Monthly Archives: May 2012

My view – TL Role (ETL401 – Assignment 2, Part C)

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)

Information Skills Process ….Guided Inquiry…..

 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.”

(LEWIS,  http://thinkexist.com/quotation)   

        

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My View – TL Role

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 like 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 quoted;

 “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
(LEWIS,  http://thinkexist.com/quotation)

 

 

 

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Obstacles to Information Literacy

Where do I begin with this one?  Obstacles that spring to mind (from past and very real experiences) are:

  • Unclear definition of Information Literacy (what exactly is it?) Does it mean the same for everyone – TLs, school executive, teachers, students?
  • How do you ‘teach’ Information Literacy?  People have many different views around this.
  • Most schools do not have a whole-school policy that includes Information Literacy
  • Schools mostly focus on skills for the student, within a subject, whilst at school.  ie. the ‘end product’ of an assessment task.  Schools don’t cater for IL to be ‘transferred’ beyond school in whatever the person does in the future.  This is what I call ‘lifelong learning’!
  • Subject teachers operate within their own department, believing that their students will gain the IL skills required to complete the outcomes within that subject.  It is assumed that other teachers are also reinforcing IL skills in their subjects.  Some teachers are ‘insulted’ when the TL suggests a focus on particular skills within their subject area. Perhaps they see it as a threat to their expertise within their subject area.
  • Some teachers believe IL skills should be taught by the English department and the TL – this is their job.  Others believe that because children of today have grown up with technology, that they are ‘experts’ in finding information.
  • School executives see the concept of IL as too ‘broad’, so therefore it is hard to pinpoint what is required across to introduce IL across the school curriculum and who in fact should teach it.
  • There is no ‘mandated’ document that states that IL MUST be taught explicitly across the school curriculum.  This means that it is easily ‘ignored’ for more pressing and mandatory requirements of the curriculum.
  • In many schools, there is no set IL model established that the whole school is encouraged to use.  Therefore, if teachers are teaching IL their way, it may be inconsistent and unclear to the students we ae trying to make Information Literate.
  • There is definitely a lack of collaboration around teaching IL between teachers, school executive and TLs.  Lack of time to plan, lack of flexible timetabling, too much subject content to cover so assessments are given as homework, dis-interest in having to teach IL at all, let alone with the TL.
  • Mixed ability and larger class sizes make teaching IL more difficult, with many students left to their own devices with information research.

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Time Poor Teacher Librarians…

Time Management as a Teacher Librarian…..
Where do I begin??All TLs must struggle with this concept, although interestingly enough, a lot of the time you feel that people have the idea that we have ‘all the time in the world’, that TLs would not have the ‘lack of time’ issues that mainstream teachers do, because their days are more flexible etc. etc.

On the surface, this does seem feasible. Why then are we so ‘time poor’, stressed and over-whelmed by our workloads?

What springs to mind for me are the following:

1) Constant interruptions – often trivial (can I use the scissors, the computer rooms are full, is there space in the library? etc.)

2) Trying to prove ‘our worth’ – for me, I need to show teachers that I do work as hard as they do! Why do I do this? I guess it’s because teachers often don’t know what is involved with our role and instead of making them realise, I work hard to ‘prove’ it to them (even though most probably don’t notice how hard I am working!)

3) Saying ‘yes’ to everyone (everyone in my school: is 1350 students, 100 teachers, 5 library staff, office staff, as well as further afield – booksellers, IT specialists, parents, other school TLs etc.)

4) Trying to ‘teach’ information skills as RFF in timetabled library lessons, promote reading, run reading programs and keep abreast of curriculum across the school.

Time-Saving strategies I use:

1) DELEGATE tasks to library staff, library monitors

2) Develop a roster to cover front desk duties so that everyone has the chance to get work done without interruptions!

3) Inform staff about your role, so that it is not as ambiguous to others

4) DON’T say ‘YES’ to everyone. Encourage students/staff to become self-suffcient – demonstrate searching (don’t be tempted to do it for them!)

5) Make library lessons a priority, rather than something you ‘squeeze’ into the day. Be organised!

All sounds good on paper —–!!!!

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Information Literacy Models – which one??

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