Portfolio – Information Literacy

As information specialists, teaching information literacy is a Teacher Librarian’s main area of expertise (Gordon 2010; Herring 2007). Indeed, ASLA’s Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians elucidates the expectations that a TL’s teaching and learning role will focus on implementing Information Literacy programs (ASLA 2004). Likewise, NSW DoE’s Library policy documents also highlight the teaching of ‘information skills’ as a key TL teaching and learning role (DoE 2016; Dawson & Kallenberger 2015). Information Literacy can be defined as the set of skills needed to locate, retrieve, assess and use information to solve problems and become independent lifelong learners (Bundy 2004).  As such, Information literacy is viewed as the core set of skills needed for 21st century learning (Eisenberg 2008; Herring 2011). Before beginning this course, I had little idea of what information literacy (IL) entailed. After completing ETL401, I was able to expound at length in my blog about what I had learned in theory, but not in practice, about information literacy teaching approaches (Costello 2014a).

Before undertaking my masters, I had the opportunity to present but a few information sessions to classes on topics such as ‘Ways to avoid plagiarism’ and ‘How to reference’ (Costello 2013). I had not realised at that stage, that these were, in fact, information literacy skills. These sessions, however, were isolated sessions and not integrated in the curriculum (Eisenberg 2008; Dawson & Kallenberger 2015). This course taught me that best practice for teaching information literacy is when it is embedded in inquiry-based teaching units (Eisenberg 2008; Lorenzo 2007). When taught in context IL skills are not viewed by students as separate to classroom teaching and learning. As a result, students can begin to make connections about how these skills can be transferred across all learning, in school and beyond (Bundy 2004; Todd 2003).

I have also gained knowledge of various information literacy models that scaffold inquiry-based teaching, as outlined in my aforementioned eLT401 blog (Costello 2014a; Eisenberg 2008; Herring 2006; Kuhlthau 2010a). I also understood that these IL models should be collaboratively planned and taught as discussed in my latest blog The Role of the Teacher Librarian (Costello 2017a; Goodnough 2005; Todd 2008). I was keen to put into practice Kulthau’s Guided Inquiry model, as it was the most respected and oft cited in our readings (Herring 2006; FitzGerald 2011). In 2015, I was fortunate to find a willing colleague. After a couple of planning meetings, however, we realised that the Guided Inquiry model was not a good fit for our students. As we know our students and how they learn, we decided it was necessary to adapt the model (ASLA 2014).

The Research Process (Costello 2017b)

The alternative model I devised is an amalgamation of NSW DoE’s The Information Process (ISP) and Guided Inquiry (Kulthau 2010; Dawson & Kallenberger 2015). It is simply called the Research Process (Costello 2017b). The steps of the process are Initiate, Locate, Evaluate, Organise, Present and Assess. I collaboratively plan the Research Process with colleagues and it is team-taught as part of an Inquiry Based Learning unit (Goodnough 2005; Rytivaara & Kershner 2012). Information Literacy skills are made explicit at relevant steps of the process. For example, at the Initiate stage students are taught to brainstorm to determine key concepts and directed to define key words (Costello 2017d). At the Locate stage students are taught online search techniques (Costello 2017e). Furthermore, at the Select stage students are taught to use critical thinking skills to evaluate information sources (Costello 2017f).

Like Guided Inquiry, the Research Process is designed to be student- centred with teachers only intervening at critical points. I have also developed a Student Learning Impact Measure SLIM survey which is based on Kulthau’s School Library Impact Measure SLIM model (Todd, Kuhlthau & Heinström 2005). The survey serves multiple purposes. It is an evaluative tool for intervention, data collection and student reflection. It also assists teacher reflective practice so that any need adjustments can be made to the teaching and learning program (FitzGerald 2011; Todd 2008). The SLIM surveys are conducted at the Initiate, Select and Assess stages of the Research Process (Costello 2016c; Costello 2017c). Designing the Research Process and undertaking collaborative teaching demonstrates another area of my professional growth as a result of this course. It is a source of pride and gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I could not have imagined undertaking such a role when first undertaking my studies.

SLIM survey responses (Costello 2016c)

Team-teaching the Research Process has served another purpose. It has raised my professional profile in the school and has boosted my self-confidence. Approaching teachers to work collaboratively is now much easier. Additionally, I publish regular articles for the school newsletter on various Information Literacy topics such as critically evaluating information sources and information literacy (Costello 2016a; Costello 2016b). This has also helped raise my profile in the school.

Another aspect of information literacy that I collaboratively plan and teach is Digital Citizenship. Digital Citizenship is outlined in ICT General Capability of the Australian Curriculum as being an understanding of ‘social and ethical protocols and practices’ when using ICT (ACARA 2016). ASLA also outlines the expectation that excellent teacher librarians ‘teach the appropriate and relevant use of ICTs and information resources’ (2004). In 2014, when undertaking elective ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools, I then described digital citizenship as simply the ‘necessary skills needed to cope in the 21st century digital environment’ in an online discussion forum (Costello 2014b).

All good digital citizens school girl (Costello 2014d) Image remixed from ClipartFest 2014 &  Common Sense Media 2013.

In my ETL523 reflective blog post I conceded that before undertaking this course my knowledge of digital citizenship was limited to ‘a basic understanding of cybersafety and netiquette principals’ (Costello 2014c). At that time I had not contemplated, let alone embarked upon, teaching Digital Citizenship in the classroom.  Since that time my understanding in this area has markedly developed, as evidenced by the Digital Citizenship pages on my Virtual Library website (Costello 2017g). I have designed and team-taught Digital Citizenship units with Year 7 classes for the past two years (Chen & Orth 2013). The unit incorporates topics such as: Personal digital media habits, Cybersafety, Cyberbullying, Digital footprints and Copyright and fair use (Costello 2017g; Neilsen 2011; Topsfield 2012). I have found it necessary, however, to adjust the program each year to incorporate new technologies and social media platforms (O’Connell 2012). These units, regrettably, have been taught in isolation. As yet, I have not managed to convince school leaders to integrate Digital Citizenship into PDHPE curriculum topics (Hollandsworth, Dowdy & Donovan 2011; Ribble 2011).

After undertaking this course I view Information Literacy as my core business as Teacher Librarian. I have undergone a real personal and professional transformation as a result of my learning journey. I am now equipped with the expertise and self-belief to view myself as a school leader.


ACARA. (2016). Key Ideas: Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability. Australian Curriculum v8.3 .Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/key-ideas

ASLA. (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

ASLA. (2014). Evidence guide for teacher librarians at the proficient career stage: Australian professional standards for teachers. Australian School Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/evidence_guide_prof.pdf

Bundy, A. (ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice. 2nd ed. Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy (ANZIIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL). Retrieved from: http://www.caul.edu.au/content/upload/files/info-literacy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf

Chen, E. & Orth, D. (2013). The strategy for digital citizenship. Retrieved from NAIS Independent School Magazine (online). Retrieved from:  http://www.nais.org/Magazines-Newsletters/ISMagazine/Pages/The-Strategy-for-Digital-Citizenship.aspx.

Costello, C. (2013). Writing a bibliography. HSIE Stage 5 Resources 2013. Retrieved from https://hsiestage5resources2013.wikispaces.com/Writing+a+Bibliography

Costello, C. (2014a). Information literacy is more than a set of skills. Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from http://edumacational.edublogs.org/2014/01/27/etl401-olj-blog-3/

Costello, C. (2014b). ETL523 Discussion forum. Interact2.Charles Sturt University.

Costello, C. (2014c). ETL523 Critical Reflection. Edumacational. Retrieved from http://edumacational.edublogs.org/2014/06/09/etl523-critical-reflection/

Costello, C. (2014d). All good digital citizens school girl. [Image]. Remixed from ClipartFest. (2014). Clipart girl at schoolClipartFest. Retrieved  from https://clipartfest.com/download/108b4368803dca464bd1e0183f09d788e8bd10e1.html
and Common Sense Media. (2013). Digital Citizenship Poster for Elementary ClassroomsCommon Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/elementary_poster

Costello, C. (2016a). Information literacy: Essential skills for the digital age. Campbelltown Performing Arts High School Newsletter, 16 September 2016. Retrieved from http://cpahs.schoolzineplus.com/newsletter/15496

Costello, C. (2016b). Evaluating information sources. Campbelltown Performing Arts High School Newsletter, 7 November 2016. Retrieved from http://cpahs.schoolzineplus.com/newsletter/23095

Costello, C. (2016c). EBP. Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/ebp/.html

Costello, C. (2017a). The role of the teacher librarian. Reflections of a Teacher Librarian. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/clctl/2017/01/24/portfolio-the-role-of-a-teacher-librarian/

Costello, C. (2017b). The research process. Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/theresearchprocess.html

Costello, C. (2017c). Select. Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/select.html

Costello, C. (2017d). Initiate. Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/initiate.html

Costello, C. (2017e). Online search techniques. Virtual Library. Retrieved from http://www.virtuallibrary.info/online-search-techniques.html

Costello, C. (2017f). Evaluating sources. Virtual Library. Retrieved from


Costello, C. (2017g) Digital citizenship. Virtual Library. Retrieved from


Dawson, M. & Kallenberger, N. (Eds.).  (2007).  Information skills in the school: Engaging learners in constructing knowledge.  NSW: Department of Education and Training.  Retrieved from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/docs/infoskills.pdf

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the Information Age. Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

FitzGerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of Guided Inquiry: Guiding student inquiry and evidence based  practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41.

Goodnough, K. (2005). Fostering teacher learning through collaborative inquiry. Clearing House, 79(2), 88-92.

Gordon, C. A. (2010). The culture of inquiry in school libraries. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 73–88.

Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments. School Library Media Research, 9.

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information, NSW Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga 27- 42.

Herring, J. (2011). Improving students’ web use and Information Literacy: A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. London: Facet Publishing.

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L.,  &  Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends 55(4) 37-47.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Guided inquiry: School libraries in the 21st century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 1.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., (2010). Building Guiding Inquiry Teams for 21st Century Learners. School Library Monthly 5(26).

Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for Change: Information Fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0, and the New Education Culture, Clarence Center, NY: Lorenzo Associates, Inc., March. http://www.edpath.com/images/IFReport2.pdf

Nielsen, L. (2011). Discover what your digital footprint says about you. The Innovative Educator. Retrieved from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/discover-what-your-digital-footprint.html.

NSW Department of Education. (2016). Library Policy – Schools. Retrieved from: https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/library-policy-schools

O’Connell, J., (2012) Learning without frontiers: School libraries and meta-literacy in action. ACCESS, 26 (1), pp. 4-7.  Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-commentaries/school-libraries-and-meta-literacy.aspx

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital citizenship in schools. International Society for Technology in Education.

Rytivaara, A., & Kershner, R. (2012). Co-teaching as a context for teachers’ professional learning and joint knowledge construction. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28(7), 999-1008.

Todd, R. J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: how to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal, 49(4), 52-54. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA100608794&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=194fea091c82b000bb3b69ca05004411

Todd, R.J., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinström, J.E. (2005), SLIM: a toolkit and handbook for tracking and assessing student learning outcomes of Guided Inquiry through the school library. Centre for International Scholarship in School Libraries at Rutgers University. Retrieved from: http://cissl.rutgers.edu/images/stories/docs/slimtoolkit.pdf

Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidence-based practice and school libraries. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, 57-78.

Todd, R. J. (2008). The dynamics of classroom teacher and teacher librarian instructional collaborations. Scan, 27(2), 19-28.

Topsfield, J. (2012). T is for teaching. The Age, National. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/national/t-is-for-teaching-20121130-2amd9.html

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