ETL401 Assessment 3 Part C: Reflective Practice
Note: This post was edited on 22/6/2018 to add this line and the “continue reading” button below.
At the outset of this subject, my perception of the role of the teacher librarian (TL) was based on my experience as a school teacher. It was similar to the view that I thought school teachers would generally have in my first official blog post for the course. Basically, I was aware that they managed the library collection and that they taught classes. Most of my experience with library programs in schools involved TLs who taught classes on a release-from-face-to-face (RFF) basis, so my understanding of what their teaching role looked like was based largely on my experiences as the classroom teacher receiving RFF. I had experienced collaboration, but it was mainly in the form of the TL working together with teachers on each stage to help resource English, History and Geography units and to co-ordinate her RFF units with those teaching programs. While I felt myself drawn towards the philosophies and pedagogies of inquiry-based teaching and learning, I did not see any particular difference in the role of the TL in that area as compared to any other teacher. I had never given much thought to information literacy and was aware of neither the overlap nor the differences between information literacy models and inquiry learning pedagogies.
What a difference twelve weeks can make! This subject has expanded my understanding of the multi-faceted role of the TL, somewhat overwhelmingly as I shared in paragraphs four and five of this blog post. I have also learned much about information literacy and the role TLs can have in increasing student information literacy levels, especially through inquiry learning.
Through the course of the subject we were exposed to various debates on the definitions of terms such as ‘information’ and ‘literacy’ and challenged to come up with our own definitions. In this blog post, I attempted a concise definition of literacy but found I much preferred the one put forward by a fellow classmate on her blog (Wocke, 2018). Her definition caught some of the complexity that Bruce, Edwards and Lupton (2006) discuss regarding information literacy in their article that looks at information literacy through six different philosophical frameworks. Jodie Williams (2018), in a discussion forum post for module 5.2, echoes the sentiments of Bruce et al. when she states that we must view “developing information literacies as a multi-dimensional approach (para 3).”
When looking at the array of evidence-based information literacy models one cannot help but notice that there are more areas where they overlap than differ. These areas of overlap are demonstrated graphically by Eisenberg (2008, p.41) and Lamb (2001). In some ways this makes the decision between them more difficult because it comes down in many cases to subtle differences and preferences related to the teaching and learning context of the school. When evaluating models for the inquiry unit I was preparing for Lindfield East Public School (LEPS), I was initially drawn to models such as the 5As (Global Digital Citizen Foundation (GDCF), n.d.) and the Big6 (“Big 6 Skills Overview”, n.d.). I liked the relative simplicity of the models¾five stages for one and six for the other¾and the mnemonic devices attached to the stages¾five stage names starting with the letter ‘a’, the acronym DIG UP Gold to remember six stage names¾for my primary school context. In the end, however, I chose the Guided Inquiry Design (GID) framework as described in Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2012). One key reason was the availability of literature in Australian practitioner magazines demonstrating its application in Australian schools¾particularly government primary schools in New South Wales (Scheffers, 2008; McGuinness, 2013).
Another major factor in the choice of GID were the additional stages surrounding the core information search and processing stages that largely overlapped with the more streamlined processes in the 5As or the Big6. The first three stages of the GID are called Open, Immerse and Explore (Kuhlthau et al., 2012, pp. 2-3). These stages invite students to inquire, build background knowledge and connections, and engage students in exploring ideas and dipping in to resources as a precursor to formulating their inquiry questions. This introductory engagement phase is markedly different to the inquiry-first processes that begin with ‘Ask’ (GDCF, n.d.) and ‘Define’(“Big 6 Skills Overview”, n.d.), and is based on Kuhlthau et al.’s Information Search Process (ISP) research (2012, pp. 17-36). The remaining stages are similar to many other models, asking students to identify an inquiry question, gather specific information, create a product that communicates their findings, share that information with their community and, finally, to evaluate the process. This model also provides ample opportunity for students to reflect on their learning¾not only on the content and learning objectives, but also metacognitively on their process of learning. This metacognitive reflection is a keystone to lifelong learning, a facet of information literacy as defined by UNESCO (2006).
The TL fulfills many roles in the school as elaborated by Lamb (2011), Herring (2007), and Purcell (2011) in the Module 3 readings. However, as Ann Conte (2018) pointed out in her forum post, the role of teacher is foremost amongst those roles. A common theme in the readings on the role(s) of the TL is that the TL teaches across the entire school, rather than interacting with only one class, year, stage or discipline. This gives the TL a unique perspective, or “bird’s-eye view”, of the curriculum (Lupton, 2014). Therefore, that makes participation in whole-school initiatives, such as inquiry learning, a natural fit for the TL. As Amy Richards (2018) pointed out on Forum 5.4_2, establishing a single information literacy model to use school-wide encourages a common language of learning. This common language is a powerful tool in building understanding and might assist with the transfer of information literacy skills across different areas of learning, which Herring (2011) found lacking in his high-school-based study.
In the space of a few short months, my understanding of the role of the TL has expanded incredibly. No longer do I merely see the resourcing and relief roles, I also see the multi-faceted opportunities to lead inquiry, influence curriculum implementation and be a major force in creating a collaborative and constructivist learning environment.
Big6 skills overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://big6.com/pages/about/big6-skills-overview.php
Bruce, C., Edwards, C., & Lupton, M. (2006). Six frames for information literacy education: A conceptual framework for interpreting the relationships between theory and practice. ITALICS, 5(1), 1-18. Retrieved from http:/hdl.handle.net/10072/14028
Conte, A. (2018, April 2). Re: forum 3.2 role of the TL [Online discussion comment]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_34577_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_60958_1&forum_id=_117464_1&message_id=_1609285_1
Eisenberg, M. B. (2008). Information literacy: essential skills for the modern age. DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47. Retrieved from https://publications.drdo.gov.in/ojs/index.php/djlit
Global Digital Citizen Foundation. (n.d.). Information fluency: Quickstart guide. Retrieved from https://solutionfluency.com/en/downloadables/if-quickstart-skills-guide
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. Retrieved from https :// www . csu . edu . au /division/library/ ereserve / pdf /herring-j. pdf
Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, information literacy and transfer in high schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32-36. Retrieved from http://teacherlibrarian.com/
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L.K., & Caspari, A. C. (2012). Guided inquiry design: A framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Lamb, A. (2001, May). Information and communication literacy model comparison [PDF]. Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/instruction/articles/topic71model.pdf
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Lupton, M. (2014). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6: A birds eye view. Access 28(4), 8-29. Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/publications/access/access-national-journal.aspx
McGuinness, S. (2013). Riding the research wave in the Illawarra. Scan, 32(February), 14-20. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan
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.
Richards, A. Re: forum 5.4_2 [Online discussion comment]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_34577_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_60958_1&forum_id=_117467_1&message_id=_1609307_1
Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided inquiry: A learning journey. Scan, 27(4), 34-42. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan
UNESCO. (2006). Understandings of literacy. In Education for all: Literacy for life. Retrieved May 2018 from http://www.unesco.org/education/GMR2006/full/chapt6_eng.pdf
Williams, J. (2018, May 19). Re: forum 5.2 [Online discussion comment]. Retrieved from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&course_id=_34577_1&conf_id=_60958_1&forum_id=_117467_1&message_id=_1810129_1&nav=discussion_board_entry
Wocke, G. (2018, April 26). Information literacy: A commentary [Blog post]. Retrieved May 20, 2018 from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/04/26/information-literacy-a-commentary/