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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.’


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.


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)


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