The pathfinder I created focuses on fairy tales and is designed for year two students (7-8 years olds). It covers narrative writing based on fairy tales. This reflection will also discuss the general capabilities from the Australian curriculum that are addressed
The general capabilities that I focused on were literacy and creative and critical thinking and ICTs (ACARA, 2013). According to the ACARA, 2013, Literacy encompasses a range of activities including reading, speaking, writing and creating print, visual and digital texts. It also includes listening to and interpreting texts. Students will undertake a variety of these activities during this unit of work. Content is now available in many types and format (Lamb, 2011) and this is particularly true of fairy tales. They can be found in hardcover books, e-books, online resources such as tumble books, audiobooks and cds. Students will further their literacy skills by building on their knowledge from resources used in the pathfinder and apply these skills for further learning and communicating. Creative and critical thinking capabilities (ACARA, 2013) involve students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific areas. Through reading fairy tales via the pathfinder they will begin to see existing situations in a new way, identify alternative explanations, and make new links that generate a positive outcome. This will lead to them writing a different ending to a story and eventually composing their own fairy tale. Students will use ICTs to learn how to access information when searching for information (ACARA, 2013). They will become competent at accessing information from a range of digital resources available to them. This will lead to them collaborating as a class to create their own pieces of writing from these ideas.
As pathfinders were a completely new concept to me, I needed to begin by undertaking a search to find out more about them. Kuntz (2003) best describes a pathfinder by comparing it to a road map, and using the pathfinder for locating important information destinations with street signs and helpful hints along the way. Due to the age group of the students using this pathfinder, I referred to Schrock’s 5W’s (2009) website evaluation criteria and guide to select online resources that would be suitable for students at this learning level. As information is available in many formats from many different resources (Kuntz, 2003) I also researched some search engines designed especially for children, such as International Children’s Digital Library and Safe Search for Kids.
How this pathfinder will enhance student’s use of information literacy skills
By using this pathfinder students will have a plan and a place to start (Kuntz, 2003) when beginning their search for information. This pathfinder will lead them to a selection of resources that are most appropriate for the task at hand. Schrock’s 5 W’s of website evaluation model (2009) was ideal for students at this age and learning level. They were instructed to use these selection criteria before they started searching to ensure they had the appropriate guidelines to begin with. This was supported by both the teacher and the teacher librarian and taught them a valuable skill for the future. Whilst students of the 21st century may be familiar with technology from an early age, they still need help understanding how to use this information and apply it (Lamb, 2011). The role of the TL is important for staff training (Walter & Weisberg, 2011) and student support in a new concept such as this pathfinder.
What I learned constructing this pathfinder and how this relates to the role of the teacher librarian
Researching and creating this pathfinder was like a whole new world for me. The concept of creating and using pathfinders in the classroom was a completely new concept. Once again I believe collaboration between the TL and teaching staff is a key issue to meet the learning needs (Kuntz, 2003) of students. As Lamb (2011) points out, when TLs collaborate with teacher to support learning opportunities with books, computer resources or other materials, students learn more. This is reinforced further by Lamb and Johnson (2006-2012) who demonstrate that some of the most effective pathfinders are developed as part of a collaborative effort with TLs and teachers.
Pathfinders help guide students through the information search process to the relevant resources they need. It takes much of the guesswork out of searching for information and facilitates the development of effective information literacy skills. It is useful for the TL to know what learning levels the students are at when constructing a pathfinder to best adapt it to suit them. As always, a tool is only as good as its users, so it is very important for a TL to guide and instruct users from the known to unknown to help them get the best out of it. This pathfinder uses language that I believe would be suitable for year two students. By introducing them to the use of pathfinders at this early age, it will become a part of their learning and study process as they advance through their school years and onto more complex topics.
Australian Curriculum Assessment & Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2013) General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/general-capabilities-in-the-australian-curriculum
International Children’s Digital Library retrieved from http://en.childrenslibrary.org
Kuntz, K. (2003). Pathfinders: Helping students find paths to information. Multimedia Schools. Retrieved September, 2014.
Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2006-2012). Pathfinders and social bookmarking defined. Retrieved September, 2014.
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends:Linking research & practice to improve learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Safe Search for Kids retrieved from www.safesearchforkids.com
Schrock, K. (2009) The 5 W’s of web site evaluation. Retrieved from
Walter, V. & Weisberg, H. (2011) Being indispensable: A school librarian’s guide to becoming an invaluable leader. ALA Editions:Chicago