Little Green Librarian

Blogging my way through a Masters in Teacher Librarianship at CSU!

Learning Journey: Resourcing the Curriculum Final Reflection

June1

An image of railway tracks, suggesting a journey.

Reflecting on my learning journey this semester, I realise how far I have travelled in such a short time. In particular, planning a model collection has expanded my thinking and helped me to synthesise my learning.

One thing that struck me is the monetary value of the library. When the optimum number of physical resources for a school library is 5861 (ASLA/ALIA, 2001, p.31) and you multiply that by $25, a modest price for a hardback picture book, you are looking at $146 525! Looking at figures like this makes me quite nervous about the enormous responsibility placed on us as teacher librarians, to manage libraries that are the equivalent value of a block of land!

This is a particularly heavy weight when it comes to weeding. When I wrote about this topic in the forum (Roach, 2014, May 2), I talked about an ambitious weeding program I am undertaking currently in my school. Prior to exploring this topic, my weeding was systematic but cautious. My forum post reflects growing confidence in my weeding ability, but since completing planning for a model collection and feeling the weight of all that money that was once expended on these items that I have been confidently pulling off the shelves, I’m quite torn as to how to proceed. On the one hand, I know that these resources are impeding library users from finding what they need, but on the other, I can’t quite shake the knowledge that they were purchased with limited funds (Beiharz, 2007, p.10). This is definitely an area I need to keep in check, and it is also something I will be including when I draft a collection management policy (Larson, 2012, p.25).

Another area in which my understanding has developed is in selection criteria. At the beginning of this subject, my selection practices were primarily based on book snobbery – I essentially used my own opinion as a guide as to what to include and what not to include. In preparing my first assignment, I put together a set of selection criteria, which I published on my blog (Roach, 2014, April 30). This process helped me to clarify my thinking and to become a lot clearer about what should be purchased for the library. When I considered selection in planning a model collection, I came to a new realisation – the selection process should be collaboratively developed as part of the collection management plan (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005, p.20). This ensures that the principal and staff understand and support the process.

Finally, the focus on the needs of the school community when planning a model collection has had a huge impact on me. When I discussed how to engage students in the forum (Roach, 2014, March 6), it never occurred to me to look at the demographics of the area for inspiration! Looking at statistical information for a suburb has revealed some intriguing inconsistencies that I feel passionate about researching further. I can now see how this information would transform my practice, if I were a teacher librarian in that area.

Participation in this subject has been transformative for me, and I know what I have learnt will travel with me throughout my career.

 

References

ASLA/ALIA. (2001). Learning for the future : developing information services in schools [2nd ed.]. Carlton South, Victoria : Curriculum Corporation.

Beilharz, R. (2007). Secret library business – part 2. Connections 63, 10-12.

Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J.C. (2005). Collection management for youth : responding to the needs of learners [eBook]. Chicago : American Library Association.

Larson, J. (2012). CREW : a weeding manual for modern libraries. Austin : Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Roach, K. (2014, March 6). Module 2 discussion [online forum comment]. Retrieved from : http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?forum_id=ETL503_201430_W_D_Sub3_forum

Roach, K. (2014, April 30). Selection criteria [blog post]. Retrieved from : http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/04/30/selection-criteria/

Roach, K. (2014, May 2). Evaluation plan [online forum comment]. Retrieved from : http://forums.csu.edu.au/perl/forums.pl?forum_id=ETL503_201430_W_D_Sub9_forum

 

Image source: Railway Tracks by jingoba. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/rails-railway-railroad-tracks-253134/

Selection Criteria

April30

Image of a person's hand selecting from multiple options

As teacher librarians, one of our roles is to select resources for our libraries in general, as well as for specific curriculum situations. The criteria we use to select these resources will vary from context to context, but here is my take on selection at this moment in time. I’m sure my criteria will continue to evolve as my understanding and experience increase, as well as changing as new technologies and types of resources are developed, but we’ve all got to start somewhere!

Broad Selection Criteria

The selection criteria below reflect the philosophical principles that can be used to select materials.

Resources selected will:

  • Meet the learning and teaching needs of the school
  • Be engaging to assist users in connecting with the content
  • Be suitable for the age and maturity level of users
  • Represent a range of views, where applicable

General Selection Criteria

The selection criteria below apply to resources in all formats. Please note that not all resources selected necessarily need to fit the criteria below perfectly. If the value of a resource is determined to outweigh any negatives, the resource should been included.

The following criteria will be considered prior to acquisition of a resource:

  • Reliability
    • Is the resource from a reputable, authoritative source? (i.e. Is the author an expert? Has the author been commissioned to write the resource by a reputable group? Is the resource referenced? Is the resource endorsed by an authoritative person or group?)
    • Is the information current and accurate?
    • Does the resource present factual information in as unbiased a manner as possible? Are all key points included? Are biases acknowledged?
  • Scope
    • Does the resource cover the subject in entirety or will supplementary resources be required?
    • Is the level of detail appropriate for the students?
  • Format and quality
    • Is the resource sturdy and durable? (applies primarily to physical resources)
    • Is the format of this resource the best possible for its content?
    • Is the resource presented in an appealing/engaging way?
  • Flow and organisation of the resource
    • Is the resource logically/reasonably organised?
    • Can a student navigate through the resource easily?
    • Can information be found easily? (applies primarily to non-fiction resources)
  • Cost and availability
    • Is the resource currently available?
    • Can the resource be procured for a reasonable/competitive price?
    • Does the resource have a wide enough application/appeal to represent value for money?

 Specific Selection Criteria

The selection criteria below apply specifically to particular aspects of the collection or formats.

Fiction

The following guidelines apply for selecting stand-alone fiction:

  • Titles should at the very least be well-written and at best be of literary merit as much as possible

Fiction Series

The following guidelines apply for selecting fiction from a series:

  • Short series (defined here as two to five titles) should be purchased in full if possible, providing the series is of literary merit
  • Longer series (defined here as six or more titles) – only up to the first five titles in the series should be purchased, unless the series is of high literary merit (e.g. the Harry Potter series or the Chronicles of Narnia series)
  • For popular titles, two copies of the first book in the series should be acquired if possible to meet demand

Digital Resources (defined here as web-based resources and computer software)

The following criteria will be considered prior to acquisition of a resource:

  • Intuitive navigation
  • Educational value (i.e. What does this resource add to the content or outcome/s being taught?)
  • Compatibility with school devices
  • Copyright compliance
  • Flexible lending rights
  • Accessibility (both location-specific access and access for students with a disability)
  • Availability of a site license
  • Proxy log-in is preferable for web-based resources (rather than students having to create their own account)
  • The ability to archive a copy/keep a back-up is preferable
  • Privacy considerations
  • Advertisements should be minimal and, if present, appropriate for students in web-based resources

Apps (defined here as applications for mobile devices)

The following criteria will be considered prior to acquisition of a resource:

  • All of the criteria for digital resources applies to apps
  • Ease of management within the school
  • Cost (can the school purchase the apps or will students have to purchase their own?)
  • Availability across multiple platforms/devices is preferable

References

Association for Library Service to Children. (1997) Great Web Sites for Kids Selection Criteria [website]. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://www.ala.org/alsc/greatwebsites/greatwebsitesforkids/greatwebsites

Feighan, D. (2012) eBook Selection Criteria [blog post]. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://bibliothekia.blogspot.fr/2012/07/ebook-selection-criteria.html

Hughes-Hassell, S. & Mancall, J. (2005). Collection Management for Youth : Responding to the needs of learners [EBL Reader version]. pp.46-47. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com

South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services. (2004). Choosing and using teaching and learning materials.  p.10. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://www.decd.sa.gov.au/policy/files/links/Choose_use_booklet_FA.pdf

 

Image source:  Selection by geralt. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/selection-hand-show-select-68953/

A fundamental shift

April22

Well, it has happened. Uni has officially altered my brain and patterns of behaviour. It all started while I was looking for some information a few weeks ago…

As I was preparing a forum task response, I found myself mining subscription databases like nobody’s business for gems of information that I could refer to in my forum post. Peer-reviewed articles, if you please. Once I was ready, I jumped onto the forum, posted and read through some other student comments. It was then that I realised I had done something incredibly different, or rather I had not done something. I hadn’t ‘googled it’.

Image of the Google logo with a magnifying glass hovering over it

And there it was. ‘Googling’ has been my go-to for so long, but it only took a few weeks of uni to change my thought patterns entirely. Where once I would have started my search for information with a quick Google or Wikipedia search, there I was having forgotten to do it altogether. My brain has changed forever!

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not against using Wikipedia as a starting point for an information search. And Google is super quick and easy to use when you’ve forgotten a web address. But we all know that the information Google gives us is heavily biased in favour of companies that pay them money for advertising, and that Wikipedia entries are not always 100% reliable. But one of the key roles of teacher librarians is that of information guide – we help students develop the skills they need to identify the need for information, work out the best place to find it, and successfully navigate their way through the flood of information they are faced with every day. Google and Wikipedia just don’t cut it when deep information is required.

This got me thinking: Are students as tech-savvy as we keep saying they are? According to Combes (2007, p.18), “The emerging body of research on the ’Net Generation largely debunks the myth of an intuitive user who is capable of using electronic resources to find information.” We’ve spent so long calling young people ‘tech-savvy’ and ‘digital natives’, that most of us have barely stopped to think whether or not our students truly are information literate. We must be careful not to confuse enthusiasm to use technology, and a willingness to have a go, with the ability to navigate it successfully. (Combes, 2007)

So, what does it take to break Google or Wikipedia addiction in students? As with many things in life, education is the key. If we teach our students exactly how Google works, it logically follows that they will be more cautious about how they use it and will be more equipped to make a better decision based on the context of what they are looking for. If we show students how to determine the value of a Wikipedia article by referring to the history of the document as well as keeping an eye out for flags, they are far more likely to use Wikipedia as a starting point rather than the ‘be all and end all’ of their information search. If our students learn how to be good digital citizens, they are far less likely to plagiarise what they view on the internet.

It also comes back to expectations. If we give clear expectations to our students at the outset of a task, such as minimum quantities of sources to reference and use of Creative Commons images, we are more likely to see our students producing work of a higher quality. If our expectations are low, results will inevitably vary wildly.

Technology and information access certainly affects the way we think and process information, but bad habits can be broken. The younger the better, I say!

 

References

Combes, B. (2007). Techno-savvy or Just Techno-oriented?: What Does the Research Tell Us about the Information-seeking Behaviour of the ‘Net Generation? Access, 21(2), pp.17-20.

 

Image source: Google Search by Simon. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/google-search-engine-76522/

Annotated Resource List – Volcanoes and other Natural Events

April7

volcano etching

The resources below have been selected to support a unit of work on volcanoes and natural events for Stage 3 (grade 5-6) students in a Distance Education context.

1. Disaster Resilience Education for Schools website

Commonwealth of Australia. (2011). Disaster Reslience Education for Schools [website]. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://schools.aemi.edu.au/

Found through: search of SCIS Connections website for reviews using search terms ‘natural disaster’

The Disaster Resilience Education for Schools website is an excellent starting point for student research into natural events. It contains links to information on eleven types of natural events and within each link is technical information, Australian examples of the type of event where applicable, and external links for more information.

Key strengths of this resource are its organisation, intuitive navigation, age-appropriate language and reliability as a source. Weaknesses include additional information and games on the website that may distract students from the task at hand, and unknown information update intervals, limiting its longevity.

SCIS Connections (http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/conn_page.html) contains reviews that are incredibly useful as a selection aid, particularly for the Distance Education setting, as many Australian websites and digital resources are reviewed, as well as physical books, so finding relevant local content is likely. Drawbacks of this selection aid are the inability to refine a search, other than through modifying search terms.

2. Geoscience Australia website (subsection on Hazards)

Geoscience Australia. (2014). Hazards [website]. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://www.ga.gov.au/hazards.html

Found through: SCIS database search using search terms ‘natural disaster Australia’

The ‘Hazards’ section of the Geoscience Australia website provides regularly updated information on different types of natural events, including information about what causes each type of event to occur and how risks are managed by the Australian government.

Key strengths of the Geoscience Australia website are its reliability as a source and frequency of update. Some terminology and explanations will prove challenging for some students, which is a weakness of this website as a resource for primary students. Also, navigation is not intuitive, as some hyperlinks lead to different parts of the website that do not use the sidebar navigation pane that appears on the home page.

A major strength of using SCIS (Education Services Australia, n.d.) as a selection aid is that the data about the resource is readily available for inclusion in the library catalogue. The search function is also easy to use and often listings include several key words to make resources easy to find through search. One weakness is that the database is limited by what others have identified as being of educational value. Many resources are also outdated, unavailable or out of print.

3. “Australia’s Volcanoes” by Russell Ferrett

Ferrett, R. (2005). Australia’s Volcanoes. Sydney: Reed New Holland.

Found through: Trove search using the search terms ‘Australia volcano’

Australia’s Volcanoes is a book written about Australia’s volcanic past. It provides some well-written background information about the different kinds of volcanoes, explains terminology in a clear way and gives an overview of what a traveller can look for when visiting particular sites of interest around Australia.

This text has been included in this list for its excellent, clearly-explained technical information about volcanoes, which is one of its key strengths. This text would also appeal to Distance Education students travelling around Australia, as they would be able to visit some of the sites mentioned in the text. One of the text’s key drawbacks is that it is out of print.

One of the advantages of using Trove (National Library of Australia, n.d.) as a selection aid is that it provides a list of libraries around the country that hold a copy of the text in their collection. Trove is an excellent resource in itself for travelling Distance Education students, as they can find resources they need no matter where they are around the country. The weakness of Trove as a selection aid is the inclusion in the database of books no longer in print and the lack of reviews to help assess the value of selecting a particular resource.

4. “Fire” by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

French, J.  & Whatley, B. (2014). Fire. Lindfield, NSW: A Scholastic Press book from Scholastic Australia.

Found through: Scholastic Book Club catalogue

Fire is a picture book written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley. It explores the impact of devastating bushfires on the environment and people. French’s poetic language coupled with Whatley’s stunning artwork will help students to consider the feeling of helplessness that survivors experience during bushfires, and the everyday heroes who help fight the fires and bring communities together after the bushfire is over.

This resource has been included in this list as an example of the way fiction texts can contribute to a student’s understanding of the impacts of natural events. The teacher librarian might recommend such a text to students who choose a bushfire as their event, to help them explore the effect bushfires have on people. Fire’s strengths are its literary merit, visual appeal, currency and local focus. Its major weakness is its scope – this resource would work well as a supplement, but not on its own.

One of the strengths of using Scholastic Book Club catalogues as a selection aid is price – often their company size allows them to offer discounts. Scholastic also includes a lot of Australian content in their catalogues and can alert teacher librarians to newly available titles. Weaknesses include publisher bias, the inclusion of a number of American titles that are not suitable for Australian contexts and the inability to search archived catalogues.

5. BTN Website

ABC (2014). Behind The News [website]. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://www.abc.net.au/btn/

Found through: subject list, Connected Outcome Groups (COGs) units of work – Stage 3 Global and Social Issues

Behind The News (BTN) presents news of relevance to young people in an engaging manner, using ‘student-friendly’ language. As natural events of magnitude occur, BTN often broadcasts a segment to give an overview and discuss some of the science behind the event.

The BTN website contains archived segments (all programs from 2005-present) that can be searched by students. One of the strengths of this resource is that it is designed to be used by children, so navigation is simple. Also, the information is generally free from overt bias. One drawback is that videos are not able to be downloaded.

The COGs unit ‘Global and Social Issues’ (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2009a) looks, in part, at natural disasters, and the BTN website was included in the text list (NSW Department of Education and Training, 2009b) for this unit. The benefit of using this list as a selection aid is that the resources included have generally been ‘classroom-tested’. The major drawback is that the COGs units are based around the old NSW syllabus and often suggest resources that are out of print.

6. The Science Behind Natural Disasters – Nicholas Brasch (Macmillan)

Brasch, N. (2010) The Science Behind Natural Disasters. South Yarra, Victoria: Macmillan Education.

Found through: Book Depository search using search terms ‘natural disaster Australia’

The ‘Science Behind’ series looks at the scientific principles behind natural events and manmade objects in an engaging way. The Science Behind Natural Disasters is available as both a hardback book (as referenced above) and an ebook, providing flexibility of use and distribution.

The strengths of this resource include engaging layout and suitable reading level, supported by an extensive glossary. The weaknesses include the flow of the information (within each spread, the layout is engaging and user-friendly, but there is no clear flow from spread to spread) and the scope (only a small fragment of information on each type of natural event is covered).

Searching the Book Depository website (http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/) was relatively simple and produced many results. Although Book Depository is a retail website, it is not tied to a particular publisher, so the results of a search are relatively bias-free. They also have access to a wide range of resources, including Australian titles. Another strength is price, as Book Depository do not charge a postage fee, unlike competitors such as Amazon. A weakness is postage time – as purchases are sent from the UK or USA, there is usually a wait of 2-4 weeks, so it is unsuitable for urgent orders.

7. Eruption! – Elizabeth Rusch

Rusch, E. (2013). Eruption! Volcanoes and the science of saving lives. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Found through: Book Depository search using search terms ‘volcano eruption’

Elizabeth Rusch’s text is from a series called ‘Scientists in the Field’ that endeavours to give children a glimpse into the life of real working scientists. Eruption! explores the work of scientists working to accurately predict volcanic eruptions in order to save lives.

The strengths of this resource include its engaging writing style (Rusch employs a narrative style to provide context to the work of the scientists), its depth of content, its durable construction and its availability at a reasonable price. Weaknesses include the difficulty some students may have finding specific information due to the chronological rather than topic-based structure of the text.

Modifying the search terms on the Book Depository website search yielded a whole new set of results, indicating the breadth of texts available, both general and specific, at Book Depository. Given that there are no active volcanoes in Australia (except in Australian Antarctic Territories), resources produced in other countries that do have active volcanoes are more likely to be relevant to the topic.

8. Twig – What is a Volcano video via TES UK

Twig. (2012) What is a volcano? . Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://www.tes.co.uk/resourcedetail.aspx?storycode=6291121

Found through: Twitter search using search terms ‘volcano resource’

This video from Twig, a UK-based company that produces educational videos, succinctly explains the way volcanoes work, some of the potential dangers when a volcano erupts and the way in which volcanoes are essential to life on Earth.

One of the key benefits of this resource is its scope despite its length (3:13) and its cost-effectiveness (free). Following the link through to the Twig website also gives access to quizzes, teacher notes and a transcript, improving access for students with a disability. The video can also be embedded through a provided link. Weaknesses include the inability to download the video and the necessity for the searcher to have or create an account with TES to access the video.

One strength of a Twitter (www.twitter.com) search as a selection aid is that it provided access to several resources that did not come up in searches through other selection aids. The familiarity of the TES branding assisted the selection of this particular resource. A clear weakness of Twitter as a selection aid is the sheer volume of material on the site. Although Twitter is set up for sharing of resources, it is not set up to easily locate resources previously shared.

9. Twig – Predicting Volcanic Eruptions video

Twig. (n.d.) Predicting Volcanic Eruptions . Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://australia.twig-world.com/films/predicting-volcanic-eruptions-1112/

Found through: ‘related video’ link from ‘What is a Volcano?’ video website (automatic recommendation)

This second short video (2:58) from Twig looks at some of the ways scientists are able to predict volcanic eruptions. Viewers have the opportunity to reflect on the way in which our increasing understanding of how volcanoes work helps save lives.

Strengths of this resource include visual appeal, the inclusion of expert interviews and an appropriate level of detail. Weaknesses again include the inability to download the video.

A common feature of resource websites is to provide links to related content. The strength of using such automatic recommendations as a selection aid is that information that relates to the topic, but may not have met the search terms used in a search, can be located. Also, a resource made by the same company or organisation as your initial resource is likely to be of a similar quality. The weakness of using automated recommendations is that results may vary. Following hyperlinks can also lead the searcher ‘off-track’ to related but irrelevant information.

10. Life on Fire: Measurement video

PBS Learning Media. (2013). Life on Fire: Measurement . Retrieved April 5, 2014 from http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/a30569a4-62e9-4e25-bced-beaf90640bfe/life-on-fire-measurement/

Found through: Twitter search using search terms ‘volcano resource’

This short video (3:59) shows scientists in Papua New Guinea monitoring and measuring a local volcano. It covers some of the challenges scientists face in monitoring volcanoes, some of the equipment used and the need for a varied approach to monitoring.

Strengths of this resource include flexibility of use and distribution (the video can be streamed or downloaded) and the overall quality of the footage and information. Weaknesses include the need to create a (free) account with PBS to download the video and some issues with video buffering, indicating a large file size that would not be suitable for streaming on slower internet connections.

Using a Twitter search as a selection aid requires a relatively general set of search terms, as human input can vary when resources are shared. This also produces unsuitable results (in this case it was the use of the word ‘volcano’ in a metaphorical sense). Much ‘sifting’ was required by the searcher and no further search modifiers were provided by Twitter to narrow the search.

Additional References

Education Services Australia. (n.d.). Schools catalogue information service [website]. Retrieved from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/home.html

NSW Department of Education and Training. (2009a). Global and Social Issues COGs unit. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from DEC Intranet

NSW Department of Education and Training. (2009b). Global and Social Issues – Connections with Texts. Retrieved April 5, 2014 from DEC Intranet

 

Image source: Volcano Etching by Nemo. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/black-white-cartoon-explosion-32829/


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