Category Archives: Literacy

Book review- The Convent

Book review- The Convent

Title: The Covent

Author: Maureen McCarthy

Published: 2012 by Allen & Unwin  

 Young Adult fiction

In the Author notes, to The Convent, Maureen McCarthy shares a note written to herself from 1991. This note outlines a desire to find out more about her mum’s past, and her life as a ward of the state at the Abbotsford Convent. This is the seed that Spurs her extensive historical research in the development of a novel spanning four generations of women and their connections to The Convent over time. McCarthy declares ‘Like no other book I’ve written The Convent feels like mine’, highlighting the personal connection felt for the stories being told in the fictitious weaving of lives and interactions. 

The Convent covers the lives of four generations of women who have had connections with the Abbotsford Convent. Sadie, Ellen, Cecelia and Perpetua. Sadie’s three year old daughter Ellen is forcibly taken from her and raised at the Convent during the 1920’s. Ellen’s daughter Cecelia becomes a nun at The Convent during the 1960’s and Perpetua works in the cafe at The Convent after it has been reopened as an arts precinct with studios, cafes and galleries in contemporary times.

The intersection of stories is mapped through each of the women, their connection to each other, to The Convent and the connection with Perpetua (Peach) who is at the centre of these intersecting stories as the heart of the novel. 

The structure of the novel aids the delivery of the complexity of character and story development over an historical timeline spanning a century. This is easily achieved with each chapter in the novel titled by the characters name; from which the perspective is to be delivered. As historical moments shift in narrative, dates are provided to indicate moving back and forth in time, revealing situations, life changing incidents and the impact of social forces on the lives of women at different points in time. 

For me, the strength of this novel is its ability to capture the strength of the stories of women, despite hardships, different social mores in different socio-historical time periods, and the choices made impacting on lives lived. These choices are either by self or imposed by others contributing to life paths travelled. In some ways the stories in this novel capture the complexity of female empowerment and disempowerment at the same time across the different periods of time that is mapped.
I will definitely reread this novel!

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Posted by on September 4, 2015 in 094 ~ Printed books, Library, Literacy


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Digital and Media Literacy

I started this post with this animation because it made me “Think” and contributed to further questions relating to my investigation of information literacy in the 21 century.

As I further my exploration of new literacies and how they pertain to Information Literacy, I am focusing on Media Literacy and Digital Literacy in this post. I have placed these two together as I perceive there to be a convergence happening between the two. Examples include broadcast yourself on youtube, self-publishing via blogs, podcasts, photo-sharing and even the move of traditional media formats to online formats. It is all underpinned by Web 2.0 tools and the idea that we are at once both consumers and producers ~ ‘Prosumers’,  in this digital world.

In terms of literacy, this is a fundamental shift and it raises many questions such as How to create? How to evaluate? How to understand cross-cultural contexts of the world in this convergence? How to understand social meanings? How to use technology and tools to participate? How to share? How to reach the widest audience? How to filter? What is relevant? How to locate? What is ownership? and so on and so on…

Harking back on concepts about how people like to learn there have been many, including myself, that respond to visuals as an enhancement of understanding or even as an inroad to ideas and planning for further creation. This brings into focus the importance of visuals for learning and necessitates the need for consideration when investigating notions of literacy. How do we read visuals and images? How do we utilise them in the creation of meaning?What is shared in terms of encoding and decoding that broadens access to understanding when we utilise visuals/images? How is this assimilated in our learning? Why are visuals so important?

The Periodic Table of Visualisation Methods below is a great summary of the types of visuals/images that aid literacy development in this area. Click on the image below and move mouse over the elements for more information.

The following video draws attention to this world of ‘connectivity’ that Web 2.0 has contributed to and is specific to the need for change in the teaching-learning context. It has a definition or summary of 21century literacies. I love the end quote “It is the death of education but the dawn of learning”

New Media literacies

Following are links to resources specific to Digital literacy and Media literacy. They are links to websites with more information or e-journals with articles specific to media and/or digital literacy

ACMA resources for digital literacy

ejournal with article on “Digital literacy across the curriculum”

ejournal about digital literacy as literacy for 21century titled “Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century”


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Exploring New Literacies…

The ideas in exploring new literacies are as expansive as the information we have available. How do I navigate these ideas? How do I secure an understanding that is validated in an information world where potentially we are all contributors? What are the parameters that need to be applied to achieve my purpose and reach the point of clarity? How will I know when I achieve my aim?

My exploration in this area will take more than one post. In this post I would like to start with the following videos.

What do teachers think?

What is e-literate?


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