World Book Day: April 23

I’m fortunate enough to share the same literary agent as Tara Moss, the successful Canadian Australian novelist, model and TV celebrity. Tara has decided to get behind the concept of “World Book Day”, and is happy for me to pass on her recent Facebook posts about it, should you wish to mobilise and get something happening in Australian schools. She says:

“Let’s celebrate ‘World Book Day’ on April 23, and encourage it to become a recognized and significant day on the Australian calendar.

“The connection between 23 April and books was first made in 1923 by booksellers in Catalonia, Spain, as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes who died on that day. This became a part of the celebrations of Saint George’s Day (also 23 April) in the region, where it has been traditional since the medieval era for men to give roses to their lovers and, since 1925, for the woman to give a book in exchange. Half the yearly sales of books in Catalonia take place around ‘World Book Day’, with over 400,000 sold (and about 4 million roses). In 1996, the United Nations (UNESCO) declared April 23 ‘World Book and Copyright Day’ and, in 1998, Tony Blair launched ‘World Book Day’ in the UK, where there have been strong programs each year since, involving booksellers, schools, publishers, parents, writers and readers.

“Can we be next?

“Books are key in my life, and I believe that an officially recognized and notable celebration of ‘World Book Day’ in Australia could go some way to ensuring a future where books continue to hold an important place in Australian lives.

‘If you share my interest in making this happen, please join this [“Facebook”] group, and give a book to someone you love on April 23. (The rose, I dare say, is optional.)

“… Let’s get the word out there so that ‘World Book Day’ becomes a notable date on the Australian calendar each year. ‘Book Day’ eclipses ‘Valentine’s Day’ in Spain, so I say, ‘Enough with the Hallmark greetings. Let’s get all of Australia to give their love a book on April 23 instead. Am I asking too much?’

“Happy reading, Tara Moss.”

So there you go! Now, of course, the “Facebook” group won’t be accessible through many educational institution firewalls, but if you celebrate in your school, post your ideas here and I’ll relay them back to Tara. Maybe all those great “Library Lovers” ideas from February 14 can be recycled more than once a year?

Celebrating harmoniously

Our school celebrated the annual Harmony Day on Thursday, concluding with an afternoon reading picnic in shady nooks all over the playground.

The school hall is now decorated with about 1600 tiny paper dolls, four of each decorated by each person in our school. Looking around the school, orange-coloured reminders of Harmony Days past can also be found. There’s still a frieze of photos of orange-themed art, craft and cookery from about four years ago in the main foyer, and several sturdy banners with previous mottos for Harmony Day have also survived.

Our successes each year build on the ones before. Which made the comments of one country school particularly poignant. The organiser at that school, their teacher-librarian, encountered an air of apathy about the day, and/or its message, and I couldn’t help but respond:

“I know you’re feeling down,” I said, “but it’s time to celebrate all the successful elements of your Harmony Day. And there were plenty! Give certificates to those who got into the swing of it all, including staff. Do it at an assembly. Conspire with those teachers who supported you in 2009 to make next year bigger and brighter. Start your planning now. Rehearse for next year by promoting other theme days later this year. Keep photos and banners from this year’s Harmony Day to remind people next year of how many celebrated in 2009 – and record your increased numbers of participants each year in various newsletters/reports. Laminate the photo that appears in the local newspaper. Display copies everywhere.

“For the teachers who said they couldn’t be bothered… make them feel REALLY guilty by helping them with their next all-school responsibility. Do they organise athletic carnivals? Choir? Text book store rooms? Become invaluable to them. 😉

“Theme days often start small and grow in strength, year by year. The students will hold their teachers responsible for supporting the day. Make Harmony Day a tradition in your school. Refuse to allow people to be negative, and respond positively to every great thing that happened. Next year, supply a packet of orange crepe paper to every class who has people without coloured clothing, and tell them you hope that by Recess every student and teacher will have some orange on display. Did you realise there were little orange ribbons available through the official website?

Our Harmony Day committee, and sometimes a group of scripture teachers, also throw a free ‘orange food’ morning tea for the staff: melons, corn chips, Jaffas, orange-coloured dips and cheeses. That’s when you give each teacher their supply of orange crepe paper – and tell them to make some orange streamers and headbands before the reporter/photographer from the local press arrives!”

Harmony Day approaches

Over the last few years, our school has celebrated Harmony Day, and we usually try to come up with a K-6 activity to decorate the school assembly hall with a lasting thematic display. In the past we’ve worn orange clothing, decorated banners, made smiling Arrowroot biscuits with orange icing and various sweets, played multicultural outdoor games, made Harmony Hats, and performed songs.

For 2009, our school has decided to distribute a “paper doll” template for the students to fold, cut out and personalise. Even each staff member has received a strip of orange card in their pigeon holes. I was able to snatch a few minutes of time yesterday to decorate my entry:

I had a few spare minutes today, so here’s my entry:
Harmony Day paper dolls

Mathematics and the teacher-librarian

A primary teacher-librarian asked about how T-L colleagues felt about taking groups of students “to get NAPLAN results up”!

I have no problem with the concept. Working with a group of students on the language used in mathematics, or deconstructing written problems using steps in the information process as a strategy for understanding, or, especially, concentrating on the literacy skills used in reciprocal numeracy, are very much in the domain of a teacher-librarian.

I urged my colleague to take the challenge, but insist on a focus that is drawn from the online NAPLAN support materials. Lots of information-oriented perspectives here!

This term, I’m about to work with several groups of Stage 1 students using mathematical language and nursery rhyme characters, to create wiki pages of short jointly-constructed narratives. Maths literacy is our current PSP focus and I’m happy to share my T-L expertise in this area with teaching colleagues, even though I’ve never considered maths teaching to be a particular personal passion. More on this as the project firms up.

During my time as editor of “Scan” professional journal (1998-2002), I commissioned several articles from both NSW DET curriculum advisors and teacher-librarians on the topic of mathematics and the school library. We had an excellent one from Peter Gould in 2002 on “numeracy” as the “sibling of literacy”. Definitely worth checking out those back issues; some aspects have probably dated a little, but the following list of back-issue abstracts shows that there are many opportunities for TLs to assist with the crucial KLA of mathematics.

GOULD, Peter. ‘More than words’ in “Scan” 21(1) February, 2002, pp 8-12.
“Numeracy involves using mathematics effectively to make sense of the world. It is a fundamental component of learning, performance, discourse, and critique. The State Literacy and Numeracy Plan identifies a range of key objectives in the Department’s support for numeracy.”

TODD, Ross J. & O’CONNELL, Judith. ‘Teachers as learners: transformational leadership and autonomous learning in an electronic age’ in “Scan” 18(3) August, 1999, pp 41-47.
“A professional development program for secondary teachers was constructed… [including…] exploring cross faculty mathematics integration…”

HARDAGE, Paul. ‘The language of other subjects’ in “Scan” 18(1) February, 1999, pp 10-13.
“The social view of language has led to a paradigm shift about language; ‘the language of different subject disciplines’ replaces ‘literacy across the curriculum’. Today’s teachers and teacher-librarians use the explicit instructional practices associated with text types, and emphasise social purpose.”

MAHER, Cynthia, GRAHAM, Peter & LANNEN, Brian. ‘Mathematics + collaboration + technology = success’ in Scan 18(1) February, 1999, pp 20-23.
“Gifted and talented mathematics students from small, isolated schools were involved in the MEGA (Mathematics Enrichment Group Albury) Project. Through email and the Internet, teachers provided activities to a virtual class, culminating in a Maths Activity Day hosted by Holbrook Public School.”

COOK, Jan. ‘Maths on the Net’ in “Scan” 18(1) February, 1999, p 24.
“In the Broken Hill District, a program was initiated which integrates mathematics, problem solving and ICT. Email and the Internet provide communication between virtual teams of students and schools, enhancing: literacy skills in mathematics; cooperation; and training and development of teachers.”

GOULD, Peter. ‘Mathematics K-6: the outcomes addendum’ in “Scan” 17(3) August, 1998, p 4.
“The new ‘Outcomes and indicators addendum for Mathematics K-6′ impacts on schools’ scope and sequence charts and whole-school planning. The article advocates collaborative programming, knowledge of students’ prior achievements and support from the teacher-librarian. A matrix suggests key programming questions.”

Time 4 New Zealand to lead the way again

Clocks x 4

Lots of New Zealand jokes these last few weeks. Not terribly politically correct.

While the four new “newsroom” clocks on the library’s freshly painted wall have been paying off as teaching tools in numerous lessons – the students are getting quite a buzz from discussing the four time zones represented, even just in passing – our “Auckland” clock has been falling behind, needing to be reset at least once each morning. Jiggling the battery was losing effect. The battery was checked: yes, fully charged. Still no improvement. Very annoying. Eventually, Auckland time kept stopping whenever its sweep hand reached the 6.

I had been celebrating the fact that I had bought the clocks for such a great price, but they had also also the last stock in the shop. Taking one clock back for a refund was not going to keep my “newsroom” functioning at peak capacity.

Eventually, I brought out the trusty star screwdriver from the staffroom toolbox. The moment the screws were loosened, the clock started ticking again. Somehow the sweep hand had begun to come into regular contact with the glass front. I removed the back of the clock, bent the end of the sweep hand just a tad… and now New Zealand is keeping perfect time again!

Where would teacher-librarians be without a screwdriver?

Phyl Williamson from Syba Signs is coming by on Wednesday morning to give me some quotes on library signage. I’m hoping for a “Time 4 Learning” sign under the clocks, four sets of vinyl lettering for some windows, some poster hangers, and a big external sign so that people won’t have to guess which building is the school library. My fingers are crossed.