Critical Reflection ETL 501

As teacher librarians, we are in a prime position to educate students and to teach them how to learn.  A discussion board comment by Jannet Taylor (Taylor, 2019) during ETL 401 said it all: ‘I can’t teach a child everything they need to know for the future, but what I can do is teach them how to learn.’ Students need to understand the process of learning to function in this information-dense society (Kuhlthau, 1995). Exploring and collecting information is a vital part of the Information Search Process (ISP) and combines the cognitive, emotional, and physical dimensions of information (Kuhlthau, Heinström, & Todd, 2008).  Inquiry learning and research are connected deeply: inquiry enables students to ask real questions which are answered through meaningful research (Maniotes & Kuhlthau, 2014). The Department of Education [DoE] (2020), acknowledges it is essential for students to develop skills in using  information as part of their knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for lifelong learning. Confidence and flexibility of thinking to use the information are the basis of a better quality of life (DoE, 2020). Although the commitment seems to be there to equip students with the skills, the reality in my opinion is different. In my experience as a classroom teacher and TL, students struggle to extract the information from the many sources available.  Students are often overwhelmed and rely on copy and pasting! So how can I as a TL, help students develop effective research skills? I can develop, in collaboration with other teachers, comprehensive library resource guides. By providing students with reliable search engines, websites, and general reference sources, highlighting skill development, creative and critical thinking, and information literacy, I can teach students how to become successful 21st-century learners. I am able to create meaningful guidance for students in an information-dense environment. I will continue to develop my critical evaluation skills to provide quality guides.

The library resource guide (LRG) is for Stage 3 and covers the topic of Earth & Space, as part of the Science and Technology syllabus (New South Wales Education Standards Authority [NESA], 2017).  The LRG provides students with a place to start, an indication of where to go. It is a map, for providing information destinations and added helpful hints (Kuntz, 2003). The home page gives an overview of all the tabs for students to use with a snapshot of their content.  The resources limit, 15 in total, was a challenge but made me evaluate the reference sources I used better. Evaluating the content, the graphics, and the reading level was all essential in choosing the appropriate resources. I tried to include an array of levels and formats to give students a wide variety of resources while still focusing on those with factual information. To remind students of concepts we have discussed in the library, I included the ISP model and the appropriate section covered in each relevant part of the LRG. I have furthermore included the CRAAP test to remind students of the knowledge they already have and assist them in thinking critically about the information.

Students gain a deeper understanding of the content of the curriculum through meaningful and quality resources and subsequential research. A learning tool I will be using to educate and guide students.


Kuhlthau, C. H. (2008). The ‘information search process’ revisited: is the model still useful? Information Research, 13(4), Paper 355. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C. (n.d.). The process of learning from information. School libraries worldwide, 1(1), 1-12. Retrieved from

Kuntz, K. (2003). Pathfinders: Helping students find paths to information. Retrieved from Information today:

Maniotes, L. & Kuhlthau, C.C. (2014). Making the shift. Knowledge Quest, 43(2), 9-17. Retrieved from

New South Wales Department of Education. (2020). The information process. Retrieved from Learning across the curriculum:

New South Wales Education Standards Authority. (2017). Science and Technology K-6 syllabus 2017. Retrieved from New South Wales Education Standards Authority:

Taylor, J. (2019). Discussion Board. Thread 5.3b. Guided Inquiry. Retrieved from CSU:




A core print reference collection in the library??? Why?

Having a core reference collection in the library is a great idea! Lederer (2016) provides interesting reasoning why this is the case for an academic library. Is it for the primary setting though? I will address some of the reasons and evaluate if it is the case for a primary library.

Convenience: Students are often looking for an easy way to find the information they need. Having a reference book relevant to them can be a quick way of finding a key fact they are looking for.

Jump-off point: Students might need a starting point to actually kick off their search. If there is a reference book they can actually find their topic in, it will give them something to start from.

Serendipity and discovery: I love the fact students are finding information on the way to what they actually are looking for! Some might get sidetracked but the expansion of interest and knowledge is so valuable.

Cost: Although the cost of reference materials can be steep, the cost of ebooks can be too. Most schools do not have the budget for an ongoing subscription or the digital framework is not sufficient for their use.

Availability: Most books reference books for primary schools are still in print format. Open access reference material is difficult to find and students are lacking the skills to find the right information.


Resources: Digital or print?

While reading the chapter by Farmer (2014) on the use of print and digital referencing materials, there were a number of issues that came to mind on this subject.  There is nothing like finding information in a physical book in my opinion! Looking through the book to locate the information you need is great! The downside of having a printed version is the relevance of the reference. Information that is relevant today might be irrelevant tomorrow.  Having access to digital reference materials ensures the relevance of the information provided. Farmer (2014) did have a valid point regarding the accessibility of the materials due to funding changes from year to year. My main issues with digital resources is the reliability of the network and the quality of the devices used to access the content. In my previous workplace both were substandard. I believe a mix of both print and digital reference materials is ideal. Until the technology is adequate, both will be needed.

Dynamic information

As I embark on my last subject in my study journey, I must admit I am a bit worried….The digital landscape is one I use every day but I am not really up to date with the ins and outs of it all. But completing this degree has been challenging at times so I am sure I will be okay!!

Part B Reflective blog post

Literature across the curriculum has been an enjoyable subject over the last few months. The fact that we use literature as teacher librarians  as a base for our teaching is a common fact. As mentioned in my blog post (Powell, 2019), I feel I have an extensive knowledge of literature and am expanding this at every opportunity. I have gained a clearer understanding of the difference between literacy learning and literary learning. While literacy addresses the student’s ability to read and write, literary learning deals with the concept of learning curriculum outcomes through literature. Literary learning is possible in all curriculum areas and uses quality literature to facilitate understanding of the learning outcomes.

The benefits of literary learning have become more evident during the course of this subject. I have always embraced the use of literature in other curriculum areas but was amazed by the extensive benefits that were documented. The book ‘Story Proof’ by Haven (2007) has shown me that there is an extensive amount of research into the use of stories and the benefits of this. The studies all show that stories are the most effective way to teach, motivate and communicate factual information and concepts (Haven, 2007). Furthermore, future-focused learning skills, like critical and logical thinking and collaboration, are supported by the use of literature in all areas. Cross-curricular projects are an ideal teaching opportunity to combine various curriculum areas utilising literary learning.

The use of literature in other curriculum areas seems like a logical option in a crowed timetable. The use of quality texts, relevant to the curriculum content, improves student engagement and understanding. The teacher librarian can play an important role in showing class teachers the impact literary learning can have on other curriculum areas. Through collaboration and professional development, literary learning can be a valuable part of the curriculum.

The history curriculum deals mostly with the facts and therefore non-fiction texts. Although there is certainly a place for this kind of literature in the teaching of historical facts, inclusion of fictional text can add different layers of meaning. This connected and meaningful learning enables students to think critically and incorporate ideas (Cornett, 2007). Students can go beyond the facts and develop an insight into the human aspect of history. The multicultural society we live in requires us to teach empathy and compassion.

The readings on literature response strategies was very informative. Even though I have used some before, to delve deeper into the subject matter was very enlightening. It especially reiterated the vital role we have as teacher librarians to be an advocate for the use of literature throughout the curriculum.

Literature across the curriculum has provided me with a renewed passion for the inclusion of quality texts in all areas of the curriculum. The ability to improve the outcomes for all students through the use of literature is so important in our role as teacher librarians. The different literature response strategies are an asset for me as a teacher librarian.

Story telling through gamification

Engaging students in literature, books and stories is hard. They are surrounded by a visual and digital culture. Briggs (2016) explains that games give the students quick feedback, makes them use active experimentation, gives them challenges, builds up the level of difficulty, and it is visual. I have used games in the library to teach cyber safety. “The lost summer” is a role-playing video game designed for 11 to 14-year-olds to build digital intelligence skills and encourage safe online experiences. This was an essential part of the lesson cycle. The students were engaged as the format appealed to them, the content was relevant and it expanded and consolidated their knowledge of the topic.

Briggs, S. (2016). Using gaming principles to engage students. InformED. Retrieved from


Censorship in the school library

Born and raised in The Netherlands, my view of freedom of speech and the right to have an opinion has always been at the forefront of my being. Growing up in a multi-cultural society with an array of people was normal.. This obviously went hand in hand with a variety of beliefs, cultures and points of view. In the school library we have the obligation to establish a divers and multifaceted collection. We need to make sure literature is not biased but is also addressing issues of the current world. It is not our job as TLs to censor the topics or view points of books, based on our own ideals.

Children’s literature and me

I love children’s books. Being a mum of 3 has given me knowledge of a range of formats, quality and trends. As a TL my knowledge is expanding daily! My professional knowledge is something I work on every day. I talk to other TLs, attend meetings where new books are showcased, visit my local bookstores, read online reviews, look for new books online. There are various ways to expand my knowledge, time is my only barrier….

Children’s literature now and in the future

There is nothing like the smell and feel of a book. Old, new, yours or borrowed. The increase of digital technology has seen the rise of Ebooks. I must say that my use of them is limited….reading on my device while having a cold drink in the sun doesn’t quite do it for me. I like to hold my books, turn the pages…

Although children have access to a vast variety of technological devices today, I believe most still read the physical copy of the book. With some many popular movies, series and trends translated into print, children are drawn in to the wonderful world of reading for pleasure. Children will bounce from trend to trend but the quality of the literature will keep them coming back to their heroes. I believe media will drive a lot of these trends. I see a great future for children’s literature with books like ‘Wolf girl’ by Ahn Do, the Minecraft series and beautiful picture books.

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