AT3 – Information Literacy Plan
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.
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.
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.
- 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.