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Author Archives: trahiggs

My glog

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Here is the link to my GLOG on The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore.

I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed creating it!

A reflection

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It is week 6 already.

That is 1 and a half months down… 42 days….. time is going so fast!

I had not realised the variety and enormity of content that had been covered so far in ESH151 until I sat down to reflect on my notebook. That is the beauty of reflection; it is not until I do it that I realise where I have been, what I have learned, and can then consider where I am able to now go. Engaging in this process has enlightened me to what I need to stop doing, enabled me to set a goal for what I will start doing, and allowed me to view my current habits positively to consider what I will keep doing, for now and for the future.

 Stop

Being a fourth year student in my last semester I had considered that the majority of content within this unit would be concepts and ideas that I have already been exposed to. I have, therefore, found it difficult to keep an open mind and fresh eyes when engaging with the unit material. I am finding that when I consider the content I am considering it in relation to that which I already know. There is danger in doing this as there is the risk that I will miss out on learning something new, or taking on a new perspective. This has really made me question how I look at learning in general. At the end of this year when I finish my degree it will not be the end of my learning journey. Learning is for life and I believe a part of the beauty of the education industry is that it is constantly evolving and requires constant reflection and renewal of practice. I therefore make a promise to myself that for the remainder of this unit, and into the future, that I will look on all learning with fresh eyes and an open mind.

 Start

One consideration which has been ignited by this unit is how I can use critical literacy beyond teaching it. I will start using critical literacy to consider the texts that I expose students to and what messages they portray about the nature of the world. Reading Rowan’s description of transformative analysis has highlighted the power that texts hold in being able to present the norms of society, to stereotype or portray different groups of people in a particular light; to gradually develop a warped view of reality (Rowan, 2001). I will start considering how I can expose my students to a range of viewpoints about the world through texts so they may develop a broader and more diverse, and therefore more accurate, perception of reality.

Keep

This semester has been really quite stressful and I have found it a struggle to get through the work I am required to each week, however, this unit has provided me with a bit of light in my week that has kept me engaged with my studies in general. It is the first unit I engage with every week and I always look forward to it. I will try to keep the same level of engagement and enthusiasm with this unit that I have now, and bring that same passion for children’s literature into my future classroom. 

 

References

Rowan, L. (2001). Write me in: Inclusive texts in the primary classroom. Newtown, NSW: PETA.

Critical literacy

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In previous posts I have outlined how an author uses particular textual elements in order to convey their intended message. Authors creatively choose particular words, language features and visual elements in order to manipulate the reader into believing a particular point of view (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl, & Holliday, 2010). This does not mean manipulation in a bad way, all texts want the reader to be convinced of something, for example, Joyce (2012) uses colour to convince the reader of the character’s sorrow in The Fantastic Flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore. However, author’s intentions are not always confined to the development of narrative elements. Texts can be used to convince a reader/viewer to consume a particular product, for example, or perhaps to believe one point of view over another. This is when being a critically literate reader provides much more than aesthetic benefit alone.

Critical literacy involves the analysis of texts in the search for underlying messages of the author’s intent (Temple, Ogle, Crawford & Freppon, 2011). Rowan (2001) asserts that all decisions made by an author communicate something about their values. Critical literacy involves the consideration that texts are written by a particular person within a particular time and place and knowing that the text can reflect the social, historical and cultural values and issues of those contexts (Temple, et al., 2011). A critically literate individual will read in an active way by looking for signs of how the author is trying to position the reader’s point of view (Winch, et al., 2010). This does not need to occur through the deep analysis of every text; rather, it is a developed way of thinking; a hint of scepticism that applies to every day interactions with texts of all forms (Temple, et al., 2011).

Winch et al. (2010) point out that critical literacy also involves understanding how a reader’s own views influence the interpretation of how a story or event or character is portrayed. The image below serves to exemplify this and the fact that critical literacy applies to all text types:

Consider two possible interpretations of this advertisement: 1) this lawn mower is so easy to use that even a woman can operate it which degrades the capabilities of women and portrays them as weak; or 2) society has moved so far forward in equality for women that it is becoming a social norm for women to be seen in traditionally masculine roles and it would therefore be abnormal to not show a woman in this role.

I could interpret it in one way or another depending on my experiences and the attitudes and dispositions that I have developed.

Critical literacy, therefore, is a powerful tool. It involves analysing texts, through both intensive analysis and general day to day scepticism, and requires an understanding of self, as well as how textual features can be used to create meaning. Being a critically literate reader gives me power over my own thinking as I am able to understand how I am being manipulated and make a choice as to whether I agree with the author’s portrayal or not.

References

Joyce, W. E. (2012). The fantastic flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore. London, UK: Simon and Schuster.

Rowan, L. (2001). Write me in: Inclusive texts in the primary classroom. Newtown, NSW: PETA.

Temple, C., Ogle, D., Crawford, A. & Freppon, P. (2011). All children read: teaching for literacy in today’s diverse classrooms (3rd ed.). Boston, USA: Pearson.

Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Visual Literacy: How visual elements make meaning

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The Fantastic Flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore feels like a book that I have treasured throughout my life, yet it was only released last year (Joyce, 2012). It shares the story of Mr Morris Lessmore who loved books and who wrote his own life within one. One day his books were taken away from him and he was lost for a time, until he found a place where books could be his life once more, and there he lived out the rest of his days.

Reading the illustrations parallel to the text reveals visual elements which create their own meaning and add depth to the story and greater connection to the reader (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).

There is a warming sense of nostalgia to the book. This is created by the old fashioned clothes of Mr Lessmore, the classic font and the colour within the images which resemble old photographs with tones of sepia and a dullness to even bright colours.

FFBoMML - Inside cover font

(Joyce, 2012)

It takes me back to a time when books were truly valued and I empathise with Mr Lessmore and grow more attached to the book because of it. The book’s author has used visual elements to extend the protagonist’s love of books beyond its pages.

Colour is used throughout the text to portray emotion and add another layer to the story. When first introduced to Mr Lessmore and his love of books the image is colourful and has a warm glow to it suggesting love and contentment (Callow, 2013).

(Joyce, 2012)

(Joyce, 2012)

When his books are being destroyed the colour begins to disappear. In this image the text itself reveals the feeling of the wind taking the words away in both a written and visual means:

FFBoMML - a cyclone copy

(Joyce, 2012)

Until finally all colour is absent, his books destroyed:

(Joyce, 2012)

(Joyce, 2012)

The above image is the only image where the character appears to make eye contact with the viewer. In doing so the reader is invited into the character’s world to feel his loss alongside him (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 2006).

The remainder of images have no contact which creates a sense that the viewer is looking on at the happenings (Kree & Van Leeuwen, 2006). This accentuates that it is a tale from long ago and enhances that nostalgic sentiment.

Colour gradually returns to Mr Lessmore’s world as he returns to the world of books…

FFBoMML - By fence

FFBoMML - front of library

FFBoMML - Inside library

(Joyce, 2012)

Eventually, he is able to give the same happiness to others that he has regained himself:

(Joyce, 2012)

(Joyce, 2012)

The author has used colour to symbolise happiness and all things wonderful, and a lack of to represent loss and sadness (Callow, 2013). There are other uses of such metaphor in more and less obvious ways, for example, a literal meaning is communicated …

FFBoMML - lost in book

(Joyce, 2012)

Metaphor is also used to express the passing of time in a more emotive sense than the words would suggest by revealing Mr Lessmore moving through the stages of his life.

(Joyce, 2012)

FFBoMML - Summer

FFBoMML - Autumn

(Joyce, 2012)

(Joyce, 2012)

The days get darker and the images reveal his journey from spring until the winter of his life. When he becomes “stooped and crinkly” the author uses a high angle to emphasise his frailty and reveal his weakness (Kress & Van Leeuwin, 2006):

FFBoMML - In bed

(Joyce, 2012)

In the end, Mr Lessmore’s life remains only within a book, but I am left with a warm sense that he would be quite contented with that.

FFBoMML - Book with hands

(Joyce, 2012)

References

Callow, J. (2013). The shape of texts to come: How images and text work. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association of Australia (PETAA).

Joyce, W. E. (2012). The fantastic flying books of Mr Morris Lessmore. London, UK: Simon and Schuster.

Kress, G., & Van Leeuwen, T. (2006). Reading images: The grammar of visual design (2nd ed.). London, Routledge.

Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Language features

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Listen, listen is a quality piece of children’s literature that takes the reader on a journey through the cycle of seasons, relating to the reader through the senses and connecting to their experiences of life’s cycles (Gershator, 2007). It also provides a rich example of various language features (see Textual features handout).

Language features involve the arrangement of language in particular ways to cause particular effect. An author can manipulate the elements of language to create aesthetic value, enhance a reader’s engagement with the text and create meaning (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013).  The introductory pages of Listen, listen provided below reveal a plethora of such examples.

Listen, listen . . . What’s that sound? Insects singing all around!

Chirp, chirp, churr, churr, buzz, buzz, whirr, whirr

Leaves rustle, hammocks sway. Splish, splash, children play.

Clouds drift, dogs run. Sizzle, sizzle, summer sun.

The text begins by commanding the reader to listen and asking them what they hear. This initial invitation engages the reader as an active participant of the text; they are hooked into the action. This is maintained throughout the pages as the verbs are written in present tense and the reader is therefore able to experience such actions in real time: “Leaves rustle, hammocks sway… clouds drift, dogs run”. This enhances the readers’ engagement with the text as does the visualisation of those actions that such imagery creates.

The consonance technique of sibilants is utilised throughout the text to enhance the sensory experience, for example, enhancing the splish splash of water and the sun’s sizzle. When read aloud, the repetition of the ‘s’ sound used when inviting the reader to listen to the insects actually creates the illusion of insects buzzing.

“Listen, listen . . . What’s that sound? Insects singing all around!”

 The onomatopoeia which follows elaborates on the already established insect sounds.

“Chirp, chirp, churr, churr, buzz, buzz, whirr, whirr”

The repetition and use of alliteration within the onomatopoeia enhances its effect, for example, by creating an almost humming sound whilst describing the insects “chirp, chirp, churr, churr”.  This technique is also used in following pages which enhances the onomatopoeia and any associated imagery, for example:

“Plop, plop, acorns drop” or “Swish, swish, leaves fall”

Onomatopoeia is used as a technique throughout the text which accentuates its namesake and invitation to the reader: Listen, listen.

Listen, listen is structured as a poem with each season dedicated one stanza with the words listen, listen used to signify each season’s beginning. There is a rhythm to the text and the author has utilised an AABB rhyme scheme throughout which provides a flow and sense of movement to the words.  There is predictability in its repetition of sounds, structure, words and phrases which make it inviting through the familiarity it creates, especially for younger readers (Winch, Johnston, March, Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010). At the end of the text the structure is broken and the author reiterates the introductory words, highlighting the cyclical nature of the text and of the themes within (see below).

(Gershator, 2007)

(Gershator, 2007)

The simplicity and small amount of text ensure that the multitude of language features within do not overpower or detract from their effectiveness. In essence, Listen, listen provides a wonderful example of the effectiveness of a selection of language features.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). The Australian curriculum: English.  Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/Curriculum/F-10

Gershator, P. (2007). Listen, listen (A. Jay, Illustrator). Bath, UK: Barefoot Books.

Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Week 2: Children’s literature and language development

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I travelled into space last night. I soared towards the stars, weightless amongst the darkness as I experienced the beginnings and the journey of The Man in the Moon. William Joyce was my guide: author; illustrator: creator of worlds (Joyce, 2011). This is the beauty of children’s literature: it is able to take the reader beyond their own world through the use of language and languages (Winch, Johnson, March, Ljungdahl, & Holliday, 2010).

Children’s literature is more than just a description of events; quality literature explores human issues and engages the emotions of the reader (Lukens, 2007). Created worlds may be akin or dissimilar to reality but they all create a connection to the reader through the themes explored within (Lukens, 2007; Unsworth, 1994). Readers are able to journey through experiences and gain understandings they otherwise would not; understandings about other times, other places, other perspectives or even their own as they reflect during engagement with the text and connections are made (Lukens, 2007). Quality children’s literature allows children, and adults alike, to make sense of the world; to explore not only the world for what it is, but also for what it could be (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2013; Winch, et al., 2010).

The Australian curriculum defines literature as including both written and various multimodal forms and asserts it as being fundamental to children’s language development (ACARA, 2013). This is because it allows deeper understandings to be formed around the language contained within with picturebooks in particular providing a rich source for such development (ACARA, 2013).

The images within picturebooks can support or accentuate the meaning which is being portrayed within the written text in more or less obvious ways (Callow, 2013).            Little Quack focuses on the numbers 1-5 which are made explicit within the images and supported within the border of the pages along with the associated language (Thompson, 2003).

Image

Little Quack (Thompson, 2003)

The pictures also emphasise the text’s exploration of being scared and building courage as they invite the reader to empathise with the characters as they develop through these emotions.

Image

Little Quack (Thompson, 2003)

Today I feel Silly exemplifies the notion that images are a language unto themselves as it explores their use to accentuate emotions (Curtis, 1998; Winch, et al., 2010). For example, by using colour to exemplify anger.

Image

Today I feel silly (Curtis, 1998)

Or by using angle to accentuate the protagonist’s loneliness by making her appear small and insignificant (Callow, 2013).

Image

Today I feel silly (Curtis, 1998)

The written text is valuable for learning unto itself. Through literature’s pages children are exposed to rich new vocabulary and ways of describing and understanding the world. Learning is also enhanced through various language features.

Little Quack, for example, utilises onomatopoeia, simple descriptive words and repeated phrases enable very young children to learn through repetition and to encourage them to engage.

Image

Little Quack (Thompson, 2003)

Today I feel silly enables children to explore syllables and similar sounds through its rhyme and rhythm, while The Man in the Moon uses richer vocabulary and techniques such as simile to engage even older children.

Image

The man in the Moon (Joyce, 2011)

Literature is literacy in practice (Winch, et al., 2010). Exploring literature collaboratively with children will allow them to engage with, and subsequently develop, all forms of literacy: reading, writing, speaking and listening (Winch et al., 2010). Most of all, exposing children to quality literature will develop a lifelong love of reading, and subsequently learning.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). The Australian curriculum: English.  Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/English/Curriculum/F-10

Callow, J. (2013). The shape of texts to come: How image and text work. Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association of Australia (PETAA).

Curtis, J. L. (1998). Today I feel silly: & other moods that make my day (L. Cornell, Illustrator).  New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Joyce, W. (2011). The guardians of childhood: The man in the Moon. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Lukens, R. J. (2007). A critical handbook of children’s literature (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Thompson, L. (2003). Little Quack (D. Anderson, Illustrator). Kingsway, London: Simon and Schuster.

Unsworth, L. (1994). Managing the Language program: Children’s literature in the primary classroom. South Melbourne, VIC: Macmillan Education Australia.

Winch, G., Johnston, R., March, P., Ljungdahl, L., & Holliday, M. (2010). Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (4th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.