Part C – Final Reflection

When I started this topic, I was aiming to expand my understanding of Information Literacy, and explore the role the Teacher-Librarian (TL) further. This has occurred, specifically in the area of advocacy. I have reflected on my past practice and how I could improve now with this extra growth in knowledge, application and understanding.

 

Information Literacy

Prior to undertaking this topic (ETL401) I understood the basics of Information Literacy (IL) to be research skills, referencing, and ethical use of digital information. I have come to understand that there are more than 3 types of literacy (Re-Defining Literacy), and the aim of IL skill development is to help students to develop skills for success in the 21st Century information environments.

One of my biggest take-aways from the readings and Module 5 discussions was the importance of context and purpose when defining IL and implementing it in the classroom. I have also been introduced to the concept of Information Fluency (IF). I have come to understand this as being associated with IL, but with a focus on fluency of application instead of just understanding and literacy. I am curious about this terminology and the implications of using different terminology within the field of IL. I lean towards seeing IF as an overarching term which encompasses IL and Digital Literacy (DL).

Within my practice I would like to explore IF further and compare it against IL and DL. I would do this to become more knowledgeable about different 21st Century learning processes, and to build my capacity to implement and advocate for a particular IL method. I think IF should be the aim of information skill develop in 21st Century teaching and learning.

 

Information Literacy Models

I was aware of some IL models prior to this topic, but have not had the opportunity to explore them thoroughly. Through readings and Module 5 discussions, I have come to understand some differentiating details between IL models. I have also found that there many similarities, and trying to identify in-depth reasoning behind not using a particular model can be challenging.

I found this area of learning relevant to my previous context where I was endeavouring to integrate inquiry units into HASS. For that task I chose the 5As as my IL model because another school in the region also used it and shared their resources. I now understand that the 5As are linked to Information Fluency. I was pleasantly surprised when I made this connection.

This module has caused me to re-think other IL models and the process of integrating them across the curriculum. Based on Lupton’s paper and various exemplars of practice in implementing an IL model from Module 4, I would like to explore GID, and the 5As further to identify which model would be best suited to my circumstances. As I mentioned, I think IF is a good way to achieve 21st Century skill development. I might explore this model first.

 

TL Role in Inquiry Learning

The role the TL must play in advocating for IL within schools has become clearer to me throughout this topic. This is in addition to developing relationships and collaborative opportunities with students and staff. This topic has solidified for me the need for the TL to be involved in faculty planning and curriculum development to ensure integration of IL skills. Discussion in Module 4.3 indicates a TL’s involvement in curriculum development is necessary as they can see the big picture and know where IL skills can be best integrated.

Advocacy is an area I do not have much experience in. These discussions in Module 3 and Bonanno’s video were significant to me as I began to consider data collection and advocacy as not just for usage statistics, but as a way to get staff and the Principal on-side with developing IL across the school. Module 3 also made me reflect on the ways I could have practiced advocacy with a supportive teacher audience and converted Principal.

Reflection and assessment tools to collect data on student learning is something I would like to explore further in the future. I would do this through the use of competency-based questionnaires and reflective toolkits, as discussed in Module 4. A common theme through 4.2 discussions was making yourself available in small ways and taking baby steps to convince staff that working collaboratively with the TL is a good idea. When I start in my next TL role, I will take this approach to ‘test the waters’ on staff opinion and practice.

 

While I thought I knew much coming in, I have added new areas to my TL knowledge which will enable me to provide a greater impact in schools, and better advocate for the use of a TL in schools. I am still learning to apply my critical thinking skills to a range of concepts.

Module 4 & 5: TL and the Curriculum & Information Literacy: Reflection

In these modules I really considered my interpretation and teaching of information literacy based on purpose and context.

As an overarching concept IL being linked to lifelong learning and its development in an ever changing information landscape is highly relevant to the context of learning for today’s students, and their development of 21st Century skills.

The connection between digital and information literacies is strong and they are often used interchangeably. I consider that Information Fluency is the overarching concepts and digital literacy and information literacy fit underneath it’s umbrella. To be fluent in something means that you can understand connections between concepts and apply them in different situations. Within each type of literacy there are smaller concepts which need to be explicitly taught and understood. For example, for information literacy the concepts include research skills (those included in various IL models), for digital literacy the concepts include ethical use of ICT, and use of software & hardware.

It has become clearer to me that I need to fully understand my own definition of these literacies in order to be most effective in applying them to unit and teaching them. My understanding so far encompasses use, analysis and synthesis of information and resources to achieve a goal.

Transition from outcomes-based learning to inquiry, Constructivist learning is an important part of changing the education system. Outcomes-based learning reflects what students know, what they can do with it and how confident they are in expressing their knowledge. An inquiry learning model allows students to explore areas of interest within a topic, they are introduced to inquiry process skills, and begin to learn how to learn. Use of inquiry learning has links to my module in INF530 about information fluency and digital age learners.

I have used adaptations of the Big6 model of information literacy and the NSW Information Search Process and Backwards by Design in the creation of collaborative inquiry units. I reviewed the SA TfEL framework for areas of connection to inquiry learning and found them throughout the document in Domain 3 and 4.

Domain 3: Develop expert learners focuses on teaching students how to learn and processes they can use to construct knowledge. It looks at promotion of learning through modelling and promotion collaboration and dialogue. To give students the responsibility to create, critique and apply knowledge in a variety of contexts. This description lends itself to the explicit teaching of inquiry skills (eg. identifying questions, note-taking, reflecting) and use of an inquiry model to gain deep understanding, journalling of thoughts, feelings and processes, collaborative discussions, using scaffolds to record information.

I found starting with the end point in mind with Backwards by Design planning a useful way of ensuring the end goal was met. My lesson content was then planned around what skills and knowledge do students need to achieve success at the end of the unit. I try to incorporate this thinking into any planning I do now, including that for inquiry learning.

In this module I enjoyed reading about different inquiry models and looking at the similarities and differences. I like the depth the Guided Inquiry Design (GID) goes into and the pace at which each stage is implemented. It seems like students would achieve a solid grounding in a range of skills at each stage. But I also think that the Big6 or NSW ISP might be simpler models to implement. There may be more transferrable techniques into the outside world as there are fewer steps to work through. I have worked with the Big6 and NSW ISP previously, but without comprehensive background knowledge into ways to fully explore each stage.

The connections with the Australian Curriculum General Capabilities (CCT and ICT) are evident but they are not obviously associated with GID. This does provide a large scope for TLs to create a process which fits their school context. I am keen to further explore Guided Inquiry Design and the work of Lupton and Bonnano in aligning parts of the AC general capabilities to this framework.

I am interested in further exploring the IFLA School Library Guidelines to develop my understanding of pedagogical and technological change and how it could be implemented.

21st century skills are integral to the learner of today. Students need to leave school having the skills and dispositions to answer their own questions accurately and to apply them in a professional setting. Students need to know how to evaluate information sources and search efficiently and effectively. Integration of GID into curriculum will assist students in developing these skills.

While assessing student success in inquiry skills can be difficult, it is necessary for TLs to collect data on student achievement and progress through their inquiry sessions. Like the AITSL video showed, I would collect pre and post data surveys on students’ self-assessment of the information skill being highlighted in the topic. It is important not to overload on the skills teaching during a single unit; but allow students multiple opportunities to practice and develop several well integrated skills. These can then be built upon in future inquiries.

I enjoyed these modules and would like the opportunity to put some the ideas about evidence-based practice and collaborative opportunities into practice.

Module 2: The Information Environment: Reflection

Still in information overload! While titled the same as my other topic module, the content for ETL401: Introduction to Teacher Librarianship follows a different course.

The focus of this module has been on what information means, what it is, and how the environment changes. Some confusion from the first reading about defining information – who knew there were so many definitions!

My main take-aways from this module:

  • definitions of information can depend on perspective and context.
  • Information can be used as a commodity; but has different properties to other traded items.
  • Information landscape is constantly changing
  • An information society includes people accessing information in ways to suit their requirements.

While I was confused by Case’s ‘The Concept of Information’, I found Floridi’s article, ‘A look into the future impact of ICT on our lives’, much easier to follow and it seems to have been an accurate glimpse into the looking glass of the future. The idea of becoming an ‘inforg’, a ‘connected informational organism’, seems correct at this stage. We are attached to mobile devices 24/7 for news and media updates, there are home devices (Googlehome, Siri, Cortana) that will answer questions for you, and respond to in home commands.

This point from Floridi regarding becoming an inforg resonated with me:

“We shall increasingly feel deprived, excluded, handicapped, or poor to the point of paralysis and psychological trauma whenever we are disconnected from the infosphere, like fish out of water” (p.63)

At the time of reading, I connected this phrase to being constantly attached to our mobile devices. Think about when Facebook went down for a few hours, there were certainly some people that could not cope and became ‘like fish out of water’.

A teacher-librarian needs to understand the information landscape because they need to be able to guide teachers and students through it. The information landscape changes constantly. There is always new information, new sources, new technology, new skills. The teacher-librarian needs to understand these things and identify how best to inform/teach/assist users in gathering/synthesising/applying the information they require. Teacher-librarians bring knowledge of search techniques, ways to evaluate, note-taking methods to students in a way which is relevant and meets their needs. It is important to also remember that both technology and practices change and affect each other.

Module 3: The Role of the Teacher Librarian: Reflection

This module helped to clarify further the role of the TL. I was already aware of the AITSL Standards for Teacher Librarians and have found them to be helpful during my transition from provisional to full registration. As previously posted, Karen Bonanno’s speech and paper provided a thinking hat for ensuring the school librarian remains relevant. Her five-finger plan is something I plan to put into practice.

I found the readings regarding the role of the TL interesting and engaging. I found the most important role the TL played was in regard to relationships with students, teachers and the principal. Purcell and Lamb also put leadership and people first in their role descriptions. Advocacy is also very important, and getting the Principal onside is essential for the future of TLs in schools.

The TL and the Principal work together to achieve goals. The TL must make themselves relevant to the Principal by integrating themselves into their projects and showing how they can help. They also need to promote their services (eg. Inquiry Learning) and show how they link to the Principals outcomes. The Principal assists with collaboration through flexible scheduling and requiring a collaborative culture from staff. The connection between TL and Principal is added to by the TLs use of evidence-based practice.

At the conclusion of this module I have gained a stronger understanding of the importance of advocacy and collection of data within the library. This is something I would like to work on in the future.

What possibilities arise for collaboration between teachers and the teacher librarian?

Montiel-Overall describes 4 collaboration models, from these it can be derived that collaboration possibilities arise through coordinating resources and events individually to benefit others, cooperation in enhancing learning opportunities through implementing lessons around subject specialisation and meeting individual goals, integrated instruction through co-producing learning opportunities which meet shared goals and integrate expertise into a range of classroom instruction, integrated curriculum provides for regular meetings between teachers, faculties and TL to integrate expertise across all year levels and subject areas, this needs to be heavily supported by the Principal.

For me collaboration began at the cooperation phase with some classes and into the integrated instruction phase. I have presented one-off lessons on referencing and notetaking which I have planned individually and tried to merge into the relevant context. Semi-integrated instruction occurred through creation of History inquiry units. The background for the task was presented by the class teacher and the inquiry phases by me. This was not a fully co-produced task and minimal discussion regarding goals was undertaken.

If starting at a new site, I would begin with cooperative activities to help staff build their trust in me. I would then approach staff members who seemed interested/willing to begin integrating instruction. Based on the anticipated success of these sessions, I would then recruit more staff members and gather data to present to the Principal to advocate for the possibility of implementing an integrated curriculum.

ASLA Evidence Guides

I would use the ASLA Evidence Guides for Teacher Librarians as a benchmark for TL achievement. They provide a non-exhaustive list of practical ways to meet each of the AITSL Teacher Standards through a TL position. I use the documents to inform my practice with the examples provided for whichever standard I am trying to address. They are also useful as a basis to further explore the role – again through reviewing the examples provided. Comparing the proficient document to the highly-accomplished document could provide ideas about how I might need to lift my gain to achieve that level.

Re-defining Literacy

Literacy: the ability to read and write, competence or knowledge in a specified area.

I think the definition of literacy is very broad and can encompass a range of different skill sets. As mentioned in the video What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century?there is basic/traditional literacy (reading and writing), critical and visual, aural, world, information social, and outdoor literacy (not an exhaustive list!). The availability of technology means that students require more advanced skills to become literate in these areas.

‘Competence of knowledge in a specified area’ is the definition of literacy that can be applied to information and digital literacy. Students need to develop competence/knowledge and skills in multiple literacies to be fully functioning 21st century citizens.

The increase of inquiry learning and technology use in the classroom means students are potentially provided with a wealth of opportunities to develop their information and digital literacy skills. A consistent approach to teaching these skills is necessary to assist students in transferring their knowledge between subject areas.

Information Literacy

My interpretation of information literacy encompasses the development of skills to engage and interact with, and create new understandings from information, and to learn how to learn in an ever changing 21st Century, global information landscape.

I strongly agree with the arguments from this module (ETL401 – module 5.2) around context and purpose being important to information literacy instruction. I have experienced that integrated IL lessons have higher levels of student engagement than stand-alone lessons, as students can see a connection between IL skills and other curriculum tasks.

Take-aways from IL discussion into my IL role include:

  • Have a focus on context and purpose when preparing IL learning opportunities
  • Identify Information Literacy skills graduates should have
  • Have opportunities to work collaboratively to identify cross-curriculum IL opportunities

Are school librarians an endangered species?

No, school librarians are NOT an endangered species.

The key point from Karen Bonanno’s 2011 ASLA speech was to see the glass half full, have your rhetoric resonate with your audience and put the 5-finger plan in place. By doing these things the school librarian can integrate themselves and remain relevant. She highlights maintaining a single focus until it is achieved and finding a way to connect our skills and expertise with the audience and curriculum. Bonanno’s 2015 paper continues this theme by focusing on remaining relevant by aligning goals of the library with the whole school strategic direction. She also highlights here having evidence and data to back up what you do is ‘necessary for the future sustainability of the profession’ (Bonanno, 2015 p19).

By integrating into the inner workings of the school and aligning what we do with the school strategic direction TLs make themselves invaluable to schools.

References

Australian School Library Association (ASLA) (2011). A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. Keynote presentation, Karen Bonanno . Retrieved from https :// vimeo .com/31003940

Bonanno, K. (2015). A profession at the tipping point (revisited). Access, 29(1), 14-21. Retrieved from https://search-informit-com-au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=064399679084070;res=IELHSS

Teacher-Librarians do what now..?

Free-Photos / Pixabay

I have always been interested in working in a school library. Following the completion of my Bachelors degree I undertook a Grad. Dip. of Library and Information Management, as I thought it would be interesting and give me something to do while waiting for work opportunities to come up. It was. It gave me experiences in a librarian’s role and the administrative side of things. Prior to this, my experience of teacher-librarians was limited to my schooling and my practicums.

My first picture of what a teacher-librarian’s role included was in primary school. I thought it was about buying books, helping students to find books that interested them, and hosting authors/illustrators, and Book Week. It always seemed like an interesting job and being able to be around books all day was a great idea to me.

During my practicums my view of the teacher-librarian role expanded. I went to library lessons and observed how the teacher-librarian worked with classes and helped teachers locate resources. They created book boxes for areas of research, assisted students in borrowing for interests, and helped hook students into research topics.

As my experiences with school libraries changed, my understandings of the role of teacher librarians has developed. During my first contract in a teacher-librarian role I came across the School Library Association of South Australia’s (SLASA) Teacher Librarian Role Statement (2015). This really opened my eyes as to how much a teacher-librarian does!

Now, after 3 ½ years in teacher-librarian positions my understanding of the role is of an information professional that is involved in all areas of the school – providing access points for information literacy skills and literature promotion. Information literacy skills are integral to developing students who can locate and critically evaluate information in the 21st century.

Teacher-librarians are information skills advocates.

This includes defining questions, locating resources, searching online effectively and taking notes, summarising information, referencing correctly, and developing critical thinking skills. They find opportunities for inquiry learning.

Teacher-librarians are resource advocates.

They curate and provide access to a variety of up to date and relevant sources for teaching and learning. They need to integrate their way into subject areas and tailor their presentations/resources for specific needs. The teacher-librarian is a resource that is there to be used. They are experts in their field.

Teacher-librarians are literacy advocates.

They help students locate resources suited to their ability and their interests. They introduce students to books they may not have seen previously. They provide access to resources for all users. They promote interest and challenge in reading.

Teacher-librarians are collaboration advocates.

They work together with class and subject teachers to create meaningful opportunities for inquiry learning and development of information skills.

I have enjoyed being a teacher-librarian in the positions I have been employed in. I believe these roles/jobs of the teacher-librarian are intertwined and often overlap. There is a big change from what I thought teacher-librarians did to what I now realise is part of the role. This has not changed my interest in the role. I see the role as very important in developing information literate students for the future.