Favored format: sifting through textbook options

This is the first subject that I am doing in this course that has a textbook prescribed. It looks as though that textbook will be thoroughly used, too; the schedule lists every chapter (as far as I could tell) in the weekly readings columns.

There were four reasonable options open to me regarding textbook access:
1. Do my readings by accessing the digital version of the text available through the CSU library.
2. Borrow a hard copy version of the text from the CSU library.
3. Purchase a second-hand copy of either the most recent or previous version of the text.
4. Purchase a new copy of one of the acceptable editions of the text.

I did my readings for the first two subjects in this course almost entirely in digital format. In light of some of the research that indicates that we process and regulate study behaviours around on-screen reading differently to on-paper reading (Ackerman & Goldsmith, 2011), and especially findings that suggest that comprehension can suffer with on-screen reading (Mangan as reported in Grothaus, 2017), I was keen to have such a crucial element of this subject as a hard copy print text. I may keep the digital version as a backup functionality and download select pdfs of passages that I think I am likely to want to refer to in assignments and store them somewhere with the capacity for in-document searching. Continue reading “Favored format: sifting through textbook options”

Looking ahead to second session

Tomorrow is the day that subject sites and subject outlines are due to go live for my second session in my MEd(Teacher Librarianship) course at CSU. With one session under my belt, I have a few goals for the coming session. I will record them here and see how well I succeed in fulfilling them.

1. Post blog reflections on readings and activities from the modules in more frequent, smaller posts as I come to them.
2. Post a general reflective blog post upon completing each module in each subject.
3. Make a point to be more interactive on the forums from the outset of the course – even if I don’t feel it is set up in the manner most conducive to discussion.
4. Keep up my current classmate networks and add to them, especially if I end up in a subject with little overlap with my current networks.
5. Interact with my Twitter account at least once or twice weekly.

I am quite impatient to get initial access to the subjects and Student Outlines because I need to choose between two elective subjects and I would love to have that decision made and the excess subject dropped before the session officially commences in two weeks’ time.

Best wishes to everyone heading into Session 201860 – Tally ho!

From Field to Feast – Bread: An Inquiry Learning Unit for Year 4 using Guided Inquiry Design

This unit was prepared as part of the final assessment for a university course. The instructor was going to make them available if given permission, but I thought that I would just post it on my blog. The only editing I have had time to do is to add a brief explanation at the beginning of the unit, to remove extraneous assessment sections and to add some ideas that had to be edited out of the original assessment version due to word count restrictions.

I have licensed this via the Creative Commons website as follows: Creative Commons License
From Field to Feast – Bread by Marika Simon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Please pop a comment on the blog or drop me a line at marika.simon@det.nsw.edu.au if you use the unit.

Year 4 Bread Unit and Lesson Plan-xghk6z

Between session thoughts


Looking Back

I have finished my first session of study at Charles Sturt University (CSU). I still find some aspects of an online delivery mode frustrating – especially the lack of significant, official, real-time interpersonal discussion and lack of consistent, predictable contact with instructors. Despite the challenges, I managed to finish my two subjects with good results.

I really hope that the quality of the course materials improves in the remaining subjects in my course. I was quite appalled by the poor writing, editing and referencing in the modules for the two subjects, ETL401 and ETL503, that I took. I feel that course materials should model at least the top level of work that you are expecting from students, if not a superior quality. I found that I often needed to correct reference entries when using readings from the modules in my own work. I do not think that “do as the referencing style guide says, and not as I do” is good enough for instructors or course materials at any level, not least at postgraduate level.

Looking Forward

Choosing my elective subject for next term is consuming my thoughts in this interim session. I was leaning towards taking INF533, Literature in Digital Environments, because I would like to take a subject with a focus on literature but feel that the technological aspects of my resume and work experience are what need the most bolstering for job applications. Most of my classmate network, however, is taking ETL402, Literature Across the Curriculum. Continue reading “Between session thoughts”

My Take on School Library Story and Advocacy

School Library Story from joyce valenza on Vimeo.

As one might expect from an advocacy-oriented video, Valenza (2013) seems to me to present information relating to an ideal, perhaps even mythical, school library. I must admit that I have a hard time believing that school libraries and teacher librarians that meet all of those criteria all of the time exist. If they do, I find it hard to believe that those are the institutions losing out to funding cuts.

I think it is important to have media that promotes the cause of the school library and presents its strengths and potential and relationship to student achievement, creativity and wellbeing. Having access to propaganda such as Valenza’s video is useful, but I think that, as Todd (2015) points out, it is important to link those broad, sweeping generalities of information with real, relatable, local evidence. If you played that video for the parents at the school where I do most of my work and they started asking about the ability to borrow digital equipment or about 24/7 access to virtual library space, you would have a lot of quick-talking and backtracking to do! Valenza is a passionate advocate for school libraries, but she is American. Teacher librarians and school libraries in Australia need advocacy materials that ring true to an Australian context.


Todd, R.J. (2015) Evidence-based practice and school libraries. Knowledge Quest, 43(3), 8-15.

Valenza, J. (2013) School library story [Video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/82208025

Reflections on 21st Century Learning

Progressing through this course and watching all of these videos and reading articles regarding 21st Century Learning is very challenging for me. I am disturbed by the fact that I have heard it all before and yet feel as though my experiences are moving backward rather than forward.

This RSA Animate – Ken Robinson video was part of ETL401 Module 4. Watching it was inspiring. Just as inspiring as it was when I first watched it 8c years ago. Yet I feel that the teaching and planning and focus that were part of my teaching experience when I first watched that video were moving more in step with its vision than those in my most recent experience in 2017. The difference might be chalked up to different school contexts, but I still find it disappointing.

I have only worked as a casual relief and temporary teacher, so I have worked in various schools in my local area. Apart from some occasional days at private schools earlier in my career, my experience has been in government primary schools. In the last 14 years, since having children, I have limited my working area to the North Shore of Sydney, within about 15 to 20 minutes of my home. In 2008 and 2009, when the RCA-Animate – Robinson (2008) video was first making the rounds, I had a temporary engagement teaching Year 1. That experience was probably the closest I have gotten to the ideals of 21st Century Learning and collaboration that I am encountering in the modules and related readings and videos. There was a focus at that time in authentic assessment tasks and integrating technology in authentic learning experiences and true team-teaching for some key learning areas. I realise that experiences vary across different schools, but I can’t help feeling that education is moving backwards rather than forwards at the moment.


RSA Animate – Robinson, K. (2010) Changing educational paradigms. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U#aid=P8wNMEma2ng

Information Specialist vs Teacher – Coping with tension or striking a balance?

The following is in response to a task asking MEd(TL) students to discuss:

* the tensions between the information specialist and the teaching role of the TL; and
* how you think you might cope with these tensions.

I am not quite sure why there needs to be tension between the information specialist and teaching roles of the TL. I think those are roles that complement each other very well. If the idea is that there is competition for priority and time spent pursuing or fulfilling those roles, I concede that as a fair point. However, balancing competing facets of your job is fairly standard in the professional world. Primary school classroom teachers need to balance the generalist nature of their teaching role with the specific interests and expertise they may bring to the school. They also need to balance their various roles relating to instruction, pastoral care, administration, extra-curricular activity supervision and more.

When working as a TL, I would attempt to balance the various demands of the different roles by trying to make the competing demands as transparent as possible. I would try to keep lists of tasks that need attention and try to allocate tasks into categories relating to the role they pertain to as Purcell (2010) recommended when studying your practice for effectiveness of time use. Then I would try to prioritise – probably using a hybrid of the teaching method of identifying and completing “must do” and “can do” tasks in conjunction with Wilson’s (2009-2018) application of the 80/20 principle where in any given planning time you identify the tasks that will give you the most ‘bang for your buck’. These prioritisation techniques would be applied across the role categories to ensure that progress was being made in all roles and facets of the job. Setting up a system or routine like this to follow should help to keep things on a more even keel and make it easier to get back on track after the inevitable urgent emergency situations arise demanding immediate attention and tearing well-intentioned plans and programs to shreds.


Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), 30-33.

Wison, T. (2009-2018). How to make the 80/20 rule work at work. In Time Management Success. Retrieved June 3, 2018 from https://www.time-management-success.com/80-20-rule.html

Key points for the practicalities of practice

The task

In Module 6 of ETL401, we were asked to read the following three readings, and pick three ideas from each that were new to us. Then we were to reflect on one thing we could apply to improve our current practice.

Gilman, T. (2007). The four habits of highly effective librarians. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved Nov. 2016.
Wilson, T. (2009-2018). Time management for teachers – essential tips if you want a life outside school. Time Management Success. Retrieved June 2018.
Sanders, R. (2004). Conflict resolution. Chap. 3. In Australian library supervision and management (2nd ed., pp.127-132). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies. Retrieved Nov. 2016.

New ideas?

To be honest, pulling out three ideas from the entire set of readings that were actually new to me was more realistic than finding three new ideas from each reading. I have been in the working world for about 25 years, with the majority of that being in either educational settings or in public-relating administrative positions. Effective work habits, time management and conflict resolution concepts are not revolutionary ones to me.

With that in mind, some solid reminders from these texts included Gilman’s (2007) recommendation to cultivate Openness, Responsiveness, Collaboration and Communication to be a more effective teacher librarian. Continue reading “Key points for the practicalities of practice”

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