Before I commenced ETL401 (Teacher Librarianship) I felt that after 25 years experience as a Teacher Librarian I would know most things about the Teacher Librarian’s role. I guess that when you work in a role for a long time, you tend not to reflect on what you’re doing and continue to do what you’ve always done.
Attempting to define the concept of Information Literacy (IL) was an interesting exercise for me. After all of these years talking about IL, reading articles, teaching information skills, speaking at staff meetings, attending inservices and trying to incorporate IL within the whole school policy of my school, it suddenly dawned on me why this has been so hard. To this day, I don’t feel that my efforts to ‘educate’ people about IL have been successful. I have had glimpses of success with some students, during some lessons, have included the Information Skills Process (ISP) model in our school diary and teaching staff and executive agree that IL is an essential 21st century skill, but that’s as far as it goes. On reflection of why this is the case, I feel that I need to approach IL differently with the school executive and staff. I see the Australian National Curriculum key competencies as an opportunity to incorporate IL into the curriculum.(ACARA, 2012) I could also put forward various IL models that have worked in other schools. I plan to conduct evidence-based research on our students so that this evidence will prove beyond doubt that we are not succeeding in developing students that are information literate. My school is also in the process of looking at a 5 year plan around technology, so I see this is an ideal opportunity to include IL with ICT literacy. I need to firstly clarify what IL is and then provide evidence of why our school needs to incorporate IL across the curriculum, as well as evidence from other schools that have already had success. I liked this quote:
‘Principals and teacher librarians need to have a shared view of the potential of the school library program as one that reaches beyond the library and into the teaching and learning of the whole school’. (OBERG, 2006, p.16)
My next realisation related to my everyday role as TL, as well. I looked at the ‘Information Skills Process’ (ISP) (NSW DEPT. EDUCATION, 1989) versus ‘Guided Inquiry’ (KUHLTHAU, MANIOTES & CASPARI, 2007). Having taught the ISP model for many years, it was time to try the ‘Guided Inquiry’ approach. I had been reluctant to try it as I didn’t feel I would have much success if I was not supported by other teachers, let alone school executive. Although my situation of RFF library lessons was not ideal, I was still able to take some aspects of the GI model and adapt them to my lessons. I used a Wiki for students to record their research within the Stage 3, Science unit; An Ancient Land. The brainstorming was done using the program, Inspiration. I realised that some aspects of GI were quite exciting, with the students ‘creating’ their own research questions and having a sense of ‘ownership’ of their learning. However, some students struggled to motivate themselves to do their own work. I think this was the fact that they were used to being ‘spoon-fed’ with an assignment question and were quite lazy when it came to having to think for themselves as to what research they might undertake and how they might go about it. Some had never had to do this before. I also had problems with the school’s technology (ie. logging into a public site such as Wikispaces) and numerous timetable disruptions which caused the classes to lose momentum with their research. I felt that my ability to ‘guide’ each student was almost impossible with the class sizes at my school around 32 students with mixed abilities and a number of learning support students. Without the necessary structures in place to teach GI at the school; for example, whole school support, timetabled teachers working with the Teacher Librarian and perhaps even an ‘expert’ from outside the school, that form the ‘Guided Inquiry team’, I question whether GI could be successful. Certainly the GI concept is engaging and enables students the chance to become more independent with their learning, at school and beyond. However, if the methods of implementing this model are not in place within the school context, then it cannot be as successful in that form. The Information Skills Process model seems to be more adaptable to schools that have limited resources and at least students can draw on a research process that is effective and quite easy to understand. This is my school situation at the present time, but I will not give up on my ‘quest’ to give all students the most effective opportunities to become information literate.
I have enjoyed ‘broadening my horizons’ within this subject and have also enjoyed contributing and reading the insightful contributions on the forums. As C.S. Lewis quotes;
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”