Final Project

For my final project, I decided to use Storify because I did not want to solely complete a research paper, but I also did not have plans for a structured creative project. Therefore, I call this my “Creative Research Paper.” 

https://storify.com/linxsue/we-want-ya-literature-in-our-schools

 

Also, here is the link for my Ignite presentation. I had a difficult time getting it onto Youtube or Vimeo because my Mac is pretty old school, so I am leaving the link through screencastomatic. Hopefully, you all will be able to watch it, and if not, please let me know and I will try to upload it to a different platform. 

http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c2ivVUndss

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Reflective Essay #2

YA pic

Since starting this course at the end of May, my interest in working with young adults has grown each week. I began the semester tossing around the idea of working with either young children or with young adults (YA), and from what I have read and explored in class, I am confident that I want my future career to be in YA library services. Some might think that a librarian for children and one for YAs would have very similar responsibilities, but I do not think that is true. Children and YAs are vastly different when it comes to their reading habits. Young children live in an exciting time in their lives when reading is fun and magical and taking a trip to the library is a special treat. Once children become YAs and need to read as a part of their required homework, reading oftentimes becomes a bore and a hassle to many teens and it becomes much harder to motivate this age group to read not just required texts for school, but also for fun. In addition to their reading habits, children and YAs differ in their development, mentally and physically. The Crash Course video we watched about Adolescent Psychology shows that YAs are at such an important stage in their lives where they are experiencing physical, emotional, social, and identity changes, and YA literature can be a gateway for many adolescents as they go through those changes. I think a YA librarian has a much more challenging job description, and I find that challenge to be exciting and welcoming.

New Breed of Teen-Services Librarians Emerge

My passion for working with the YA population peaked after I read Penny Kittle’s Book Love. I was so impressed with how passionate Kittle is with motivating her students to read independently. I love how she took the time to conference with each of her students on their reading and how she was able to convert even the most reluctant reader into a pleasure reader. I was taken with many tactics she used in her endeavors in the classroom and I frequently think about how some of them could be applied to a public library setting since that is what I am interested in. For example, I loved the concept of using the “Big Idea Books” where students could write a review or any kind of summary about the book they read based on its theme. I thought this was a great idea considering there are so many important themes in YA books, and using these journals keeps an open dialogue amongst the students about what they took away from the text. This fall, I have an opportunity to intern with a YA librarian, and I am hoping to introduce this concept to her and explore its potential success in a public library setting.

As far as the class format goes, I am still greatly enjoying this course and it is by far the best online course I have taken. Even though I miss out on the weekly Google hangout sessions, I still feel involved in the class and in the loop of what everyone is talking about. I admit that I am not as much of an active Tweeter as some of my classmates, but I am continuing to work on it considering I never tweeted prior to taking this class. I love reading #LSC531 tweets each week and seeing everyone’s thoughts on the course content and links to other articles related to what we are discussing. I have grown to love Flipgrid. At first, I was intimidated by the concept of needing to record myself talking, and of course I made many recordings before I was comfortable with submitting one. However, it has been so neat to see and hear from people who, like myself, do not attend the Google hangout sessions. I loved hearing everyone’s thoughts on Book Love since I was so excited about the text. I think Flipgrid is such a creative tool and it is a great way to keep everyone involved and engaged in our ongoing conversations.

I have been enjoying the required reading for this class. However, my one critique is how most of the texts are focused on talking about how English teachers deal with YA readers, instead of librarians. There has been some talk of school librarians, but much of the focus has been on teachers. At first, I found this to be somewhat frustrating since I do not want to be an English teacher. However, this gave me the opportunity to think about the reading habits of teens since teachers are more aware than anyone else of how many teens are actually reading. As a librarian, it is important to be conscious of which kinds of teens are reading and which ones are the reluctant ones. The focus on the classroom has also given me the chance to think about the use of YA literature and classic literature in the curriculum, which is a concept that I have pondered over the course of the semester. I love hearing from so many of my classmates on these ideas since many of them are currently or have previously been schoolteachers. They offer so much insight into the conversation and they provide real life applications of the readings. I can only apply these readings to my high school experiences since they were not that long ago, so it is refreshing to gain a perspective from those who apply the texts in a professional sense.

I am already a lover of YA fiction, but taking this course has motivated me to read even more. Most recently, I read and reread The Fault in Our Stars, Looking For Alaska (another John Green novel), If I Stay (soon to hit theaters in August), and currently I am reading The Maze Runner, which is also hitting theaters this fall. I am only 23 years old, and I sometimes still consider myself a YA, so even I can still take away lessons and themes from these books. I hope to someday be a YA librarian who is completely confident in recommending YA books and am well versed in all types of books for adolescents. Therefore, I read YA books not only for myself, but for those YAs I might serve in my community in the future. In the article that I posted above titled “New Breed of Teen-Services Librarians Emerges,” the young adult librarian states, “At this age, the books teens read really mean something to them. This is our last chance to make readers.” I couldn’t agree more and this drives me to be a great YA librarian who can reach out to as many teens as possible and make them lifelong readers.

dr seuss reading pic

Research Review

 

The journal article I am reviewing is titled Young Adult Literature and the Common Core: A Surprisingly Good Fit (Ostenson & Wadham, 2012). I was initially drawn to this article because of the title. Some will argue that the concepts of young adult literature and the Common Core are polar opposites and that there is not a place for YA literature in educational settings. I have a strong interest in YA literature and especially after reading Penny Kittle’s text Book Love, I am interested in how YA literature fits into the Common Core expectations in secondary schools. This article was published in American Secondary Education, which seems to target secondary education teachers, researchers, and other educators in the field. After researching this journal, I determined that it has been a prominent journal in the field for a number of decades, so I feel like it is a trustworthy source.

My initial step in approaching this article was to read the abstract to get a general overview. The abstract reveals that this article discusses how young adult literature should be included, along with classics, into literature classrooms and how many young adult texts can “meet the expectations of the Common Core and provide meaningful literary experiences for students” (Ostenson & Wadham, 2012, p. 4). This concept piqued my interests so I decided to continue browsing the article. My first observation was that this article does not contain a method, results, or discussion section like many other research articles. Therefore, this article appears to be focused on presenting a point of view on the matter rather than highlighting statistics on the topic. I kept this in mind as I started working through the text.

The introduction explains how the Common Core standards for English Language Arts classes have typically revolved around the “classic” texts, but these authors are arguing that there is a place for YA titles in the classroom and that they can meet the standards. Ostenson & Wadham (2012) discuss YA literature in general and express both pros and cons of including these books in the classroom. One of the biggest arguments against including YA literature is because many of the texts are “juvenile and not complex enough” (p. 5). However, there are a number of beneficial aspects. Most YA texts contain issues and scenarios that are relevant to teens and they contain themes that teens can relate to. It can be difficult to get teens engaged in reading, but it helps when they feel a connection to the text. Therefore, YA books can turn students who are reluctant readers into active pleasure readers while helping them increase their reading skills at the same time.

While the general argument here is that YA lit has a place in language arts classrooms, Ostenson & Wadham (2012) state that classic literature has an important place in the curriculum as well (p. 6). Classic texts require more analytical thinking that is required at the college level, so it should be an educator’s goal to get students to read classics independently. However, young adults have a difficult time relating to the concepts in classic literature and forcing students to only read these books will not make them good readers or interested in reading at all. Therefore, one of the arguments made in this text is that YA books should be included with the classics, especially since there are similar themes across both genres. YA literature sparks an interest in teens to read and to read independently outside of school, and the classics challenge students and force them to work on their reading and comprehension skills.

In order to show why there is a place for YA literature in the classroom, the authors present the Lexile range, which gives each text a quantitative score based on how it fits the Common Core standards. There are also qualitative measures such as “meaning in a text, the complexity of its structure, the use of language, and the knowledge demands made by a text” (p. 7). To support their claims, the authors discuss various young adult texts and how t hey meet the qualitative and quantitative requirements. They conclude that there are a number of YA texts that meet the need for complexity in concept and language, while also being a better match for teen readers to keep them interested in the text and reading in general.

Overall, I thought this article presented a powerful position, being that there is an important place for YA literature in the classroom. However, I feel like I would have been persuaded even more if the authors had conducted a structured experiment to demonstrate why YA literature meets the Common Core standards. They cited other research articles when making their arguments, so it is evident that they looked at a number of other experiments to support their claims. However, I do wish there were more statistics present in this paper and I imagine other educators and practitioners might make the same critique. More figures and experimental evidence would make their argument a much stronger one.

My critique on the content of this paper is more of an applause than a negative review. After thinking back on my own high school experiences, I believe that developing a language arts curriculum based solely on classic literature is a dangerous endeavor. In high school, I was an active pleasure reader, but I found it very difficult to stay committed to the required reading when it was comprised of “old” books that I could not relate to. I agree that there are a number of YA books that are not complex enough to be included in the classroom, but there are plenty that present a challenge both in concept and in the writing style, while providing a theme or main character that young readers can relate to. This article contributes to the evidence that Penny Kittle highlights in her book about how YA literature can introduce teens to reading as a pastime and hobby, but it takes this idea one step further by arguing that there is a place for these books in the curriculum. I imagine that secondary education teachers reading this article might have conflicting views on what this paper presents. I picture a divide between the teachers who believe in tradition and continuing with The Red Badge of Courage or The Great Gatsby, versus the newer, more open-minded teachers who would welcome The Hunger Games into their classrooms as a text reflecting government oppression. Hopefully, all educators can be persuaded by this argument.

 

References

Ostenson, J., & Wadham, R. (2012). Young adult literature and the common core: A surprisingly good fit. American Secondary Education, 41(1). 4-13.

Reading Rate

Over this past week, I had a difficult time starting this assignment. The weird part was that I happened to be reading all week, so it seems odd that I would have a difficult time engaging in an assignment that wants me to take a closer look at my reading habits. I think the reason why I was putting off this assignment is because I dislike tasks that interrupt my ability to just read and enjoy a text. For example, when reading a book in high school, I always hated when I had to focus on answering questions or looking for new vocabulary terms while reading a text because I felt like it took away the whole fun aspect of reading. When I started timing myself for 10 minutes for this assignment, I felt somewhat anxious and paranoid and kept wondering what my reading rate would end up being. However, when I saw Allison and Catherine’s posts which contained some fun tools to measure reading rates, I found the assignment to be much more interesting.

I accessed the different sites that Allison posted and found that my reading rate with an informative text is 270 wpm and for a narrative text is 361 wpm. Then, I tried out the Spritz app that she posted about and found that I could read at 400 wpm, but it honestly was not completely comfortable for me at that speed. It made sense that on other quizzes, my rate was in the 300s.

The text I was reading this week was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which is a mystery novel about a husband’s wife going missing. It is not overly dense or complex but the font is fairly small. In 10 minutes, my average rate was 10 pages, so about a page per minute. I know that I am not a super fast reader and I tend not to rush myself so I can comprehend better. When reading journal articles, I know my rate is much slower, especially if I lose interest in the text. This tends to drag out the time it takes me to read an entire article. I did not use this during this assignment, but I frequently listen to music while I am reading. Some people think it is kinda odd and wonder how I can focus, but I read well with background noise, especially with soft, acoustic music coming through my headphones. I wonder how the use of music effects my reading rate.

I think that determining reading rate can be useful in adolescents, especially before they start taking standardized tests. I am a big believer in that standardized tests do not reflect a student’s true abilities or intelligence, but I believe some people do not perform as well on them because of their reading abilities. These tests are timed and someone who is a slow reader is likely to struggle because they will feel rushed and forced to skim reading sections, resulting in lower comprehension of the text. Working on reading rates and comprehension with younger age groups could help students perform better on these tests.

Annotating a PDF

New Literacies and Adolescent Learners (Coiro)

This week, we received an assignment to annotate a PDF document. I have a Mac and learned that this is a very easy process on a Mac computer, but I was amazed that I had never annotated a document before. I am a little sad that I was unaware of this process during my undergraduate days, as it would have been an easy method of marking up articles. At least it is never too late to learn a new skill! Here is the link for my annotated document, which was an interview with Julie Coiro.

 

“Book Love” : Top 10 Take-Aways

Last week, we were assigned the text “Book Love” by Penny Kittle to read in its entirety. From past experiences, I hated when professors would assign a full book to read in one week. So initially, I was rather anxious about needing to read this whole book for next class. I was pleasantly surprised when I found how much I loved and enjoyed this text. It was a quick read and the content was inspiring. Getting young adults excited about reading is one of the major reasons for why I want to become a librarian, so I was very invested in this text. Here is a list of my top 10 take-aways from what Kittle advises on young adult readers. 

1. Independent reading allows students to build stamina. 

2. “We need to balance pleasure with challenge, increasing volume for all readers and setting up an environment in our classroom that manages kids as they choose books, set goals, and develop reading habit.” (p.8). We can’t cram classic literature books down the throats of our students before they are ready. When students don’t understand these books, they become frustrated and oftentimes quit reading altogether. 

3. When skills and pleasure align, students begin to choose more difficult texts to read independently. 

4. “A reading appetite is quirky, singular, and essential.” (p. 19). I really loved this quote and I think it is so true, especially of young adult readers. Therefore, teachers should expect and be excited about the variety of texts their students might be pleasure reading. 

5. There is a correlation of students who did not read in high school not finishing college. These students do not have enough stamina and reading comprehensive skills to keep up with the amount of reading required in college.

6. “Life lessons live in fiction.” (p. 22)

7. “People who read bad books now may or may not read better books in the future. People who read nothing now will read nothing in the future.” (p. 34). This quote reminded me of a incident from one of my high school classes. In my senior year Latin class, a group of us were talking about Twilight since most of us were reading it at the time. We were debating whether it was a good book or not and the quality of the writing. My teacher interjected and commented on how it didn’t really matter what we thought of the book, but rather the fact that we were all independent readers who could carry on a literary conversation. The most important part was that we were reading, not what we were reading. 

8. I liked how Kittle used conferences with her students instead of quizzes to determine whether they were keeping up with their reading. Anyone can bluff through a quiz, but it is more difficult to fake your way through a conversation about a text, especially with Kittle who became an expert at singling out her students who weren’t reading. 

9. I liked Kittle’s use of “to read next lists” so her students were always looking ahead and thinking about what else they could read. 

10. Big Idea Books are a creative idea to keep students thinking about the themes of the books they are reading and to keep up a conversation and dialogue about these themes. 

The last comment I want to make about this book is that I loved how Kittle included so many real life examples of conferences and interactions she had with her students. I really appreciated reading about how her efforts with each student paid off and she was able to turn some of her most difficult readers into pleasure readers. 

Reflection Essay #1

We are only approaching the fourth week in this class, but it is amazing to think about what we have learned and accomplished so far. The readings and conversations have offered so much to think about and I enjoy how the concepts are relevant to current day, real world situations that many of us are addressing in our jobs each day. The first aspect of this course that I will address is the format of the class and how this is an online course. The bulk of the courses I have taken at URI have been online classes since I live about an hour from campus. This has been a very convenient method for taking classes, however, I have found that there are definite pros and cons to online learning. Aside from convenience, taking online courses puts me in charge of my own learning. Even though there are weekly deadlines for assignments, I am able to work at my own pace and incorporate the schoolwork into my own schedule. Out of all the online courses I have taken, the format of this class has contributed the best to me not only learning the course material, but also applying it to real world situations. One of the biggest cons I have found with this online course is that I cannot always attend the Google hangout sessions because of my work schedule and other responsibilities. I always watch the videos the next day, but I oftentimes feel like I missed out on my chance to contribute to the conversation. Luckily, the design of this course makes it very easy for me to express my opinions through other platforms, such as Twitter and WordPress. The course content has kept me invested and intrigued thus far, so it has been fairly easy to stay disciplined to completing the assignments on time.

digital media

This course has challenged me in ways I did not expect. It is so easy to take an online course where you complete readings each week and then write a summary to post to Sakai for classmates to see. The assignments for this course ask so much more of us than that. We are forced to challenge ourselves and think outside of the box with each Twitter post, blog entry, or other online posts that we complete. This has particularly been a challenge for me because I have had no prior experience with some of these tools, such as WordPress, Storify, and Flipgrid, and I have very limited experience with Twitter. I never fully grasped the influence that Twitter has on young people until I started using it for this course. Prior to this class, I used my Twitter account rather infrequently to keep tabs on some of my favorite actors or musicians, in what people may term the “stalker” use of Twitter. I never understood the use of the “hashtag” until my classmates and I started posting to #LSC531 and I learned how the simple use of a symbol can organize and filter specific web content in a convenient way, considering the extent of information on Twitter. I have gained a newfound respect for Twitter and I am very grateful for the opportunity to explore the uses of the site and to hopefully become a better Tweeter in the future.

My favorite aspect of using Twitter and WordPress thus far has been the ability to read what my classmates have posted. I am one of the youngest students in the class, with the least amount of experience, so it has been enlightening to hear from everyone in the class on how the text and material applies to their work experiences or to their own lives in raising their children. David Lankes (2008) says that youths learn through conversation with others and they build ideas off each other. I feel like this idea applies to our learning in this course. I have my own reflections after reading the text, but I am able to contemplate even more concepts and ideas by hearing what my classmates have to say. Even though we are completing assignments individually, there is a great sense of teamwork in our reflections as we bounce ideas off each other and come to multiple conclusions.

Thus far, I have enjoyed considering the implications of digital media on young adults in schools and libraries. Up until last week, I was applying the readings and reflections to my own personal experiences as someone who only graduated from high school five years ago and has not had much real library work experience yet. I have gained great insight by reflecting on my education, but those reflections only go so far and I long for a way to make connections in my everyday life. Last week, I interviewed for an internship at a public library to work with the Children’s Services Department. During my interview, I brought up this course and discussed how we are exploring digital media usage by young adults and how librarians can incorporate those tools into their services and lessons. I was very pleased with the response from my interviewers and they seemed the most impressed with my newfound understanding of this topic over anything else that we discussed. This particular library has established itself on multiple social media platforms, but like myself in taking this course, they are still trying to grasp the realm of possibilities that exist in each tool. I believe my discussion of these tools and the idea of incorporating digital media into the learning of young adults gave me an edge in my interview and I am hoping to hear back any day about the internship. I am keeping my fingers crossed because this would be such a fabulous opportunity to work with the children’s and young adult librarians and to apply this course material to my everyday life.

As I previously mentioned, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my high school experiences and my interactions with teachers and the school librarian. I graduated from high school in 2009, so it is easy to reflect on this time. I recall the school librarian completing a lesson for each English class about what Lankes and Harris refer to as “credibility assessment.” She used the checklist model and highlighted the ways that we can tell if a website was a reliable source for research purposes. However, I remember the librarian using preselected sites to make her point and her lesson was mostly based on a lecture rather than an open conversation about how we each came to our own conclusions. Harris (2008) comments on how when teachers preselect and filter out appropriate websites for students to use, they are going to miss out on learning important searching and evaluation skills for themselves. Lankes (2008) makes the same argument by saying, “If youth are exposed only to vetted and ‘safe’ resources, often pruned of a great deal of context and conversation, how are students to gain the invaluable skills required to determine credibility on their own, outside of guided environments?” This is one theme that I have appreciated the most out of our readings. Thinking back, I feel like my high school librarian could have done a better job at ensuring that students were grasping the skills involved in credibility assessment, especially since they are relevant when conducting research in all subject areas. I feel like this task is even more important today because, as Lankes states, young adults are much more “information self-sufficient” and they have become authority figures on navigating online material.

Aside from the course material we are currently exploring, my particular interests in information competencies for youths deals more with what young adults are reading and engaging in. I read frequently as a child and I especially found my true love of reading came when I hit the world of young adult fiction. In young adult literature, I find that in most texts, there is something for everyone to relate to. In middle and high school, I was drawn to series with strong, intelligent female characters that were trying to find their way and place in the world. Recently, I read the Divergent series and found that even though the main character is younger than myself, I could relate to her struggle to feel like she belongs somewhere and can find her place within her society. So many young adult works are based on fictional worlds, but like Divergent, the authors bring in characters with such real emotions and experiences that make them more relatable to the reader. For all of these reasons, I am looking forward to what is coming later on in this course during the weeks titled “Appreciating Young Adult Genres” and “Issues in Young Adult Collection Development.” I hope to pull out a possible final project idea from those texts and assignments. The following news clip makes me curious about the growth of young adult works and how all age groups are reading them today.