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Time to narrow the research focus and reflect

Reflect by Franklumix

In my information literacy process for assignment 2, I have had to reach a point of reflection before going any further. Which information literacy process did I follow? Did I utilise any of the information literacy models in the process of this assignment? Did I apply the scaffold that they offer as a process to success?

There were two parameters that defined my approach. The first parameter was the assignment task and understanding what was being asked of me and the second parameter was Topic 4~ information Literacy; and the fact that I was part of the first group, out of two, that led forum discussion on this topic.

Initially, I saw this as a benefit, as the timing tailed the submission of the last assignment, and meant I did not have an opportunity to sit back for a week and take a breather. I believed it may mean that I will complete Assignment 2 earlier as a result. Was this the outcome?… Well I wouldn’t go that far as I am still working on ideas and assimilating a great deal of the information. In fact, I still am reading a great deal of information while formulating responses to part of my tasks.

Interestingly, research is not such a linear process for myself. It moves around and I revisit earlier stages, reformulate ideas, discard what I previously held to be true and take different positions with each addition of further ideas. It seems the approach to my current assignment is not linear either as I am moving around the tasks and trying to complete parts in various orders. For now I have left Task A. It definitely needs to take a breather so I moved on to Task B as I felt I had found my focus and could now move through this part of the assignment.

However, I am currently facing a conundrum with

Task B  Identify an obstacle which a teacher librarian might face in developing information literacy across the curriculum in a school, and how that obstacle might be addressed. Reference should be made to relevant literature (about 750 words)

A couple of days ago, I felt certain that I had identified an obstacle and it was the term ‘information literacy’ itself. I reasoned that we have an overload of ‘literacy’ definitions out there. This is certainly reflected in my earlier blog entries where I began my information search process. In the initial stage my focus was to identify different literacy ideas; ie media literacy, digital literacy, critical literacy, cultural literacy, visual literacy, transliteracy and the list continues. I felt determined that all the literacy ideas could converge under a banner of one super literacy with information literacy at the head or as the umbrella to the plethora of ideas. After embarking on this initial stage in my information research process, I soon reformulated my position and decided this was too big and it would be difficult to cover each literacy idea in depth under the banner of one literacy. Each literacy can be quite specific and a coordinated response was necessary to ensure they were covered.

Change strategy new purpose. My focus shifted to ‘information literacy’ as a term and the information search process as a process that is absent in some school environments; this certainly seemed to accord with my experience as a teacher in environments I had worked in. I started to reflect and think about why information literacy was absent in school environments and realised that I too did not have a clear picture of the term ‘information literacy’ even though I had heard it in school settings. My understanding of the term had been limited in the past and often it related to ideas associated with information technology or just a set of skills to undertake a research task. As simple as that. I realised that this was not too unusual in schools.

As a result my focus shifted to ideas about how to embed information literacy across the curriculum. My question at this stage revolved around ideas that the term ‘information literacy’ may be a problem. My readings seemed to corroborate this and I hypothesized If ‘information literacy’ is absent or misunderstood then this is the first barrier. Couple this with the plethora of literacy ideas out there then we have an even larger problem. Now the task was to convince the school community that Information literacy is THE literacy above all else. I didn’t feel quite convinced with this position and it certainly felt like a mammoth task.

Solution, I reasoned, get rid of the term ‘information literacy’. If the term is causing so much confusion then shift the focus, look to a shared language that already exists in the education world. Something less confronting, something that many teachers are already grappling with and try to incorporate information literacy this way.

I came across a reading by Green (2007) where PLC in WA developed their own approach to information literacy that did not even utilise the term ‘information literacy’ but rather the focus was under the umbrella of ‘Thinking Curriculum’. The approach was led by the teacher librarian and it was implemented across the school as a shared language and as an approach to embed information literacy across the curriculum. Green reasoned that “Thinking Curriculum” was an understood and shared pedagogy and thus the process of implementing information literacy via a ‘thinking curriculum’ focus worked quite effectively. This demonstrates a way to reach out to the education community in a shared and ‘known’ language. It seemed to indicate that the process of collaboration may prove easier if you begin with a shared language and hence embedding ‘information literacy’ this way may prove easier to achieve and less confronting as a ‘new’ idea. I thought I had nailed task B at this stage. I believed my moment of clarity had arrived and this was the path to completing this task.

However, for the first time in my studies this year I sought direct counsel from both my lecturers about this focus. In the past I have just posted the idea/question on the forum and worked with responses to my queries. I went a step further as there were no responses appearing and I felt eager to begin the writing process. Email was the next step, especially as I felt it may be a risk to suggest abandoning the term ‘information literacy’ when so much of our literature pointed to promoting it….

A few hours later I had a response from both lecturers and it was very helpful and detailed. However, I am now back at the stage where I need to rethink and reformulate my purpose. First consideration ~ is it possible to outline all the above in 750 words? Probably not. 750 words may not even be enough to discuss the term ‘information literacy’ as a barrier let alone move into the stage of discussing the proposed solution. Upon reflection I realise there were many ideas at play and maybe the focus is far more simple than this…

Task B is now having a breather…

Where am I right now? I have come to some understanding of Information Literacy in school settings. In terms of models, I can see that different stages in the learning process require different ideas. More scaffolding in early years to accommodate developmental needs and then, in later years, possibly a move away from this as students are guided to working on their own process based on prior learning over their years of schooling. By Year 10, I would hope to be moving students into the independent stages of the process whereby they feel confident in their own strategies and have devised methods that work for them.

The senior years of schooling are definitely a time where independent learning should be at the forefront of skills and process. The attributes required to reach this stage should have been embedded and transferred through the years of scaffolding leading up to this stage. By the time students leave High school, students should be able to take their individual process with them and move into the next stages of life whether it be more learning in an educational setting or application in work and personal situations.

Maybe I should attempt Task C at this stage…

Task C A critical synthesis of your reflection on how your view of the role of the teacher librarian may have changed during the subject. This should include examples captured from your personal blog and from participation in the ETL401 forum (about 750 words).

Note: Task C is to be posted as an entry on your blog. Please provide the specific URL for this blog entry at the end of the word document version submitted via EASTS which contains Tasks A and B.



Green, G. (2007) Information literacy: Time for a rethink?, Access, Sept, 2007, pp 9-11

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Drafting a post

image accessed from http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=328

information overload

I currently have a couple of posts in draft stage and yet I have chosen to post this. Why? I question. this was not even in the planning process and yet here it appears before the other two posts that, I feel, will definitely be worth it. Well I am suffering from information overload hence the image. My reading for my learning has been somewhat obsessive; even though I am enjoying it enormously. I feel as if I have opened a box of chocolates and I just cannot stop until they are all eaten!

For my second assignment in my teacher librarianship subject I did something different and I now realise it has affected my information journey. What was different to my first assignment is that this time I borrowed a few books (physical books) from my university library and they needed to be mailed to me as I am studying via distance. I did not have the opportunity to look at the books, I did not have the opportunity to touch them or read the blurb; although I did read the abstract. I did not even have the opportunity to open the books and peruse the contents and flick through the pages. This experience is definitely different to prior library experiences. As a result, when the books arrived, three of my seven books were automatically evaluated as not particularly useful for my purpose. Fortunately, the others did offer relevance and I have spent the last weekend reading through these books and trying to absorb the relevance.

I am still in a process of determining how I feel about this process of borrowing via a distance library. Yes, it is nice to have a physical book to look through rather than PDF documents of chapters, journal articles that have been scanned or ebooks that I read with Adobe Digital editions. However, I am questioning whether the experience was better. When I do  not have the ability to be in the actual library to peruse the book and make assessments of importance to my purpose, sometimes the experience feels a bit hit and miss. I suppose four out of seven books is okay, but that is it, it is just okay. What about all the other books I didn’t see and was my search strategy effective in this circumstance?

I have felt success with my search strategies of databases and the accessing of academic journal articles or chapters from books in PDF format but this time I did not feel that sense of success. Something I definitely need to focus on and reflect on further!

 

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The PLUS model

I am still playing around with Go animate and created the following inspired by the PLUS model  for information literacy by James Herring. I am still not able to embed the animation here but the link below will take you to the animation.

The PLUS Model

Apologies to James Herring for the error in using ‘evaluation’ in place of ‘self-evaluation’. This is a very simplistic presentation of the model and does not take into consideration the scope of the Herring PLUS Model (please visit the link for more information). Nor does the animation allude to the malleability of the model in its ability to revisit steps in the information literacy process. Herring, on the websites linked, calls his model ‘iterative’ in this ability to move around the information literacy process. This is an important aspect as it hands over ownership to the student or user in devising a process that enables them to work in a way that is meaningful to them. This would certainly lead to greater engagement and transference of skills as ‘users’ can adapt the process to suit them as they become more confident with use.

With Go animate, I am  experimenting with the use of simple animation as a tool for information delivery in library spaces. Hopefully, the use of simple animation may prove a door via the web for students to come to the library and ‘ask a librarian’. This is only one tool available there are many more out there that are certainly worth exploring in our quest to make the library more visible, accessable and ‘fun’ for students today.

 

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A Teacher Librarian in Practice

Is it Really That Easy?

A few years ago, while completing my Diploma of Eduction (DipEd), I completed my first teacher practicum just three weeks into my course and really felt a sensation of sink or swim. Having only just started the DipEd, I certainly didn’t feel adequately prepared in my understanding of how to teach, how to design a unit to teach or even a how to break a unit down into lesson plans to carry out the unit successfully. Beyond this, I certainly hadn’t begun to grasp a detailed understanding of how students learn or the various approaches to teaching and learning that are available and could inform my teaching. Being new to Melbourne at the time, I did not have a local knowledge of the community of the school I was placed in and how this contributes to learning assessment of the students or even the broader school community and it’s involvement. Nor did I have an understanding of the incredibly broad and diverse needs within the school that I was to complete my first practicum.

My student teacher practicum was at Collingwood College in Melbourne with my supervising teacher at the time for my Media method being Chris. This practicum proved an enormous learning curve and raised more questions than I had anticipated, as was the experience of many other students completing the DipEd with me at the time. Interestingly enough I now am reflecting on my time there, so many years later, and the reason for this is because Chris, my supervising teacher at the school, was not only the Media teacher but also the Teacher Librarian there.

Being located in the library and having Chris as my supervisor certainly placed me in the hub of the school and it is only now that I realise how central her role as the T/L, and all that this role could possibly entail, contributed to the Library being so central. Chris as the T/L significantly contributed to the shaping of the school and ultimately to the success of the whole school and I now realise within the context of my current learning why she is so successful in this role, how she takes on the many diverse roles as stipulated by Purcell[i] and applies them quite specifically at Collingwood College for the benefit of all the users of the library and the wider community.

Quite clearly, in line with Bishop’s[ii] ideas stressing the importance of community analysis and needs assessment for the benefit of collection development, Chris knew the community and the users of the library service incredibly well and this was reflected in the Program administration of the library and it’s resources.

In terms of students, it soon became apparent that, the student body is one of the most diverse students bodies I may ever encounter. Apart from the school catering to students from Prep to year 12, Collingwood College caters to students that are incredibly demographically diverse. Some of the immediate community live directly next to the school and come from the high-rise public housing. Within this community there is a diversity of backgrounds that span from refugee arrivals to other groups from lower socio-economic backgrounds that are not recent arrivals. The majority of the students from the immediate community participate predominantly in what is called the ‘mainstream curriculum’.

One of my first lessons was the impact student background has on a student and their learning. As an example, one of the students in my media class that I was teaching during the practicum was a recent East Timorese refugee. At the time the political situation in Australia had resulted in policy change that did not allow any access to financial support for refugees until they had been in Australia for at least two years. When this student was always tired at school and struggled in lessons to actively participate, I needed to discover what was contributing. I discovered that her situation meant she needed to work every night till 1 am to help contribute to the support of her larger refugee family as they had no access to support. Directly after school she would begin work and at 1am go home and try and complete homework before going to bed and starting the day all over again. This moment left me with a sinking feeling about the adversity some students contend with in their participation in education. Questions were quickly forming about how do we support students to contribute to a betterment of situation in life. Questions also were forming about what is the best model of teaching that I can work with to engage and make meaningful the learning for the students I am working with. It was at this point that Chris provided the greatest guidance about curriculum planning and helped me access the incredible resources available at their library that covered an incredible array of resources specifically dealing with multiple intelligences, active learning and how to design curriculum with this in mind. To this day, it is still the best resource collection I have come across for teachers in a school library.

The other student body within this incredibly broad school came from further afield. As a result of the school responding to declining numbers, the school was working on strategies to turn the school around and attract students to contribute to an increase in enrolments. These strategies involved an assessment, development and implementation of various curriculum innovations as a way of attracting students to the school. One example that had been implemented before I arrived was the Steiner stream that operated parallel to the mainstream curriculum.

As one of a few schools in the State education system offering a choice in curriculum, students came to this school specifically to obtain a Steiner based education. Interestingly, the two streams are separate from each other and the students do not take classes across these streams. It is one or the other. However, there is an option to transfer to the other stream if you find the stream you initially chose is not suited. Although, as I discovered this is only allowed once; for obvious reasons of not disrupting the curriculum streams with instability brought on by constant changing.

The result is that the student population of each stream is demographically very different. To add further to the diversity, within the school exists a Language school for new arrivals. Many students attend this school for six months of intensive English lessons before they can attend school. This is another source of enrolments for the school. The school also has a separate campus called ‘The Island’ where education is specifically vocationally oriented and teenagers attend to focus on programs that are apprenticeship based such as cooking. The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden began at Collingwood College and seeing it in practice is certainly impressive.

In terms of community analysis and the effect on the school, Chris is instrumental in her leadership role as a Change agent, Resource guide, Leader, Learner and Teacher. Chris researches, participates in professional development outside the school on various curriculum models and strategies and then guides the school through implementation. She conducts professional development at the school about the approaches to teaching and learning and resources the school on the ideas and implementation. She is involved in the policy development, planning, collaboration and information sharing. She participates in collaborative teaching taking on the role of teaching information literacy in support of the wider curriculum and helping students learn about strategies in utilising media to access information and thinking processes to enhance learning and deepen understanding.

During my Practicum, Chris was in the process of assessing Reggio Emilia and informing the teachers and larger school community about this approach. Interestingly, the school now has a Reggio Emilia stream and they have been implementing the International Baccalaureate (IB) as an alternative to VCE at year 12.

In Connection to Purcell’s[iii] article, I can certainly see how Chris fulfills the roles of Instructional partner, Leader, Information Specialist, Teacher and Program Administrator. She makes it look so easy but at this stage I am not so sure it is as easy as she made it seem.

On this note I have included the following video I discovered. I can certainly attest that it has added to my anxiety. I can’t help but wonder how can a T/L possibly achieve so much with what appears to be so little in terms of time, budgets, support and what appears to be an ever-expanding and constantly evolving array of media and resources?


[i] Purcell, M., “All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist” in Library Media Connection, Nov/Dec 2010, pp 30-33

[ii] Bishop, K. (2007). Community analysis and needs assessment. In The collection program in schools : concepts, practices and information sources (4th ed.) (pp. 19-24). Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited

[iii] Purcell, M., “All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist” in Library Media Connection, Nov/Dec 2010, pp 30-33

 

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The Digital Native Has Global Connections

How an individual likes to learn is a preoccupation of teaching and a great deal of thought and research focusses specifically on this area in our attempt as educators to engage students, present meaningful learning and work with strengths or develop strengths. Lessons are designed based on learning styles in an attempt to reach and engage a learner. This focus is about acknowledging the individual and catering to their needs in an attempt to maximise potential.

As an educator, my teaching has focussed on developing individual learning plans for each student and this can only happen with a learning needs assessment. One of my favourite theories specific to these thoughts is Multiple Intelligence (MI) Theory as proposed by Howard Gardner. Following is a link that will give a brief overview.

http://www.multipleintelligencetheory.co.uk/

One of my strengths is a visual learner, so I have included the following chart to make the ideas accessible visually.

In planning for teaching and learning, I often start by assessing the MI strengths of the individual student as a class activity. When class projects or tasks are set, working with a rubric to ensure the intelligences are covered proves successful for the various learners. furthermore, I make a point of not just working with an individuals strengths but challenging the student to work on their weaknesses. Thereby improving overall potential.

In teaching, the learner is the central focus and in considering how this is relevant to the Teacher Librarian (T/L) it quickly becomes apparent that the student is the centre.

With this in mind, as I love all things audio-visual, I discovered some thought-provoking video clips that relate to today’s learner. These clips focus on the climate of the digital world and the impact this has had in shaping today’s learner. The term Digital Native is often used to describe the people who were born during this era of the digital world. However, many are digital adopters.

This last clip is interesting in terms of its focus on the idea of interpersonal or social aspects of learning and how the internet has facilitated this to a certain degree. Even more importantly, the three clips are from three different continents, yet there appears to be a convergence evident and the idea of the global student being connected is certainly highlighted.

I would like to end with this clip that my lecturer has posted highlighting the change to information and accessing information. This clip made me think a great deal about understanding my work as a T/L in the world of information delivery, storage, categorising, relevancy and access.

 

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Net Gen Challenging Space

In reading Boon, L. (2008) [i], there are some interesting points that relate to library design as a response to the changing clientele that are worth noting while still fresh on the topic of atmospherics.

The clientele that Boon is referring to dubbed Net Gen or the Millenials; and Boon does use these terms interchangeably, have grown up during the age of the internet. A defining feature of this generation is a heavy reliance on the Internet for research. Often all research is conducted via the Internet using google with no physical sources accessed at any point. The reading and accessing of information occurs in a non-linear fashion and Net Gen proves particularly skilled at scanning, browsing and keyword spotting.

In this blogpost I wont be delving into the implications and challenges this poses for learning; such as critical evaluation of sources, in-depth analysis, synthesis, aspects of focus and attention or copyright and acknowledgement of sources. These and more are all concerns that are worth elaborating upon in another blogpost where the consequence this has defining the role of the Teacher Librarian can be examined.  Instead, I wish to focus on the implications this has for both physical and virtual spaces of a school library and the consequent effects on the physical resources of the school library.

The advent of the Internet and the expansion of resources online has been a challenge for school libraries. This has contributed to the introduction of physical spaces to accommodate these changes. Examples include the shift to computer pods and spaces in libraries, the use of Smart boards and media rooms, the shift to online catalogues and so on.

While technology has impacted on libraries and library design there has been another more pressing and pertinent push in how a library operates from a spatial concept. This challenge is precipitated by the school library clientele and in particular students. The interesting point raised by Boon is the ease of  Net Gen in using technology and the fact that technology happens to be the mode of communication and language that this generation is most comfortable with. It is this last point that connects largely to what is particularly important in terms of the library within a school context. The library becomes the conduit between student and the wider school in its ability to be able to accommodate this language that Net Gen feels comfortable with.

Boon purports that the Library can bring students into learning by connecting with students via their favoured way of sourcing information. Hence, the creation of Virtual Libraries and the extension of the virtual space of the library in terms of access points. A student should be able to research from remote points outside the library, from home, via Ipads or Iphones and still be able to access the online resources of the school library.

The consequence for School Libraries is a shrinking of physical resources as many become available online and an expansion of virtual spaces and availability of library resources and curriculum needs via the virtual library. It must be stressed at this point, that Boon links the shrinking of physical resources as being resources linked to scholarly research or information based sources, as more and more resources are available on line in full text form.

On the other hand, a second important function of the library is to connect the student to the love of reading for leisure and hence contribute to a development of lifelong learning through literature. It is this point that is most interesting. For Boon stresses the extension of the fiction section in libraries in terms of physical resources. Thereby promoting the library as a place of enjoyment and comfort in the pursuit of reading for leisure.

In terms of design, I love this idea. It brings my mind back to the time of my weekend visits to the State Library of NSW where I went to spend time studying. Invariably, I always managed to find my way to the comfy one-seaters where I could slowly sink and hide behind a book of enjoyment. (And Yes I often was trying to escape my study responsibility while doing this but it is still categorised as a favourite pastime!)


[i] Boon, L. (2008). I want it all and I want it now!”: the changing face of school libraries. In J. R. Kennedy, L. Vardaman, & G. B. McCabe (Eds.), Our new public, a changing clientele: bewildering issues or new challenges for managing libraries (pp. 173-177). Westport, Conn. : Libraries Unlimited

 

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