2020 is my fourth year as a volunteer with the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL) and I enjoy those weekly visits. The tasks I do are many and varied: from filing and shelving to planning school visits, exhibitions or teacher workshops to working on special projects such as the Cultural Diversity Database or more lately the Indigenous Resource. I also really enjoy the company of the other volunteers; all are interesting people with a keen interest in children’s literature.
Early in the year I had been working on the Indigenous database (as well as planning a trip to South America) when the year came crashing down and visits to NCACL (and trips abroad) were put on hold. Fortunately, the database team were all ready to continue with this project remotely. My part was to put in all the curriculum links from the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum.
I went through all the curriculum areas and then chose those most relevant to this new database (English language and literature, Mathematics, History, Geography, Science, The Arts and Personal, Social and Community Health). Each book had a detailed annotation that allowed me to choose which curriculum links were relevant. This along with the recommended age groups allowed me to begin entering each chosen code.
Each new book, annotation and age group were checked. I then read through my curriculum notes (hard copy) as I copied and pasted each link from a master copy into the database. The Early Years books (0-5 years) had a maximum of 5 links but others had over 100 links from Foundation to Year 6. Any error located would be emailed through to others in the team for correction. Of significant importance was that the annotation included a comment about the creator’s heritage as this allowed me to add in appropriate curriculum links from The Arts.
Although clicking and adding thousands of links may sound boring, I found it surprisingly intense. Several of the books I earmarked to read once I was able to return to NCACL. I was also pleased to see the large number of Indigenous creators with books included in the database. As a former teacher I understand the value of this resource for educators as well as students. I wish I’d had access to this resource when I was teaching.
Rowan Simpkin Volunteer Curriculum Expert