ETL501 Assignment 2 – Critical Reflection


My pathfinder was created to assist and guide students and teachers to locate quality resources for Year 9 History focusing on the area of World War 1 (ACARA, 2015b). The curriculum topic examines key historical events in the War, the Australian experience and the impact of war, particularly in Australia, and the significance of the ANZAC legend.


Learning outcomes for the pathfinder are based on the Literacy and ICT General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum (ACARA, 2015a). The descriptions in the pathfinder were synthesised from a range of Organising Elements; the following is a modified summary:

Literacy Capability

Students will interpret information that is spoken, written and visual and use strategies to access, understand and organise a range of sources of information.

This was based on Comprehending texts through listening, reading and viewing.

 ICT Capability

Students will learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access information and ideas. 

This was based on:

Applying social and ethical protocols and practices when using ICT –

  • recognise intellectual property
  • apply digital information security practices
  • apply personal security protocols

Investigating with ICT

  • define and plan information searches
  • locate, generate and access data and information
  • select and evaluate data and information.


I started my initial search for resources in my school library using the catalogue, keyword searches and simply by browsing the shelves and checking the teacher reference print resources. As these resources have already been selected using library criteria I focused on the needs of the unit set by the teacher and the students in class. My aim was to select firstly relevant texts for the assignments and cater to a range of reading levels.

I selected an encyclopedia on our shelves as a go-to general reference. The main purpose of this choice was to reinforce a culture shift towards seeking reliable sources to gain initial knowledge about topics, and avoiding Wikipedia, to experiment with keywords, and to reinforce the use of print materials in our reference section of the library. Also included are some online general reference sites to ensure that students have access to reference material at home and while working outside of the library on campus.

I found it very difficult to choose a search engine that produced results suitable for reading level and complexity. I rehearsed with a range of keywords how the students would search using Bing, Duck Duck Go and a range of other engines. The results were mixed and I did experience a feeling of frustration, overwhelmed by too much information, a very good reminder how my students must feel without assistance.

My search strategy for online resources was enhanced by my new knowledge of different search engines and advanced search options. After collecting a range of possibilities I applied the selection criteria I created in Assignment 1 to evaluate the sites against educational, informational and technical criteria. As prescribed by Herring (2011) I made sure to focus especially on choosing sites that firstly matched the learning intentions of the teacher and the needs of the target group. Once a site was selected I evaluated it for reading level using the online Readability Test Tool (Simpson, 2014). Effort was made also to ensure that the site fulfilled the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAC) version 2.0. This was very difficult, time consuming and often not possible.


The findings of Valenza (2004) and Combes (2009) that although young people do appear confident of their Internet skills, in reality they do not posses good search strategies and lack critical web evaluation skills are apparent daily in our library. They rely on Google and often do just pick the first result without thought, and without regard to copyright in most cases. In using this pathfinder time will be saved searching for resources and poor information literacy habits and impulsiveness as described by Kuiper, Volman & Terwell (2008) will decrease. With the inclusion of model referencing, students will be mindful of citing all sources of information, and the legal and ethical ramifications of plagiarism and copyright will be highlighted.


Creation of the pathfinder did make me reflect and refine my search strategies and make clear the importance of the website evaluation criteria to ensure the selection of quality resources that are relevant to the curriculum, reading level and needs of teachers and students. My understanding of the importance of scaffolding the information search process while affording some independence to learners (Valenza, 2007) has also developed.

I did struggle with how much help is appropriate so that the pathfinder did not inadvertently inhibit self-discovery but was guided by Kuntz (2003) who states that a pathfinder should be specific enough to guide the student to the data, but the student must do the work.

Pathfinders provide authentic opportunities for the Teacher Librarian to collaborate with teachers, embed information literacy into the curriculum and support students in Guided Inquiry. They can be used as an advocacy tool for the library and library staff to reinforce relevance and importance of the library to facilitate 21st century skills. As Hansen (2012, p.109) states the first step to gaining support for the library is to provide relevant resources to support the curriculum.


Creating this pathfinder has been very worthwhile and I am now planning to create more. Overall this subject has been very useful and relevant. Importantly is has highlighted to me skills I want to improve, such as: learning the best way to directly teach students website evaluation skills, how to integrate more ICT into the curriculum through more dynamic pathfinders and how to help students with developing search strategies.

Reference list

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2015a). General Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2015b). History – Year 9. Retrieved from

Combes, B. (2009). Generation Y: Are they really digital natives or more like digital refugees. Synergy, 7(1), 31–40.

Hansen, M. A. (2012). Reference knowledge and skills for the school library media specialist: An emphasis on advocacy. The Reference Librarian, 53(1), 104–112. doi: 10.1080/02763877.2011.596076

Herring, J. (2011a). Evaluating Websites. In Improving students’ web use and information literacy a guide for teachers and teacher librarians (pp. 35–45). London: Facet.

Herring, J. (2011b). Web site evaluation: A key role for the school librarian. School Library Monthly, 27(8), 22–23.

Kuiper, E., Volman, M., & Terwel, J. (2008). Students’ use of web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web information. Information Research, 13(3). Retrieved from

Kuntz. (2003). Pathfinders: Helping students find paths to information. Multimedia Schools, 10(3). Retrieved from

Simpson, D. (2014). The Readability Test Tool. Retrieved from

Valenza, J. (2004). Substantive searching: thinking and behaving info-fluently. Learning & Leading with Technology, 32(3), 38–43.

Valenza, J. (2007). Ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved from


Web 2.0 – jump onboard…

I have inspired to use edublogs to create an online presence for the school library recently – My plan is to use it as a tool to promote what the library services are, what’s happening, resources and to post reports. I think by carefully creating good pages with helpful links, information and resources for staff and students it will encourage collaboration, improve relationships with staff to facilitate embedding digital information skills into the curriculum and advocate for the library and its function in the school. On a personal level it is helping me to become more accomplished with a range of technology and forcing me to really think about my role and what it is I want to teach.

I have found that subscribing to a number of professional blogs has supported growing PLN and increased my knowledge of the teacher librarian role and what others are doing to make their libraries vibrant learning centres.

I like the way that my blog can become a central stop online for all things going on in the library. I like that I can embed images, videos and links to make it interesting and lead users to other interesting stuff. It is easy to create and administer and has a very minimal cost. It is also a way to get feedback and comments from students and staff.

Things I have been pondering surrounding my blog and using Web 2.0:

– Use of school and student photos and privacy issues

– time it takes to create and maintain can take time away from other important tasks

– Defining WHO is the audience and making and keeping posts appropriate

Google Advanced Search – why didn’t I know this before?

As I move through the internet search strategy tips and a number of search engines I am starting to wonder why I have never known about practically all of them.  It has made me aware of how complex search on the internet is and how overwhelming it must be for students to find information that is relevant and appropriate. Of particular note, learning how to find creative commons materials on google, flickr and you tube, very simple I might add, is definitely something I can start to show my students.  Most students I have in the library are simply snatching images from wherever they get them – with teachers none the wiser or educated.  Lots to get done in my school!

Google Advanced Search to do more effective searches on the Internet. Created by Instructional Services, David L. Rice Library, December 2009.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – Revised

The Bloom’s Taxonomy of course is not new to me, but adding a layer of Web 2.0 to the concept is. Looking at it, revisiting it, with fresh eyes, and linking it to new technology applications is definitely something I can use immediately in my teaching and collaboration with teachers.

While doing some searching I came across many helpful infographics such as:

bloom pyramid

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Author: Samantha Penney,

I am amazed at the immense number of digital applications available, which of course are increasing rapidly. My thoughts wander to how on earth can I keep on top of what is available, and what’s more be an expert to guide others?

I do like the idea of making Bloom’s Taxonomy and the process of learning more visible and part of the teaching and learning process in our school. Anything that makes the students active participants in their own learning journey is worthwhile. The Web 2.0 applications create an added hook for students and potential for the concepts to be embedded in their learning through technology.

Sowash’s (2009) blog entry about ‘Google-proof questioning’ really struck a chord with me, and showed another helpful way Bloom’s Taxonomy can help with creating effective questions. It really made me realise the responsibility of teachers to carefully construct tasks to ensure that students are being challenged and using higher order thinking – using their brains to THINK and the internet as a RESOURCE, not an answer book.

Dalton, E. (2003). The new Bloom’s taxonomy, objectives, and assessments. Retrieved from

Sowash, J. R. (2009, November 6). Google-Proof Questioning: A New Use for Bloom’s Taxonomy. Retrieved from