time may be beautifully written and researched, but the perspective is still of a contemporary Western writer. It is like looking at different landscapes from the same window. World classics open amazing views from many windows.
It is good for the brain. The recent article Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain, new research reveals discusses results of a study done by academics at Liverpool University who showed that reading classics has a ‘beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection’. Brain activity triggered by reading classics could not be replicated by reading other texts. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9797617/Shakespeare-and-Wordsworth-boost-the-brain-new-research-reveals.html.
The depth and structure of great literature develops thinking ability. A university professor of mathematics advised her students to read classics to bring their mathematical thinking to a new level. This is what I was told recently by a science teacher whose son has started reading classics to improve his mathematics.
And it’s cool…really…I
know teenagers who prop their smart reputation by being able to comment on a
decent list of literary heavies. Our group doesn't go for an image - just good reads.
iMap and iTime projects.
In iMap, students from all World History classes placed their books on a digital map (using GoogleMaps) to give their book physical context. The map was communal across both participating classes, enabling students to see other books their classmates were reading set in similar locations and get a feel for the other historical events that have occurred in their chosen area. In iTime, students placed the events of their texts onto a communal digital timeline using www.timetoast.com. The timeline provides a visual representation of the books their classmates have read and the world events that surround the action of their story.
iMap and iTime have assisted students’ learning by giving them a digital visual representation of historical contexts We hope it helped students to understand that full comprehension of an event in history requires knowledge not only of the event itself but of the history of the area and an understanding of the period in which it occurs.
This just goes to show what surprises are in store when you ask the Library for help!
In the reading spirit, we are starting new clubs this year. Actually, they are so new that the first meetings are being planned as we speak. Potential members met in our Clubs United meeting. In the next two weeks, a literary magazine, the Manga Club and Classy Club will start shaping their individual identity.
Manga Club is open to all students - from the curious and bored to the die-hard Otaku. The library has started a manga collection so the new club will have a good beginning under a wise leadership of Ms Bailey.
A literary magazine (name to be chosen) will be an opportunity to showcase students’ creative writing, book reviews and reflections about literature. We will meet monthly and the plan is to publish an issue per term. Some creative students have told me they already have novels in the pipeline.
Classy Club is going to whet girls’ appetite for classical literature. Anyone who wants to find out what those grand names are about will have a chance to do so in the Classy Club. I am on a personal quest to prove that great literature is not boring and doesn’t have to be difficult. The library has bought a number of beautiful French and German books in translation and will continue to develop the classical collection.
Literature Club is the old favourite, run by Ms Rogerson who has planned lots of exciting activities for this term. The Literature Club members couldn’t wait to talk about all interesting books they read during holidays.
Meetings at lunchtime
In the wake of the latest international testing results (TIMSS, PIRLS) the Australian media is struggling to provide an explanation as to why Australian students are not rating very high in maths, science and reading. International tests like these are important and relevant because they are indicators of how we measure up with the rest of the world but, like any test, TIMSS and PIRLS should be taken with a big grain of salt. Even if they were the best measure of students’ achievement in tested areas, they don’t consider a number of factors such as creativity and innovation potential, which may influence individual and national achievement over a period of time. While keeping this in mind, I read the test reports with great interest looking for evidence to inform my professional practice. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is coming at the right time for our library as we are considering how to revamp reading programs for next year. However, this blog post is not about a thoughtful interpretation of test results. Quite the opposite – it is about first responses in the media and how first interpretations of test results are becoming a test of evidence-based practice in their own right. ABC 7.30 Report, 12 December).
Our sense of what the hierarchy is in the league of nations is shattered. It seems particularly difficult to accept that Australia is in the same category with some nations that don’t appear particularly appealing to Australian reporters. For example, “The Daily Telegraph” wrote on 13 December: “Two startling new global studies have revealed our students have slipped down the international learning ladder to perform on a par with Eastern European minnows Lithuania, Bulgaria and Poland”. “The Daily Telegraph” editorial on the same day pointed out that some countries emerging behind the “iron curtain” developed their education fast and are now on par with Australia: “Education standards have vastly improved across the former communist bloc, to the point where many Australian students are being matched or beaten by students from what were previously considered backwaters”.
When we deal with international comparisons, it’s worth remembering that our self-evident truths may not hold once we cross the border. Let’s look at some evidence in reverse order! I haven’t sought any comparative test data from the cold war era but, believe it or not, a number of countries from the former Eastern bloc claim that their educational standards have slipped since they’ve started embracing Western values. As for “minnows” (let’s assume it referred to the size of mentioned countries), the population of Poland is larger than that of Australia.
More serious and more damaging are suggestions that multiculturalism or multiethnicity is to blame for Australia’s inadequate test results. The fact is that some multi-ethnical countries such as Canada and England achieved much better results than Australia. Canadian results are particularly relevant considering a number of similarities with Australia.
Another question concerns a relationship between ethnicity and test scores. The language spoken at home is presumably an important factor influencing test results. According to the report PIRLS 2011: Canada in context (p.39), 26 per cent of Canadian students didn’t speak the test language at home, which is similar to the international average. The number of Australian Year 4 students who didn’t speak the test language at home was actually smaller – 21 per cent (ACER's reports Australian Results TIMMS and PIRLS). Australian and Canadian reports both indicate that students who spoke the test language at home achieved higher reading results than those who didn’t, but the gap is smaller for Canadian students. Why this is the case isn’t clear, but answers may be counter-intuitive to many Australians. Research into bilingualism confirms the rule in language development “strong first language - strong every other language”. Canada’s reputation in supporting bilingualism may be the case in point.
The relationship between ethnicity and reading results is far from clear, particularly considering the significance of other factors such as socio-economic status, living in rural areas, quality of early childhood education and parents’ influence, to name some. In PISA test the first generation of Australian immigrants demonstrated significantly better digital reading literacy than both Australian-born and foreign-born students. Students from non-English speaking homes were represented more at the bottom of the scale. However, high achievers in reading were coming equally from English and non-English speaking homes (Preparing Australian students for the digital world, p. 32). Simplistic explanations won’t go far in clarifying the results. Like in other affluent countries, Australian immigrants are likely to be better educated than native-born citizens (Degrees of mobility, The Economist). Studies repeatedly show that immigrant parents highly value education and encourage children to obtain university degrees, a contributing factor to students’ academic achievement. More relevant in Australian society are questions about the details of complex influences rather than the sweeping statements we often hear in the media. At this early stage, explanations of the test results are saying more about our understanding of other cultures and the global scene on which we compete than fostering deeper understanding.
If it takes a whole village to raise a child, it certainly takes a whole country to educate one. Whatever the meaning of current results may be, I believe that young people in Australia have one significant advantage over many counterparts across the globe – their bad starts and missed chances can be reversed, they have more opportunities throughout their lives. Over the coming weeks and months, a thoughtful analysis may provide some pointers on how education, and the library and information sector can use international studies to inform its practice. A quick read assures me that librarians will find evidence in support of our position as key providers of opportunities for lifelong learning and intellectual growth. I believe that as a profession we are well positioned to look far beyond the national borders as well to make sure that historical and national memories are kept alive.
Thanks to Alycia Bailey and Katherine Rogerson for their comments about this blog post!
This post also appears on the LARK blog.
Christmas fever has hit St Vincents.
Each year, staff compete to see who has the best decorated staffroom, much to the delight of the students!
This year the LRC team decided on the theme A Novel Christmas - a fitting end to the National Year of Reading.
All of our decorations were made with or based on books or print material.
The LRC is planning new programs for the next year. Until the end of this term, we will ask students to participate in two surveys.
A survey about students’ reading habits and preferences has been prepared with the English Department. We will ask students in Year 7 and 8 to complete an online survey during their English classes. Their responses will be anonymous. We will use data to inform our planning of reading programs next year.
A survey about students’ interest in manga books has been devised by Ms Alycia Bailey to gauge students’ interest before developing a manga collection. The survey will be available on OLiV to all students. We may contact girls who expressed their interest in manga to participate in any new programs next year.
St Vincent's College LRC has dedicated October of the National Year of Reading to all the spooky, creepy, gory and gross elements of literature. We have developed programs and activities all through the month that students have enthusiastically contributed to.
Today, however, we said goodbye to Shocktober (and to the exam period) by having a Horror Trivia party. Students packed the LRC at lunch time today to answer questions about spooky books both old and new. There were lucky door prizes under the seats and students won points and lollies for participating. But by far the most fun was had at the end of trivia when we played “Feed the Brain to the Zombie”.
Congratulations to Team Psycho, who won the trivia with their incredible knowledge of classic horror stories.
For photos of the event, head to the Shocktober Events page!
One of the most popular activities in Literature Club this year has been a creative writing challenge. Students were asked to write a conversation between two characters of their choice from different books, as they meet at a party. To add to the challenge students also pulled from a hat a random word or topic that had to be included in the story.
The girls were excited by the challenge and almost immediately were brimming with ideas for two interesting characters and how they might react to each other as they met. My initial idea was for students to simply write the dialogue in an easy format that resembled a script. While some students stuck with this format, most extended themselves and included descriptive details of the story’s setting and characters.
All stories were created and published on the
Lit Club blog to encourage sharing and discussion. Most students saw this as an
opportunity to become comedians and wrote
entertaining stories that everyone has enjoyed reading.
The group’s enthusiastic response to this activity has made sure that I will be including many more creative writing tasks in next year’s Literature Club program.
Written by Katherine Rogerson
1-10 of 12