Posted in Books & Reading, Library collections, Middle School Reads, Read Like a Girl, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

5 inspirational books for girls in Middle School

I am often asked to recommend “must read” books for girls of certain ages. Common questions include: “Can you provide a list of books all Middle School students should read?” and “What are the books all students should read before the finish high school?”

Such questions always bother me because reading tastes are so individual and varied that different students will connect with different books. Research tells us that students will read and enjoy reading when they are connected to the books that match their needs and interests (Susan La Marca, 2006).

That being said, the following five books are among my own favourite and I think they are highly inspirational reads for Middle School girls:

Fiction

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirlcover

This story is about being true to yourself. When Stargirl arrives at Mica High she stands out because she is different from everyone else. Rather than be shunned however, her beautiful smile and heart charm her classmates and she is loved by all.

And then they turn on her. Urged to become ‘normal’ to maintain her popularity, the danger is that Stargirl will give up everything that makes her unique.

Wonder

Wonder

This is a story about kindness, true friendship, and acceptance.

August Pullman, born with a facial deformity that makes him very difficult to look at, is about to face school for the first time and enter 5th grade. Being the new kid is hard – being the new kid when your appearance is so different to everyone else takes courage.

This book has been loved the world over and the Choose Kind Movement was inspired by one of its most memorable quotes:

“WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING

RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”

R.J. Palacio, Wonder

The war that saved my life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The war that saved my life

This is a story of determination and rising up in the face of adversity.

Set in London during World War 2, this is the story of Ada who was born with a clubfoot and is shunned by her neglectful and sometimes abusive mother and kept locked in her one-room apartment. When the children of London start to be evacuated to the country because of the peril of bombing raids, Ada wastes no time and escapes onto the trains. When she arrives in a country village, Ada is fostered by Susan Smith and so begins her road to recovery and finding her own identity. However, lurking in the background is the threat of the mother who she escaped.

Non-Fiction

Good night stories for rebel girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Goodnight stories for rebel girls

This is a book of pure inspiration for all girls. Containing 100 stories about extraordinary women from the past and the present and their remarkable achievements.

This video provides some background information from the authors, Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo, about why they put together this book. Anyone who is concerned about gender equality and the obstacles facing our daughters should watch this video:

Find your tribe

Find your tribe

This book is a guide for teenage girls. It provides all sorts of advice about surviving high school and the adolescent years. In particular, Rebecca’s advice about choosing to hang out with good friends and about being a good friend is so important for girls who often find themselves in toxic relationships that cause a lot of angst.

Stargirl

 

Posted in Books & Reading, literacy, Read Like a Girl, Reading, Teaching and Learning, YA Literature

Help Girls Read

Help Girls Read

Help girls succeed by igniting a love to read

The importance of reading

Educators and parents alike know that reading literature can be transformative.  Research supports this assertion and validates the importance of story reading to brain development and academic success (Haven, 2007; and Krashen, 2011).

Australian teenage girls’ reading is on the decline

Disturbingly, research conducted last year in Australia found that among Australians aged 14+, “the proportion of men and women reading books has decreased in recent years, most noticeably among women. In 2010, 64.7% of Australian women 14+ read a novel in any given three months, a figure which has since fallen to 60.9%. Similarly, fewer women are reading non-fiction books than they used to, slipping from 39.2% to 34.2% between 2010 and 2015” (Roy Morgan Research, 2016).

Let’s do something about this

As a Teacher-Librarian in a girls’ school, this research is of concern to me and I wanted to do something that would make a difference to the girls in our community. A key strategy for making this difference is to focus on reading and literature promotion.

After collaborating with other passionate colleagues in the teaching and book worlds, the Read Like a Girl movement was established.

Read Like a Girl is a community partnership for the literacy advancement of girls and is a combined endeavour led by Mt Alvernia College and St Rita’s College.  Riverbend Books is a community partner in this project.  This project encapsulates a calendar of reading events aimed at instilling a foundation and love of reading in the college communities and more broadly among girls everywhere.

What we hope to do

We hope that through our calendar of events, we will give the girls in our communities the opportunity to:

  • Attend book events
  • Meet authors
  • Purchase books
  • Participate in conversations about literature, reading, and storytelling
  • Network with other girls, women, and people who value reading and academic success
  • Develop their knowledge of the vast world of books and the opportunities literacy creates

What you can do

You can support this endeavour in practical ways by:

  • Attending our events (starting with the International Women’s Day Breakfast)
  • Spreading our vision by following us on social media (#RLaG) and sharing our advocacy with your own networks
  • Purchasing books for the girls in your life
  • Speaking positively about reading
  • Providing time and space for the girls in your life to read
  • Model reading – visit a bookstore, put your feet up and enjoy a great read

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-10-02-12-am

References

Haven, K. F. (2007). We’ve reached the research results. In Story proof: The science behind the startling power of story (pp. 89-122). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Krashen, S. (2011). Free voluntary reading. Denver: Libraries Unlimited.

 

 

 

Posted in C21st Learners, CSU, Digital Citizenship, Digital learning space, Digital Literacy, INF537, Library service, Teaching and Learning, Technology in Education, website design

5 reasons a school library needs a website

is-an-icentre-website-necessary

As we continue to travel along the path of re-visioning our iCentre virtual spaces, we have been investigating what a website, Library Management System (LMS) and social media can offer school library services.  Our research has been interesting and we easily agreed that the LMS and social media are vital virtual spaces for our services.  The Library Management Systems we have investigated are web-based, learner-centred, sophisticated and interactive and as such, we have been challenged to consider the question: is an iCentre Website necessary?  Our conclusion is a resounding YES and here are the reasons why:

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-26-pmWe model the literacy of participation

Jenkins et al. argue that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes (2006, p.3).  Crockett, Jukes and Chruches (2011, p.14), O’Leary (2012, para.18), and Seely Brown (2012, p.15) are also among those advocating the necessity of educating for participation because individuals who find themselves lacking such skills are at risk of being on the wrong side of the divide and left behind in academia and the workplace. Many of the skills and mindsets outlined by these authors, require schools to transition from a scholarship practice that uses technology as a tool to enhance research to a social scholarship practice “in which the use of social tools is an integral part of the research and publishing process and is characterized by openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing and transparent revision” (Pearce et al. & Cohen as cited in Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012, p.767).  The iCentre website models this literacy of participation through publishing blogs, connecting with social media, and the open sharing of learning.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-39-pmWe serve a community not just students & teachers

The college community served by the iCentre is broader than the students and teachers on campus.  In particular, parents, as the primary educators, are an important part of our community.  One of the roles of the iCentre is to provide leadership in digital citizenship.  The website regularly curates and publishes information on how parents can assist their children to develop the capacity to build a positive digital footprint that showcases their learning interests, talents, and successes, and enables them to build social skills and cultural competencies.  This content also includes resources that will assist the community to use information and technology safely, legally and ethically.  To this end, an icentre website is a valuable tool because it provides learning experiences that enable the community to engage in positive digital practices that are relevant and timely.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-50-pmWe value networks

Technological shifts have changed the culture of learning to one in which the classroom is now global and provides learners with access to “nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (Thomas & Seely Brown, 2011, loc.55).  In this new culture, learning resides in the ability to form networks and learning how to learn, what to learn, who to learn with and when to learn is more important than the mastery of content (Olsen, 2011, p.22).  It is argued that understanding both digital competencies and new ways of learning in order to model digital citizenship become possible when educators take on the responsibility of developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p.10).  The iCentre website is one of the tools we use to connect with our colleagues in education – it is part of our learning network.  We have had many instances of professionals from other school libraries making suggestions for our website, contributing content to our website, and contacting us through the website in order to visit and share knowledge.  Such connections have been invaluable to the service we offer our community.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-43-59-pmWe value Open Scholarship

A trend that has been identified in 21st Century scholarship is an “openness” resultant from developing digital communication and networked technologies (Pearce et al., 2010, p.37).  According to Katz, this trend towards open content, knowledge and learning will offer great opportunities for scholars (2010, p.6).  The Creative Commons movement, which has opened up access to licensed creative content and also allows individuals to license work for others to share, is one example of how openness can lower barriers and democratize learning.  By sharing resources and learning through the iCentre website, we too are participating in a form of open scholarship.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-12-44-09-pmWe want to share our story

At this year’s Edutech Conference in Brisbane, both Kate Tormey, CEO of the State Library of Victoria and Dr Ross J. Todd, associate professor at Rutgers University, Department of Library and Information Sciences, stressed to delegates of the Future Libraries stream that if libraries are to thrive, then they must share their story.  The capacity of the Teacher-Librarians to share their story both within the college and beyond has valuable outcomes and the iCentre website has proved a powerful way to share our story.

References

Crockett, L.,Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age. [Epub]. Kelowna, B:C: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Jenkins, H.,Clinton, K., Purushotoma, R., Robinson, A., J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Paper presented at MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

O’Leary, T. (2012, October 10). Making connections to end digital divide. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/making-connections-to-end-digital-divide-20121009-27aul.html#ixzz2nF0cHrLS

Olsen, R. (2011). Understanding virtual pedagogies for contemporary teaching & learning (pp. 1-32, Rep.). Victoria: IdeasLAB.

Pearce, N.,Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Ashleigh, M. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: How new technologies could transform academic work. In Education, 16(1), 33-44.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of networked learning. In Personal Learning Networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin, Cictoria: Solution Tree Press.

Seely Brown, J. (2012, November 21-22). CJ Koh Professorial Lecture Series No. 4 in Singapore: Learning in and for the 21st Century Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.johnseelybrown.com/CJKoh.pdf

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58,, 766-774. Retrieved from http://10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001