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  • My presentation today is based strongly on the work in the book Knowing Readers It is a synthesis of work done over a number of years including my original PhD research on how we create a reading environment in a secondary school library. This work has been reported on before in a number of forums as both presentations and artricles. In Australia this work has culminated in the book Knowing Readers: Unlocking the Pleasures of Reading, this book was a joint effort, written with a well known expert in the field of YA literature, Pam Macintyre, the editor of the journal Viewpoint: on books for young adults and a lecturer at the University of Melbourne. Knowing Readers combines my own work with the ideas, views and research of a like minded colleague. (pass it around) Today I would like to focus on the following areas that are central to this work in an effort to give you a taste of our views in a short time. The areas to be addressed are:
  • Firstly, pleasure reading and student achievement
  • Those who see value in the experience of reading see the creation of a reading culture, a reading community that reads for pleasure, as an integral part of any school’s endeavours and an important area for school library involvement and leadership. Reading is both an important skill that enables us to function effectively in society and an experience that increases our understanding of the world around us. Very few people would with argue this. But, at times the educational sphere feels the need to only value those activities that can be shown to have a measurable impact on student achievement levels – a scores on the board approach to education. Reading, or more specifically, reading for pleasure, has often suffered under this interpretation of what is important in schools. Whilst we all may agree that reading benefits us in many ways there is no doubt that some of its benefits are hard to quantify. What does the research say about the impact of reading, more specifically pleasure reading, on learning and achievement levels? There have been a number of different international and national reports that have feed into this discussion many of which I have shared in the written report. They include:
  • These reports are from various countries, including the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada and Australia. The OECD report Reading for Change is an international research report based on findings from 32 countries. These reports were produced for a variety of reasons by different organisations or government departments but they consistently tell us the same thing. For example the report entitled Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance states that they found that
  • And Cullinan in a report titled Independent Reading and School Achievement found that:
  • And the OECD study, Reading for Change, in discussing what schools can do to improve student achievement across all areas of education said that to increase reading proficiency first
  • This study suggested the factors that contributed towards engagement in readers were the extent to which students:
  • This positioning of engagement as an important factor in making learning relevant and worthwhile is present in various documents around the world. In my own state of Victoria in Australia our new document upon which curriculum is based - The Victorian Essential Learning Standards positions engagement as central. We are not the only educators with this focus many other major academics and curriculum creators around the world are positioning our need to engage students in their learning as vital. This is part of a student centred approach to learning in an attempt to make schooling more relevant to the lives of young people and more effective. Let’s look then at my second area of focus (to next heading slide) - The centrality of engagement
  • Why make engagement central to reading interactions? Alvermann and Guthrie have commented extensively on the importance of engagement to the reading experience. Guthrie, has said that:
  • Guthrie describes a state we want for all of our students. The OECD in their report Reading for Change , that I referred to earlier, defines engagement as a combination of factors. They assessed students levels of engagement by exploring these thing:
  • “ An enjoyable activity that readers would find hard to give up.” These are students who see themselves as readers. Students who are likely to remain lifelong readers. A more complex view of engagement can be found in the work of Csikentszentmihalyi who describes a state of flow or deep engagement. He defines this deep engagement as:
  • While Csikentszentmihalyi is using this concept to describe involvement in a range of activities from sport to science, he also claims that the act of reading can be an example of flow. This concept clearly links to the student centred approach to a thinking curriculum described earlier that positions engagement as important. Some of you may recognise in Csikentszentmihalyi terminology clear links to the work of reading commentators such as Aidan Chambers and his reading strategies - The three sharing's and the tell me questions. In his three sharings model Chambers encourages readers to makes connections, to see patterns and puzzles in what they read. Encouraging students to both share and critically contemplate what they read. Guthrie and Alvermann have discussed at length what this student centered approach means in practice. They have said:
  • And what do teachers do to facilitate this? Guthrie has said that:
  • This appear obvious but we don’t always get it right. Guthrie is not suggesting that we don’t challenge or extend our students only that to first engage them we must meet them where they are at if we are going to form lasting, productive relationships that connect our students to a world of reading that they can identify with, and become a part of. Where does that leave us then, as teacher-librarians? Chambers in his book The reading environment created the idea of an enabling adult. The facilitator for the reading experience. An enabler that will encourage engagement in the reading experience. So, let’s consider the next focus of my presentation today (next slide) (The teacher librarian as the enabling adult).
  • The idea of the enabling adult has has been explored by many researchers, including myself. The academic and researcher Perry Nodelman has said of the role of the enabler or facilitating teacher:
  • Sounds wonderfully simples doesn’t it! ‘ Figure out what we do ourselves and devise and teach children how to do the same thing’ The construct of school places limitations on this but this in a practical sense, in relation to where and when we read and also how we read, and how we think and talk about what we read are very important lessons for young people that we don’t necessarily always explore in helpful ways. Pam Macintyre and I explored this in our book ‘Knowing Readers’ saying:
  • I am sure many of you have wonderful examples of these types of sharing in your own classrooms. Invite the participants to share EXAMPLE HERE PERHAPS Pam and I go on to say that the enabling adult
  • And that
  • Invite them again to respond EXAMPLE HERE PERHAPS And the enabling adult needs to provide reading experiences for their students that ….
  • The role of the enabling adult is complex and involved but in the time allowed I would like to mention three of the most important areas that need to be continually addressed. Aidan Chambers’ said:
  • Access to books that students choose to read is vitally important if we are to engage them in the reading process. (KRASHEN) This necessitates an extensive knowledge base of relevant reading possibilities at the finger tips of the enabling adult. It demands a well stocked library and also time to access that collection and read at a leisurely pace beyond classroom set texts. Access to all of these things underpins the creation of a reading community of engaged readers that are free to make choices about their own reading. The other important area I would like to address is (next slide) - talk Guthrie and Anderson have said
  • So, we need to be able to support lots of reading of varied kinds beyond the classroom set text and we need to see reading as a social activity that involves talk and interaction, research and argument. We need to create a community of readers. Such a community has ultimate impact and reach when it is built upon a relationship between the classroom and a well stocked, active school library. I would now like to explore two approaches to texts in a classroom environment that model practice that is engaging and thoughtful.
  • Firstly, a thematic text centred unit.
  • The approach here is to group together a variety of diverse texts to explore a meaningful concept and to encourage thoughtful discussion. This thematic approach is common in primary schools in Australia but not a common approach in secondary school. This is a thematic unit for secondary.
  • The focus is titled ‘in a modern world’ and the preliminary question posed is What do these texts tell us about ourselves and societal values? The texts that could be used to explore this are varied. We the following:
  • Such a study brings together texts of different lengths and styles to suit and engage different interests and abilities. It also encompasses texts popular texts and everyday texts as well as challenging novels and non fiction. It offers scope for in depth study of big issues and also the possibility of cross curricula involvement with areas such as history or art. It encourages discussion and debate and asks students to make links between what they read and the world in meaningful ways. Next – comic life
  • Explain how this is used to create a response, review, next chapter, version of dialogue to engage with the text in a meaningful way. Next photo story
  • Explain how this is used and show example of Rosie’s work. How does this encourage engagement? -encourages reflection and interrogation of the text. -encourages deep understanding and necessitates interpretation -offer a form of response that is not centred on writing and one that offers a chance of creative interaction In conclusion I would like to presume that I have made an argument for the relevance of reading of all kind in the lives of young people and for the importance of our role as enabling adults. I’d like to finish though with a comment on the importance of reading by a higher authority. Thank you


  • 1. Knowing Readers Dr Susan La Marca 2008
  • 2. Pleasure Reading and StudentAchievementThe Centrality of EngagementThe Teacher-Librarian as Enabling AdultExamples of Practice
  • 3. Pleasure Reading andStudent Achievement
  • 4. Reading and Student Achievement Research.. Campbell, J. R., Hombo, C. M., & Mazzeo, J. (2000)1999 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance Clark, C. & Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for Pleasure: A Research Overview Cullinan, B. E. (2000) Independent Reading and School Achievement Haycock, K. (2003) The Crisis of Canada’s School Libraries: The Case for Reform and Re-investment Krashen, S. D. (2004) The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research Lonsdale, M. (2003) Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement: a Review of the Research (Australian report) OECD (2000) Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement Across Countries.
  • 5. Reading andStudent Achievementreading for fun had a positiverelationship to average scores. At allthree ages (9, 13, 17 years), studentswho said they read for fun scoredhigher than peers who said they neverread for fun. Campbell, J. R., Hombo, C. M., & Mazzeo, J. (2000) 1999 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance
  • 6. Reading andStudent AchievementStudents who read independentlybecome better readers, score higheron achievement tests in all subjectareas, and have greater contentknowledge than those who do not. Cullinan, B. E. (2000) Independent Reading and School Achievement
  • 7. OE Reading for Change CDOne crucial factor that educationsystems can work on is the degree towhich students are active and wellmotivated readers. This report showsthat the degree to which students areengaged in reading is a crucial factorassociated with reading proficiency. OECD (2000) Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement Across Countries. Results form PISA 2000 (Executive summary)
  • 8. OE Reading for Change CD-Read widely for a variety of purposes-Read regularly-And the extent to which they perceivedreading to be intrinsically valuable OECD (2000) Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement Across Countries. Results form PISA 2000 (Executive summary)
  • 9. The Centrality of Engagement
  • 10. EngagementEngaged reading is a merger ofmotivation and thoughtfulness.Engaged readers seek to understand;they enjoy learning and they believe intheir reading abilities. They aremastery orientated, intrinsicallymotivated…’ Guthrie, J. T. (2000) ‘Contexts for Engagement and Motivation on Reading’
  • 11. Definition of Engagement(OE CD) •How much time is spent in reading for enjoyment each day. •The frequency and variety of reading such as newspapers, emails and novels. •An attitude towards reading that it is enjoyable and an activity that readers would find hard to give up. OECD (2000) Reading for Change: Performance and Engagement Across Countries. Results form PISA 2000 (Executive summary): OECD - PISA (Program for International Student Assessment)
  • 12. Csikszentmihalyi’s ‘Flow’ the mental manipulation of concepts; the positioning of thinking as pleasurable; the identification of the importance of patterns, likenesses, connectedness; the facilitation of concentration and involvement; the pursuit of an activity so pleasurable it is undertaken for its own sake. Csikentszentmihalyi, M. (1992) Flow: The Psychology of Happiness.
  • 13. Student centredCreating classroom communities, providingchallenging tasks, and allowing students tomake choices characterise effective practicesthat connect to students’ interests andmotivations. Connecting to students’ interestsand values ultimately can produce motivated,engaged readers. Guthrie, John T. & Donna E Alvermann (1999) (editors) Engaged Reading: Process, Practices and Policy Implications.
  • 14. Theory into practiceTeachers create contexts forengagement when they provideprominent knowledge goals, real-worldconnections to reading, meaningfulchoices about what, when, and how toread, and interesting texts that arefamiliar, vivid, important and relevant. Guthrie, J. T. (2000) ‘Contexts for Engagement and Motivation on Reading’
  • 15. The Teacher-Librarian as Enabling Adult
  • 16. T E he nabling AdultWe can’t teach what we don’t know, so anyonewho doesn’t know how to enjoy readingliterature, thinking about it, and entering intodialogues about it shouldn’t try to teach thesepleasures. On the other hand, those of us whodo have these abilities need do nothing morethan figure out what we ourselves do in theprocess of enjoying literature and then deviseways of teaching children to do the same thing. Nodelman, P. (1996) The Pleasures of Children’s Literature
  • 17. T E he nabling AdultTeachers who are passionate aboutreading talk about the importance ofreading in their lives, share their love ofbooks and language, read aloud favoritepoems, excerpts, and stories, andchoose books to share that theythemselves enjoy. La Marca and Macintyre (2006) Knowing Readers
  • 18. T E he nabling Adult…communicates their passion for, andbelief in the value of reading by providingregular time for silent and serial readingand reading aloud in their classrooms. La Marca and Macintyre (2006) Knowing Readers
  • 19. T E he nabling AdultThey enjoy listening to and reading students’responses and designing meaningful andpurposeful ways of supporting thinking andtalking about text. They demonstrate in subtleways, by the way they position reading in theirclassroom, what it means to them and theirstudents. La Marca and Macintyre (2006) Knowing Readers
  • 20. T E he nabling Adult…model the negotiations that experiencedreaders do: predicting on the basis of what theyknow about the way texts work, what they knowabout the world, the way people behave, and soon, and then adjusting and modifying thesepredictions as the text progress. La Marca and Macintyre (2006) Knowing Readers
  • 21. Access and ChoicePeople do not become committed readers ona diet of prescribed texts only, however wellchosen they may be…We cheerfully becomewilling readers when following our owninstincts and tastes. Chambers, A. (1991) The Reading Environment
  • 22. TalkIn isolation, intrinsic motivational goals cannotsustain engagement in reading…Students whoare socially inclined, talk with their friends,share books, and discuss their writing aremost likely to become avid readers. Thus,motivations for reading cannot be consideredin isolation from their social and culturalcontexts. Guthrie and Anderson in Guthrie and Alvermann (1999) (editors) Engaged Reading
  • 23. In Practice
  • 24. Text CentredThematic Unit
  • 25. Text Centred Thematic UnitsSecondaryIn a modern worldWhat do these texts tell us aboutourselves and societies values?
  • 26. Advertising cataloguesThe Simpsons television showSupersize Me (documentary film)The art of Andy Warhol, Edward Hooper, Munch.Youth Society pages – The AgeWho Weekly MagazineSo Yesterday & Uglies seriesThe Short and Incredibly Happy Life of RileyThe Singing HatThe Gospel According to LarryAffluenza: When Too Much is Never EnoughDon’t Eat this BookChew on this!Oryx and Crake
  • 27. Comic Life
  • 28. Photo Story