Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Summer Holiday Reading

A little boy reads a big book with river by MyTudut, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  MyTudut 

Last year, for the first time, we continued lending over the term holidays.  When this was a success I contemplated the next step - lending over the summer holidays.  I read Summer Slump & Holiday Reading on the Services to Schools website.  Here is a quote from the site that surprised me: 

"One piece of NZ research in a Decile 1 school found that some students reading at below-average levels suffered a 5.8 month summer reading slide". 

In the recommended reading, Summer Reading Loss, was more interesting research:
The reading proficiency levels of students from lower income families declined over the summer months, while the reading proficiency levels of students from middle-income families improved modestly. In a single academic year, this decline resulted in an estimated three-month achievement gap between more advantaged and less advantaged students. Between grades 1 and 6, the potential cumulative impact of this achievement gap could compound to 1.5 years' worth of reading development lost in the summer months alone. (Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, & Greathouse, 1996).

Now, I had heard about the summer slump but the figures in these reports really blew me away.  The importance of keeping our students' reading over the holidays was really driven home to me.  At the same time, management were concerned about potential book losses and we agreed to trial summer holiday lending with our two Year 4 classes.

How did it go?
Each student had to return a signed permission slip before they were able to borrow six books from the library (double their usual amount).  28 of the 55 Year 4 students borrowed a total of 158 books.  All books have been returned, with only one student requiring a follow up letter.  

Even though not all of our Year 4 students borrowed from our school library they did all read at least one book over the summer.  I'd like to think that the information about the summer slump sent to parents might have had an impact.  We will definitely be doing this again this year.

Summer reading research
I was surprised that almost half of our Year 4 students did not borrow from the school library over the summer holidays.  Only five were prevented by the school from borrowing due to outstanding invoices or overdue books.  What stopped the remaining students from borrowing?  I prepared a short survey and found that while a few simply forgot their permission slips the majority did not borrow books because they were going away for the holidays and their families didn't want to lose them.

When creating my survey I wanted to see whether those students who didn't borrow from our library were simply going to the public library instead.  In light of my earlier findings about families not wanting to borrow books when they were going on holiday I was not too surprised to find that less than half of our students visited the public library in the holidays.  However, I was astounded to find that only half of our students said that they, or their parents, belonged to the public library.

No way!  I realise that I'm a bit biased here but I just can't get my head around that.  A large amount of wonderful books are free to take home and our students, or more likely their parents, aren't taking advantage of that.  Why???  Please feel free to jump in here with comments because I can't think of any reasons.  

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Welcome to my blog

Summer by m.aquila, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License
  by  m.aquila 

This is my first post for my first blog.  I have some interesting projects happening in my library this year so I've decided to take the plunge.

E-Reading Trial
One of the projects I am most excited about is our e-reading trial.  A couple of weeks ago an article called e-Books engage me was posted on the SLANZA listserv.  It is about an Australian research study that gave reluctant readers in Year 5 and Year 6 e-books and found that "boys are more interested in reading fiction when it involves the use of technology".  It also suggests that "emerging tools such as e-readers can have a place in changing the behaviour of reluctant reader to becoming engaged leisure readers".

I forwarded the article to my principal, Brian, and asked if we could buy four Kindles.  I suggested that we conduct an e-reading trial with our target students (boys and girls) in Year 4 and Year 5.  Brian was very interested in the trial and asked me to price the Kindles.

The key point to note here is that we are not looking to lend e-books to students with e-readers, instead we will be providing e-readers to promote reading at school.

Further Research
At this point I have to confess that I wasn't sure I would get the green light for the project and hadn't done a lot of research about different e-readers and e-books.  The reason I had asked to buy Kindles specifically was because they were mentioned in the Australian study (along with iPod touches, which we already have in the school).

Thanks again to the SLANZA listserv I was aware of a fabulous wiki called NZeRT, the New Zealand eReader and eBook Taskforce.  I also had a look at information from the National Library.

Angela Soutar's checklist on the NZERT site (item 5) includes this article - Amazon Alters Rules for Kindles in School Libraries.  Basically while home users can share up to six Kindles on one account, and therefore buy one book and share it over six Kindles, libraries have to have separate accounts for each Kindle and therefore would have to buy separate books for each Kindle.     I approached Dick Smith to get a quote for four Kindles and at the same time they confirmed for me that the same rules apply in New Zealand.

When I forwarded the quote through to Brian I added the following thoughts about the Kindle:

  • It is only used for reading so there are no distractions with other apps on the device
  • It is lightweight
  • The battery lasts about a month before it needs recharging
  • It has a larger screen size than the iPod touch
  • Illustrations are in black and white
  • It uses a proprietary format so we can only download books from Amazon (however they are cheap and have a good range)
  • For the price you could almost get an ipod touch and be able to use more apps and view books in colour
  • You need to open a separate account for each of the Kindles
When Brian asked what I would recommend I chose to conduct the trial using our iPod touches.  I didn't discount the Kindles altogether (or any other brand of dedicated e-reader), but felt that it was worth seeing whether the students did need a bigger screen and no distractions from other apps before spending money. 

iPod touch 1.1.3 (main screen) by chrisdejabet, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  chrisdejabet 

Where to Next
I will be meeting with our Deputy Principal and Assistant Principal to come up with a plan about which students to target first and how we can reach as many as possible using the iPod touches available.  I also need to research the best places to purchase e-books from and learn how to download them onto the school's iPod touches.  I will keep you updated.  If you have any advice or suggestions please let me know.