Members of the BCTELA executive and representatives from ERAC have met several times in the past few years to explore ways of working together to best serve the needs of BC teachers and students. The results of those meetings are summarized here.
1. The ERAC Website
BCTELA originally expressed concern about the wording in the introduction to ERAC’s Recommended Novel Catalogue and ERAC’s Not Selected Novels.
ERAC revised the wording and BCTELA approved the revisions.
It was suggested that teachers might have difficulty finding the name of their ERAC District Contact on the website.
ERAC District contact names are located under “About Us” in the drop down menu on the ERAC home page at www.bcerac.ca
2. Teacher Submission of Titles
Neither BCTELA nor ERAC District Contacts have the time to filter teacher submissions of novels for review so BCTELA suggested that a link on the ERAC website for direct teacher submissions would facilitate the process.
A novel submission form for teachers to use can be found by clicking on “ERAC Resources” on the ERAC home page and then “ERAC Evaluated Resources” and going to “Novels”. ERAC encourages teachers to identify novel titles for review so that the process addresses their needs and interests.
3. “Not Selected” Novels
BCTELA opposed the idea of a “Not Selected” list, with its connotation of something being “hidden”, while recognizing that ERAC would need to keep such a list for its own use so that books are not re-reviewed without good reason.
ERAC has an explanation on the website clarifying why not all novels reviewed by ERAC evaluators are selected for inclusion in ERAC’s Recommended Novel Catalogue and which states that non-selection does not mean the novel can not be used. Teachers use their professional judgment to make decisions for their situation. If a district has a concern about a specific novel the District Contact can get in touch with ERAC to determine if the novel has been evaluated.4. Evaluator Training
Concern was expressed by BCTELA that some evaluators might allow personal beliefs to cloud their objectivity and make it difficult for a pair of evaluators to reach agreement on a novel.
ERAC has moved to online training of evaluators and the training includes a section on evaluator bias. On the rare occasions when evaluators are unable to reach agreement the review coordinator facilitates further discussion between the pair. If agreement still can’t be reached the novel is not selected at that time and may be sent out to another pair of evaluators.
5. The Call for Evaluators
Teacher Librarians were concerned that they were excluded from being considered as novel evaluators since the call was directed at practicing classroom teachers.
Working with the BCTF, the call for novel evaluators was revised to more clearly identify the classroom experience and expertise that ERAC would like novel evaluators to have. The new wording is such that Teacher-Librarians are not excluded.
6. The Evaluation Form
BCTELA requested that the “Possible Uses” descriptor boxes be replaced with a section added to the written annotation called “Suggestions for Classroom Use”.
“Possible Uses” has been removed from the checklist “descriptors” section and “Suggested Uses” is now a section in the written annotation.
7. Graphic Novels
BCTELA recommended that ERAC evaluate graphic novels and offered the expertise of its members in helping ERAC develop additional criteria to address the visual components.
ERAC held a focus group on graphic novels and enlisted the expertise of one member of the group to write a report on choosing and evaluating graphic novels. This report was used to develop evaluation criteria and a training module specifically for graphic novels. Some graphic novels have been evaluated and a second focus group looked at some of the results of those evaluations. ERAC recognizes that the evaluation of graphic novels is an area that it needs to continue to develop.
Both BCTELA and ERAC look forward to continuing their positive working relationship.