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In finding the middle way

Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944 (illustrator). Black and white illustration in Hans Andersen's fairy tales (1913) London: Constable. - in public domain

Robinson, W. Heath (William Heath), 1872-1944 (illustrator). Black and white illustration in Hans Andersen’s fairy tales (1913) London: Constable. – in public domain

I recently read a beautifully illustrated version of “The Emperor’s new Clothes” with my Grade 2 classes during their library period. I can’t but help feeling like that little boy all the time, first astonished and puzzled whether I’m the only one to notice that there are no clothes, then worried that my vision is inadequate to see, and then when I shout out “the emperor has no clothes” my cry is not caught up and echoed, but rather people turn or face down in embarrassment as if it were I caught naked in a public place. And so I began this course with a niggling sense of frustration in being an education professional and learner in a digital environment.

In my life-long learner / doing a distance education degree I’m frustrated by how ‘same old same old’ it is – what is given on the one hand – the convenience, the asynchronicity, the ‘flat world’, the connectivity, the access, is taken away on the other – the lack of intimacy, the limited discussions, the moving along at a clip, the lack of storming and norming and emphasis on performing (Carabajal, LaPointe, & Gunawardena, 2003). But I realize that it is the same as what Churchill said about democracy in 1947 “it is the worst form … except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”

I have to stay positive, must stay open to ideas and alternatives. I have to look to people who are chipping away and making a difference, like our colloquia guests – Pip Cleaves, Annabel Astbury, Simon Welsh and Rebecca Vivian. I must remember that Rome was not built in a day, that this life is lived in beta. And things that annoyed me in this course (like the late introduction of VoiceThread) are in fact things that I am now trying to introduce to my school, in this case during the Global Read-Aloud, and I’m being met with the same skepticism that I gave myself – the irony.

The case study has allowed me to become more knowledgeable and versed in a topic that I had a superficial understanding of. And again that frustration, that when initiating the topic – I did not know what I did not know – the anosognosic’s dilemma (Morris, 2010). As a result I perhaps did not ask the “right” questions, use the “right” survey, the “right” analysis. In the process I increased my knowledge, but the purpose was not to summarize what I now know, which is the beginning point of any expert in the field. It was to further knowledge by examining something through the case study method. I think I am now understanding how reading reluctance can be seen through a variety of lenses. I’m understanding the profound effect of unconditional fun on enjoyment, motivation and the desire to improve – and my wariness of data-analysis has been vindicated to a certain quantifiable extent.

My wish for myself for the future is that I can both relax and be vigilant. Accept imperfection as I strive to be the best version of myself as an educator and to bring that out in my students, but in a joyful fun way. The middle way.

Image from: http://lisacongdon.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/brave_quote45_lowres1.jpg

Image from: http://lisacongdon.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/brave_quote45_lowres1.jpg

 

References

Carabajal, K., LaPointe, D., & Gunawardena, C. (2003). Group development in online learning communities. In M. G. Moore & W. G. Anderson (Eds.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 217–234). Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Morris, E. (2010, June 20). The anosognosic’s dilemma: Something’s wrong but you’ll never know what it is (Part 1). Retrieved 4 February 2014, from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1

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INF536: Critical Assessment

Looking back on this last semester, I can only sum it up by saying that change, beauty and progress in thought and learning is not only wrought by avalanche and volcano but also by the constant erosion by drops of water and bits of sand.  That combined with space and time.

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In the same way, this course has offered me space and time for learning by:

  • Forcing me to carve time out of a schedule that would otherwise be occupied by busyness
  • Exposing me to a variety of ideas, research, thoughts and concepts that I wouldn’t otherwise naturally encounter in my day-to-day professional or personal life
  • Making me DO things I’d otherwise shrug off as impossible (Bailey, 2015b)
  • Giving me a framework within which to analyse problems “wicked” and otherwise (Bailey, 2015a, 2015g; Buchanan, 1992; IDEO, 2014)
  • Grouping me with a set of people who are all approaching the course from a different context and set of experiences and knowledge
  • Creating a virtual (and at times physical) space for us to encounter each other and comment and share our learning – both formally and informally (“#INF536 – Twitter Search,” n.d.; McIntosh & CSU, n.d.)

 

It has be quite an experience, and, as someone once said – it’s not so much what you’ve learnt as what you remember. What has left a lasting impression is design thinking, the value of constraints and learning at the extremes.

 

As someone new to the education field, new to librarianship, operating under all kinds of constraints, the design thinking concepts of inspiration, ideation and implementation (Brown, 2008; Brown & Katz, 2011; IDEO, 2014) fits perfectly with that other concept of living and teaching in constant beta (Schroeder, 2013). As a fairly grounded, not terribly artistically (of the drawing and painting type) creative person this is the aspect of “design” that appeals to me as it is achievable with observation, thought, logic and research. However it also demands that I embody the principle of risk-taking and not just pay lip service to it sprouting it to my PYP (IB primary year program) students at regular intervals. There is something very empowering in the process of observing, thinking, asking, making small or not so small changes, and failing or succeeding, learning and trying again without fear and knowing that every time again one is moving every so slightly forward and nudging one’s students in the same direction.

 

My most effective intervention resulting from a budgetary constraint

My most effective intervention resulting from a budgetary constraint

 

Constraints, rather than hampering us, force rethinking options, relooking at alternatives and collaborating, asking, connecting in a way that is not always necessary when one is overwhelmed by choice and abundance. As documented in my blog posts: design – space, thinking and time 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Bailey, 2015c, 2015d, 2015e, 2015f) operating within the constraints of limited time, no budget, a small and almost unalterable space can result in creative solutions that are as ad hoc as they are successful.

 

 

 

We can learn a lot about education and learning in extreme conditions (Chohan, 2011; Leadbeater & Wong, 2010). But more immediate and accessible are the extremes in our own communities the students at the challenging edges of all the continuums we create. The teachers and parents who don’t toe some invisible line.

 

 

The name of my series of blog posts also reflects my thoughts about designing learning spaces. It’s not just about the physical space, it’s about reconstructing how we think about time and what we do in it, and carving out a presence physically, virtually and even emotionally. No matter how beautifully our surroundings have been designed, how much money has been spent on the furnishings and fittings, how much time is built into the curriculum if our students do not feel safe and have a willing and open space in their hearts and minds for learning, nothing will make an impact.

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References:

Bailey, N. (2015a, July 23). On the box, off the box – INF536 Blog Post 1 [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/07/23/on-the-box-off-the-box/

Bailey, N. (2015b, August 7). Blog 2: Observation – Dog Walk [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/08/07/blog-2-observation-dog-walk/

Bailey, N. (2015c, August 23). Design – space, thinking and time (1) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/08/23/design-space-thinking-and-time-1/

Bailey, N. (2015d, September 6). Design – space thinking and time (2) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/09/06/design-space-thinking-and-time-2/

Bailey, N. (2015e, September 20). Design – space, thinking and time (3) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 4, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/09/20/design-space-thinking-and-time-3/

Bailey, N. (2015f, October 4). Design – space, thinking and time (4) [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/10/04/design-space-thinking-and-time-4/

Bailey, N. (2015g, October 11). INF536: Assessment 4 – Part A: Applying spatial changes and design thinking to middle school reading – a three phase collaborative approach [Web Log]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/10/11/inf536-assessment-4-part-a-applying-spatial-changes-and-design-thinking-to-middle-school-reading-a-three-phase-collaborative-approach/

Brown, T. (2008). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84–92. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=heh&AN=32108052&site=ehost-live

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design: Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381–383. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1511637

Chohan, A. (2011, January 25). Learning without frontiers [Video file]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EARTcJkNrDA

IDEO. (2014). Design thinking for libraries – a toolkit for patron-centered design (p. 121). IDEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved from www.designthinkingforlibraries.com

#INF536 – Twitter Search. (n.d.). [Twitter]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://twitter.com/search?q=%23INF536&src=typd

Leadbeater, C., & Wong, A. (2010). Learning from the extremes. CISCO. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from https://www.cisco.com/web/about/citizenship/socio-economic/docs/LearningfromExtremes_WhitePaper.pdf

McIntosh, E., & CSU. (n.d.). Discussion Board – S-INF536_201560_W_D @CSU [Discussion Forum]. Retrieved October 11, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/conference?toggle_mode=read&action=list_forums&course_id=_6652_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&mode=view

Schroeder, M. (2013, November 6). Living in beta [Video file]. Retrieved October 6, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nnYI3ePrY8

 

 

 

 

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Design – Space, Thinking and Time (4)

September literally flew by, and I’m at the point of finishing up my final assessment for this course, and working on my critical reflection.  But first I wanted to critically reflect on where I was in my own library space.

I’m expanding the LibGuides to better resource our curriculum and to supplement the gaps in the curriculum.  Because only I know how to use them, the progress is slow and on a “just in time” basis populating them rather than a nice methodical roll-out, but the reception has been great from both the students and the teachers.  I’ve started showing it from Grade 3, and one of my Grade 5 pupils told me she’d spent an hour looking through the library Libguide before the lesson and “loved it”.

My next foray into the digital sphere for this learning environment has been to accost all the teachers to try and get them to download the Destiny App to access our catalog from their mobile phones and iPads.  The rollout to students will take a little longer as I have to apply to EdTech for permission to have apps loaded onto their iPads and that is reviewed and action taken only once a term.

 

I have to mention something about the value of constraints at this point.  Up to last Friday, more than 6 weeks into term, our library budget had not yet been approved and I had a bunch of kids whining that they were bored of the books and wanted new books.  I’d been fiddling around with the reporting tool of our OPAC trying to do a bit of a collection analysis and see what I had of which levels, what was popular etc. and I discovered that we had about 500 books that had never ever been circulated.

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One of my about 500 “neglected books”

What was the matter with them?  I got my staff to pull them all out.  I started with nonfiction – about 150 books and put them all on my table with books overflowing onto the floor and invited teachers to come and have a look and see if we could put it in a unit of inquiry resource list or if it would be useful for anything.  We whittled it down to about 20 books that are still homeless and unloved, but it was great as the books were “new to them” and hidden on the shelves.  The process was repeated for the picture books – but how to get young kids to identify the books and not have them lying on my desk or one of the few tables in the library – and that’s when I decided a little sad face paper clipped onto the book could do the trick.   And it did! You would have thought I’d put abandoned puppies free to a good home on display!  My staff and I started on a Monday morning and by Tuesday all the books had found a home.  So we continued with Junior Fiction and Fiction – with the same response, albeit a little more mature.  My older students gasped that award winning books hadn’t been borrowed.  They took up the challenge of taking a risk with a book or author they hadn’t tried yet.

These books haven’t flown off the shelves at quite such a fast pace, and there are more of them – particularly in the fiction section.  At that age students have become more selective and seem to be getting settled in their tastes.  Some have reported back that they’ve enjoyed the “new” books.  I’m working through some of the titles myself so I can book talk them as well.

 

So here are some captioned photos of how the space has evolved over the last two weeks and what we’ve been up to.

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A grade 1 class donates a finger counting poster they made

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Reverse psychology on teacher resources that hadn’t moved since I started – I don’t wait for them to come to me, I just look at the books and think who might like / need them for their class / self and check them out to them! So far a good response from all and no rejects returned yet…

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Notices everywhere to direct users to our online presence and virtual resources

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Stacks of books pulled out quickly as my G6 students did their 3 minute booktalk before their Information Literacy classes.

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The yellow post-its are the library “to do” list. As soon as something has been completed, it gets taken down and thrown away. When I think of something I write a note and put it up. Then if I or my staff has time, we tackle the next item that can be done …

 

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Critical Reflection ETL401

In this course, what I have learnt in the library and information sphere is now placed in the context of the school library, which is where I hope to further my career. In doing so it has clarified and added detail to concepts such as the role of the teacher librarian (TL) and information literacy (IL), while making me aware of what I don’t know much about – particularly in the area of curriculum and learning theories. As such, I am in a slightly stronger position meta-cognitively in ‘knowing what I don’t know’ (Morris, 2010). The comments of my fellow students and the course co-ordinator in the online fora, who come from a teaching background have been invaluable in this respect.

 

The role of the teacher librarian is complex, multi-faceted and dependent on the school context – which I explored in my first blog post (Bailey, 2014). As I work in a large K-12 international school means that some of the roles are assumed by or shared with the literacy and digital literacy coaches, leading to the need for constant collaboration and partnership not only with classroom teachers, school leadership and administrators but also these coaches.

 

Evidence and accountability in our role is something I would like to explore further in my work, particularly as we start up new initiatives such as classroom libraries and continue existing work in creating library pathfinders and co-teaching in some humanities models. In this way we can ensure that we are strategic in our time and resource planning to optimise our efficacy.

 

One of the main themes of this course has been information literacy, where we were introduced to the main thought leaders in this area, including Kuhlthau (2010; 2012a, 2012b, 2012c), Herring (2011; Herring, Tarter, & Naylor, 2002), and Eisenberg (2008; Wolf, Brush, & Saye, 2003). While many of the models of information literacy focus on the scaffolding of skills, information literacy can be seen as having four dimensions: cognitive (skill based); meta-cognitive (reflective); affective (positive and negative emotions); and the socio-cultural, including digital citizenship and ethical use of information (Kong & Li, 2009; Kuhlthau, 2013; Waters, 2012). This, and the question of transferability is something I explored in my blog discussing why information literacy is more than a set of skills (Bailey, 2015b). Literacy convergence and the 21st Century learner are valid realities that rethink the ambit of literacy in an information society that doesn’t only rely on text, and has expectations for learners that go beyond the personal consumption of information to contributing to using knowledge for personal or social transformation (Bailey, 2015a). However they can also be used as buzz words that can obfuscate the essence of information literacy irrespective of the medium used for access and dissemination of information (Crockett, 2013).

 

Learning naturally goes on outside the (virtual) classroom, and I have learnt a considerable amount through attending TL conferences, work shares, knowledge exchange workshops and conversations with my peers and more experienced TLs. One such conversation led to me investigating the fascinating concept of Threshold Concepts, particularly as it relates to information literacy (Hofer, Townsend, & Brunetti, 2012; Tucker, Weedman, Bruce, & Edwards, 2014). Although most research is currently in tertiary education (Flanagan,2015) I would like to explore which concepts would be relevant for our students and at what level we could introduce them and the most effective activities to do so. I’d also like to investigate assessment tools to aid us in pinpointing the problematic concepts in new students who have not come through the Guided Inquiry process of the school.

 

Our collaboration is not just with students, teachers and administrators but also parents who are often the ones picking up the slack and tasked with helping frustrated children with assignments or homework (Hoover‐Dempsey et al., 2005; Kong & Li, 2009). I have started doing some outreach to parents through co-ordinating our parent volunteer program, and marketing our online resources but realise I can do far more in educating parents in IL concepts and how best to continue scaffolding these concepts at home and making them aware of how our resources can aid them in this process.

 

One of the most valuable parts of this course was gaining an understanding of my own learning including cognitive and affective processes in the past two years and reflecting on my attempts to go through this process effectively unscaffolded, relying on instinct and common sense! Perhaps my learning would have been more efficient and effective if I’d known this all at the start, but certainly now I will be better at passing on the knowledge and experience to my students and children.

 

References:

Bailey, N. (2014, December 7). ETL401 Blog Task 1: The role of the TL in schools [Web Log]. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2014/12/07/etl401-blog-task-1-the-role-of-the-tl-in-schools/

Bailey, N. (2015a, January 4). The role of the TL in practise with regard to the convergence of literacies in the 21st Century [Web Log]. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/01/04/the-role-of-the-tl-in-practise-with-regard-to-the-convergence-of-literacies-in-the-21st-century/

Bailey, N. (2015b, January 18). Blog task 3: Information Literacy is more than a set of skills [Web Log]. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/informativeflights/2015/01/18/blog-task-3-information-literacy-is-more-than-a-set-of-skills/

Crockett, L. (2013, February 28). Literacy is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age [Streaming Video]. Retrieved January 4, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8DEeR1sraA

Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39–47.

Flanagan, M. (2015, January 21). Threshold Concepts: Undergraduate Teaching, Postgraduate Training and Professional Development. A short introduction and bibliography [Website]. Retrieved January 25, 2015, from http://www.ee.ucl.ac.uk/~mflanaga/thresholds.html

Herring, J. E. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and Transfer in High Schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32–36.

Herring, J. E., Tarter, A.-M., & Naylor, S. (2002). An evaluation of the use of the PLUS model to develop pupils’ information skills in a secondary school. School Libraries Worldwide, 8(1), 1.

Hofer, A. R., Townsend, L., & Brunetti, K. (2012). Troublesome Concepts and Information Literacy: Investigating Threshold Concepts for IL Instruction. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 12(4), 387–405. doi:10.1353/pla.2012.0039

Hoover‐Dempsey, K. V., Walker, J. M. T., Sandler, H. M., Whetsel, D., Green, C. L., Wilkins, A. S., & Closson, K. (2005). Why Do Parents Become Involved? Research Findings and Implications. The Elementary School Journal, 106(2), 105–130. doi:10.1086/499194

Kong, S. C., & Li, K. M. (2009). Collaboration between school and parents to foster information literacy: Learning in the information society. Computers & Education, 52(2), 275–282. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2008.08.004

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2013, October). Information Search Process [Website]. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm

Kuhlthau, C. C., & Maniotes, L. K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2012a). Assessment in guided inquiry. In Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school (pp. 111–131). Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2012b). Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2012c). The research behind the design. In Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school (pp. 17–36). Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

Morris, E. (2010, June 20). The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 1). Retrieved February 4, 2014, from http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1

Tucker, V. M., Weedman, J., Bruce, C. S., & Edwards, S. L. (2014). Learning Portals: Analyzing Threshold Concept Theory for LIS Education. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), 150–165.

Waters, J. K. (2012, September 4). Turning Students into Good Digital Citizens. Retrieved January 2, 2015, from http://thejournal.com/Articles/2012/04/09/Rethinking-digital-citizenship.aspx

Wolf, S., Brush, T., & Saye, J. (2003). The Big Six Information Skills As a Metacognitive Scaffold: A Case Study. School Library Media Research, 6, 1–24. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/aaslpubsandjournals/slr/vol6/SLMR_BigSixInfoSkills_V6.pdf