International literacy – UNESCO infographic

We are lucky here in Australia. Our education system is far from perfect but sometimes we see something that puts things into perspective.  International Literacy Day 2013 was on Sunday, September 8th and this infographic was released recently by UNESCO. It reinforces just how precious education is and how many people around the world still don’t have a basic education as their given right. As our new government seeks to cut back foreign aid so many people in the world need our help.

It has been shown in research that literacy plays an important part in countries/people achieving a more sustainable future and that knowledge can help combat poverty and improve people’s livelihoods.  If we can assist people in developing their literacy level then we are helping them become more independent from us.

UNESCO Institute for statistics

International Literacy Data

by ElkanoData.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Useful links

Editted Handglider by m_edens, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  m_edens 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

  • Educational Software | Teaching with Comics | Bitstrips for Schools   This site offers software that would allow students to create their own comic strips. Not free
  • Here Be Dragons: An Introduction to Critical Thinking  “Here Be Dragons is a free 40 minute video introduction to critical thinking. It is suitable for general audiences and is licensed for free distribution and public display. Most people fully accept paranormal and pseudoscientific claims without critique as they are promoted by the mass media. Here Be Dragons offers a toolbox for recognizing and understanding the dangers of pseudoscience, and appreciation for the reality-based benefits offered by real science.”
  • Blio eReader An e-book reader supposed to launch in 2010. The software should be pc combatible. Offers features such as highlighting and annotating books, texts will be stored virtually so reader’s notations are available anywhere. Will also have read-aloud feature.
  • World eBook Fair  Offers a subscription approach to world e-book library. From their site:  “Our goal is to provide free public access for a month up to 2 Million eBooks. During the rest of the year you may continue to download your selection of about 750,000 PDF eBooks by joining the World Public Library. Annual membership is only $8.95 (US) per year.”
  • iPod Touch Project A great resource about how an Auckland school has trialled the introduction of iPod Touches in the classroom. 
  • Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful sites (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Google Lit Trips

google_lit_tripsAnother practical use for Google Earth has been found in these interesting lessons that utilize this application.  On the website named Google Lit Trips  you will find a list of lessons using various texts in which a virtual “trip” has been planned for use in describing events, settings, etc. of a story. 

2 interesting videos as an introduction to Google Lit Trips are presented by Kate Reavey (Peninsula College). Part 1

Part 2


This has the potential to be an excellent resource for teachers who are looking for ways to introduce literature in a different format into their classrooms.  The lessons seem good enough to be used with a class via a teacher’s computer that is hooked up to data projector or it could be used by students at individual computers.

site map
site map

I had a look at the Lit Trips for Elizabeth Honey’s book Remote ManHana’s suitcase by Karen Levine and they also have one for Macbeth. googleLitTrip-remotemangoogleLitTrip-remoteman2

  Looking at the above and, based on my knowledge of how reasonably user friendly Google tends to make the applications I have already used, it leads me to believe that creating your own lit trip would not prove to be too difficult a task.  There is a pdf “how-to” for creating your own lit trip ad it does not look to difficult. I have a small group of students working with me at the moment, reading e-books from DailyLit. One of the titles is Around the world in eighty days. I thought that this would make an interesting project for us to expand on the journey through the book whilst learning about creating something new with GoogleLitTrips. 

In general, this site seems to be an extremely valuable resource with downloadable materials complete with discussion questions and other class activities. I believe that this could be a great tool to help students visualize and learn about the places they encounter in various stories. 

To get started on your Lit Trip journey with characters from famous children’s novels you will have to :

  • Download Google Earth
  • Return to Google Lit Trips
  • Click on one of the grade level links at the top of the page
  • Find a Lit Trip that meets your interest 
  • Start exploring

Connecting our students to Reading

I like reading, which is just as well in the job I do. I like to encourage our boys to read. I have always preferred the longer novel but I use all sorts of things to get the boys to read. They must read because the written word is still a major form of communication. Whether it is reading for meaning, information or reading for the sake of the story, they must learn to get a handle on it. They cannot be classed as literate if they cannot read adequately and success is always equated with being literate.

Nowadays we have new mediums to reach children and encourage them to read, new stories or the old classics. A lot of these books are available free on-line. We have podcasts, e-books , graphic novels telling stories in alternative ways. We can get many of the classics on-line and there are now those who publish directly into the digital environment. We have sites hosting an author who, mirroring the old style serialisation (eg Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock  Holmes stories) and writing their story in installments on that site. Others, like the SLV’s Insideadog site has, in some instances, offered young people the chance to become even more involved by encouraging them to make suggestions for new story-lines in these serials. 

Today we have so many ways to offer people a chance to feel the power of a story, to connect to a narrative. In schools, if we cannot get many of our young people to connect with the story, then we are not really trying. If we want to help them with their literacy skills we must help them make the connections.

I have been creating a list in Diigo called books and alternatives and have also put a few together, in a sharetabs group, called Engaging with books. These are just some of the many and varied sites that I am sharing with colleagues, trying to encourage them to use a variety of approaches to engage our young people. My ideal is to have them so engaged in their work that they don’t even notice the bell for the end of the period. It has happened before, albeit rarely, and it is magnificent

 I have mentioned “literacy”  and the meaning of that word has/is changing too. There are many different types of literacy spoken about in the educational arena. It is the amazing technological advances in the past couple of decades has lead to these changes in the definition of literacy.

The OECD PISA has three literacy definitions,  reading, science and mathematics. The first definition is: Reading literacy is the ability to understand, use, and reflect on written texts, in order to achieve ones goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society.

The UNESCO definition of literacy: “Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.”  

If we want to help our young people achieve a high level of literacy, we need a high level of engagement and a willingness to embrace a variety of ways to achieve this. 


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