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ETL 401 Assignment 2: Part B – Critical Reflection

Throughout this semester my view on the role of the Teacher Librarian has dramatically changed. Before the commencement of this degree, I (like most) didn’t understand or know the extent of the role that the TL plays in the school. Being a classroom teacher of minimal experience, I have not been exposed to the daily tasks of the TL and therefore didn’t have a level of respect for them as I do now.

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A TL’s teaching role is an integral one which sets us apart from the rest of the library and information services staff. Statistics show that TL’s commence their careers as classroom teachers, and then look to obtaining professional qualifications in education and librarianship. In this regard, as Herring (2007) states that the TL takes opportunities to teach in the library context, extending what is taught in the classroom.

The Teacher Librarian’s role is not limited to being an information specialist, or a teacher, but further includes the support and implementation of the vision of our school communities through advocacy and building effective library and information services and programs (ALIA & ASLA, 2004). What advocacy looks like in the school context involves the Teacher Librarian being always aware of opportunities to develop strategies and possibly influence decision making for the betterment of the students, the school library, and the profession. With the twenty-first century proving to be a rapidly changing technological world, the role of the Teacher Librarian is to continue to be aware of, and implement, new strategies and approaches that advocate for the meaningful and beneficial existence of the school library and the Teacher Librarian (Bonanno & Moore, 2009; Waldron-Lamotte, M. 2014a).

When commencing topic 2, I was greatly influenced by the readings on Principal Support. Before beginning the topic I had not giving a single thought to the TL/principal relationship necessary for the school library to be successful, but I got the message loud and clear… collaboration cannot happen without the active support of the school’s principal and if the library and TL doesn’t have the principal’s support, well, they need to do something about that (Waldron-Lamotte, M. 2014b). As Haycock (2002, pg.32) states, “collaboration is not easy. But it is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”. After all isn’t that what it’s all about?

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My initial thoughts when delving into the Inquiry Learning topic were negative and resistant. I look back and I think it was more the unknown and the initial complexity of the topic that caused this reaction. However after reading the many articles, as well as completing the last assignment, I have found that Inquiry Learning it definitely integral in today’s educational setting (though I would have assumed many classroom teachers and TLs are already actively engaged in teaching this to their students – regardless if they are following a set model or not).

Examining IL models as part of this task highlighted the benefits of using IL models in research tasks for students. I now understand that information literacy skills are an important part of the inquiry process and this is something that I need to teach more explicitly in my lessons and in collaboration with class teachers. Bundy (2004) further reinstates this, by stating that students recognise the need for information, can locate information, analyse the reliability of the source, critically evaluate information and use information effectively (Waldron-Lamotte, M. 2014c). I have worked in three different public schools now; and whilst all of those schools have a whole-school literacy program, none of these are effectively teaching Information Literacy and Guided Inquiry Learning. When I become a TL, I will endeavor to implement a school-wide literacy program that allows the proficient use of an IL model that caters to the dynamics of that school. Herring’s PLUS model is my preferred model at this point of my learning for its use of acronym, transferability and way of developing synthesise of information in students.

I have been pleased with the significant amount of reflection I have been able to engage in whilst studying this course (even

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though I have been unable to attend any of the online meetings – I have kept my blog rolling). Not just because Teacher Librarians engage in reflective practice to increase their effectiveness (Purcell, 2010) but for the reason that it has allowed me to better understand how to successfully perform the roles expected of me. With the death of my Nan half way through the semester and the emotional toll it has had on my family – I am proud of myself for forging ahead.

The Teacher Librarian holds a significant leadership role in promoting and supporting teaching and learning within multi-modal, multi-literate twenty-first century learning environments. Whether we are planning collaborative or individual teaching programs, creating and enhancing quality teaching and learning environments, performing library management duties, or advocating for the implementation of new programs or improvement of facilities, we are doing it for the opportunity to enhance and improve student learning and achievement. I look forward to the day when I can put what I have learnt into practice. Though just because I am not a TL yet, doesn’t mean I can’t implement change!

REFERENCES

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) & Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2004). Library standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/TLstandards.pdf

Bonanno, K., & Moore, R. (2009). Advocacy: reason, responsibility and rhetoric. Australian School Library Association (ASLA). Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/advocacy/ School-library-advocacy.aspx

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.library.unisa.edu.au/learn/infolit/Infolit-2nd-edition.pdf

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.

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. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/55822153/all-librarians-do-check-out-books-right-look-roles-school-library-media-specialist

Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014a). OLJ ETL 401 Blog Task 1. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/08/11/olj-etl-401-blog-task-1/

Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014b). Principal Support ETL 401 Online Learning Journal Blog Task 2. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/09/08/principal-support-etl-401-online-learning-journal-blog-task-2/

Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014c). ETL 401 OLJ Blog Task 3 – Information literacy is more than a set of skills. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/09/29/etl-401-olj-blog-task-3/

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ETL 401 Assignment 2 Part A: IL Models

Executive summary

In today’s society, inquiry learning is a natural process. However, due to the ominous amounts of information readily available, students lack the necessary skills to be able to locate, select, organise, analyse, and evaluate information. These skills are necessary for students to achieve their learning outcomes. This report outlines how an Information Literacy model utilised in an educational setting can be beneficial for all stakeholders. Teachers and students shape inquiry learning through the use of IL models by various means. There are various Information Literacy (IL) models available for use in the teaching of the research and problem solving process such as Herring’s PLUS Model (2007), the New South Wales Information Skills Process (2007) and Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (2009), all of which provide a clear framework for students to follow to achieve their learning outcomes. However, the IL model chosen must reflect the needs of your school context in order to be successful – not all will suit.

Section 1: Definition and purposes

What is an IL model?

The Australian School Library Association (ASLA 2009) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA 2006) have defined information literacy as ‘an information process where students can access, use, organise, create, present and evaluate information.’ Teaching in a 21st century curriculum ‘is no longer a matter of teachers presenting expert information to students so that they can represent the information to show understanding,’ (Wall & Ryan, 2010). Information literacy is about students learning how to use information resources, extracting and then presenting the information. An Information Literacy Model guides students through this process. It is a multi-layered process that actively involves students following steps in an information search process to answer ‘the big question’.

Why is an IL model needed in the present information landscape?

Inquiry skills are used by human beings worldwide in everyday life. As teachers, it is our knowledge of children and how they learn that determines how we teach the acquisition of information and inquiry skills. Information Literacy models are essential in today’s information landscape. As Frey (2007) states, ‘we have transitioned from a time where information was scarce and precious; to today where information is vast and readily available.’ Due to this, students can gain access to a range of resources and without an IL model to guide them; they are just simply ‘cutting and pasting’ information. The understanding and teaching of information literacy skills through the use of an IL model has a positive effect on student learning. Students are able to identify their information needs, gather and assess information more readily and organise and present this information effectively – which are skills used across almost all of the curriculum areas (ALIA & ASLA, 2001).

How is an IL model used by teachers and students to shape inquiry learning in schools?

Information Literacy is the teacher librarian’s specialist subject, but it is a whole school responsibility. Teacher librarians, as collaborative teaching partners, support teaching and learning programs in information literacy, recognising that students need to be inspired, challenged and empowered with new knowledge. Herring (2007) states that, ‘one of the key elements in a library mission statement relates to the development of information literate students.’ It is with guidance from the teacher librarian that students can become competent ‘locaters, selectors, analysers, organisers and users of information’ (Wall, J. & Ryan, S. 2010). The teacher librarian must critically analyse all Information Literacy models to ensure best practice in their school (Bundy, 2004). By utilising an effective IL model that suits the dynamic of the school, all stakeholders can work collegially in implementing the model to guide the student’s inquiry process. The model may be effectively used throughout library sessions or as a whole school literacy process; that is embedded within teaching and learning programs (Eisenberg and Johnson, 1996).

Evaluation/Reflection – How an IL model might be employed in the assignments of your school.

An Information Literacy model is essential in today’s educational setting. Students have access to various multimodal texts that are readily available to them. In a digital age, students need to be given a framework in order to be able to effectively represent the information to show understanding.  O’Connell (2012) highlights that, for inquiry learning to be successful and digital literacy to be integrated into real-life problems then constructed into solutions that can make a difference in our world, everyone in the equation must become a researcher. There is a distinct shift away from teacher-led instruction to student-centered approaches. Tying this with a greater focus on formative assessment and perhaps the use of Digital Portfolios provide the data required by some parents and other teachers to buy in to the approach.

Assignments can be challenging for some students and often time consuming, resulting in ‘copying and pasting’ methods to complete the ominous task ahead. The IL model can be used as an assessment tool by integrating it into the overall assessment rubric. Students will need to demonstrate that they can meet the requirements of each stage of the IL model in order to achieve the overall learning outcomes. However, before implementing this approach into assessment rubrics, the model will have to be explicitly taught and explored before independent tasks are formulated.

As stated by Langford (1998), there seems to be a gap in the everyday classroom practice of Information literacy and the theory. Schools are still struggling with the concept, often seeing it as an add-on and not a genuine part of education. By introducing an IL model within the school, information literacy will become a part of the curriculum and will benefit student’s learning achievements. Quality teaching will be inevitable as students will be encouraged to locate, select, analyse, organise and use information effectively.

Section 2: Your two chosen models

The Information Search Process and Guided Inquiry

There are various IL models available for use in the teaching of the research and problem solving process such as Herring’s PLUS Model (2007), the New South Wales Information Skills Process (2007) and Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (2009). The main purpose of all these models is similar; to provide teachers and students with a framework for the development of research skills.

Teacher librarians need to provide their students with practical strategies to then transfer the information and knowledge they have gained to other areas of their learning. This is what makes their learning meaningful to them. Kuhlthau’s (Kuhlthau, 2010) Information Search Process (ISP) model engages students in the learning process by asking them to:

  • Define their information needs;
  • Locate the information they think they need;
  • Select the information that is relevant to them, accurate etc;
  • Organise the information;
  • Create and share their information and;
  • Evaluate the information.

Image retrieved from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_SReOcTxpaHI/THOwmmNitSI/AAAAAAAAAAs/5QwSmv0l6e4/s1600/ISP+Model.jpg

A teacher’s knowledge of the ISP affects student learning outcomes across all year levels and all curriculum areas. Teacher librarians who have this knowledge are able to engage students in meaningful research learning, develop lifelong learning principles in their students, cater for individual students, challenge students to aim for higher goals and incorporate a variety of instructional strategies into their teaching. All of which lead to higher student learning outcomes as students taught by these teachers have a higher retention rate and a clearer understanding of core concepts and information (Hattie, 2003).

Kuhlthau’s model of the Information Search Process is a simple and complex process of searching for information (as defined in Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century). The result of inquiry is only formulated by complex searching that derives from the process followed. Kuhlthau has a seven process model:

  • initiation (uncertainty);
  • selection (optimism);
  • exploration (confusion/frustration/doubt);
  • collection (sense of direction/confidence);
  • presentation (satisfaction/disappointment) and;
  • assessment (sense of accomplishment).

Research suggests that because of the information made readily available on the internet, students’ conceptions of research have changed. Without effort or too much thought, student’s can access information on the given topic with ease and by doing so; they expect to find information quickly without utilising the effective skills and processes outlined in the IL models (Kuhlthau, C., et al 2008).  When students feel under pressure, faced with deadlines to complete tasks, they become frustrated and become more focused on completing a task rather than achieving the learning outcome. Student’s information-to-knowledge experiences are vitally important in their educational journey. Therefore it is critical that during these experiences, teachers are able to identify key moments when instructional intervention should occur. Rather than gathering and synthesising information (which is a crucial part of the research process), students are often too focused and driven by the end result. It becomes a matter of ‘quantity rather than quality’ (McGregor and Streitenberger, 2004). As they move through the search process stages of the ISP model and learn more about their topics, their relevance criteria also undergo development and refinement. As they become more competent at selecting relevant information, they develop more specific searches and become more critical of the found information (Kuhlthau, C., et al 2008).

 

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By using the framework as a guide, collecting and compiling information is less important than becoming involved in a critical thought process. They begin to explore ideas more extensively and develop their own deep understanding and analysis of the research; which has been formulated by their own opinion and conclusion of the topic searched. Students avoid missing the critical stages of learning when they are given the extra time to reflect and formulate during the exploration and collection of information. It has become evident that the model and learning is extremely important for teacher and librarians to guide students through this process (Kuhlthau et al. 2007).

Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2007) define Guided Inquiry (GI) as, “an integrated unit of inquiry planned and guided by an instructional team of a school librarian and teachers, together allowing students to gain deeper understandings of subject area curriculum content and information literacy concepts….” Quite clearly, GI requires school community support and close collaboration with teachers. As discussed by Mitchell (2011) ‘Guided inquiry learning is fast becoming the buzz word of school libraries for the 21st century.’ Schools are moving away from teacher-centered lessons where students learn passively and are adopting a guided inquiry approach to learning with teacher librarians acting as facilitators. ‘This guided inquiry approach helps students to construct meaning, think creatively and solve problems.’(Mitchell, 2011) Teacher librarians need to give students a purpose for their inquiry and should not assume that students know how to search for accurate information without being explicitly taught. It is important to structure learning experiences using a research model and support the stages of the teaching and learning cycle. Teacher librarians need to model strategies, jointly work with students to assist the mastery of research skills and support students to use research skills independently.

A key component of the guided inquiry approach to learning is that knowledge can be personal. It allows students to feel fully engaged, develop ownership and take responsibility for their own learning path whilst being guided. A guided inquiry approach in a classroom consists of students working on specially designed inquiry materials. As there is an increasing demand for customised learning plans the guided learning approach ensures students are working at their own level and at their own pace but with a defined purpose.

The GI process clearly achieves the dual purpose of the TL’s role as both educator and information manager. The TL as educator role, or, “every subject expert” (Michigan School Library Initiative Group, 2009) is evidenced in their curricular knowledge and is reflected by their collaboration with other teachers in the focus of the Guided Inquiry, whether students are investigating the immune system or the history of jazz. The TL as information manager reflects the TL’s capacity to integrate information literacy throughout the school, mentor teachers to ‘push’ technology into the classroom and ensure that traditional and digital resources meet the changing needs of the curriculum to best prepare students for high school and eventually employment. As Herring (2007) suggests, TL’s need to mentally and strategically move away from the notion of the library as just supporting the school, towards the vision of the library as a vital part of the school. As TL’s, we need to embrace our leadership role and be prepared with evidence of the improved student achievement to effectively implement Guided Inquiry in our schools.

The guided inquiry approach to teaching and learning is not a new approach in classroom instruction and is best described as a process-orientated approach. Students are developing their knowledge and skills in order to be successful citizens in our increasingly changing society. As stated by Hansen (2004), ‘Our students need to be critical thinkers and problem solvers to survive.’

Herring’s PLUS Model

 

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Herring’s PLUS model is a simplified approach to information literacy while still including the processes of Kuhlthau’s ISP model (just code named differently). This model of the information skills process aims to integrate the key elements of previous models while adding emphasis on thinking skills and self evaluation. PLUS incorporates the elements of: Purpose, Location, Use and Self-evaluation.

The range of skills included in the PLUS model includes:

1. Purpose

  • Identifying existing knowledge by brainstorming concepts; that formulate questions; resulting in identifying the information resources relevant to the task (Herring, J. 1996, 1999, 2004).

2.Location

  • Developing skills to assist in locating relevant information by utilising library catalogues, books, journals, CD-ROMs as well as developing IT skills in using electronic sources such as the internet (Herring, J. 1996, 1999, 2004).

3. Use

  • The ability to find relevant information or ideas through skim and scan techniques and understand what is being read, viewed or listened to. This knowledge gained should then be compared and related to existing knowledge.
  • Be able to select and evaluate the appropriate information.
  • Develop the ability to take notes in a systematic way which relates to understanding and purpose whilst collecting all relevant information and devising a summary of all of the facts and information about a topic and relating this to existing knowledge.
  • Most importantly, writing or presentation skills including the ability to use the information and ideas to write a well structured essay, report or project (Herring, J. 1996, 1999, 2004).

4. Self-evaluation

  • The ability to reflect on the processes involved and to identify areas of improvement in the effective use of information resources in the future (Herring, J. 1996, 1999, 2004).

To teach in a school with a school-wide approach to literacy would reinforce the process to students over time and enable them to transfer information literacy between subjects as well as year levels. This model will effectively engage students in their research tasks as it is a simplified method, which also allows students to memorise the steps by use of the acronym.

Recommended Model – Explanation

Students come to the learning situation with some prior knowledge of the topic and it is the teacher librarian’s role to tap into this prior knowledge, engage with students, stimulate and build upon this knowledge, in order to encourage them to be actively involved in the research process. Within an information process framework it is the teacher librarian’s role to support the student through scaffolding learning tasks and providing tools such as concept mapping or brainstorming tools, graphic organisers, note-taking tools and summarising tools.

The guided inquiry process fosters innovation and creativity and can involve students working in groups where they feel motivated and energised. Students can share knowledge and request clarification from each other. ‘Education as inquiry provides an opportunity for learners to explore topics collaboratively using the perspectives offered. In this way, curriculum becomes a metaphor for the lives we want to live and the people we want to be,’ (Harste, Jerome, 2001).

Technology is continuing to impact on education and teacher librarians must consider the important, central role the internet plays in harvesting current information. With the interactive nature of the web, the guided inquiry approach promotes discovery and the role of the teacher librarian is to help children organise the wealth of information presented to them.

For GI to be successful, the TL must raise the profile of the Library, research, provide evidence and create a whole school approach to information literacy. They must establish and nurture collaboration with all key stakeholders, especially the Principal and teachers. Recognising that these steps must be taken, how does the TL become the champion of information literacy? The answer to this question is intrinsic to the GI approach itself – provide the stakeholders with evidence of the improvements in student achievement, firstly in Library projects, then transferred to the classroom. For example, Kuhlthau et. al, (2007, p.133) reported that a follow-up survey of teachers and librarians who had implemented Guide Inquiry projects found that the resultant student learning was ‘richer and deeper and more personalised over time’.

Evaluation/Reflection

The diagnostic value of these models seems even more crucial in today’s digital age. Research evidence suggests that students appear to settle for the first related information found. Due to the nature of information today (and it being readily available at the click of a button), students skip the initial stages of exploratory searching and analysing information found and just proceed to collecting information for their project or task. This is all done without considering the implications to their learning and skill development. They complete a task without building background knowledge and formulating essential questions that drive and direct their information seeking. Awareness of the processes outlined in the models is not only valuable for teachers but also for students as it facilitates both their learning process and emotional experience.

Professional literature (Langford, 1999; Spence, 2005) confirms that TLs are the links to producing information literate students. To assist students during the research process TLs use information skills models to scaffold student learning. Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (ISP) and Herring’s PLUS provide vocabulary to students, teachers and TLs to describe the steps in the research process, the information skills required and a reference point in the research process. The models encourage students to think at Bloom’s upper levels (evaluate, synthesise) rather than information retrieval. ISP is particularly insightful for TLs and teachers because it highlights students’ feelings (affective domain) during the information seeking process (Kuhlthau, 2007); which may result in attention being devoted to individual students’ needs.

Henri (as cited in La Marca & Manning, 2004, p. 36) believes it is normal for students to feel different emotions during research stages, such as anxiety, whereas previously teachers may mistake these emotions for inattentiveness. A whole-school information literacy continuum that is embedded into the curriculum (and NOT in isolation); and that sequentially develops students’ skills and strategies at each year level; enhances students’ acquisition and the transferability of these skills. Loertscher (2009) supports this notion arguing that separate library curriculum or information skills are inefficient methods of information literacy teaching compared to “just in time instruction about the research process” (Loertscher 2009, p.43).

References

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009)

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.library.unisa.edu.au/learn/infolit/Infolit-2nd-edition.pdf

Eisenberg, M. and Johnson, D (1996). “Computer Literacy and Information Literacy: A Natural Combination.” The Emergency Librarian.

Hansen, David.M. (2012) Instructor’s Guide to Process-Orientated Guided Learning.POGIL website.

Hansen, David. M & Daniel.K.Apple (2004). Process-The Missing Element.

Henri, J. (2004). The information literate school community: Lessons for teachers. In S. La Marcha & M. Manning (Eds.). Reality bytes: Information literacy for independent learning (pp. 33-47).

Herring, J. (1996) Teaching information skills in schools. London, Library Association.

Herring, J. (1999) Exploiting the Internet as an information resource. London, Library Association.

Herring, J. (2004) The Internet and information skills. London, Facet Publishing.

Herring,J.(2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S.Ferguson (Ed) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp27-42)

Kuhlthau, C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371.

Kuhlthau, C. (1993). Implementing a process approach to information skills: A study identifying indicators… School Library Media Quarterly, 22(1), 11-18.

Kuhlthau, C. (2009). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Paper presented at the IASL School libraries in the picture: preparing pupils and students for the future.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 1-12.

Kuhlthau, C., Heinström, J., & Todd, R. (2008). The ‘information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful?. Informationr.net. Retrieved from http://www.informationr.net/ir/13-4/paper355.html

Kuhlthau, C., & Maniotes, L. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5).

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Assessment in guided inquiry. In Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century (pp. 111-131).

Langford, L. (1999). Information literacy? Seeking clarification. In J. Henri & K. Bonnano (Eds.) The information literate school community: Best practice (pp. 45-56).

Loertscher, D.V. (2009). The best library is a learning commons. Teacher Librarian, 36(4), 43.

McGregor, J.H., & Streitenberger, D.C. (2004). Do scribes learn? Copying and information use. In M. K. Chelton and C. Cool (Eds.), Youth information-seeking behavior: theories, models and issues (pp. 95-118).

Mitchell, P. & Spence,S. (2009) Inquiry into Guided Inquiry. Vol.23, No.4, Nov 2009.

O’Connell, J. (2012). So you think they can learn? Scan, Vol 31. May, 5-11.

Spence, S. (2005). The teacher librarian toolkit for an information literate school community. In Henri, J. & Asselin, M. (Eds.). The Information Literate School Community 2: Issues of Leadership (pp. 135-146).

Upton,M. (2013) Inquiry Learning vs Information Literacy. ASLA Conference 2013.

Wall, J. & Ryan, S. (2010) Resourcing for Curriculum Innovation: Learning in a Changing World

 

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ETL 401 OLJ Blog Task 3 – Information literacy is more than a set of skills

‘Information literacy is more than a set of skills’.

The Australian School Library Association (ASLA 2009) and the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA 2006) have defined information literacy as ‘an information process where students can access, use, organise, create, present and evaluate information.’

Image retrieved on 29th September 2014 from http://img.scoop.it/CQdKey6tkGba5Kl2U_Z0HTl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9

Teaching in a 21st century curriculum ‘is no longer a matter of teachers presenting expert information to students so that they can represent the information to show understanding,’ (Wall & Ryan, 2010). Information literacy is about students learning how to use information resources, extracting and then presenting the information. It is a multi-layered process that actively involves students following steps in an information search process to answer ‘the big question’.

There are various information skills models available for use in the teaching of the research and problem solving process such as Herring’s PLUS Model (2007), the New South Wales Information Skills Process (2007) and Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process (2009). The main purpose of all these models is similar; to provide teachers and students with a framework for the development of research skills.

Students come to the learning situation with some prior knowledge of the topic and it is the teacher librarian’s role to tap into this prior knowledge, engage with students, stimulate and build upon this knowledge, in order to encourage them to be actively involved in the research process. Within an information process framework it is the teacher librarian’s role to support the student through scaffolding learning tasks and providing tools such as concept mapping or brainstorming tools, graphic organisers, note-taking tools and summarising tools.

Image retrieved on 29th September 2014 from http://librarynext.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/litchart.gif

Teacher librarians need to provide their students with practical strategies to then transfer the information and knowledge they have gained to other areas of their learning. This is what makes their learning meaningful to them. The information search process models engage students in the learning process by asking them to:

  • Define their information needs
  • Locate the information they think they need
  • Select the information that is relevant to them, accurate etc
  • Organise the information
  • Create and share their information
  • Evaluate the information

In a school setting where there is no information literacy policy in place it may seem difficult to implement across the whole school so my advice is….. ‘Just get started!’ Choose a model you think will suit a particular group of students. Start off with something simple if the students have never used a research model before. Lead by example! Use the model as a framework to build the students’ skills and thinking strategies necessary to work with information. Use each step of the model to guide the students and support them in their research process so they can start to control their own learning. Hopefully over time the understandings and skills that inform information literacy will start to become embedded into the classroom practices of other teachers across the school and become part of the general curriculum in the school.

A teacher’s knowledge of the information search process affects student learning outcomes across all year levels and all curriculum areas. Teacher librarians who have this knowledge are able to engage students in meaningful research learning, develop lifelong learning principles in their students, cater for individual students, challenge students to aim for higher goals and incorporate a variety of instructional strategies into their teaching. All of which lead to higher student learning outcomes as students taught by these teachers have a higher retention rate and a clearer understanding of core concepts and information (Hattie, 2003).

The understanding and teaching of information literacy skills has a positive effect on student learning, students are able to identify their information needs, gather and assess information more readily and organise and present this information effectively which are skills used across almost all of the curriculum areas (ALIA & ASLA, 2001; Lange, Magee, & Montgomery, 2003). ‘A well-resourced school library that has a strong library program focused on teaching information literacy by a highly qualified teacher librarian increases student achievement’, (Everhart 2006, Hartzell 2003 & Spence 2006).

As stated by Langford (1998), there seems to be a gap in the theory of information literacy and the everyday classroom practice. Schools are still grappling with the concept, often seeing it as an add-on and not a genuine part of the business of education. So……..TLs let’s get started! Let’s lead the way in information literacy in our schools!

References

Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA)/Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009)

Herring,J.(2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S.Ferguson (Ed) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp27-42)

Kuhlthau, C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user’s perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371.

Kuhlthau, C. (1993). Implementing a process approach to information skills: A study identifying indicators… School Library Media Quarterly, 22(1), 11-18.

Kuhlthau, C. (2009). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Paper presented at the IASL School libraries in the picture: preparing pupils and students for the future.

Kuhlthau, C., & Maniotes, L. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5).

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: A Clarification

Mitchell, P. & Spence,S. (2009) Inquiry into Guided Inquiry. Vol.23, No.4, Nov 2009.

Upton,M. (2013) Inquiry Learning vs Information Literacy. ASLA Conference 2013.

Wall, J. & Ryan, S. (2010) Resourcing for Curriculum Innovation: Learning in a Changing World

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ETL 401 Topic 4: Information Literacy Models

Topic 4: Information Literacy, has provoked me to critically evaluate two different information literacy models – Herring’s PLUS model and Kuhlthau’s ISP model.

Kuhlthau’s ISP model while having the element of a feelings dimension to validate the feelings of learners as they work through the model, I feel that it is too complex to develop a school-wide literacy program around. I believe the initial phases of selection and exploration may not allow some students the opportunity to develop their own understanding, creating problems in the presentation stage and leading to plagarism. This has been my experience in students approaching assessment tasks. They see the task outline and jump straight in to a google search.

 

Herring’s PLUS model, is a simplified approach to information literacy while still including the processes of Kuhlthau’s ISP model (just code named differently). My experience has been students like acronyms and are able to remember steps in a process by the use of an acronym. I can see how this would be an easily adopted approach to a school-wide literacy program. To teach in a school with a school-wide approach to literacy would reinforce the process to students over time and enable them to transfer information literacy between subjects as well as year levels.

 

Adopting a school-wide approach to information literacy is something I am excited about as my future role of Leader as a Teacher Librarian.

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ETL 401 Topic 3: The TL and the Curriculum – Constructivist Learning in the Curriculum

Image retrieved 24th September from http://constructingmodernknowledge.com/cmk08/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/vertical-CMK-logo.png

The expanding role of the TL is exciting and a tad daunting at the same time. Listening to Judy O’Connell’s “Lifesavers of Learning” webinar and accessing each of the suggested resources is a great starting point for developing a 21st Century Capable Library Program, but where to begin? Small steps first but at the centre of literacy learning is inquiry. Creating a sense of wonderment is highly engaging for students. Allowing them to develop their own questions and formulate hypotheses is empowering. Facilitating inquiry into authentic and socio-cultural contexts is powerful. Of course, I am talking about inquiry learning and more specifically, Project Based Learning (PBL), supported by the Information Literacy Process. To successfully implement PBL we must be multi-talented to develop multi-faceted learning experiences. This provides TL’s with the opportunity to be visible, virtual and creative in developing outstanding library services.

As Boss and Krauss (2008) assert: “When teachers facilitate well-designed projects that use digital tools, they do much more than create memorable learning experiences. They prepare students to thrive in a world that’s certain to continue changing.” (p. 13).

What is PBL? It is an ‘extended inquiry process into a complex question, problem, or challenge.’ (O’Connell, Webinar). Students actively participate and construct their own knowledge as they ask their own questions, investigate a problem, issue or concern, create some form of order of their ideas to present a solution, discuss their thinking and reflect on whether they have answered the question, whether they need to re-formulate the question, or whether additional questions for investigation have been raised. Whilst actively engaged in this process, students collaborate, communicate and think critically, using a variety of technology tools for investigation and creation. The collaboration aspect of PBL reflects the increasing connectivism of our world. At present, students metaphorically “turn of” (just as they turn off their devices), when they enter the school gates but PBL reaches out to them and reconnects them to the world outside of school.

O’Connell (2012) highlights that, for inquiry learning to be successful and digital literacy to be integrated into real-life problems then constructed into solutions that can make a difference in our world, everyone in the equation must become a researcher. There is a distinct shift away from teacher-led instruction to student-centred approaches and PBL has a significant role to play. Tying this with a greater focus on formative assessment and perhaps the use of Digital Portfolios provide the data required by some parents and other teachers to buy in to the PBL approach.

Both the Australian Curriculum and Harvard University’s Project Zero have seen the wind of change and have responded accordingly. A cursory review of their current research and support materials reveals a variety of opportunities to engage students in PBL and inquiry learning. This is in response to the new Australian Curriculum which has extended its definition of literate to mean far more than just reading and writing. It includes these two main elements and links them to digital resources so that students must have experiences in reading, viewing and writing both linear and non-linear texts across a range of paper-based and electronic platforms. The aim here is to create students who are information fluent. That is, they can “subconsciously and intuitively interpret information in all forms and formats in order to extract the essential knowledge, authenticate it, and perceive its significance,” (O’Connell, 2012, p. 7).

Similarly, the basic premise of Project Zero is inquiry through collaboration, questioning, global perspectives, digital literacy and developing deeper understandings. In this brave new world, TL’s have considerable PBL research and practical guidance to help us pursue best practice in student learning and to create ethical, considerate, collaborative global citizens.

References

Boss, S. and Krauss, J. Reinventing project-based learning. This chapter excerpt from the book provides an overview of project-based learning within the Web 2.0 world.

O’Connell, J. (2012). So you think they can learn? Scan, Vol 31. May, 5-11.

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ETL 401 Topic 4: Information Literacy – Guided Inquiry

Image retrieved on 24th September from https://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/models/reading6/images/explore2.jpg

Inquiry skills are used by human beings worldwide in everyday life. As teachers, it is our knowledge of children and how they learn that determines how we teach the acquisition of information and inquiry skills. Teacher librarians, as collaborative teaching partners, support teaching and learning programs in information literacy, recognising that students need to be inspired, challenged and empowered with new knowledge. Herring (2007) states that, ‘one of the key elements in a library mission statement relates to the development of information literate students.’ It is with guidance from the teacher librarian that students can become competent ‘locaters, selectors, analysers, organisers and users of information’ (Ryan & Capra 2001). The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and Australian School Library Association’s (ASLA) Statement on Teacher Librarian (TL) Qualifications (2009) highlights the dual role of the TL as an educator and an information manager. This dual purpose can be clearly demonstrated when examining the TL’s role in implementing a Guided Inquiry approach.

Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari (2007) define Guided Inquiry (GI) as, ‘an integrated unit of inquiry planned and guided by an instructional team of a school librarian and teachers, together allowing students to gain deeper understandings of subject area curriculum content and information literacy concepts….” Quite clearly, GI requires school community support and close collaboration with teachers. As discussed by Mitchell (2011) ‘Guided inquiry learning is fast becoming the buzz word of school libraries for the 21st century.’ Schools are moving away from teacher-centred lessons where students learn passively and are adopting a guided inquiry approach to learning with teacher librarians acting as facilitators. ‘This guided inquiry approach helps students to construct meaning, think creatively and solve problems.’(Mitchell, 2011) Teacher librarians need to give students a purpose for their inquiry and should not assume that students know how to search for accurate information without being explicitly taught. It is important to structure learning experiences using a research model and support the stages of the teaching and learning cycle. Teacher librarians need to model strategies, jointly work with students to assist the mastery of research skills and support students to use research skills independently.

Technology is continuing to impact on education and teacher librarians must consider the important, central role the internet plays in harvesting current information. As Frey (2007) states ‘We have transitioned from a time where information was scarce and precious to today where information is vast and readily available.’ With the interactive nature of the web, the guided inquiry approach promotes discovery and the role of the teacher librarian is to help children organise the wealth of information presented to them.

A key component of the guided inquiry approach to learning is that knowledge can be personal. It allows students to feel fully engaged, develop ownership and take responsibility for their own learning path whilst being guided. As discussed in ‘Pedagogy in Action; The Portal for Educators (2012), ‘A guided inquiry approach in a classroom consists of students working on specially designed inquiry materials.’ As there is an increasing demand for customised learning plans the guided learning approach ensures students are working at their own level and at their own pace but with a defined purpose.

The guided inquiry process fosters innovation and creativity and can involve students working in groups where they feel motivated and energised. Students can share knowledge and request clarification from each other. ‘Education as inquiry provides an opportunity for learners to explore topics collaboratively using the perspectives offered. In this way, curriculum becomes a metaphor for the lives we want to live and the people we want to be,’ (Harste, Jerome, 2001).

From my experience, this close collaboration between teacher and TL can be quite superficial. From my experience, I am certainly left with the impression that some teachers are disengaged from the ‘Library Program’ for whatever reason. This is not to say that they do not want to see student outcomes achieved but more that they do not understand, or cannot see the contribution that digital and information literacy skills can make for student achievement. This perception means that TL’s need to be mindful of Principle 3, ‘Professional Commitment’ and specifically,  ‘Leadership’ Standard, 3.3 of the Australian School Library and Information Association’s  ‘Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians’ (ASLA, 2004).

For GI to be successful, the TL must raise the profile of the Library, research, provide evidence and create a whole school approach to information literacy. They must establish and nurture collaboration with all key stakeholders, especially the Principal and teachers. Recognising that these steps must be taken, how does the TL become the champion of information literacy? The answer to this question is intrinsic to the GI approach itself – provide the stakeholders with evidence of the improvements in student achievement, firstly in Library projects, then transferred to the classroom. For example, Kuhlthau et. al, (2007) reported that a follow-up survey of teachers and librarians who had implemented Guide Inquiry projects found that the resultant student learning was ‘richer and deeper and more personalised over time’ (p133).

The GI process clearly achieves the dual purpose of the TL’s role as both educator and information manager. The TL as educator role, or, “every subject expert” (Michigan School Library Initiative Group, 2009) is evidenced in their curricular knowledge and is reflected by their collaboration with other teachers in the focus of the Guided Inquiry, whether students are investigating the immune system or the history of jazz. The TL as information manager reflects the TL’s capacity to integrate information literacy throughout the school, mentor teachers to ‘push’ technology into the classroom and ensure that traditional and digital resources meet the changing needs of the curriculum to best prepare students for high school and eventually employment. As Herring (2007) suggests, TL’s need to mentally and strategically move away from the notion of the library as just supporting the school, towards the vision of the library as a vital part of the school. As TL’s, we need to embrace our leadership role and be prepared with evidence of the improved student achievement to effectively implement Guided Inquiry in our schools.

The guided inquiry approach to teaching and learning is not a new approach in classroom instruction and is best described as a process-orientated approach. Students are developing their knowledge and skills in order to be successful citizens in our increasingly changing society. As stated by Hansen (2004), ‘Our students need to be critical thinkers and problem solvers to survive.’

References

Hansen, David.M. (2012) Instructor’s Guide to Process-Orientated Guided Learning.POGIL website.

Hansen, David. M & Daniel.K.Apple (2004). Process-The Missing Element.

Herring,J.(2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S.Ferguson (Ed) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp27-42)

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Assessment in guided inquiry. In Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century (pp. 111-131). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Available CSU Library Reserve.

Mitchell, P. & Spence,S. (2009) Inquiry into Guided Inquiry. Vol.23, No.4, Nov 2009.

Upton,M. (2013) Inquiry Learning vs Information Literacy. ASLA Conference 2013.

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Principal Support ETL 401 Online Learning Journal Blog Task 2

Purcell (2012) makes a valid point that the key to any educational role is the ground-roots desire and ability to foster learning, to support students in finding pleasure and value in lifelong learning. To be a valued teacher librarian that runs a successful library, this passion as described by Purcell (2012) needs to be embraced.

Hartzell (2003) states an ‘effective library programs led by active, involved teacher librarians can have a discernible positive impact on student achievement regardless of student, school and community demographics’ (2003). A principal employs a teacher librarian who is enthusiastic about teaching, knowledgeable in the area of information literacy and technology, passionate about children’s literature and improving student outcomes.

The role of a teacher librarian (TL) is a specialised teaching position that requires various roles to be fulfilled. These roles include in-depth curriculum knowledge and strong involvement in curriculum design and development. It involves collaborative teamwork with classroom teachers and most importantly the TL requires support from the school principal in order to make the library an asset to the school, a place of learning that impacts positively on student learning outcomes. A principal’s primary concerns are the needs of the students and fostering collaborative teamwork amongst teachers, developing a team with one common goal – to improve learning outcomes for all students. A teacher librarian needs to be valued as a successful contributor to this team.

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://www.nea.org/assets/img/pubToday/1005/1004-Express-Principal.jpg

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://www.nea.org/assets/img/pubToday/1005/1004-Express-Principal.jpg

Principals determine the quality of the library program as much as the teacher librarians do because they influence and control factors which directly affect the library, such as adequate budget for resources and staffing, flexible timetabling and teacher collaboration.  A library needs a strong budget allocation to ensure a large, varied, up-to-date collection although ‘the most extensive collection will not produce maximal achievement results unless qualified TLs are available to help students and teachers use it’ (Hartzell, 2003).

The role of the teacher librarians is to guide teachers to resources and materials to enhance their teaching and learning activities, highlighting to teachers the best resources available to support the curriculum and meet the needs of their students.

School principals need to support teacher librarians by allowing for flexibility in the timetable giving TLs time to collaborate with teachers, time to teach and time to engage in professional development activities outside the school. The outcome of teacher collaboration time depends on how effectively a principal promotes teamwork amongst teachers and the teacher librarian. ‘The role of the principal is so critical to the development of school priorities, culture, and resources that it would be fair to say the principal is the key factor in developing an effective and integrated school library program’ (Haycock, 1999).

Farewell (1998) and Haycock (2002) state that the principal plays a vital role as teacher-librarians and the principal share leadership and both promote a shared vision.  As the leader of the school, the principal naturally is the person that the school staff looks up to and therefore for the majority, staff respect the decisions made by them. Therefore, if a principal is passionate and supportive of the library, collaboration between teacher and teacher-librarian will be strongly promoted. As Haycock (2002, pg.32) states, “collaboration is not easy. But it is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”.

Principals can provide direction to teacher librarians in developing policies and school scope and sequences of essential skills that relate to the context of the school. Poser (2013) shares this view in Jacobs-Israel article about one librarian’s success story: ‘With the ongoing support and encouragement of a principal a teacher librarian can attend professional development learning workshops to help align the Information Literacy Skills continuum to the needs of the students and needs of the school.’

As the information landscape continues to evolve, principals rank technology as one of the most important job functions of a teacher librarian. They want TLs to share their technology expertise and offer technology leadership to staff. As stated by Kuon (2012), ‘the librarian is the rudder guiding the school toward the new or unknown.’

Principals interested in developing their school libraries as ‘instruments of school improvement’ (Hartzell, 2003) should support their teacher librarian in their role as specialised educators.

 ‘Strong teacher librarians with positive principal support never waiver from their quest to educate students. (Hopkins, 2010)

References:

Farewell, S.M. (1998). Profile of Planning: A study of a three-year project on the implementation of collaborative library media programs. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Florida International University, Miami.

Hartzell, G. (2003). ‘Why should principals support school librarians?’ Teacher Librarian Journal31.2

Haycock, K. (1999). ‘Fostering collaboration, leadership and information literacy: common behaviours of uncommon principles and faculties’, NASSP Bulletin, vol.83 (605), pp82-87.

Hopkins, G. (2010) ‘Good principals: What traits do they share?’ Educational World.

Jacobs-Israel,M. (2013). ‘One librarian’s success story: Christine Poser is helping her school move.’ School Library Journal.

Kuon, T. &. (2012). How does your boss see you? Proof that principals value librarians.School Library Journal .

Purcell, K. (2012). Libraries 2020: Imagining the library of the (not too distant) future. Retrieved March 16 2013, from Charles Sturt University website:http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D/page21cc3723-8c2a-4279-008f-96f00ee74642

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The role of the teacher librarian: Current and future pathways

The role of the teacher librarian is progressively evolving, therefore what is expected of a Teacher Librarian and what they are accountable for is also changing. To shift the common misconception that teacher librarians sit at a desk all day and occasionally scan a barcode, is a slow and challenging task, as it has been this view for so long. However, with the Digital Education Revolution here, teacher librarians as media specialists have an opportunity to significantly change that misconception and lead their school into the 21st century. What is current is only the beginning for what is to come in the future. So what exactly do we do as Teacher Librarians and how can we lead the school into the 21st century?

 The Current Role of the Teacher Librarian

The role of the Teacher Librarian is complex. As Teacher Librarians, we have the exciting task of being multitasking magicians with the various roles we play within the library; many of which goes unnoticed. So what is it we actually do?

The ASLA Standards (Australian School Library Association) have listed the standards of professional excellence for Teacher Librarians within a broad framework of professional practice, professional knowledge and professional commitment. It is after reading the standards that fall under this umbrella, that you truly begin to appreciate and understand the complex and demanding role that we face as a Teacher Librarian. The ASLA Standards describe the role as having two key components, a teacher and an information specialist. As Librarians, we evoke life-long learning, collaboratively work with colleagues, resource the curriculum, understand and collaborate with the school community, continually develop our knowledge of teaching and learning across the curriculum as well as our knowledge of information resources, technology and library management. If that is not enough; we are also responsible for planning and budgeting the school resources.

Yet somehow, we are not appreciated and are just simply used as relief from face-to-face teachers. Now I am not claiming that every school has this view in common, however we can’t deny that this perspective and attitude is shared by the majority. “One of the major reasons why librarians are often overlooked by teachers is the lack of exposure during their teacher training programs to the types of value-added services librarians can provide. Collaboration cannot be fully realised without creating a collaborative culture in which all partners see the importance and understand the benefits of collaboration to themselves, each other and their students” (Teachers Connecting with Teacher Librarians, 2014). Our current role as the Teacher Librarian, information specialist can be highlighted as:

 

Image retrieved 25th August 2014 from https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qdiFUxBukcM/TYrKAXq7_BI/AAAAAAAABp0/09lFhGxCqvU/strong+libraries+medium+res.jpg

Image retrieved 25th August 2014 from https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qdiFUxBukcM/TYrKAXq7_BI/AAAAAAAABp0/09lFhGxCqvU/strong+libraries+medium+res.jpg

A teacher and educator involved in programming, teaching and assessing and responsible for literacy and information literacy skills development and the promotion of literature. We as collaborative teaching partners, support teaching and learning programs in information literacy, recognising that students need to be inspired, challenged and empowered with new knowledge.

A resource manager who develops the school collection to suit the needs of teachers and students and manages both the physical and virtual environment. Gibbons (2013) states that ‘a good school library supplements the prescribed curriculum with that other curriculum, the world of favourite books, comics, DVDs and websites’. Herring (2007), unlike Purcell (2010), refers to enabling students to use learning resources within and outside of the school. This is important given that students today have almost constant access to a wide range of resources and tools through the Internet. There is an expectation from the school community that the library is accessible beyond school hours and the physical constraints of the building (Lamb & Johnson, 2008).

An information specialist who makes information available for students and teachers. ‘Even though inquiry is a natural process for children, we help students with information retrieval through questioning and scaffolding.’ (Lupton, 2012)

The teacher librarian’s information specialist role is now more important than ever. Students need to be educated to become competent, ethical seekers and users of information in a technological world (Mann, 2011). Students need the help of the teacher librarian to confront the challenges of their information needs and develop knowledge and skills they will use for the rest of their lives (Harris, 2011).

In the learning environment of today, students demand access to information and ICT (Hay, 2006). Many authors including Herring (2007), Purcell (2010), Mann (2011), Twomey (2007) and Leppard (2003) agree that we need to be skilled information specialists who are able to select, locate, organise and use a range of information resources and technologies. However, our role as information specialist is more than just being able to locate relevant information for a particular topic or subject area. The knowledge that the teacher librarian can impart in the application of the information skills process has significant benefits in planning, the development of units of work and assessment tasks and strategies (Gibbs, 2003; Lamb & Johnson, 2008). We need to interpret and evaluate the library’s collection on a given topic in the context of the curriculum program, as well as developing information literacy skills (Herring, 2007; Purcell, 2010).  In addition, the teacher librarian must teach students the skill of evaluation (Harris, 2011; Sample job description: School library media specialist, 2009).

As an information specialist, we are in an ideal position to assist with the integration of critical thinking skills (Johnstone, 2009). Purcell (2010) identifies that the development of higher order thinking skills and enabling students to take part in the process of constructing knowledge is part of the role of the information specialist.

A collaborator who is a partner in curriculum planning and design, a resource creator who re-shapes tasks to suit the learners. Purcell (2010) discussed Teacher Librarians as being ‘instructional partners’, helping teachers develop the curriculum further. It is with collaboration that great things can happen. But it’s not only important to work collaboratively with the staff, but also with your Principal. The Principal and Teacher Librarian relationship is crucial. Without the support of the Principal, it can make the task of effectively carrying out the many roles of the Teacher Librarian more challenging than it ever should be. Farewell (1998) and Haycock (2002) share that the Principal plays a vital role as teacher-librarians and the principal share in the role of leadership (though the type of leadership differs) and both promote a shared vision. As the leader of the school, the Principal is naturally the person that the school staff looks up to and therefore for the majority, staff respect the decisions made by them. Therefore, if you have a principal who is passionate and supportive of your library, collaboration between you and your colleagues will be strongly promoted. Principals should support school libraries because it is in both their students’ and their own best interests to do so. Quality library media programs can enhance student achievement, and informed, committed librarians can help principals enhance their own administrative practice (Hartzell, 2003). As Haycock (2002, pg.32) states, “collaboration is not easy. But it is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? (Waldron-Lamotte, 2014b).

Herring (2007) and Diggs (2011) agree that our role is to provide training and assistance in the effective use of information resources and tools. When a new technology is introduced, we as the teacher librarian can present it to our colleagues in the context of the learning philosophy of the school and not as just another abstract training session (Lamb & Johnson, 2008).  Purcell (2010) takes this role a step further, stating that we should model effective use of emerging technologies. This would have more impact on teachers and students than training and assistance alone and is more likely to result in the community embracing the change for the benefit of learning.

A leader.  Another important role that we need to acknowledge is that of a leader. A leader who leads by example, e.g. implementing a guided inquiry approach to learning. Mann (2011) suggests that leadership may be considered the most important role of the teacher librarian because it provides the foundation on which to build the various other roles. It is interesting to note that both Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010) begin their discussions on the role of the teacher librarian with the leadership role. This alone serves to highlight its importance. We as teachers have already committed to becoming effective leaders just by choosing to be teachers (Collay, 2008, p.28). So whether we realise it or not, we naturally develop a leadership style within our everyday teaching. We support and guide our students through their educational journey and this is succeeded through change (Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014a).

The Debate

It seems as though there are many roles that we as Teacher Librarians are responsible for, whom supposably “sit and read all day and occasionally check out books” (Purcell, 2010, p. 30). While there are many that would argue that we don’t fulfil these roles, there are others who agree that the job of a Teacher Librarian is never done because there are so many roles involved. However they express that we should prioritise one role over another as this would make our jobs more manageable. Admittedly yes, we do have a lot to be responsible for, and yes it is expected of us to multitask. But should we prioritise?

Herring (2007) believes that teaching and learning should be a top priority and that resources should follow. As a teacher, we build upon and extend the student’s knowledge about the topics being covered in the classroom. He says that, “while the physical environment may contract, the information and knowledge environments created by the Teacher Librarian in collaboration with the teachers will greatly expand” (Herring, 2007, p. 40). Valenza (2010) shares a similar view on what the roles a Teacher Librarian play and shares this in a very extensive list, all of which are a vital contribution to the success students achieve throughout their academic journey. Most points from this list align with Herring’s (2010) view that teaching is the prominent role and the rest follow.

Purcell (2010) shares some common views with Herring; particular in her example of the study she performed. She says that by reflecting on how you spend your time, you will be able to identify barriers. For example she shares that, “if you see that 25 percent of your time is spent shelving and doing other clerical tasks, then you need to overcome this barrier to spend more time actively engaging students” (Purcell, 2010, p. 31). Whilst she admits that teaching is extremely important, like Herring, she feels that a collegial work environment is an integral role that we play. She believes that it is vital for the Teacher Librarian to work with the entire school community to decide what should be taught and the resources purchased for the library. There are many misconceptions about what a Teacher Librarian does, so by working collegially with the school community it promotes the profession. Consequently, this should have a positive impact on colleagues and will hopefully begin to change the misconstrued views on what it is we actually do.

As suggested by the article’s title: Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette, Lamb (2011) believes that a Teacher Librarian should not favour one role over another, rather approach each role equally and taking a bit from each “colour” on the palette: People, Administration, Learning, Electronic information, Technology, Teaching and Environments. This would be a much more appropriate method to cope with and manage the ominous tasks that we endure on a daily basis.

The Future Pathways for Teacher Librarians

Now is an exciting time to be involved in educating our next generation. The way we think about education and our approach to teaching is continually evolving, and our libraries are also undertaking a parallel evolution. They are no longer dusty, silent spaces where the main function is to store and catalogue books. Today’s libraries are becoming vibrant spaces for information seeking, sharing, creating, and communicating new learning. They encompass the best traditions of our old-world libraries while embracing multiple pathways to supporting, connecting and collaborating in our new educational environments. Twenty-first century librarians are still there with the right book for the right reader at the right time, but we are also enthusiastic mavens, passionate knowledge-seekers, and committed communicators in this burgeoning landscape.

We can no longer predict knowledge needed for the future, which has significant implications for contemporary literacy programmes. Reconceptualising current literacy approaches will support teachers to develop future-focused literacy teaching.

Image retrieved 25th August 2014 from http://smotlrcblog.edublogs.org/files/2010/08/No-TL.JPG

Image retrieved 25th August 2014 from http://smotlrcblog.edublogs.org/files/2010/08/No-TL.JPG

With changes to the outside world occurring, are we an endangered species? “If school library media specialists are doing their job well, they are making a difference in the ways teachers teach and in the ways students learn. On any given day, a media specialist performs a wide variety of roles that serve to strengthen the entire school community” (Purcell, 2010). “Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future” (Future Work Skills 2020, 2011). With this being said, you get an idea about what we should be thinking about in terms of our own future for school libraries and the role we will play in the future.

However, there has been much stir circling in the media of late as to whether or not we would eventually become extinct. Many have said that there has been a slow erosion of the uniquely qualified Teacher Librarians. It was once that a Teacher Librarian would be a permanent member of staff that would work full-time, without being dictated by the number of students that attended the school. “And with the NSW government proposing that Principals make their own decisions on funds allocation, a Principal with no particular passion for literature may decide the library and its computer already exists, and so let the specialist go” (Fienberg, A. 2012).

With that being said…

For every Teacher Librarian, defining their role is an important issue and much continues to be written about describing and defining the role (Diggs, 2011; Hamilton, 2011; Herring, 2007; Lamb & Johnson, 2008; Martineau, 2010; McKenzie, 2010; Purcell, 2010). The role is multi-faceted, has the potential to drive change in a school and to impact on student learning (Todd, 2004). It is the teacher librarian’s role to value-add to teaching (Green, 2004). Teacher Librarians must be genuine instructional partners and take an active role in contributing to the learning culture of the school. Teacher Librarians must be proactive, have a clear vision and the ability to articulate and demonstrate the importance of their role.  The role is dynamic and evolving, active, creative and innovative. Teacher Librarians need to be enthusiastic, skilful and knowledgeable; able to invigorate others and draw them into working together for improved learning outcomes for students. Often, Teacher Librarians have to be creative with the use of their time because of the demanding nature of the role (Terrell, 2011).

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) & Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). (2001). Learning for the future (2nd ed.). Carlton, Vic: Curriculum Corporation.

Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday teacher leadership: Taking action where you are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Diggs, V. (2011). Teacher Librarians Are Education: Thoughts from Valerie Diggs. [Interview]. Teacher Librarian, 38(5), 56-58.

Farewell, S.M. (1998). Profile of Planning: A study of a three-year project on the implementation of collaborative library media programs. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Florida International University, Miami.

Fienberg, A. (2012). Teacher librarians could soon be left on the funding shelf. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/teacher-librarians-could-soon-be-left-on-the-funding-shelf-20121014-27kry.html

Future Work Skills 2020. (2011). California. Retrieved from http://www.iftf.org/uploads/media/SR-1382A_UPRI_future_work_skills_sm.pdf

Gibbs, R. (2003). Reframing the role of the teacher-librarian : the case for collaboration and flexibility. Scan, 22(3), 4-7.

Gibbons, A. (2013) Beating heart of the school. Retrieved from http://heartoftheschool.edublogs.org/

Green, G. (2004). Teacher-librarians and the culture of thinking: Taking up the challenge. In S. La Marca & M. Manning (Eds.), Reality bytes: Information literacy for independent learning (pp. 67-73). Carlton, Victoria: School Library Association of Victoria.

Harris, F. J. (2011). The school librarian as information specialist: a vibrant species.Knowledge Quest, 39(5), 28-32.

Hartzell, G 2003, ‘Why Should Principals Support School Libraries?’, Connections, Issue 43, Curriculum Corporation. Retrieved from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/cnetw03/46principal.htm.

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories … that’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 19-27.

Haycock, K. (2002). What Works: Building a Collaborative Learning Communities. Teacher Librarian, 29(4)35.

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: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

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Waldron-Lamotte, M. (2014b). Advocacy- Principal Support. In Melissa’s TL Blog: My Journey to Become a TL. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/melissawaldronlamotte/2014/08/02/advocacy-principal-support/

 

1

OLJ ETL 401 Blog Task 1

The role of the Teacher Librarian is multifaceted. The Digital Education Revolution is greatly impacting on the education system and the way the 21st century student accesses their learning. So it is the responsibility of the Teacher Librarian as the media specialist, to put on another hat and lead the school community into the 21st century. The TL does this whilst adhering to and complying with the professional standards; leading the curriculum and information literacy; managing information services, staff and budgets; collaborating with colleagues and of course teaching (Herring, 2007).  It is expected that the TL is to be able to perform their duties successfully. To do so, a media specialist is required to accept new tasks and challenges and ultimately evolve with their changing roles (Purcell, 2010, p.33).

Image retrieved on 10th August 2014 from: http://jenscatablogue.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/herrring_rolestl.jpg

Image retrieved on the 10th August 2014 from: http://jenscatablogue.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/herrring_rolestl.jpg

The professional standards are designed to guide the professional practice of Teacher Librarians in schools. The SLASA Standards (School Library Association of South Australia) divide the role of the Teacher Librarian into six categories; teaching and learning, leadership, curriculum involvement, management, literature promotion and services. These standards are also evident within the National and International standards. The role of the Teacher Librarian is always subject to debate. Many people share common opinions about how that looks, while others oppose and voice differing views. Herring (2007) and Purcell (2010) believe that one area is more prominent than the other. Whilst they both recognise that there are many roles that a Teacher Librarian plays in the school, Herring (2007) believes that teaching and learning should be a priority, resources are secondary. Purcell (2010) suggests that a collegial work environment is paramount to the TL’s role and should be treated as such. These views both conflict with one another because as mentioned by Lamb (2011) the TL should not favour one role over the other, rather do it all equally. Teaching cannot happen unless the TL works collaboratively with staff and program together; and working collaboratively with staff will inevitably lead to teaching.

The Teacher Librarian will always be faced with criticism and the fear of becoming an ‘endangered species’. This is due to the tired misconstrued view that has been formed over the years on the vital role they play in schools. Purcell (2010, p.32) highlights that one of the ongoing responsibilities is to serve as an advocate to show the critical function media programs perform in teaching and learning. “Aspiring teachers don’t come to think of school libraries as potential partners in curriculum and instruction” (Hartzell, 2010, p.2). Therefore, as Farewell (1998) and Haycock (2002) highlight, the principal plays a vital role as teacher-librarians and the principal share leadership and both promote a shared vision. “Librarians serve on curriculum committees, help with staff development, and participate in a wide variety of school operations. None of that happens if the principal doesn’t want it to” (Hartzell, 2010, p.4).

In conclusion, “the school library provides information and ideas that are fundamental to functioning successfully in today’s information and knowledge-based society” (International Association of School Libraries, March 28, 2006). Whilst the role of the TL is quite extensive: addressing and upholding the International, National and State standards; working collaboratively with staff and leading the school in information literacy and the curriculum and sharing the same vision with the principal, managing each ‘hat’ is crucial. Haycock (2002, pg.32) points out that “collaboration is not easy. But it is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement”.

 

References

Farewell, S.M. (1998). Profile of Planning: A study of a three-year project on the implementation of collaborative library media programs. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Florida International University, Miami.

Hartzell, G. N. (2002). What’s it take? Professor, Educational Administration and Supervision University of Nebraska, Omaha: http://www.laurabushfoundation.com/Hartzell.pdf

Haycock, K. (2002). What Works: Building a Collaborative Learning Communities. Teacher Librarian, 29(4)35.

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).

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends (pp.27-37).

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out BOOKS, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection (pp.30-34).

School Library Association of South Australia – http://www.slasa.asn.au/Advocacy/rolestatement.html

0

Accountability and Research Topic 2

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://designurge.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/6a00d8341c5c2253ef01538e0ac5cd970b.jpg

Image retrieved 2nd August 2014 from http://designurge.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/6a00d8341c5c2253ef01538e0ac5cd970b.jpg

It has become clear at the completion of this topic that the teacher librarian’s priority is to promote an environment where students can become and grow as successful learners. In order for this to happen several others factors need to addressed: Teacher and teacher librarian collaboration, library maintenance and management and a promotion of literacy in all forms.

These priorities can be made clear through proactive measures such as attending staff and stage meetings, actively seeking professional development in other key learning areas (particularly now that the new Australian curriculum is progressively being implemented), organising events such as: book week, premier’s reading challenge and author visits, engaging students to partake in roles within the library e.g. library monitors, hosting your own workshops to share your expertise in the areas of ICT and assisting teachers by resourcing the curriculum.

The need for modernisation would also be integral. The school community needs to see the teacher librarian as a leader and as a media specialist it is ideal that they are the ones to lead the school community into the 21st century. By reinventing the library, you are also changing the tired old perception that libraries are just about books and the librarian just sits behind the counter and once in a while scans a barcode.

With a proactive approach that is both helpful and inviting, you can make your priorities both clear and palatable to the school community.