Critical Reflection

Focus on what I can do.

When I look back at just how lost I was creating my blog, “it made me feel very overwhelmed and inadequate” (DF 2.1) and pondering how to teach Information Literacy, “What is the point of knowing what students need if you can’t help them to achieve it!” (DF 3.3), I want to give past me a reassuring hug. Whilst I remain frustrated by curriculum limitations, I am choosing now to focus on what I can do and see a way forward.

Understanding of Information Literacy

Before

In ‘The role of the Teacher Librarians in schools’, in module 1, I referred to an Information Literacy Landscape diagram being on my diary as my way of explaining IL to others. I knew it was part of my job but had only a base understanding of how it was important.

During

I had attempted to address IL deficits through my library program and sporadic library lessons but was dissatisfied with these methods. My realisation that “I have to take a much more active role in curriculum development and have been going about things the wrong way” (DF 4.2) was humbling but gave me a hunger to understand IL more completely.

Now

Information Literacy- An expanded understanding of importance refined my understanding of theory then module 5 DF’s clarified my way forward with integrating IL and which IL model(s) to use. I realise that staff and students are not conscious of the need for IL instruction and I can change this.

Read the World. The final focus on the convergence of literacies for 21st-century learning gave me one of my favourite phrases that I can use to explain an expanded understanding of IL. TL’s aim to help students read the world.

 

Understanding of IL models

My chosen IL model(s) = life raft/purpose/way forward

My 5.4a DF reads a little like a ‘how to’ integrate information literacy instruction. I will be referring to it to keep me on track. The woeful and confused state I found myself in during April for modules 3 & 4 blogs is in considerable contrast to this purposeful discussion. The headings are outlined below.

I can:

  • Choose my IL model wisely (Done but after considerable agonising)
  • Place visuals of my IL model(s) in classrooms and computer rooms
  • Find out what staff and students think/know about IL (staff survey under construction)
  • Establish the need for IL instruction
  • Accept it won’t happen overnight
  • Explain why IL is important and repeat
  • Emphasis IL as a life skill
  • Develop an overview of research tasks undertaken across the curriculum

As I point out in Information Literacy as a foreign Language. Part 1, I am very much starting from scratch, so initially, I need to keep things simple and appreciate (and record) the little gains.

 

Research projects/assignments Inquiry projects

        Research skills Inquiry learning

 

Understanding of the TL role in inquiry learning

I understand now why we created an IL plan for AT3. The process made me look deeply at the practicalities of collaboratively working with a subject teacher. In Two false starts and a lightbulb I explored when it is appropriate for the TL to involve themselves in the curriculum for an inquiry unit. The last two lessons learned are my favourites:

  • There will always be the need for assignments/assessment tasks/research projects/units of study to be revised. This is my opportunity to be involved.
  • I am busting to teach the inquiry unit I have developed.

Inquiry Learning is a golden opportunity for TL’s to involve themselves in the curriculum. However, in my last two blogs (that I found I had to write) I ponder the other ways that Information Literacy can be improved by the TL. In Information literacy as a foreign language. Part 2  and Two false starts and a light bulb, I am contextualizing my learning and seeing how it can be applied to my school and this is exciting!

 

Reflecting on my reflection

How do I draw together all the ways that my mind has been expanded throughout this study? The discussion forums and blogs have been useful tools to distill my learning. I have come from a place of conscious incompetence and frustration, (i.e. “I found myself crying uncontrollably into a basket of clean washing after Module 3.3” from Enough on my to-do list already) through to see a way forward.

All the implications of my learning for my school context have made my progress cumbersome (Alice Down the Rabbit Hole) (What not road map?), but this is precisely the point. I now understand how I can begin to improve information literacy in my school.

Creating the Inquiry Unit has forced me to consider the templates and scaffolds that I need to have readily available and the work I need to do surveying and informing staff. In the brief respite before my next study, I will do this. I am undoubtedly a better TL already and I am excited (but still fearful of the workload) about what I have yet to learn.

 

Reference

Coonan, E., & Secker, J. (2011). Information Literacy Landscape. [Diagram]. A New Curriculum for Information Literacy (ANCIL) Executive Summary. (p.6). Retrieved from: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/37681/1/Executive_summary.pdf

Information Literacy as a foreign language – Part 2

ASK IL model. Online search guidelines – Simple search

Most Information Literacy models relate to “big questions” or more involved research. However, what exists for simple searches or less involved questions? In an effort to break the cycle of student googling of questions exactly as they would be verbalized,  I decided to come up with a simple, memorable model to follow.

ASK relationship to NSW ISP

Search Skills NSW ISP Scaffolds
Using keywords Defining Keyword poster
Search operators Locating Search operator poster

Online notetaking template- simple (see below)

Advanced search Locating Advanced search poster
Checking for relevance & quality Selecting CRAAP, RAT or CAR test
Referencing Presenting Reference template

 

Using keywords, search operators, advanced search, checking information for relevance and quality and referencing sources are all research skills. These can be linked to specific sections of the NSW ISP, defining, locating, selecting and presenting. Scaffolds can be provided to aid with stages and can be colour-coded to relate to the stage of the NSW ISP, as in the example below.

The Information Process

The ASK IL model is a less complete form of research, but it is one that can be repeated over and over for particular questions to form part of a larger inquiry or research task. This is the basics of information literacy. It is the first step in increasing Information Literacy language skills. Just like learning a foreign language, you need to start with the beginner’s course and repeat, repeat, repeat before learning the continuers course.

Course IL Beginners IL Continuers (& continuing) IL Advanced
Level Survival Guide Core guide Advanced guide
Model ASK model NSW ISP

The Information Process

GID ISP

Guided Inquiry Design Process

Description Simplified research process focussed on basic skills. Highly functional and applicable to most research tasks. (Some steps may be missed.) Ideal combining of skills and process.

Best practice.

 

Emphasis IL skills IL skills through to varying degrees of process IL skills and process
Visual Simplified & easy to remember Functional Complex & pretty

A word about Information Literacy and Inquiry Learning

There are a lot of ways the TL can be involved in student learning that involve improving information literacy. Inquiry learning can be a powerful and memorable learning experience. The open-ended nature of research that is required in inquiry learning, creates the opportunity for TL’s to be involved in the process of learning and provide the IL language and scaffolding for students to succeed.

Understanding what methods of learning are currently taking place in a schools curriculum is vital before the TL can understand their role in promoting and supporting inquiry learning. Inquiry learning is not the only way to learn or the superior way to learn. A recent article in Scan highlighted how there are multiple ways of learning.

Inquiry learning in collaboration with a subject teacher can be a meaningful, satisfying and sustained way that the TL can highlight the process of learning with an information literacy focus. This is what we can aim towards, but we should remember that all the other little ways we embed information literacy skills do matter also.

 

Stevens, R. (2019) In defence of inquiry-based pedagogies. Scan, 38(3).

Two false starts and a light bulb

AT3 – Information Literacy Plan

Take 1

My first attempt was with a Water Scarcity unit for Year 8 Geography. The subject teacher was open to accommodating me and was generally very supportive when I approached her. The problem was that the unit had been revised last year and wasn’t really in need of revisiting. So, lesson 1 – You can’t fix something that isn’t broken. Assessment tasks and units that involve research have life cycles. The point of best intervention for a TL hoping to collaborate with a subject teacher is when the curriculum is being revised and is in need of change. I think the teacher was being lovely and helpful, but my help wasn’t really needed.

Take 2

Still, in Year 8 Geography, I observed the start of an Interconnection inquiry unit. A terrific topic that had the students highly engaged as it was focussed locally with scope for creativity. Students were discussing ideas in groups and were really excited to start, but then had to produce individual projects. Maintaining the group drive and energy would have been a better idea, but this was just a tweaking of an inquiry unit that was largely successful. Here there was the opportunity to produce a map, an advertising poster and a (mock) website on the same theme which would see the group members receiving different instruction and guidance, but still retain the excitement of working together on a concept.

I could easily see myself being part of this unit when it happens again in Semester 2. Two classes were combined and were working in the Library so the teachers could work collaboratively. Indications from them were that they would welcome my involvement and explicit IL instruction. Yay. I need to follow up when these teachers are evaluating the unit and see how I can be involved. Baby steps.

Ultimately, this unit was also not in need of reinvention, just tweaking and it felt like plagiarism to feature this as my inquiry unit.

Take 3

Year 8 Vikings. A unit that has had 4 reinventions in 4 years and the teacher is looking to change it again. Cheering. Fun unit focus decided. It is my idea. Let’s do this!

…………. Why is this so hard then?

After seeing amazing examples of inquiry units such as Dr. Lynne Vey‘s about Ancient China I was trying to teach all of the subject content within my inquiry unit. This might be ok if I was a trained History teacher, but I’m not. I was focussing too much on content. Finally (after almost completing the damn thing) I stopped, took a step back and realized that the inquiry unit didn’t have to deliver all of the curriculum content. All the examples of  “research tasks” being undertaken at my school were built on some background knowledge of the topic. Usually, content is taught in a more traditional classroom method and assessment tasks are completed thereafter to show (or test) application of knowledge and further investigation.

Image result for keep it simple stupid

Lessons learned:
  • If you try to fit too much curriculum content into an inquiry unit you make it very hard for yourself.
  • Best to KISS and really focus on the information process. How are the students working, are they aware of the steps they are taking and are they growing in confidence with their IL skills? Is the process satisfying?
  • When in doubt, step back and look at the big picture.
  • I want my inquiry unit to respect the context in which it will be delivered, so I am willing for it to not necessarily model best IL practice, rather what will be practical.
  • I am a shocking liar. I can’t pretend I’ve got another couple of lessons up my sleeve. I’ve seen the curriculum that needs to be covered and the time allocated to deliver it, it feels like cheating if I don’t adhere to the limitations.
  • There will always be the need for assignments/assessment tasks/research projects/units of study to be revised. This is my opportunity to be involved.
  • I am busting to actually teach the inquiry unit I have developed.

 

Read the World.

 

 Redefinition of Literacy Skills and Methods of Teaching Literacy.
The how, what and why of teaching literacy must change.
Why

The why is perhaps the easiest to explain. The form in which students are receiving information has changed (and is continuing to change) so it is logical that the how we teach them to make meaning from this information must also change. Cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch (Waters, 2012) explains that as we are living in an increasingly mediated world (where communication is via various forms of media). Each form of media is biased towards certain ideas and ideals. A quote I included in my discussion essay aptly illustrates this point:

Selfies tend to receive more love on Instagram than any other posts. YouTube’s algorithms have pushed users towards increasingly extreme content: you start on a straightforward documentary about September 11 and, a few videos later, you’re mired in conspiracy theories. Twitter, all too often, rewards the snarky putdown, the dogmatic over-reach, the bad-faith misinterpretation of someone’s argument. Empathy won’t get you much traction, and neither will nuance. (Knott, 2019, March 22)

What

Following is a selection from the list of skills suggested (in the reading source video) that students will need to be able to function successfully in a world dominated by digital forms of communication and my take on them:

  1. The basic (hooray, still essential)
  2. critical literacy (not mindlessly believing)
  3. able to read the world (my favourite, encapsulates the shift required)
  4. information literacy (seems obvious now)
  5. emotional health (addressing the myriad of issues that can come with digital communication)
  6. social literacy (digital forms of communication have different rules, limitations, and dangers)
  7. outdoor literacy (remember there is a world out there beyond the screen)
How

This is the tricky bit. Here is another layer of complexity that is required. It is “young people as producers and managers of information and perspectives, and not simply as people we need to keep safe and civil.” (Joseph Kahne as cited in Waters, 2012) Most of the government provided digital citizenship resources focus on ‘thin’  skills and are largely about safety.

My understanding of what it is to be a responsible digital citizen has been expanded significantly. The yearly lesson my children receive about DC every year in primary school and the token acknowledgment in years 7 & 9 are nowhere near enough. Interestingly, the NSW Digital Citizenship site is being redesigned. Maybe this is due to the changing nature of technology use or maybe they are creating more comprehensive resources.

The following suggested modules of digital citizenship study seem more comprehensive: (“Our Space: Being a Responsible Citizen of the Digital World,”)

  • Personal and information credibility
  • Participation or conduct in online spaces
  • Self-expression and identity
  • Privacy
  • Ownership and authority

On closer inspection, the material is a little dated and American, but the concepts are great. New Media Literacies & The Good Project combined initiative.

Specific resources for teaching digital citizenship will date very quickly, so this is problematic.

ghcassel / Pixabay

An authentic approach

A better way to incorporate authentic discussion and learning of digital communication issues would be to use a resource such as the recent podcast on ABC conversations “How the iPhone rewrote the teenage brain.”

I listened to this with my family in the car traveling at Easter and was blown away by how potent this piece of audio was. It prompted wonder, insightful discussion (from the primary schoolers) and aggressive denial (from the teenager). I was busting to do something with this in the school context, but couldn’t, so tried to spread the work to year 9 teachers. Thankfully, an English teacher used it, but this was the sort of resource that every year 9 in the school should have been addressing in an inquiry project. Self-expression and identity would have been explored, but the wider implications of mental health, addiction and self-scrutiny would have made this a powerful learning experience.

Image a school where it was possible to be so flexible that a learning experience made possible by such a provocative piece of information (love that it is a podcast BTW) could be acted upon in a timely manner.

 

References

How the iphone rewrote the teenage brain. (2019, 16th April). ABC Conversations [podcast]. Episode 699

Knott, M. (2019, March 22). Toxic tribalism and the sad, broken state of Australian conversation. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/toxic-tribalism-and-the-sad-broken-state-of-australian-conversation-20190321-p5160h.html

Waters, J.K. (2012). Turning students into good digital citizens.THE Journal, 9 April.

(Reposting of article sourced from above with functioning videos of Michael Wesch speaking found at following source.)

Turning students into good digital citizens. (2015, 23rd Nov.). Wasabi Learning. Retrieved from: https://www.wabisabilearning.com/blog/turning-students-into-good-digital-citizens

Information Literacy as a foreign language. Part 1

Recognising my starting point.

I surveyed year 8 this week about their understanding of research skill basics. I am about to get them (in pairs) to create a Google Slides presentation explaining a research technique or skill, then share it with their class so that collectively their understanding of the basics is clarified. The best presentations will then be on rotational display on my large monitor at the circulation desk. Anything flashing or changing gets student attention, so I hoped maybe the basics would make their way into the conscious thought of other students also.

My quiz was very brief about their understanding of search operators, source checking and referencing. I expected most students to be unsure of these basics, but I was overwhelmed by just how in the dark they were.

So, I’m starting at ground zero. I am doing everything wrong by teaching “research skills” in isolation, but when I see these students once a fortnight in the library they are mine to do with as I will, so I am making the most of it. They are my crash test dummies for bigger and better things.

First impressions of GID

I remember removing the GID posters from the rough mission brown stained library rafters prior to painting (a lovely glossy white) in 2016. My initial thought was that although they were bright and colourful, the process was rather complicated. I thought students would have a hard time remembering it despite the pleasing ROYGBIV colouring.

Following impressions of GID

When I read Fitzgerald’s “Guided Inquiry in Practice” article in module 5.3 it was instantly familiar. When I had previously read this article (prescribed pre-conference reading) it had been something of a lightbulb moment for me, so much so that I’d printed figure 9 out and written about it in my Professional Learning Journal.

At the time I had created a super simple model for research that I thought students would remember. We are all visual creatures and the simpler the model, the better.

IL model integration plan

I can refer to and build up to GID, but I need to walk before I can run and create familiarity with information literacy language. So, I propose my ‘Information Literacy as a Foreign Language’ model.

Course IL Beginners IL Continuers (& continuing) IL Advanced
Level Survival guide Core guide Advanced guide
Model ASK model

 

NSW ISP

The Information Process (Information Search Process)

GID ISP

Guided Inquiry Design Process (Information Search Process)

Description Simplified research process focused on basic skills. Highly functional and applicable to most research tasks. (Some steps may be missed.) Ideal combining of skills and process.

Best practice.

Emphasis IL skills IL skills through to varying degrees of process IL skills and process
Visual Simplified & easy to remember Functional (but ugly. Seriously, who chose those colors? ) Complex & pretty
A -Ask the right questions

S– Select the right source

K– Know how to reference

(diagram to come)

 

The ASK and NSW ISP models can be available as laminated class sets for when students research in the library and then onwards and outwards into the rest of the school.

More details to come (in part 2) explaining my ASK model, how it links to the NSW ISP and my plans to provide support scaffolds for the NSW ISP (and how I’ll try to make them pretty).

 

References

FitzGerald, L. (2015) Guided Inquiry in practiceScan, 334(4) 16-17

Guided Inquiry Design. (2019). Guided Inquiry Design Framework [Diagram]. Retrieved from  https://guidedinquirydesign.com/gid/

NSW Department of Education (n.d.) The information process [Diagram]. Retrieved from https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/school-libraries/teaching-and-learning/information-skills/the-information-process

Information Literacy- An expanded understanding of importance.

Information Literacy – Before

Reading and Information Literacy is the core business of the Teacher Librarian. Promoting and encouraging wide reading and helping students to find the information they require, research, sort the good sources from the bad and reference correctly was about the extent of what I have been involved in to date.

New concepts – Favourites

Following are some of my favourite concepts along with quotes and explanations. These sections I wanted to record as they have helped to expand my thinking about Information Literacy.

“Love the question”

In ‘Revisioning Information Literacy for Lifelong Meaning'(2006), Dane Ward discusses the importance of acknowledging the individuals’ experience of information alongside the delivery or receiving of that information. He is coming from the viewpoint of higher education and this article is also relatively old, but I enjoyed the parallels that could be seen with secondary education.

Ward acknowledges that a behaviourist approach of measuring the acquisition of information literacy skills is not enough. He asks; “Can we be information literate if we possess the technical ability to find and evaluate information, but not the human capacity to experience and value it?” (p. 398)

When students are not receptive to their work this is seen as a problem of engagement. Ward argues “it is a problem of information literacy, a failure on our part to address a fundamental issue-the necessity of addressing both sides of our interaction with a complex information universe.” (p. 398) How information is experienced and made meaningful and relevant to the individual is important.

Then comes the really interesting bit about “Loving the Question”. It may not be possible to achieve this in a high school setting with cynical, assignment weary and impatient adolescents, but it gives us something to aspire to.

To teach students about personally meaningful information and non-analytic information processes means first and foremost to create a space where the inner life can be nurtured, where creativity can emerge, where students can love the questions. Librarians and teachers must design information literacy instruction that permits this possibility…More important than any immediate solution is the broader goal of integrating questions into our lives, holding them close without jumping to closure. By doing so, we enter into wonder, possibility and imagination. We discover the complexity and subtlety of an infinitely mysterious world. Information literacy is not a set of competencies; it is a way of being that comes from living the question. (p.399)

Much of what Ward had to say sounded a lot like inquiry learning, but on a more sophisticated level. How you could engage the students on a personal level with their topic was demonstrated in suggesting the playing of a song in a Peace and Social Justice class. ‘Where is the Love” by the Black-eyed Peas was intended to jumpstart a conversation about a real-world information literacy issue of media and its negative effect, especially on youth (see footnote for lyrics.) This reminded me to use the resources I have available to me in the school library (as opposed to the classroom) to engage students senses and to use a different angle when introducing a topic. We can listen to a podcast as a whole, then review it with headphones in small groups or individually. I have three massive whiteboards that are rarely used where students can contribute ideas. I can make the library very dark and focus their attention on two interactive whiteboards. I have space to move. I wish we had Google VR capacity. Hmmm.

UNESCO & Information Literacy = My school & Information Literacy Policy and priority.

Hey, if the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has a document (actually, more than one) prioritising Information Literacy advancement then why doesn’t my school! Our school achieves lower than the state average with literacy results, so equity is a passion. Advancing student information literacy will advance student opportunity.

The Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning of 2005 states that:

“Information Literacy lies at the core of lifelong learning. It empowers people in all walks of life to seek, evaluate, use and create information effectively to achieve their personal, social, occupational and educational goals. It is a basic human right in a digital world and promotes social inclusion of all nations.”(ILFA)

Furthermore, the discovery of the UNESCO term “Media and information literacy” and learning a bit more about it, just adds fuel to my fire.

Approaches to teaching Information Literacy -Learning from Higher Education examples. Questioning staff about IL deficits.

Hepworth’s article (2016) explained how academics in higher education can challenge the need for Information Literacy training (just like in schools) “Nevertheless, they tend to want their students to read more widely and use the information around them in a critical fashion, plus they don’t want their students to plagiarise. These therefore tend to be the ‘way in’ for introducing information literacy.” Farrel & Badke (2015), take it a step further with the CUNY IL integration model (ps. 326 & 327) seeking to give librarians an “indirect”…strategy for situating IL in the disciplines”. Although both articles refer to universities, they give valuable insight into the ongoing necessity for development of information literacy. Of particular interest were the questions in the Appendix (p. 338 & 339) which were asked at a faculty meeting. This is something I could adapt and use.

If I can ask staff (in what format and groupings I am still to decide) some leading questions about the types of information literacy skills and abilities they wish students had or noticed they were lacking, then this may be my way in to teach Information Literacy. Staff would be giving me a reason to collaborate. I’ll let this concept marinate for a while longer.

Six frames for information literacy education by local librarian legends

Finally, this article by Bruce, Edwards & Lupton gave me so much to think about. The higher the frame number, the closer it went into the territory of Ward. I appreciate the clear, relatable categorisation of this huge concept that is Information Literacy. It is so much more than I initially thought.

(1) The Content Frame (2) The Competency Frame (3) The Learning to Learn Frame (4) The Personal Relevance Frame (5) The Social Impact Frame and (6)The Relational Frame.

Of particular interest was “Case A: Helping students learn to search the Internet or bringing about more complex experiences of Internet searching.”

  1. Information searching is seen as looking for a needle in a haystack.
  2. Information searching is seen as finding a way through a maze.
  3. Information searching is seen as using the tools as a filter.
  4. Information searching is seen as panning for gold.

Individual searchers decide which lens is the most appropriate to use in each context. The variety of lenses is necessary in order to be a powerful searcher. If an individual does not have all of the available four lenses with which to view searching (Figure 9), then the awareness structures of each category suggest how we might encourage students to learn to use the other available lenses.

Researching is such a difficult skill to learn for students, especially with their tendency to Google. Getting students to think about how they feel about their search, with the four lens descriptions to help verbalise their level of confusion or confidence could be very helpful.

Before I move on, I have to acknowledge another gem of a quote by Wiebe (2015-2016) as this beautifully illustrates what it is to “Google”

When you “Google it,” you are engaged in an information snatch and grab-get it, get out, move on…efficiency is not always the primary goal of education.”

 

Also, I like how the model below shows the cyclic nature of research in such a simple diagram. It is not a linear process for students during an assignment, they may need to revise their search several times. Nor is our knowledge of internet sources ever complete as the internet is a constantly changing environment.

 

4 Stages of Information Literacy- a digital literacy focus

I consolidated my learning into the following table so that I could present it to my principal for consideration. We are struggling to get students to the third stage with definite gaps in understanding. A register of ICT activities (not a continuum yet) across faculties would be the first step to addressing some of these gaps.

1) Functional Computer and ICT literacy
2) Research: Purposeful information seeking, acquistion & management Being able to find what students are looking for successfully. Store and retrieve information.
3) Ethical & criticial repurposing of information Referencing, not plagarising. Repurposing or using information in a moral, culturally sensitive & critical way.
4) Global Citizenship Publishing & interacting as a citizen of the world (wider audience.)

 

References

Bruce, C., Edwards, S., & Lupton, M. (2006). Six frames for information literacy education: A conceptual framework for interpreting the relationships between theory and practiceITALICS, 5(1).

Farrell ,R. & Badke, W. (2015). Situating information literacy in the disciplines: A practical and systematic approach for academic librarians. Reference Services Review, 43(2). CSU Library.

Hepworth, M. (2016). Information literacy: Higher education. CILIP.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). (n.d.). Beacons of the Information Society: The Alexandria Proclamation on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning. Retrieved https://www.ifla.org/publications/beacons-of-the-information-society-the-alexandria-proclamation-on-information-literacy

Ward, D. (2006). Revisioning information literacy for lifelong meaning. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32(4), 396-402.

Wiebe, T.J. (2015-2016). The information literacy imperative in higher education. Liberal Education. Retrieved July 2016.

 

Footnote:

Black Eyed Peas “Where is the Love”

“Wrong information always shown by the media. Negative images is the main criteria. Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria. Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinema. Yo’, whatever happened to values of humanity. Whatever happened to the fairness in equaity. Instead of spreading love we spread animousity. Lack of understanding, leading lives away from unity.”

Black Eyed Peas & Justin Timberlake, ‘Where is the Lov,’Elephunk, Perf. Black Eyed Peas & Justin Timberlake, A&M, 2003.

Literacy – a definition

Literacy is not just being able to read or derive meaning, but understand.

  • Process with information; data becomes information then knowledge.
  • Process with literacy; words (or other forms of information) become readings then understanding.

(Note: My metaliteracy requires improving as I lack the ability to transfer the above information (that I made into a diagram) into this document.)

Sample of literacy types as presented in course material:

(Traditional) literacy (reading, writing, viewing, speaking, listening and understanding);
oral literacy;
computer literacy;
Literacy with ICT
digital literacy/literacies;
Internet literacy;
network literacy;
screen literacy;
multimedia literacy;
visual literacy;
information literacy;
transformational literacies – a view of literacy as the active transformation of texts;
transliteracy;
metaliteracy;
academic literacy;
business literacy;
cultural literacy;
workplace literacy;
music literacy;
critical literacy;
media and information literacy (MIL) (UNESCO term);
technology literacy;
adult literacy; and
aliteracy.

Reflection

It appears that literacy is added to terms to describe the process of learning and understanding of a topic. The existence of various literacy types is an interesting adaption of the term to demonstrate the great variety of ways in which knowledge can be specialised. It is also a reflection on our society about the ways in which information can be presented, read and understood. ‘Screen literacy’ is a curious one. How we read what is presented on a screen acknowledges the intention of the creator to craft an effect or direct the viewer. Consider, for example, cinematic techniques used in movies and pop-ups and engaging imagery in a website. Both require screen literacy to successfully achieve their purpose.

Internet Literacy -issues tracing the original author or creator.

My internet literacy is in deficit because I was unable to find the original source for this diagram. Interestingly, there were multiple versions found in a Google image search, yet none of these credited the source of the image. Some of these were on library websites or Student Teacher Librarian blogs. This is an area where I really need to improve.

Visual Literacy

As a qualified Visual Arts teacher, I am particularly interested in the General Capabilites emphasis on Visual Knowledge, especially in the English curriculum. Here is an area where I would feel comfortable being involved and adding my expertise.

 

References

ACARA (n.d.) General Capabilities. Literacy [Diagram] Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/literacy/

ACARA (n.d.) General Capabilities. Learning Continuum of Literacy. Visual Knowledge. Retrieved from https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/f-10-curriculum/general-capabilities/literacy/learning-continuum/?element=Visual+Knowledge&page=3. pgs 3&4

Literacy forms and meaning

New formats and delivery modes or multimodal resources require users to both extend the traditional literacy definition and have different literacy skills.

Simple explanation -Text Example

Reading text has always had the capacity for varying interpretations depending on the reader’s personal experience and level of literacy. For example, upon reading a descriptive passage, no two people will create exactly the same picture in their head or derive the same meaning. This personalisation and adaption of text has been the source of discussion and debate for probably as long as the written word has existed. New formats and delivery modes add another layer of complexity to the variation of interpretation and level of meaning derived.

Picture book example – Shaun Tan’s ‘The Lost Thing’- Text and Visual

This book has a message that is simple enough for a child to understand; how it might feel to be lost, then be happy to find where you belong or how it might feel to find a lost thing. It also is accessible (and enjoyable) to adolescents and adults. Consider how individual the experience is of reading this book. On any page, what is viewed first, picture or text, which visual and for how long? Eye tracking would show an enormous variation in where the gaze of viewers is drawn and maintained. The meaning being derived from the interplay of components would be complex.

I love the urban drama presented in this particular book and the visual comparison above highlights how appropriation can add another layer of meaning. My ‘reading’ of the book brings with it the theme of urban alienation that is recognisable in Jeffrey Smart’paintings. The book delights me on a different level than someone unaware of Jeffrey Smart’s work.

The opening scene where the main character is working ‘tirelessly on his bottle top collection’ would spark nostalgia is some, not receive much consideration in others and make others chuckle.

The interpretation of the movie adds yet another dimension of possible meaning.

Multiliteracies – The complexity of deriving meaning

Who we are and our experience (context) and the form of information (mode) contribute to our reading and understanding of the material. This is illustrated in the diagram below.

Kalantizis and Cope discuss literacy in such depth that it made me feel like my initial understanding was quite limited. They propose that multiliteracies are a reflection of our times and then explain some of the modes or forms of meaning and their functions. Here parallels can be drawn with the English curriculum, especially Stage 6. I realise that I need to immerse myself more fully into understanding the English Curriculum and how my emerging understanding of information literacy could inform the services and insight that I could provide.

Evolving literacy landscape- TED talk example

TED talks combine visual, gestural and oral modes of information delivery. The rising popularity of this method of delivery is testimony to the changing information literacy landscape. Presented as ‘ideas worth spreading’, TED talks topics cover a variety of areas, but are essentially informative and largely social conscious. The narrator gives the information credibility as they are the expert. People have paid to listen to the speaker, so what they say must be worthwhile. The less formal presentation of the information in spoken form, with accompanying gestures is more accessible than written text.

Literacy categories

I found the UNESCO definition of ‘western literacy’ particularly interesting. It acknowledges the history of debate over the meaning and definition of the term ‘literacy’ and how it is related to the broader notions of education and knowledge, then presents four distinct understandings:

  1. literacy as an autonomous set of skills;
  2. literacy as applied, practised and situated;
  3. literacy as a learning process;
  4. literacy as text.

My understanding of this is that 1) obtaining literacy can be measured by skills gained, 2) mode and context variations 3) it is an ongoing process and 4) text, as the traditional format of literacy delivery.

My understanding of literacy perspectives is still a work in progress. I look forward to how these more general discussions become meaningful for me in as a TL in a curriculum and school context.

 

References

Kalantzis, M. & Cope, B. (2015).Multiliteracies: Expanding the scope of literacy pedagogyNew Learning. Retrieved May 2019 from http://newlearningonline.com/multiliteracies/theory

State Library of Victoria. (2011). Shaun Tan: Tell us about ‘The Lost Thing‘ [Video]. Retrieved May 2019 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5Ia-AHzxbM

Tan, S (2008). The Lost Thing. Lothian: Sydney

UNESCO. (2006). Understandings of literacyEducation for all: Literacy for life. Retrieved May 2019 from: http://www.unesco.org/education/GMR2006/full/chapt6_eng.pdf , p.148

Enough on my to-do list already.

(With apologies) adapted from Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari. Guided Inquiry. 2007, 2012

Guidance, where were you?

I wish I knew about the ASLA evidence guides for Teacher Librarians (Proficient) and (Accomplished) when I started working in the Library. I came into my position without a lot of guidance and started by throwing myself into the job of turning the very dated library into a flexible learning space. I found a niche in the curriculum to teach a library program, but was often frustrated by the lack of continuity, equity in instruction and interruption.

As I went on, I noticed areas across year levels where explicit TL instruction was required and I would present suggestions to staff where I could help. I would teach the lesson, with the regular teacher helping. Staff would be grateful, but I always felt like I’d stolen the class. The one off or fragmented nature of lessons was not very satisfying. I craved the continuity of seeing students consolidating their knowledge and seeing me as a “real teacher”. I often find myself remembering a student comment, intended as a compliment, that I was his “favourite teacher that isn’t a teacher.” Ouch.

Referring to the proficient guide I can place examples of evidence against many of the standards. This is very affirming that I have been doing what I am supposed to do. It also highlights where my practice is lacking, but here is where I call “time-out”. I have enough on my to-do list already and I am feeling overwhelmed.

As Karen Bonanno pointed out (way back in Module 3.2) it is important to FOCUS. Follow one course until successful. She also said to “begin with the end in mind” and “you will get what you focus on.” If only I was sure what to focus on. I know myself and I try to do too many things at once.

So, it’s not just me. TL’s and collaboration.

Bonanno’s explanation of the ‘Circle of Influence’ was a lightbulb moment. Although it was a generalisation, she clarified that it was not me, but the nature of the TL job that meant;

  • 10% of staff want to work with you
  • 30% of staff might work with you
  • 60% of staff don’t want to work with you

I am feeling out my circle of influence and cutting myself some slack as I realise it may be a slow process to build up interest. The librarian proceeding me did not work with many staff and most do not know how they can work with me. I have to change that by showing them.

Collaboration is the way. Agreed. But how?

How? I found myself crying uncontrollably into a basket of clean washing after Module 3.3, Support for TL’s, TL’s supporting the Principal. The enormity of the task ahead of me was overwhelming. How was I supposed to facilitate collaboration so that I could do my job properly? How was I supposed to support the principal to facilitate collaboration? I am just a beginner TL, I don’t really know what I am doing.

Kuhlthau, 2004

Confusion, frustration and doubt in my own journey of exploration is beginning to improve. My journey to date can be aligned to the ISP shown above. As Senge states “the more you learn, the more acutely aware you become of your ignorance.” (Senge. 2007. p. 11).

Some clarity. (It is a start.)

The ASLA conference helped me to develop a plan. Inspired by the discussion about collaboration by Tracey Ezard, backed by the research provided by Dr. Margaret Merga and examples of practice by various other presenters I have created a proposal with suggested timelines and sent it to my principal and deputy.

I have decided to ‘be bolder’ and put myself out there. With no real faculty I feel the isolation keenly and don’t feel like I have a voice. I have lacked direction and opportunity to collaborate, but I realise that ‘Emotions are contagious’. Tracey Ezard asked “What infection are you spreading?” Lately it has been lack of direction and confidence. Add to that juggling the addition of study into my life and it has been unreceptive. The overwhelming emotions I have been spreading at home have been stress and guilt. (e.g. I am a bad mother and wife and never get to the gym any more. I might comfort eat and add to that guilt further.) Time to change.

Distracting myself. Study versus work planning.

Study takes so long because I become distracted and preoccupied by the implications in my school and ideas I keep having. Until I formulated my proposal I really couldn’t concentrate properly on study. I am not good at staying on track. I hope that as my clarity of purpose with work improves I will be better at focussing on my study. Now I am looking more at the big picture. 

 

References

Bonanno, K. (2011). A profession at the tipping point: Time to change the game plan. [Speech]. ASLA conference. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/31003940

Ezard, T. (2019, 15 April). Leading ‘The Buzz’ in your school. [Speech]. ASLA conference. Reference to my personal notes and photographs.

Kuhlthau, C. Information Search Process. [Diagram]. p. 82 . Seeking Meaning: A Process Approach to Library and Information Services (Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited, 2004), 2nd ed.

Senge, P. (2007). Chapter 1: Give me a lever long enough … and single-handed I can move the world. In The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership, 2nd ed. available CSU Library Reserve

 

Alice Down the Rabbit Hole.

Quality Teaching Dimensions, Inquiry Learning and Project-Based Learning

azzy_roth / Pixabay

What on earth does this have to do with Alice?

A short ‘Read and Reflect’ activity morphed into a very involved and time-consuming exploration of definitions and NSW DOE documents. This is typical of the phenomenon of “the more you learn, the less you know.” I experience this with frightening regularity, with only occasional moments of clarity and direction. I am hoping that as I proceed I will feel less clueless and the reading will not take so long.

Actual topic of reflection.

Read and reflect

  • How do the dimensions of quality teaching relate to inquiry learning and project-based learning approaches?
  • Examine this same question from the pedagogical perspective your school or education system is currently employing.

Both inquiry learning and project-based learning approaches engage more elements from the quality teaching dimensions than traditional, teacher-directed/focussed approaches.

Looking at various definitions of inquiry learning, project-based learning and even problem-based learning it appears that they have much in common and what defines the differences changes according to which source you consult. The following summary from ‘Teacher Tap’ (Johnson, L. & Lamb, A. 2007.) is one of the clearest:

  • Project-based Learning. An approach to learning focusing on developing a product or creation. The project may or may not be student-centered, problem-based, or inquiry-based.
  • Problem-based Learning. An approach to learning focusing on the process of solving a problem and acquiring knowledge. The approach is also inquiry-based when students are active in creating the problem.
  • Inquiry-based Learning. A student-centered, active learning approach focusing on questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It’s associated with the idea “involve me and I understand.”

 The dimension of intellectual quality is evident in the aim of deep knowledge and understanding rather than recall of facts. High-order thinking is required in reflecting on the Information Search Process and the individual nature of the learning experience for each student.

Quality learning environments are enabled by explicit quality criteria and high expectations and a topic that ensures student engagement. Student grouping and choice means that students take ownership of their direction. Accountability to others promotes student self-regulation.

The dimension of significance (why are we learning this and how does it relate to me) is explicitly explained to students. Rather than learning a topic because it is a requirement/ assessment with outcomes that need to be met, there is an aim to connect the students with the relevance of gaining certain knowledge about the topic.

There is an obvious attempt to link Quality Teaching and the General Capabilities in the Australian curriculum.

My school has included references to Quality Teaching Rounds and Project Based Learning in the school plan. There is also a focus on collaborative practice, formative assessment and improving literacy.

How this has been implemented (and with whom) has been rather inconsistent, but this is a topic of discussion for another time (down the rabbit hole).

Alice over and out.

 

References

Collins, L. 2017, ‘Quality teaching in our schools’, Scan, 36(4), pp. 29-33. Retrieved from: https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/professional-learning/scan/past-issues/vol-36,-2017/quality-teaching-in-our-schools

Johnson, L. & Lamb, A. (2007). ‘Project, Problem, and Inquiry-Based Learning’. Teacher Tap. Retrieved from: https://eduscapes.com/tap/topic43.htm

NSW Department of Education and Training. (2006). ‘Quality teaching in NSW public schools: A classroom guide.’ (2nd Edn). Training Professional Learning and Leadership Development Directorate, RYDE. Retrieved from: https://app.education.nsw.gov.au/quality-teaching-rounds/Assets/Classroom_Practice_Guide_ogogVUqQeB.pdf

NSW Department of Education and Training. (2008). ‘Quality teaching to support the NSW professional teaching standards.’ Professional Learning and Leadership Development Directorate. Retrieved from: http://currentreforms.weebly.com/uploads/2/6/9/9/26999857/quality_teaching_to_support_nsw_professional_teaching_standards.pdf

 

 

 

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