Little Green Librarian

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

Feeling it: Leadership from the library

October6

Image of a woman meditating.

One of the big ideas I have been grappling with this semester is what it looks and feels like to fulfil the leadership role of the teacher librarian.

At the beginning of this year, I didn’t really have any concept of what it meant to be a leader in the library, which you can see reflected in one of my very early blog posts for my introductory subject (Roach, 2014, March 23). In this post, I do make mention of the leadership role, but very quickly gloss over it to discuss other, more familiar roles!

At the beginning of the leadership subject, with a few readings under my belt, I realised that I did have some ideas about what leadership in the library is about, which I included in a blog post (Roach, 2014, July 14). I knew vaguely what kind of leader I wanted to be, visionary but realistic, but had very little frame of reference to discuss it.

Just over a month later, my Assignment 1 blog post demonstrated some clear ideas about avenues a teacher librarian can take to demonstrate leadership throughout the school community (Roach, 2014, August 24).

It amazes me that in such a short space of time, I progressed so far in my ideas about leadership – from having no idea, to having vague ideas, to having clearly articulated ideas! Still, there is certainly more to leadership for a teacher librarian than a few suggestions about how to seek it out, which brings me to where I am now.

Since August, my focus has been on exploring the depths of leadership from the library. Not only what it looks like, but what it feels like and what it truly means. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Leadership from the library begins with vision.

In order to lead, you need to know where you are going! Developing a broad vision of what you want the school library to become under your leadership is a crucial step in determining how to proceed. Further, it is important to consider what aspects of that vision are negotiable and non-negotiable (Bentley, Pavey, Shaper, Todd & Webb, 2009, p.17). This will allow the teacher librarian to take a stronger position when navigating through discussions about the vision.

2. Leadership from the library is about influence.

If teacher librarians want to lead change within the school, the most effective way to do so is through influencing colleagues. This is sometimes referred to as ‘leading from the middle’ and it is one of the only avenues available for those who are not appointed to be leaders (Haycock, 2010, p.2). Ideally, the appointed leaders of the school will understand your vision and will work with you to see it achieved, but the reality is far more unpredictable. Influence can occur through collaboration with teachers, participation on committees, consistent professional conduct and through contributing to school-wide discussions about pedagogy.

3. Leadership from the library is about knowing who you are.

I am an introvert by nature, which means that social interaction is draining for me, while time alone is energising. It does not mean that I am shy or that I don’t like being with people, which is what many extroverts take it to mean. Much of the literature has a bias toward extroversion, suggesting that the traits of extroverts are more conducive to leadership and that introverts ought to become more like extroverts if they want to lead (Haycock, 2010, p.9). Emerging research, however, refutes this claim, suggesting that extroverts lead best when followers are passive, while introverts lead best when followers are proactive (Grant, Gino & Hofmann, 2011, p.536). Since discovering this, I have come to realise that being true to my nature is the best way that I can lead, particularly as I want those I lead to be proactive! This is not to say that I will never need to improve or work at my leadership abilities, rather that I can trust my intuition when it tells me to listen instead of speak, or spend some time alone pondering a particularly tricky issue. Knowing who I am allows me to be the best leader I can be, rather than trying to be something I’m not.

While my learning journey and conclusions about leadership may be different to others, I feel infinitely more secure about where I am going as a leader now than I did even a few months ago. This subject and the texts I was inspired to find and read because of it, have helped me to feel confident about my leadership style and have piqued my interest in further exploring the teacher librarian’s leadership role within the school.

 

References

Bentley, E., Pavey, S., Shaper, S., Todd, S. & Webb, C. (2009). Professionalism and the school librarian. In S. Markless (Ed.), The innovative school librarian: Thinking outside the box (pp.1-24). London: Facet.

Grant, A.M., Gino, F. & Hofmann, D.A. (2011). Reversing the extraverted leadership advantage: The role of employee proactivity. Academy of Management Journal, 54(3), 528-550. doi: 10.5465/AMJ.2011.61968043

Haycock, K. (2010). Leadership from the middle: Building influence for change. In S. Coatney (Ed.), The many faces of school library leadership (pp.1-12). Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

Roach, K. (2014, March 23). The role of the teacher librarian [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/03/23/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian/

Roach, K. (2014, July 14). Following the leader [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/07/14/following-the-leader/

Roach, K. (2014, August 24). Leading from the school library [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/08/24/leading-from-the-school-library/

 

Image source: Meditation by Nemo. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/yoga-meditate-meditation-exercise-309782/

Leading from the school library

August24

Image of a duck leading a flock of ducks.

In much of the current professional dialogue about teacher librarianship, leadership is identified as one of the key roles a teacher librarian (TL) must play within the leadership structure of the school (Purcell, 2010, pp.31-32). In practice, however, the TL can be seen as an “add-on” to the school, making it difficult for him or her to assert any authority beyond the walls of the library. A lack of awareness of what the TL has to offer seems to be the main issue, so advocacy is critical, both from the TL and from professional bodies.

Leading within the library

The most obvious place to start discussing TL leadership is within the library itself. It is important to clearly delineate between management and leadership at this point. According to John Kotter, “Management is about coping with complexity… Leadership, by contrast, is about coping with change” (Kotter, n.d., para.2-3). Ben Brocker asserts that, “Managers manage things, leaders lead people” (Brocker, 2012, March 22). The TL role inevitably involves a lot of management, and this can often become the focus of the role, particularly if there is a lack of support from the principal and executive, but leadership opportunities abound, even within the walls of the library. For example, the TL can lead in the area of curriculum support through resources. From a management perspective, this entails locating, acquiring and managing the resources themselves. From a leadership perspective, this entails actively approaching and meeting regularly with teachers to determine their needs, curating a collection of resources that will meet those needs and helping the teacher to utilise those resources in their practice. Another way that the TL can lead within the library is through teaching students. To do this, the TL can consider the principles of transformational leadership (Marzano, Waters & McNulty, 2005, p.14) when constructing lessons and implement this model with students. Further, the TL can model best practice in areas such as copyright and digital citizenship, thereby leading by example.

Leading colleagues

The TL can play another important role in the leadership structure of the school by leading colleagues. To do so, the principal and executive team need to recognise the expertise the TL has in the areas of information and resource management. Often the TL will also be an adept user of technology, so they may also be able to provide leadership in this area. This leadership may take the form of formal training, where the TL runs professional development sessions with staff, but it could also be more informal, on a one-to-one or small group basis, depending on need. In an ideal situation, the TL would be involved in developing school policy in his or her area of expertise.

Leading in the community

The TL can also be a leader in the wider school and professional communities. In the school community, the TL can demonstrate leadership by actively seeking ways to lead parents and carers, for example, by running information sessions about areas such as digital citizenship. In the professional community, the TL can become involved with professional groups online and can, for example, seek out opportunities to lead teams in action research projects.

While some leadership opportunities may not be available to all teacher librarians, there are always ways for each TL to demonstrate leadership and to put into practice their leadership training. If we seek out opportunities and continue to lead by example, it won’t be long before our leadership capabilities are recognised and utilised more widely within the school.

 

References

Brocker, B. [BenBrocker]. (2012, March 22). Leadership theory and critical skills . Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzAzhiEsZtY

Kotter, J. (n.d.). Change leadership. In Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved August 24, 2014, from: http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/change-leadership

Marzano, R.J., Waters, T. & McNulty, B.A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. In School leadership that works: From research to results (pp.13-27). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.

 

Image source: Leader of the Ducks by Public Domain Pictures. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/duck-ducks-leader-lead-flock-21262/

Following the leader?

July14

Image of a group of animals being led by a person.

When it comes to leadership, I have a lot to learn. It isn’t that I’ve never been a leader – I definitely have, on many an occasion – it is more that I have never engaged with any of the literature on what makes an effective leader that people want to follow!

One commonality between leadership styles I have noticed in my reading so far is focused intention. We’ve all experienced ineffective leaders who have essentially fallen into their positions or have been promoted beyond their ability to get the job done, and one key thing they lack is focused intention. Those underneath them either flounder or work it out on their own or amongst themselves. Either way, it isn’t particularly effective! In my experience, those who have a clear idea about what they want to achieve and a plan for how to get there are more effective as leaders.

A lot of the terminology I have read so far is unfamiliar to me in a leadership context: transactional vs. transformational, for example, really made me think about my own practice as a leader. Do I trade one thing for another or do I focus on facilitating change? I actually wasn’t sure, so completing a quiz on my leadership style helped to clarify my thoughts.

My quiz results suggested that my leadership style is democratic/participative. Some of the comments about this style really support my beliefs about leading teams in my school context. I believe that while some elements do need to be commonly established, team members need to be given the space to be creative and to approach things from their own angle. This helps all team members to experience satisfaction and ownership of their work. Also, taking on board the ideas of others while maintaining clear leadership ensures transparency of the leadership process. One comment on this style, however, really struck me: democratic leadership is considered on of the most effective leadership styles in ideal situations. In my context, the situation isn’t always ideal. Roles (including my own as leader) are not always clearly defined, insufficient release time is provided to effectively manage the team, some team members have had difficulty accepting leadership/direction from someone on the same pay grade (no, really – I was shocked too!) and the goalposts of the team’s responsibility are often changed by those above us. So, perhaps some of the occasional failures of this leadership style in my context might be attributed to this. I certainly have been known to be idealistic from time to time, so it may be that I have been pitching my leadership too high for the situation. As such, I’m looking forward to learning more about different leadership styles to give me better ideas about how to lead in less-than-ideal situations.

So what kind of leader do I want to be? A realistic one. I want to be able to clearly read a situation and adjust my leadership style accordingly. I don’t want to be a dictator, but I don’t want my head in the clouds either. My current understanding is that good leadership is knowing your people and the goals of your organisation well, and using that information to craft an effective plan that utilises the talents of the team, giving members the opportunity to work toward achieving personal goals, all the while collectively working toward the goals of the organisation. It is also about a balance of heart and head – sacrificing neither the needs of the team nor the needs of the organisation. I’ll be interested to see if my understanding changes throughout this unit of study!

 

References

Marzano, R.J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B.A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: From research to results (pp.13-27). Alexandria, VA.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Image source: Leading the Animals by Nemo. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/animals-cat-man-silhouette-dog-32878/

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/

Through a glass, darkly: A critical reflection on my changing understanding of the role of a teacher librarian

May24

Image of winter trees reflected in a pool of water.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

(Bible Hub, 2012)

I have a confession to make. Before undertaking Introduction to Teacher Librarianship, I held a somewhat romantic view of the role of a teacher librarian (TL). That’s not to say that I thought the role was without complexity, but I certainly had no idea of its extent. I devoured the initial readings of the course, reflecting to myself that I was already undertaking many of the roles discussed in the literature, even without knowing it! I felt confident that I had made the right career choice.

By the time I came to write my first official blog post (Roach, 2014, March 23), the numerous roles of the TL that I was reading about were beginning to compete for space. In this post, I noted the following roles: curriculum leader, information specialist, information services officer, leader, program administrator, instructional partner, information specialist, teacher, model of digital citizenship & IL, literature champion, manager, accountant, and curator (ASLA/ALIA, 2001; Hardy, 2010; Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2010). This vast, unruly assortment of ideas reflected the state of my mind – I was approaching a point of feeling utterly overwhelmed! I was finding it difficult to determine what was important (Warlick, 2007, p.21). Anyone familiar with Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.19) will recognise that I was firmly entrenched in the ‘exploration’ phase, feeling confused and frustrated.

A moment of clarity came when I began reading about the ISP and recognised where I was in the process. Understanding this helped me to refine my ideas and go deeper, which led to a more focused second blog post (Roach, 2014, April 22). In this post, I noted the following roles of a TL: evidence gatherer, researcher, teacher, instructional partner, and advocate (Kramer & Diekman, 2010; Kuhlthau, 2007; Todd, 2008). This narrower focus helped me to look more deeply at exactly what this aspect of the role entailed, rather than simply listing every possible aspect that I had read. I was beginning to synthesise what I was reading.

By the time I came to write my third blog post (Roach, 2014, May 12), I was far more confident in my ideas and felt a sense of purpose. Here I noted the following roles of a TL: leader, Guided Inquiry designer, learner, master of intervention, and advocate of life-long learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2013; Maniotes, 2013). In discussing information literacy and Guided Inquiry on the forums, I began to express my opinions with conviction.

The final stages of the ISP are presentation and assessment. These phases are presently playing out as I complete my final assignment and this reflection blog post. I feel a great sense of accomplishment as I near the end of the semester, thus completing a cycle of the ISP process and opening myself up to ask yet more questions, which will begin new ISP cycles in future subjects and throughout my career.

As someone who seeks to be excellent at everything, it can be frustrating to realise that it will take time to be great at every aspect of the TL role. Looking back over the different aspects I have explored in my blog posts, a TL certainly can be all of the things I noted, but it is more prudent to take it one challenge at a time. I now see my career path as my own Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978, p.86). As a teacher, I would not expect a student to understand and accomplish everything at once, so why do I expect it of myself? Rather than exploring all of the aspects of a TL’s role in a shallow way in order to be seen to be doing it all, it is infinitely better to explore each aspect individually, at great depth.

I began this blog post with a biblical quote that serves as an apt metaphor for the growth I have experienced and will continue to experience throughout my life. My understanding of each aspect of the role of a TL begins vaguely, as though I am looking into a darkened mirror. As the picture becomes less murky, the boundaries are better defined. One day, I will see it all perfectly clearly, but that day is not today. However, with each new thing I learn, the image of what I want to be becomes clearer. I am a better TL today than I was yesterday, and tomorrow I will be even better. Knowing this frees me to explore and learn in the same way I want my students to explore and learn. Now, instead of being frustrated because I am not instantly perfect, I am enjoying the journey.

 

References

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

Bible Hub. (2012). 1 Corinthians 13: King James Bible [web page]. Retrieved from: http://biblehub.com/kjv/1_corinthians/13.htm

Hardy, L. (2010). The Future of Libraries: What Roles are Your Media Center and Media Specialist Playing in Helping Your Students Navigate the Age of Information. American School Board Journal 197(1), 22-26.

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

Kramer, P. K. & Diekman, L. (2010). Evidence = Assessment = Advocacy. Teacher Librarian, 37(3), pp.27-30.

Kuhlthau, C.C. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Libraries Unlimited. Westport, Conn.

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K., & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Guided Inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari, A.K. (2013) Guided Inquiry Design. http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/guided_inquiry_design.htm

Maniotes, L.K. (2013). Guided Inquiry Design Intro pt 2 Learning how to learn. Accessed May 12th, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7SoZYKBh6g

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school library media specialist. Library Media Connection 29(3), pp30-33

Roach, K. (2014, March 23). The role of the teacher librarian [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/03/23/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian/

Roach, K. (2014, April 22). Evidence: Not such a dirty word [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/04/22/evidence-not-such-a-dirty-word/

Roach, K. (2014, May 12). Implementing a Guided Inquiry approach [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/05/12/implementing-a-guided-inquiry-approach/

Todd, R. (2008). The evidence-based manifesto. School Library Journal, 54(4), pp.38-43.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape. Library Media Connection, 26, pp.20-21

 

Image source: Reflection by Antranius. Retrieved from: http://pixabay.com/en/nature-source-fountain-water-254951/

Implementing a Guided Inquiry Approach

May12

Cartoon image of a person coming up with an idea.

Throughout my life, I have had a number of moments of clarity in which I have heard or read something that has helped me understand myself better. The most recent moment of clarity came a few weeks ago when I began reading and learning about Carol Kuhlthau’s body of work on Information Search Process (ISP) and the subsequent development of the Guided Inquiry (GI) approach to learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2013). Although there are many models of inquiry and scaffolds to help people research, process and present information, Kuhlthau’s ISP and GI approach are unique. In ISP, she outlines not only the actions that the researcher takes, but also how they feel at each stage of the process. Like knowing the roller coaster’s track before riding, understanding how the emotional roller coaster would play out as I researched was a significant discovery for me!

 Image of a roller coaster.

As learners, so often we approach preparation for an assignment assuming that the more information we learn about the subject, the more confident we will feel and the better our assignment will be. Kuhlthau’s extensive research paints a very different picture. Consistently, learners experience a significant dip in their confidence not too far into the research process. This dip is associated with information overload at the general level – in seeking to ‘get a grip’ on the topic at hand, we tend to read so much general information that we can’t work out what’s important and what’s not. This is why the ‘guided’ part of Guided Inquiry is so important. To the learner, the intervention of a wise guide at this moment of doubt and confusion can make the way forward much clearer. In fact, targeted support at each stage of the inquiry process can help students develop lifelong learning skills that have broad application throughout their lives. Read more about GI here and watch the video below for an overview of why this approach turns learners into lifelong learners.

So what is the best way for a Teacher Librarian to implement the Guided Inquiry approach? Ideally, a whole-school approach is called for. Consistency in the model and language used across the school will provide the best possible basis for a successful Guided Inquiry program, with the teacher librarian providing support to teachers and students alike. Teacher librarians can design GI units with teachers, as well as teaching students the different stages of ISP and providing targeted intervention and support throughout the process.

If a whole-school approach is not possible at this point in time, GI can still be implemented in individual classrooms or in smaller-scale projects. Often such projects can be a great time to collect local evidence of the success of GI, which can then be used to promote wider uptake in the future. The key is to give it a go and to build on your success over time.

Implementing Guided Inquiry may initially be a challenge, but it is certainly worth the effort. Syllabus content becomes more meaningful to students and they are more engaged in their own learning – and that’s what school should be all about!

References

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari, A.K. (2013) Guided Inquiry Design. http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/guided_inquiry_design.htm

Maniotes, L.K. (2013). Guided Inquiry Design Intro pt 2 Learning how to learn. Accessed May 12th, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7SoZYKBh6g

 

Images 

Idea by OpenClips. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/idea-invention-inventor-thinking-152213/

Roller Coaster by OpenClips. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/roller-coaster-rollercoaster-156147/

Embrace the question mark!

April30

A hand points to a question mark in the sky

One of the YouTube videos I watched as part of my studies was a snippet of an interview with Michael Wesch, an American cultural anthropologist. In the video, he calls on teachers to encourage their students to “embrace the question mark,” a sentiment that struck me as being a most excellent phrase to use in the library! (If you’re short on time, start the video from the 1:30 mark)

Immediately I started thinking about library lessons in which I would use the question mark symbol as a starting point for discussions about what it means to be a digital citizen. I envisioned a display with a giant question mark in the middle and lots of questions written by students all around it. I remembered the National Geographic channel magnet on my fridge that says, “Live Curious,” and I thought about what a great motto for life it is.

I really love those moments when sparks go off in my head and I am inspired, even by a simple phrase. It is that electricity that helps us inspire our students.

So, thank you Mr Wesch. I’ll be borrowing your wonderful phrase and using it to help my students embrace the question mark in their lives.

 

References

1105Education. (2012). Michael Wesch on Knowledgeable vs Knowledge-able. Accessed April 30, 2014 from www.youtube.com/watch?v=z56SNAQNOqs

Image source: Question by geralt. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/hand-index-finger-high-great-show-76738/

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/

Library Lion

April24

I came across this lovely reading by actress Mindy Sterling of Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. It comes from Storyline Online, a great source of video readings by actors and actresses. Such a sweet story and such a gorgeous reading! Enjoy!

Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T18NCobS43c

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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/

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