Description of site/context
A number of schools and networks of teachers in different states of Australia were interested in updating their knowledge of children’s literature and investigating the role of literature in the new literacies.
Conduct of sessions/project
A series of whole day sessions was devised that centred on updating teachers’ knowledge about contemporary Australian children’s literature. The sessions concentrated on picture books suitable for students in Years 1 – 12 since the majority of teachers had some working knowledge of this genre. Only those picture books that were postmodern were chosen since this introduced consideration of the new literacies. Postmodern picture books require more active and critical participation by the reader in constructing meaning that is conveyed through both words and images. The sessions not only examined active reading and critical literacy but also investigated the place of still and moving images in visual literacies and enabled the introduction of the codes and conventions of the semiotic systems (linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial).
The sessions were very successful in updating participants’ knowledge about children’s literature by exploring the concept of postmodern picture books. This focus extended their ideas about how picture books might be used to promote student learning in literacy and English lessons as well as in all other disciplines. Because the sessions were based on picture books the participants began their professional learning from a position of confidence. This confidence translated in to a shift in teacher pedagogy from the traditional print literacies to the new visual literacies. It also enabled teachers to establish new practices in their classrooms as well as a renewed emphasis and valuing of the place of literature and the school library in the curriculum.