As I am taking these courses with the hopes of being a teacher-librarian, and since I am not yet working in the learning commons but instead work as a grade 4/5 French Immersion teacher, I am focusing my final vision project ideas on what could be of need in a 21st Century classroom. That being said, when I look at the two ideas I am considering, I believe that they could also be beneficial for a SLLC and TL respectively:
My first consideration for a project idea was to look at flexible space…not just furniture (that too) but movement within the classroom and being flexible in one’s approach to how learning is presented and how children will respond to that learning. From what I have seen over the last 20 years as a teacher, is a huge shift in how children want/need to learn, their methods of representing their learning and physically, how they need to “feel” in order to get to that representation. I see that today’s children need to move and be comfortable to work and learn at school but, sadly, I know many teachers who still use the “sit at the desk and work” approach. Therefore, my first vision project ideas was to look at the latest research of why this latter approach is no longer beneficial for all learners and how flexibility in space promotes learning. For example, if you came into my classroom you would see children sitting at desks, lying on the floor, standing and writing, sitting on the poof-ottomans, some using Chromebooks, some prefer the desktop computers and more. The key aspect being that they are all working, applying knowledge, researching and collaborating in sometimes, a not-so-quiet space.
My second consideration for a final vision project falls very close to my heart, having been a child who owned over 500 Archie comic books and was told, by her parents, that if I didn’t read anything else I would never amount to anything (old-school tough Scottish parents). Well, 4 Bachelors and 2 Masters Degrees later, I am pretty sure that all Archie comics did for me was feed my need to visual learning and stimulate a love of reading. I would like to all teachers to start to recognize the benefits, value and importance of allowing graphic novels in the classroom. I think that teachers undervalue how graphic novels can truly teach children and support learning. They see them as “lower-level” reading when, in fact, they are multimodal, using images and text to convey meaning. The stories can be very complex and colour choices can affect how children represent emotion in the text. I think the 21st century classroom should have a library of them and we should teach children how to read them as multimodal literature.
In writing about these ideas to our beloved leader, Aaron, he wisely pointed out that the challenge for this latter idea is in creating a useable, shareable digital artifact that can be useful for not just me, but also my colleagues. I’m still racking my brain about the best way to present the information but, I do know that I want teachers to have easy access to grade appropriate graphic novels (GNs) and not have to spend hours hunting down the best ones (like I did…FYI, Hamlet graphic novel is NOT appropriate from grade 4/5, but I loved it); hence, some kind of list with links is in order. I also want to provide information about GNs that come in a series. There are MANY amazing ones out there and my students are always asking me to check up release dates in expectation of the next GN in the series. Furthermore, it’s important to help FI teachers, like me, to find French graphic novels that have language that it not too complex for the age and level of the students. My brain is leaning towards a blog where I could provide lesson plans for teachers taking their first foray into teaching using GNs.