Transliteracy in your Summer Reading Program

It’s that time of year again when Children’s Librarians in public libraries all across the nation are busy making their plans for the summer reading program. You remember those, right? Read 10 books and get a cheap prize like a READ pencil made in China?  Aw c’mon,  everyone has those fond memories, nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ when the public library was all about BOOKS!
I’d like to share some ideas about ways to incorporate Transliteracy into your library’s summer reading program. Or at least share with you how we are trying to do it at MPOW.
When I started at my library a few years ago, I sat down with the Children’s Librarians and we talked about what the goal of the summer reading program (SRP) was. I wanted us to step back from the traditions and examine the core values we desired in an SRP. We agreed that we wanted it to be about reading, sure, but also about creativity, discovery and FUN. So, we set out to restructure our program to focus on those elements and embrace multiple literacies. At the time, I had never even heard the term Transliteracy. Yet, what we came up with actually supports it! We created a Passport that is filled with about 30 Reading Quests (though not all quests are actually about reading). Quests are activities that ask kids to read, think and create through various platforms. Children record their answers and ideas in their very own mini Library passport. Over the last 2 years Quests have included:

  • picture of child's drawingRead a book set in the future (read)
  • What is the coolest invention of your lifetime so far and why? (write)
  • Draw a futuristic car and name it (draw)*
  • Draw a map of your bedroom. Be sure to include a key (draw – spatial)
  • Take a picture of yourself holding your favorite book this summer and email it to the Children’s Library (digital)
  • Watch a movie about a different time period (visual)
  • Use Google Translate to translate the first line of the book you’re reading into another language (digital)

*in case you’re interested, the cars of the future will have ice cream machines in them, if kids have anything to say about it.  

And so on. Some quests could be done many different ways like Find out when the town of Darien was founded. Some kids read it on the town marker sign, some went to Town Hall, some looked it up on Wikipedia, some IM’d a Librarian – all kinds of different ways to answer! When kids had completed Quests, we stamped their passports and entered them into raffle drawings. The kids wrote and drew in their passports all summer long and the more Quests they completed, the more chances they had to win in raffle drawings for prizes. Instead of spending a ton of money on cheap prizes, we spent our money on prizes they would be willing to compete for – iPod Shuffles, Flip video cameras and this year, an iPad! Everyone got a free book prize just for singing up and we had other ways to win prizes throughout the summer.

The program as we run it now has been a HUGE success. The parents have raved about how their kids are eager to participate, the family can participate together or the kids can go alone. Each family is different. It also levels the playing field. A 3rd grader can zip through series books lickety-split while a 5th grader may take all summer to get through a dense chapter book. With the passport, kids can imagine and create at whatever level is right for them.

We also ask the kids to write reviews and tag items in our catalog (SOPAC). We’ve gotten our school librarians to help us spread the word and all the kids have been shown how to do this simple activity. We’ve shown them how they can use tags to create custom reading lists and ask them to write reviews in the catalog in order to receive an invitation to our finale event where they get to meet a popular author and get an autographed copy of his/her book.

For kids who couldn’t come into the library to check in, they could enter their quests online through a simple form we created using WuFoo to be entered into raffle drawings. I think our web portion of the program has much room for improvement, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got!

You know who has a GREAT summer reading website that also incorporates the ideas we talk about here? The NYC Summer Reading website. They have the traditional elements of summer reading available digitally, but also include elements of social media and gaming through the use of avatars, the ability to “Like” another child’s review and win badges. I see this activity as embracing a few literacies beyond simple traditional print literacy and have been impressed with it’s first year out and will watch to see how it evolves.

Summer Reading Programs are a great way to experiment with Transliteracy. What does your program look like? Would kids want to participate or do they only do it because their moms make them?

Knowledgeable to Knowledge-ABLE

I finally had a chance to watch Michael Wesch’s new TEDxKC talk (October, 2010).

When I went to find the code for the video, I came across this article he wrote on the same subject here in the Academic Commons.

This new media environment can be enormously disruptive to our current teaching methods and philosophies. As we increasingly move toward an environment of instant and infinite information, it becomes less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information, and more important for them to be able to find, sort, analyze, share, discuss, critique, and create information. They need to move from being simply knowledgeable to being knowledge-able.

His argument that we need to be able to find, sort, analyze and even create new information in a new media landscape is perfectly in line with the principles of Transliteracy, but the section I was most struck by was around 6:30 when he talks about students seeking meaning in their lives. Near the end he states, “meaning is not just something you find, but ultimately something you create.” As someone also working with young people, I know he’s absolutely right and I find myself thinking more about context.

Knowledge Ability changes over time, based on the communication environment they are in.

Media are not just tools, they mediate relationships and allow us to connect with each other. When media change, our relationships change. Does that sound familiar to anyone who read Transliteracy: Crossing Divides?

The literacies (digital, numerate, oral) may be different, but the transliteracies (social, economic, political) often transect them in similar ways, depending on cultural context.

Wesch says learning is not a one-way conversation anymore – I say neither is librarianship! The old model with youth was “sit-down, be quiet and take in what I tell/give you.” We need to find ways to transform the one-way into two-way conversations.

But here is my great challenge as a children’s librarian in a public library. How do I help teach this in my informal learning environment? How can I help students learn outside the classroom? Wesch’s quote from Neil Postman, “You will do nothing” is not an option for public librarians!

So, what AM I doing? I’m going to do a quick self-audit of Wesch’s criteria to make young people knowledge-able:

  • Connect – We bring together students from across the district with shared interests through our programs and with their friends in the physical space. We’re working toward making our website/catalog (SOPAC) to become a social space where members can connect with each other through the site.
  • Organize – I don’t think I’m doing much of anything to help them organize.
  • Share – Our kids and teens have a voice. They can write comments on the website, write reviews in the catalog and I work hard to hire staff that listens and encourages the kids to share their stories and ideas.
  • Collect – I guess we help kids collect their research, but most often kids come in when they’ve finished their web research and the teacher is making them use a book. The nature of our work as Librarians allows us ample opportunity to collect resources and make them available, but I don’t see us having much of a role in our patrons experience of collecting anything.
  • Collaborate – Staff collaborates all the time using tools like google docs (I have introduced staff in other departments to these tools too) to plan summer reading programs, big events or preparing resource lists. Our Teen and  Kids Advisory Boards collaborate to plan events and collaborate with staff, and sometimes they may work together on a game or craft, but nothing I can identify as an organized effort in our department.
  • Publish – We are experimenting with an elementary school class to digitally publish their personal narratives and make them available on the library’s website. Close, but an unfinished project. Some of us try to “publish” content the kids and teens make in programs, but there isn’t much more I see us doing to publish kids’ creations at the moment. I see lots of potential in this area for public librarians.

Sadly, this makes me realize I am doing a better job of providing this structure for my staff than I am for my patrons. The places I see this type of work happening in a public library are through programming and through our Reference/Reader’s Adivsory with the public. I guess I need to think about those services with an eye toward this concept.

I will take his statement to heart and continue to keep this in my mind:

Knowledge-ability is a practice

I shall practice making more opportunities for my patrons that’s for sure!

My Tuppence Worth

The heated online discussion with challenges and questions about the term “transliteracy” and it’s place in Library Land seems to have subsided, but I had yet to chime in with my two cents to respond to the request for definitions and desire to see results.

A Brief Background:

When I decided to go to library school, I was drawn to children’s librarianship and found that storytelling was a natural fit for me with my theatrical background. While in the MLS program at Pratt, that interest began to cross into multi-media. My professors opened my eyes to see that Stories exist through forms of media. It wasn’t something that was taught. It wasn’t something that was even discussed (that I remember). It didn’t have a name and I couldn’t identify it, but knew it excited me.

A year or so later I attended a presentation by Bobbi at Computers in Libraries on Transliteracy and it clicked for me. This was a concept that aligned with my ideas! It helps me frame discussions with patrons and staff in my everyday work.

Definitions:

I do agree that there are many similar qualities between the two terms Transliteracy and Information Literacy, but I don’t see them as equal. To me, the term Information Literacy is very academic, with a focus on formal instruction. My work in a public library does not include or require formal instruction. In fact, I am not sure that I know of a public library anywhere that requires continuing education for librarians. What I do know is that there are still librarians who lack basic technology skills (I recently heard a story from a colleague of visiting a library where she had to demo how to cut and paste – no joke) and my thinking is that we have to keep exploring and presenting new ways of thinking about learning and literacy in the hopes that something will click for them too.

girl reading on laptop screen

photo by Flickr user yohann.aberkane

Transliteracy allows me to include fun, art, creativity, playfulness and what brought me here to begin with…Story. The definition from transliteracy.com works just fine for me – “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media…” Sure there are other terms that are very similar like 21st Century Learning, e-literacy, and transmedia, but like Buffy J. Hamilton, I think Transliteracy is an umbrella term that allows us to explore the possibilities of communication and creation through many media forms (not necessarily just electronic) and quite frankly, I just like it!

Results:

Here is where the challenge lies. I don’t work in conducting research and formal studies with large groups. I work with a large cross-section of people, but in small groups. My task is to encourage and assist them in using modern tools to access information and entertainment as well as tools from the past.

My hope through working with this group is that I can share my own projects of exploration in my everyday work and hear stories of other libraries facing this challenge. Clearly formal educational environments provide more opportunities for exploring the concept while the absence of a classroom makes it difficult for those of us in public libraries to measure the effectiveness of an initiative. What a shame since public libraries have the potential to reach the largest audience!

So, I’m curious to know how public librarians are exploring multiple literacies at their libraries? How are you teaching transliteracy at your institution?

Transliteracy and Incommensurability

Hi everyone! I’d like to thank everyone here at Libraries and Transliteracy for inviting me to participate in a valuable discussion. Here’s a start…

I’ve been thinking a lot about Matt Richtel’s recent New York Times article, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction.” This article has generated a lot of buzz and some fruitful conversations. However, in looking at some of the responses to Richtel’s piece, I have come to recognize an interesting form of binarism pervading certain attitudes towards the future of education in the digital age. Whether past vs. future, digital vs. analog, book vs. ebook, or focus vs. distraction, the binary standpoint manifests itself in many ways, but the message is usually the same: we are in the midst of a paradigm shift between incommensurable literacies, outmoded pedagogical methods, or technological biases. For my first post here at L&T, I’d like to say something about the role of transliteracy in a world of supposed paradigm shifts.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Infinite Adventures of Dora and Harry

Dora  and Boots

Dora the Explorer & Boots

Dora the Explorer. She is what made Transliteracy click for me. Personally, I can do without the animated child who shouts at her viewers with a forced sense of enthusiasm, but there are thousands…nay, millions of kids in the world who see Dora through much different eyes.

For years now, children have known Dora through the TV show, books, music albums, movies & website games not to mention the kazillions of other Dora merchandise from birthday cake toppers to backpacks. To children, Dora transcends format. She is ubiquitous in a way. If they use a form of media, they can find Dora on it. Yes, this now includes our fancy smartphones. Dora is even on FOURSQUARE!

When these Dora loving children walk into our public libraries, where can they find her? They may want to borrow a Dora DVD, a book (if yours carries them) and they probably want to get on the computers to play some Dora games (how easy is it for a preschooler to do that?).

But, I am only talking about input measures here. Kids are able to understand, interpret & read Dora’s stories through all of these different medias, not to mention telling the stories through their own imaginative play. Technology now empowers kids to explore the other side of Transliteracy – output measures.

Like them or not, branded toys & media can be a springboard for children to take ideas and imagination further, developing 21st Century skills along the way. With a little imagination and freedom, kids can take a story or character they enjoy and bring it into their own world, affecting & changing it. They can choose from many tech tools to create & share content with the world that centers around the original story.

Harry Potter is a great example of this. HP fans make music, write stories, create posters & videos, play role playing games (heard of the International Quiddich Association?) and even attend Harry Potter conventions. There are countless examples of kids and teens creating content inspired by simply reading this series of books.

Technology has given kids a freedom to create  the ability to share what they create. There are over 470,000 HP stories on one fan fiction site alone! They aren’t doing it for an assignment, they aren’t doing it because their parents thought it would be good for their college applications, they do it because they love it and because they can.

This is Transliteracy in action.

The old service model in children’s libraries was input only (sit quietly & listen to the story, kid!). Now, we have the opportunity in libraries to engage with kids in the output side of their Transliterate experience. Libraries can provide opportunities to help them develop new skills, to share their creations & to have more of a dialogue with our kids and their parents. I’m excited to sink my teeth into this concept at my library – aren’t you?

Introduction to Multimedia Scholarship: Student Handbook

The University of Southern California has available online “Introduction to Multimedia Scholarship”. It is

the Companion Handbook for MDA 140, offered in conjunction with the Multimedia in the Core and Multimedia Across the College Programs

The handbook explains the rational behind the course

The Multimedia in the Core program was formally established in April 2006 after a mandate from the University’s Provost Max Nikias in which he announced his desire to offer every student at USC the opportunity to gain skills in multimedia production. The reason behind this mandate is the idea that to be literate in the 21st century requires not only effective skills in reading and writing, but also the ability to use and interpret media effectively. The Multimedia Across the College program expands the opportunities for USC students to gain exposure to multimedia, offering labs in conjunction of a full array of College courses.

It includes five foundational literacies

  1. Digital literacy refers to the ability to understand the basic aspects of multimedia tools and software, and covers everything from the protocols for compression, back-up and file naming to definitions of terms (frame rate, dpi, etc.) and basic equipment usage.
  2. Network literacy refers to the ability to use networked software for intelligent participation in online communities.
  3. Design literacy refers to the ability to use appropriate design principles for multimedia authoring in a specific context, and the ability to control the relationship between form and content.
  4. Argumentation focuses on the ability to develop, express and defend a persuasive thesis using media, as well as the ability to use evidence and complex thinking in constructing an argument.
  5. Research literacy refers to the ability to perform effective, critical online research; knowledge of academically appropriate protocols for selection, citation and attribution of source materials; and knowledge of fair use and copyright issues.

and ten supplemental literacies

  1. Presentation: The ability to understand and articulate basic strategies for effective presentation using multimedia, as well as how to disseminate these materials to a wide audience.
  2. Visual literacy: The abilities to convey information visually and to understand and control systems of visual signification.
  3. Sonic literacy: The ability to communicate effectively with sound.
  4. Interpretation: The ability to use multimedia to enhance a critical interpretation, and the ability to identify and articulate the cultural, historical and ideological contexts of a media object.
  5. Annotation: Understanding strategies for critical annotation of text, images and media.
  6. Collaboration: The ability to work effectively in a group authoring environment, as well as the ability to lead a team project.
  7. Narrative literacy: Knowledge of basic components and genres of narrative, and the ability to deploy elements of narrative in a critical context.
  8. Pedagogical literacy: Understanding strategies for creating an effective tool for teaching.
  9. Interactivity: The ability to communicate effectively in a non-linear, interactive context, and the ability to design an effective interface or navigational structure.
  10. Code literacy: The ability to understand the basics of how code operates, and the ability to write or use basic code.
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