Presenting my Prezi

Term 1, Week 9

I don’t know how many dead dull powerpoint presentations I’ve had to endure in my life but I’m sure I’m not alone. When I saw Prezi’s introduction video — it was love at first site (sorry the pun was intended).

Prezi has real razzamatazz; it allows you to create presentations that have dynamic rather than static pages. There is the ability to zoom in and out, tilt, angle, swirl and presentations can include video as well as graphics and text. I’ve known about Prezi for several months and finally had the time to sit down and learn how to use it.

The Dewey Decimal Classification system can be a bit dry to teach so I revamped our library’s introductory session with the following (please click on the hyperlink below):

Dewey: The man, the system


A couple of hints I should pass on to you:

  1. DO NOT , I repeat, DON”T press the backspace button when creating your own Prezi. It causes you to jump out of the session. There is nothing to tell you this anywhere and I can only conclude that they are assuming you are on an Apple and have no backspace button to worry about.
  2. In order to make the Prezi work, you need to click on the forward arrow for each segment similar to a PowerPoint presentation, although there is an autoplay option available.

I’ll be presenting my Prezi this week to my students along with some hands-on activities (so will some of the other TLs at school). I’ll let you know what the students think. I’d be glad of any constructive feedback from colleagues as well.

Seeing Red Over in the Pink

Princess Piñata by srqpix from flickr creative commons

Princess Piñata by srqpix from flickr creative commons

I recently attended a Booktalkers session at the Centre for Youth Literature – the theme was “Dangerous Ideas”. Dangerous ideas was about authors pushing boundaries, both personal and literary boundaries. They spoke about changing genres, gender issues, journeys, the boundaries of YA and adult fiction, and most importantly the idea that ignoring or avoiding the difficult issues is where the real danger lies in literature; when self-censorship lies between author and ideas. They were an eloquent, honest group and I enjoyed the opportunity to hear them talk.

One of the sidestreams of conversation that got me thinking was that of gender stereotyping, target audience and book covers; how books are sold to their audiences and who those perceived audiences are. During the break I spoke briefly to author Kirsty Murray, I wanted to find out how much control authors actually have over their book covers.  She answered that as an established author she can sway and down-right refuse a cover design, but a newer author would not be able to do the same. I told her the reason I was concerned is because on a fairly constant basis I have children refuse to even consider a book because of the cover — ‘That’s a girl’s book” or “That’s a boy book” and so they are — especially the early chapter books or easy/first chapter books. The ‘girl books’ are pink and silver and sparkly and the main characters are drawn on the covers like Bratz dolls. The ‘boy books’ covers are dark/black with lightening bolts and rockets or silhouettes with weapons in hand.

When did this great divide occur? And so what? Is it a problem? I think, yes, it’s part of a larger problem created by marketing aimed at children.

I walked into the year 2/3 classroom the other day while they were having their morning meeting. They sat on the rug in a circle and I was struck by the fact that every single girl in the class was dressed in pink right down to their barrettes.  I thought at first it was a theme day and I’d missed the notice, but not so. Pink is now some kind of uniform for little girls, clothes, makeup, toys and … yes books. It is a culture and a stereotype that limits everything in their lives including their choice of role models and heroes in books, and it is part and parcel of the downward push from fashion/body image marketing.

I became more convinced of this when I ran into this article in The Sunday Age . I was interested to follow up and read more on the PinkStinks group now running in the UK. It’s really made me think long and hard about the trends in children’s literature and the balance I am seeking in the provision of reading materials for our students. I have promised myself to look harder for great literature that suits both boys and girls, and to promote it a little more. Literature in the 50’s and 60’s was thought to be sexist and stereotyped, well it feels like the pendulum is swinging back that way. I want to ensure I’m offering more choice; real choice on my shelves.

Framing a Sticky Situation

Honey Frame from l r's photostream Flickr Creative Commons

Honey Frame from l r's photostream Flickr Creative Commons

You may wish to read the previous blog entry – here to make sense of the post below.

After reading  Six Frames for Information Literacy Education: A conceptual framework for interpreting the relations between theory and practice over several times and pondering on the frames and the implementation section, I really feel little farther along on my quest for direction. As with many of these research articles, the emphasis is on higher academia while I work at a primary level most of the time and secondary part-time. Much of the discussion regarding practical application within the article simply doesn’t apply to my workplace.

What is interesting in this article however, is the succinct way in which they have encapsulated views of teaching, learning and IL. By looking and comparing the frames I can see that TL’s are being trained to operate from a Relational frame, most of the teachers where I work are operating from a Content frame and the philosophy of the school purports working from a Learning to Learn frame. Hmm.

So is this insight of any use? I think so. As Bruce, Edwards and Lupton (2006, pp. 14-15) have pointed out in the conclusion of this paper:

1/the resultant framework provides a conceptual tool for thinking about the kinds of IL education that might be fostered within each frame,

2/the frames may serve as an analytical tool for understanding the discourses and differences in opinion about how IL education might be best progressed.

3/challenges may be understood or tackled using the frames as lenses, includ[ing] challenges associated with … frames adopted by teachers or teams conflicting with the frames that underpin institutional values, policy or direction.

Ultimately, as the problem becomes clearer, the solution becomes more complex. =S

Envisioning the Future

All the recent discussion on the OZTL_NET list (for information professionals) about the political climate and future of TLs in various states in Australia can put a real scare in the hearts of those of us studying to become TLs. I think the hardest thing for us is to envisage how we will fit in in the future. We are gaining skills but don’t know what our professional landscape will look like.

How wonderful to find places that if not exactly ‘maps’ are at least ‘tourist brochures’ with a few snapshots of what we might expect to be doing and dealing with.

One of the best places I’ve found is asseslindoiron wiki
entitled New Literacies, New Libraries, New Learners: Information and Ideas on School Libraries 2.0 – they have videos, slide presentations and academic papers that are exciting, challenging and comforting

There is a big future out there for TLs – I’m beginning to see it more clearly and am as excited as ever to be a part of it.