Engaging Teen Readers: SLAV Conference 25th Nov 2016

The final School Library Association of Victoria (SLAV) Conference for 2016 looked at how to keep students engaged & develop and/or continue to develop a culture of reading into adulthood.

We were welcomed to the State Library of Victoria (SLV) by Andrew Hiskens (Manager, Learning Services) who explained the SLV’s Strategic Plan for the next few years.

Will Kostakis, the acclaimed author of YA literature, gave the Keynote address, Being Brave: ‘Difficult’ Topics in Literature and Writing. His presentation was fantastic. Honest and humorous, he had the audience spellbound and totally focussed on the experiences he had when starting out (he began to write very early in primary school) and how he has developed and grown into his writing

The program included over 10 Concurrent Sessions that gave practical examples of how we can engage teen readers. Those presenting gave us so many ideas about how to approach reading with our teen readers. There were so many interesting things going on in the schools they came from that it will take me some time to reflect on them. I can see so many ways they  will be useful in my school.

The tweets are collected in this Storify

Learning styles: fad or useful?

 I found this video as I was going though information about learning styles.

In the video Professor Daniel Willingham describes research showing that learning styles are a myth. It is interesting to watch.

This was an interesting perspective. The concept of learning styles has been around a long time. This video made me go back and reflect on why I was going to have my students look at learning styles.

I thought I would use an on-line survey with my students and have them analyse the results. It was to be a starting point for some discussion about how they like to learn best. Not about one way but all the ways they find they it easier to learn and the things that they find more difficult. I want to encourage my students to “own” their learning and become active participants in their own education. I want them to understand what it is that they find difficult and how they might go about improving in those areas. The information about how they like to learn, how they believe they learn best and what they need to improve upon, will not only help them but also help me when I am preparing lessons and resources. I have always tried to offer several approaches to the lessons/resources I want students to learn from, with varying degrees of success. It is always useful to get student feedback on what worked/didn’t work but it would be better if it included a description of the why (from each student).

I believe most teachers do not set put to simply ‘cater’ to their students’ strongest learning styles. Most of the better teachers try build up their students weaker abilities(learning styles) whilst giving them an opportunity to demonstrate and refine their strengths. The best teachers provide a balanced learning environments. that challenge and support all(most)students.  

I found watching Dan Willingham’s video interesting because it challenged other, very pro-learning style, theorists. I am still going to have my students do the learning style survey along the lines I indicated above. I want them to gain insight into their own learning strengths and weaknesses, so they can improve in all aspects as well as appreciate that the differences, within the class of 24 learners, to create a better learning environment. From here it is a small step to understanding the potential for wider learning opportunities, beyond the classroom walls.

Iam going to look at Dan Willingham’s Teaching Content Is Teaching Reading video next. If the 1st video is anything to go by, then this should give me something to think about as well.