Slow Reading: the Power to Transform


Reading programs and the support of a culture of reading is a common commitment in school libraries.  As teacher librarians, and librarians, we promote reading for enjoyment as a means of raising literacy levels through activities such as reading classes; engaging children in the Premiers’ Reading Challenge; running Book Clubs or supporting English teachers. To this end, the Synergy article Slow Reading: The Power to Transform by Dr Pam Macintyre, Senior Lecturer in Portfolio of Design and Social Context in the School of Education at RMIT is of particular interest.

In this article Pam says it’s logical to state, ‘greater understanding produces greater pleasure when reading’.  To fully understand and learn the skill of reading she encourages us to take time and to give students time, through a process of ‘slow reading’ saying:

Students need us to slow the reading, to model and facilitate the enjoyment of contemplation and the sharing of responses and interpretations. We need to share our enjoyment of language, and the delight in the places reading can take us well beyond the physical, geographical, emotional, intellectual boundaries of our daily lives. We also need to share our knowledge and pleasure about the how of what is said, not only the what.

Pam mentions the Australian research, the Children and Reading literature review which reports a 4% drop in the number of children reading for pleasure between 2003 and 2012.  As a passionate advocate of adolescent reading, she notes the opportunities for further research in this field as reading formats change from hard copy to digital.

In promoting a reading culture Pam quotes Terry Eagleton’s, How to Read Literature (2013)  and urges us to encourage in students a peculiarly vigilant type of reading, ‘one which is alert to tone, mood, pace, genre, syntax, grammar, texture, rhythm, narrative structure, punctuation, ambiguity’ (2013, p. 2).

This article, published in SLAV’s professional journal Synergy, provides teacher librarians and educators involved in raising literacy levels through a formal reading program, with a thoughtful approach to developing skilled readers.  Synergy is published bi-annually and is freely accessible online, apart from the two most recent editions.  It is a valuable source of research relating to school libraries.

Partipation through a Virtual Learning Commons


Delegates at the School Library Association of Victoria Conference last Friday, 8 August, designed and imagined possibilities for the creation of a virtual learning commons that encourages participation by the whole school community.

Lead by Dr David Loertscher and Carol Koechlin, the conference theme Virtual Learning Commons: Building a Participatory School Culture recognises that the school library has a new role. The physical space must change.  It must be flexible – ‘if it doesn’t move it doesn’t belong in the school library’. The book collection needs to be fresh and inviting and the learning situation should control the space.  Furthermore, a well planned and developed virtual library space can be a place of involvement for the school community.

Thanks to delegates who tweeted with #slavconf. This Storify is a compilation of those tweets providing an overview of the conference and resources shared.

What’s Technology For, Anyway?

In this guest post, Kristin Fontichiaro, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, School of Information highlights key ideas from her upcoming presentation at SLAV’s, Transliteracy, multiliteracy, makerspaces: how can I participate? on Friday, 16th August.

The other day, I heard a story. A parent of young children heard that the oldest children in the school – ages 9 and 10 – were going to be having an end-of-year technology celebration to which everyone in the building was invited.  Eager to hear what her kids would be experiencing in a few years, she dropped by. The students filed in front of the assembly and, without a word, held up an A4  printout of a presentation slide.

That was it.

The whole school had been pulled out of class to gaze at small pieces of paper dozens of feet away.


Now, I have no doubt that the educators behind that project had great intentions and worked hard. (Anyone who has ever tried to get an entire primary school class to print out a project without mixing up whose is whose knows what a feat it is that each kid actually ended up with anything.)

But how did a tool meant to serve as an illuminated backdrop for public speaking end up as a small paper rectangle held up by a silent child? How did a faculty make a decision that seeing these faraway papers merited pulling every other child out of class? What was this project supposed to accomplish?

It’s hard to know. Maybe the technology curriculum focuses on the acquisition of specific skills and behaviours (“the learner will print from software,” “the learner will format a presentation slide”). Maybe the educators were pressed for time. Maybe something else.

I would argue that the crux of the issue is this: there were not clear, aspirational expectations for how technology could transform, extend, and deepen student learning. I would bet that this faculty did not have a clear understanding of what it meant to teach and learn with technology and how to use technology as a game-changer. I have a hunch that the administration pushed for its staff to use technology without talking about how and why to use it.

I quote an extreme example, but (I fear) it probably resonated within the realm of possibility for you. In this madcap Web 2.0 world, where there are endless “creative” tools, just waiting for you to type in a few words and pick a template, how do we move the conversation from “teachers need to use technology, period,” to, “technology needs to transform the teaching and learning and take students further than they could go without technology.”

Next Friday, we’ll gather to talk about this phenomenon. We’ll look at a possible vocabulary and framework for planning and discussing student work, and we’ll draw inspiration from Alan Liu’s Transliteracies Project as we collaborate to articulate what it means to do robust “reading” and “writing” in multimedia. At the end of the day, we’ll dip quickly into two alternative ways to use technology with kids: digital badging to track learning in formal and informal spaces and the makerspace movement. Come roll up your sleeves and dig in with us!

Image credit : cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Brad Flickinger

Getting ready for Resource Description and Access (RDA)

In the next issue of FYI Renate Beilharz explains all about RDA and the implications for school libraries. FYI editor Yso Ferguson gives us an outline of some of the resources and tips mentioned in Renate’s article.

Resource Description and Access (RDA) is a new standard of library cataloguing that is designed for the digital world. The RDA toolkit website describes the benefits of RDA as:

  • A structure based on the conceptual models of FRBR (functional requirements for bibliographic data) and FRAD (functional requirements for authority data) to help catalog users find the information they need more easily
  • A flexible framework for content description of digital resources that also serves the needs of libraries organizing traditional resources
  • A better fit with emerging database technologies, enabling institutions to introduce efficiencies in data capture and storage retrievals

In the next issue of FYI Renate Beilharz offers some tips for coming to grips with Resource Description and Access. The speed of the implementation depends on many factors. Important among these are:

  • What Library Management System (LMS) your library uses
  • Where your library’s cataloguing information comes from – it might be from SCIS or Libraries Australia or it might be original cataloguing

The main pieces of  advice to take away are:

  • You don’t need to panic as RDA and AACR records are compatible so you won’t have to retrospectively catalogue all old records. Expect to have both sorts of records in your catalogue for a long time.
  • For a general overview of what RDA record look like have a look at the RDA toolkit examples.
  • If you copy catalogue, you will need to find out what your record provider is doing about the introduction of RDA.
  • For schools using SCIS, RDA records will be introduced in May/June of this year.
  • More detailed information and explanation can be found by going to the SCIS blog
  • For schools using Libraries Australia , RDA records will begin in April 2013.
  • You can find out more by visiting the NLA’s Update on RDA implementation and Description of RDA
  • It is also a good idea to talk to your LMS provider to find out what they are doing to implement RDA.
  • Think about doing some training. There are various options. SLAV sponsored workshops will run in May and June. A list of commercial enterprises can be found through the Australian Committee on Cataloguing.
  •  Box Hill Institute is running some short courses. Search for Library Studies on their site.
  • You could also have a look some of the free online training materials such as the Australian Committee on Cataloguing (National Library of Australia), RDA Toolkit  & Library of Congress
  • Want to get started? Get the free 30 day trial, from the RDA Toolkit.


Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries

Cindy Tschernitz, Executive Officer from SLAV, introduces the second SLAV conference for 2013.

Be in control: participate in the new age of school libraries is the second School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) conference for 2013.  The conference for library team members will be held on Friday the 24th of  May, 2013 at the Melbourne Park Function Centre.

Continuing with the 2013 SLAV theme of “Participate, engage, shine – you, me, us” this conference highlights everyone’s role as a team member and recognises that teams win the game, not individuals. Whatever your role, whether selector, coach, captain, player, runner, medic or supporter, you  all contribute to team success.

We will examine:

  • what a school library is in the 21st century, the role of the individual in school library teams and how you can be in charge of your own development.
  • What type of professional fitness are we building for ourselves through our own personal training?
  • What strategies have we adopted in the new age of school libraries in accessing new resources and exploring different ways of operating and contributing to the school library team within the context of the Australian Curriculum?

Participate, engage and discover.  Where you will shine in the premiership winning school library team?

Registrations are now open. Download the Brochure and Registration form and email or fax  03 9349 4437

Thanks to Cindy for sharing details of the interesting program. Remember you can follow all SLAV conferences on Twitter using the #slavconf hashtag.


Participate, engage, shine – Professional learning in 2013

Cindy Tschernitz, Executive Officer of the School Library Association of Victoria, explores the theme of professional learning events from SLAV in 2013 and introduces the first conference of the year.

Learning has become a participatory process in schools. In recent years many have joined online professional learning networks developed through the partnership of the SLAV and SLV to grow their experience and knowledge within a worldwide context. The opportunities are limitless, it is all about participating. This year we look forward to exploring the multiple information sources required for transliteracy; research skills in the national curriculum; the integration of technology into learning, changing library spaces and reading in a digital age. With the theme ‘Participate, Engage, Shine’ we look forward to another exciting year of learning in 2013.

New technologies, a diversity of resource formats and a continuous journey of learning have become familiar landscape for school library staff. In 2013 school libraries are in a transformative period. The accelerating changes of the Australian Curriculum and AITSL national professional standards for teachers is changing the education landscape and as a consequence the role of the library. It is both an exciting and challenging time. Overwhelmingly, it is a time to participate, engage and shine to ensure success for both yourself and your students.

With this in mind the first SLAV Conference of the year will explore the world of opportunities available for teacher-librarians and school leaders. Professor Tara Brabazon, the newly appointed Professor of Education and Head of the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University (CSU),  will lead the day with a provocative keynote “Note to Self: Note taking and the control of information” that will challenge our thoughts on student learning. Patricia Cowling, Principal Genazzano FCJ College and the 2012 SLAV School Leaders Award Winner will present the closing address, “A Principal’s View of school libraries”.

In between we will examine new professional and cataloguing standards. Dr Graeme Hall and Ms Emma Scott will look at AITSL standards and how they will impact on teacher-librarians and Renate Beilharz will introduce us to the new cataloguing standards RDA/FRBR and the impact of the semantic web.

The afternoon brings us three dynamic concurrent sessions facilitated by practitioners. Attend a workshop on getting ready for RDA, learn about how to best use new library systems and how they enhance learning outcomes or look at different models for data gathering and analysis.

So join us and “Participate, Engage and Shine” at the first conference for 2013.

Event details:

School Libraries a new frontier – a world of opportunities: a conference for teacher-librarians and school leaders

School Library Association of Victoria Conference, Friday 15 March 2013, Etihad Stadium, Docklands

Download the conference program

Download the conference registration form


Leading the reinvention of learning

The SLAV Global eLiteracy conference was held last Friday, 27th of July.  The conference explored the changing face of learning in a digital age.

The event was significant as it saw the announcement by Judy O’Connell of, a new site for the Australian Teacher Librarian Network. You can become involved with OZTL through  Facebook, Twitter or the Diigo group.
Global eliteracy conferences

The day involved a number of interesting presentations, but the highlight was the round table session. Delegates spent time in small groups learning from peer leaders about a range of technologies. There was a wonderful atmosphere of collegial support, exploration and sharing.

You can find notes from the event as they are added here and also see a summary, including highlights from a very active Twitter stream, at this Storify of the day.

Congratulations to all of the organisers for a very successful day of professional learning.


Susan Mapleson, a Teacher Librarian at Christian College (Senior Campus) Geelong has developed a very funky blog for lovers of literature. The i.Read blog is cleverly titled and has been developing nicely throughout the year.

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Susan explains how the blog came about:

I completed the SLAV PLN program earlier in the year and while this is not the blog I started during the PLN program is it the more meaningful and relevant blog I started along with Deb Canaway (the other Teacher Librarian here at the senior campus) during the year and includes many of the tools I learnt doing the program.

We started our blog for the students and teachers at Christian College Senior school and while we have not been overwhelmed with responses, certainly we have had many people access our blog.

It was aimed mainly at our Year 10 English classes who come to the Library usually at the beginning and end of the  term to borrow books. It was another way to interact with the students, promote the Library and recommend books to students as we only review books we have in the Library. Year 10 students had to write a book review as part of their English curriculum and also submit a brief version onto the blog. The positive of this task was that the students got a real buzz out of seeing their reviews online and for many it was the first time they had read and or contributed to a blog.

In the future we would like to have our staff also contribute to the blog and find more ways to encourage students to leave comments.

Congratulations Sue and Deb for creating a vibrant and attractive blog. Now that the blog has a good body of work, it will be easier to promote it in the new year.

Bialik College Futures Forum

David Feighan, the Director, Libraries and Learning Resources at Bialik College has kindly shared the following information:

I can confirm that the podcasts of the Bialik Learning Futures Forum, which we promised to share with the wider school library community, are now available.

The Learning Futures / Learning Spaces Forum focused on the changes to the physical and online learning spaces in Australian schools. The forum considered:

  • How the new school libraries being built in Australia work within current and emerging education pedagogues.
  • How the physical library and online library and learning spaces work together to best meet the needs of schools.
  • The rise of learning / information commons in universities and schools, and
  • The rise of social media platforms in education settings.

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Speakers include:

A. Professor Leon Sterling, Chair of Software Innovation and Engineering, Swinburne University

B. Jon Peacock, General Manager, Learning Environments at University of Melbourne

CoLABorateC. Dr Scott Bulfin, Lecturer, Monash University Faculty of Education

D. Jenny Luca, Head of Information Services, Toorak College

E. Mary Manning, Executive Officer, School Library Association of Victoria

F. David Feighan, Director, Libraries and Learning Resources, Bialik College

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If you are involved in planning a new library or wanting to revamp your resources and services, this forum is a must listen source! Thanks David and Bialik for sharing this wonderful information and to the speakers for their knowledge and ideas.

Feature blog – Bev Novak’s NovaNews

Former Head of Library at The King David School, Bev Novak has been developing an interesting blog. Bev uses her blog as a forum for writing about, processing and sharing her learning with other educators. Bev generously shares her learning journey on her blog and here, for readers of Bright Ideas. I recently read that a tweet that said that “all teachers should blog”. Bev’s blog shows what can be achieved in a short amount of time and if you have not yet started your own blog, Bev’s newly found enthusiasm for blogging may well set you on your way!

Just on six months ago, I had absolutely no idea what a blog was, had never read one and certainly had no idea how to create one.  Life changed dramatically though  when I decided to enrol in the VicPLN program being run by SLAV in conjunction with SLV.  That first evening of peeking at the program content is forever seared into my memory.  The list of tasks to be completed was daunting to say the least!  But my heart froze when I realized that the very first task involved creating a blog.   “A what?!” I thought!!  A blog, I calmly said to myself.  Skimming down the tasks posed for that first week, I realized I had no choice.  Every task listed for the week involved writing a response on my blog.   “Ugh!!!  What have I gotten myself into?!”  was the next thought that passed through my mind.


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Deciding that the best advice I could follow was that which I always give to nervous looking kids about to sit a test or exam, I took three deep breaths and began following the instructions set down.   It was, I recollect, a very long Saturday night!


But I did it! That feeling of seeing my words floating out into cyberspace really was fantastic.  An incredible sense of achievement and success, unlike any I had experienced in a long time, flooded through me!  While I admit that the early stages of creating the blog were akin to writing on a wall in Chinese without knowing if the paper was upside down or inside out, a certain familiarity soon set in.  The ‘dashboard’ and I soon became friends.   Because I was working in the warm comfy environs of the VicPLN, I often experienced the warm fuzzy feelings of others lending a hand, helping me figure out the seemingly impossible.   And of course, the warm guidance and encouragement of our wonderful mentor – Judith Way – was there, every step of the way.


It has only been at the completion of the VicPLN that I started to look back and consider the process I had worked through.  It was indeed a journey, a journey that had a recognizable path in which my blog moved from being a spot to record what I had read, played with and discovered over the previous week, to that of a personal storage spot for links and information I had gathered.   Along the way, as I recognized I had an audience, I accepted that I could also use my blog as a place to showcase my own achievements using a range of presentation tools to which I had been exposed through the program. The final stage of my journey has been understanding that blogging is a dynamic process, one in which readers can comment on the content of a blog or indeed on the comments posted by others, a process which, by its very nature, enables the interaction of people with similar interests to connect and share with each other.  In turn, for me, this has been a fantastic way to expland my Personal Learning Network.


Today, I am totally hooked on blogging.  Reading the blogs of others which incorporate thoughts, ideas and knowledge, has become an addictive occupation for me.  So too has the writing my own blog.  Feedback received in the form of comments on my blog or email or Twitter exchanges received over the week, feed my enthusiasm.   Sharing insights gleaned from various readings, experiences and knowledge acquired from a vast range of sources is currently the thrust of my blog.   Where it may head in the future however, I do not yet know.  But to know that I contribute to the growth of others in the same way that others contribute to my growth leaves me with a warm afterglow.  To those of you out there who’ve not yet discovered the blogosphere, I encourage you to spend the time exploring.  Come join the amazing journey.  While you have much to contribute you also have a great deal to learn.  And, after all, aren’t we all lifelong learners?

Thanks Bev for your unbridled enthusiasm for blogging and learning and for spreading the word via Bright Ideas!