This infographic provides a step-by-step methodology for evaluating and implementing technology in the curriculum : http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/teachers-visual-guide-to-better.html
Last week, I wrote about the importance of nonfiction. I decided to prove that old dogs can learn new tricks and even teach themselves new tricks! Here’s my infographic on the importance of nonfiction in a collection. For those of you who aren’t from Quebec, the QEP Progression of Learning is the curriculum in our province.
I hope that this infographic will be useful for other library personnel who are trying to prove that you can’t have an entire collection made of wizards, zombies, vampires, fairy princesses and talking animals. Don’t get me wrong – they have their place, but nonfiction has a lot of magic in it too.
Living in Canada, I sometimes feel out of touch with what’s going on down south of the border. Today, as I was researching the importance of nonfiction in elementary school libraries, I did quite a bit of reading on the core curriculum in the United States. The new Common Core Standards that impact the educational systems in most states stipulates that 70% of books studied should be nonfiction. This is a huge turnaround.
It’s accepted practice in most libraries that 50% of the collection should be nonfiction. Yet with years of budget cuts, I’ve seen many collections with very old books whose time had come years ago. I had to hold my breath when, as a new school board librarian, one library volunteer informed me that the students got most of their factual information on the Internet; the library was not a research library. I found this very shocking, but as I travelled to other school libraries, and saw how old the collections were, I realized that it was better to have no nonfiction, than very outdated nonfiction. Yet even the international organization, UNESCO still prescribes the 50% non-fiction benchmark for school libraries. Some experts say it should be more.
According to The Whole Library Handbook, “A reasonable collection for book resources should comprise 10 books per student. The smallest school should have at least 2,500 relevant and updated items to ensure a wide, balanced book stock for all ages, abilities and backgrounds. At least 60% of the stock should consist of curriculum-related non-fiction resources.” (Woolls and Loertscher) http://goo.gl/yVMBQ
Does nonfiction matter in developing reading skills? Yes!
Interestingly enough, I found reference to a study cited by the New York Times in March of 2012, that found that 1000 students who learned to read using an experimental curriculum that emphasized nonfiction texts performed better than those who did not.
Marc Aronsen, who lectures at Rutgers School of Communication and Information commented on the importance of nonfiction, “As you may know, there was a study in 2000 about the amount of time spent on nonfiction reading in elementary school classrooms. It was 3.6 minutes a day on average, and in poorer districts, it was 2.7 minutes. We have a situation where schools have only been spending 3.6 minutes on nonfiction, and now it’s supposed to be 50%? This is not happening, and it’s especially not happening without the librarian. Every librarian knows some subset of kids who love nonfiction. Why do librarians buy The Guinness Book of World Records every year? Because we can’t keep it on the shelves. We know that there are kids who like weird and wacky facts, knights, warfare, whatever it is.” (Corsaro) http://goo.gl/nBNUg
Nonfiction matters, and there is a wealth of books that are informative and fun to read. While it is imperative that students are exposed to great literature, whether it is award-winning picture books or Shakespeare, nonfiction can open up the world to children and teens and help them develop the reading and analytical skills that will serve them well throughout their academic careers and their lives.
This is an interesting survey that has an impact on what libraries do:
The link below describes a new documentary that will emphasize how important libraries are to Americans. It’s heartening to think that non-librarians are advocating for libraries.
I am absolutely convinced that most students are never taught how to make notes in a style that suits how they learn. All right, maybe that was a strong statement and one that might be changing, but when I taught a high school level social change class, I watched students struggle with note taking. What was important? What wasn’t important?
As a teacher, I found myself going old-school, writing on a white board and I heard myself saying things like, “This is important.” I believe that I was responding to the high school student that lived inside of me, the one who was concerned about what would appear on the test in a few weeks. My complaint even in university was that if I only knew what the teacher wanted, I would give it to him or her. As an adult and as a librarian AND as a teacher, I feel that these concerns had more to do with marks anxiety than about learning and retaining.
Tell me that kids don’t have marks-anxiety today and I will ask you what planet you live on! Yet, as an educator, I am more concerned that learning be more than regurgitation and I’m far from being alone in this. It is very rewarding to see the projects, essays, and use of technology make this happen. One way that we can prepare students for the next step in their academic careers is to provide them with note-taking tools such as graphic organizers.
Last month, I suggested some apps in my monthly newsletter to my schoolboard, but at this web site, http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/02/list-of-free-graphic-organizers-for.html you can find a list of various graphic organizers that are free to download. Pick the right one for the right project, whether it’s flash cards or a timeline template, and you’re giving a student a leg up in organizing and retaining facts.
For my French colleagues, this is an excellent PowerPoint presentation that has been uploaded to Fileshare. It breaks the research process and can be aligned with the Inquiry Process that has been developed here in Québec.
Well, I did it! I wrote a 50,511 word novel in 29 days. What I now need a National Editing Month as I have 50,511 words that need to be cleaned up, BUT it’s a story with a beginning, a a middle, and an end. Having a goal at the end of the month kept me going, and it’s the same with the work that I’m doing as a school board librarian.
I travel around my school board’s region and go into elementary schools, reading books to children and getting them to act the book out as well as conducting classes on how to avoid plagiarism and how to determine if a website can be trusted. The more that I do this the more I’m convinced that telling an interesting story and asking children to participate in the unfolding of the story is what keeps them engaged. Just getting up and reading to kids becomes the Ellen Goldfinch Talent Show and though I love the attention, that’s not my goal.
In the end, I would like Cycle 2 and 3 students to understand that academic honesty is another form of honesty and stealing someone’s ideas is wrong. I hope to encourage them to use critical thinking when they go on the Internet, and finally, my storytelling and story-theatre activities have the goal of reinforcing a positive attitude towards books and reading. If students conquer that reading mountain when they’re young, their later academic life is sure to be easier.
If you were wondering what was the point of me coming into classes (other than everybody having a good time), there it is in a nutshell.
Wonderful things are happening in the Eastern Townships School Board to make reading a pleasure for elementary school students. Knowlton Academy participates in the Village Reads program where senior citizens come into the school and read with children. Sunnyside Elementary is implementing a lunch time reading program where a volunteer reads to different children during lunch. These are only a few examples, but all the schools know how important these programs can be to getting children to love books…and it doesn’t matter whether the books are printed or digital. Reading is the key.
To support these programs, you need excellent books. I’ve been using Oliver Jeffers book Stuck in my story theatre sessions and it works like a charm…but this came my way from the wonderful people at the MELS Action Plan on Reading. This book was not a Scholastic book and though Scholastic seems like a godsend with affordable books and some affordable prizewinning books, part of my job is to encourage principals and teachers to look further afield. Scholastic books are not the only bibliographic fish in the sea.
There are wonderful web sites that help me select great books such as School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews The Canadian Children’s Book Centre also has an excellent magazine and site that can suggest homegrown books. 49th shelf.com is another source of hunting down Canadian children’s books on specific subjects. Please keep your eye out for the books that stimulate the imagination; these books go further than levelled readers in getting children to want to sit down with a book and read.
In the end, laughter, student participation and creating a pleasant atmosphere around reading will go a long way, even with reluctant readers. Because if a whale can get stuck in a tree, anything can happen…and that’s what kids like.
Canadian Children’s Book Centre: http://www.bookcentre.ca/
Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/
School Library Journal: http://www.slj.com/