Final reflection – ETL401

Role of TL and changing library landscape
One of my first realisations during the initial readings was that the library and the teacher librarian should be an integral part of the learning community of the school. I had up until this course, unfortunately, thought of the library as a place for resources and information retrieval, and not much else. What I have learned is that the library should be the glue that sticks all the curriculum together with a proactive and hands on teacher-librarian, working collaboratively with classroom teachers. Done well I can now see how a strong bond between the library and the classroom can affect student learning and develop strong information literacy skills that students can take with them beyond their school years. Put simply, I was not aware how important the position of the teacher librarian is to impart essential twenty first century skills and that the ‘teacher‘ in teacher librarian was most vital.

I have also become more keenly aware of the importance of understanding the changing landscape of information and how and why students are accessing information. Keeping up with technology and trends is vitally important if one is aiming to communicate to students on their own level, and be able to instruct students to use it productively. Adaptability and ongoing professional development, particularly in technology application, are two key points I have committed to since starting this course.

Advocacy for TL profession / Evidence based practice / Principal support
Building a healthy relationship with the school principle and other staff members is essential for a teacher librarian to be effective. Without principal support an ambitious teacher librarian can be crushed. Gaining your principals trust and respect for your work will in turn reap allocated time for collaborative planning, an adequate budget to acquire resources, and a positive attitude towards the library and its place is in the school community. I must admit I hadn’t realised the somewhat struggle of advocating for the library’s mission and felt a bit annoyed with myself for choosing a profession again where my work could be undervalued. (I currently teach LOTE and know of the battles of a subject under fire).

I now understand the responsibility of the teacher librarian to clearly articulate the mission of the library and my role in it. Concurrently with this I have learned that consistently gathering evidence of student learning is vital to back up your credibility, strengthen opportunities to collaborate with other staff, and being able to competently show that your work has an impact beyond the school library.

Collaboration and the curriculum
Crucially teacher librarians must collaborate with classroom teachers if they are to seriously make an impact on student achievement. I had no idea before starting this course of the link between collaboration between classroom teachers and teacher librarians as a key factor that affects student achievement. One of the key points I have taken from the readings that I would definitely like to introduce into my school is a clear scope and sequence for information literacy for K-12 to ensure a consistent system as a student progresses through their schooling.

Further to this is my realisation that knowing the curriculum and current pedagogy is essential if one is going to be effective. With this knowledge the teacher librarian can contribute to developing the curriculum as a resource manager, and be a valued partner in collaborating on units of work in any subject area.

IL and IL models
After sifting through the many different definitions of information literacy and clarifying my understanding of it, I realise that my job is to create independent learners who can apply their information literacy skills irrespective of what technology they are using and where they are finding and using information. This is especially important in an era where information is at our fingertips and increasing expeditiously. The term information literacy has a much wider definition for me now, not just the location and retrieval of information with a bibliography.

Becoming aware of the information literacy models used to scaffold student learning has motivated me to make sure I take more care to carefully plan and implement units of work, and to focus on the big picture of ensuring the students are working towards becoming critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and independent learners.

Guided inquiry
While the concept of independent research projects was not new for me, looking at guided inquiry more closely has been beneficial for my teaching. I often felt while working through the readings that I had let my students down in the past by not fully grasping the importance of more carefully planning and monitoring units that I had taught. I certainly felt that although I did ensure students followed referencing protocols and the like, my teaching has not always scaffolded students to achieve higher-order thinking or promote self-awareness and reflection. My new found understanding has increased my confidence and motivation to improve my teaching standards.

Management of time
Over the course of this semester I have been overwhelmed by the depth of the teacher librarian role. As a classroom teacher I have always found my job rewarding but as for most teachers very busy and stressful. Learning of the varied caps a teacher librarian must have to excel, I must admit I have had my doubts if I could manage it. However, upon reflection now I feel that such a varied position has its advantages, not least that I would never feel repetitive or bored teaching the same units of work year after year. Learning that a teacher librarian does not lose connection to the classroom and has opportunities to teach is also a relief as this has been a joy for me in my preceding career to date.

As I read the expectations placed upon the teacher librarian I realised that I would need to be disciplined enough to focus on what really matters, student learning, and be proficient enough in all the other areas of management to still get my job done well.

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Blog Task # 3 – Information Literacy

Information literacy (IL) is more than a set of skills, it is a process which develops higher order thinking and lifelong learning. Being information literate requires one to collect information from a variety of sources and synthesise that information and apply it to a question or problem. It goes beyond research and study skills, or use of ICT, as it teaches us how to learn and how to do so independently. Information literacy skills can be applied to all areas of the curriculum and post school years into the workplace and in everyday life. Consequently it serves to empower all learners by transforming information to knowledge for personal, social or global purposes (Abilock, 2007)

IL focusses on the development of skills related to information gathering, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. IL is the set of skills and knowledge that allows us to find, evaluate, and use the information we need, and importantly filter out the information we don’t need (Eisenberg, 2008). IL skills are the 21st century tools that help us successfully navigate the abundance of information available to us. The dramatic increase of information, new technology and social media makes it vital for students to learn how to critically evaluate information (Warlick, 2007).

The TL’s expertise in IL makes them an important leader in the school setting. Collaborating with staff on units of work ensures that IL is integrated into all areas of the curriculum and into all age groups. Utilising IL models the TL can work with staff to guide students through the process of learning using guided inquiry techniques. These IL models provide a framework for students to become critical thinkers, creative problem solvers and independent learners through self-directed units of work. The process of investigating and solving problems requires students to self-direct their work with a strong emphasis in the effective use of information (Bundy, 2004).

Although the definition of what IL actually constitutes is not clear and for teachers this creates confusion about what is meant by the term or how it relates to classroom practice (Langford, 1998), there is a general understanding that it is more than a set of generic skills as it teaches learners how to learn.  It is clear also that there is a sense of urgency that IL be seamlessly integrated into all areas of the curriculum to ensure students develop their metacognitive skills to become confident, flexible learners in the modern age. It is important that IL skills follow a scope and sequence and that students have frequent opportunities to practice them in context of the overall information process, and real life examples (Eisenberg, 2008).

References
Abilock, D. (2007). Information Literacy. Building blocks of research: overview of design, process and outcomes. from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html

Bundy, A. (Ed.). (2004). Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy Framework: principles, standards and practice (2nd ed.). Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Informatin Literacy (ANZIL) and Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL).

Eisenberg, Michael B. (2008). Information Literacy: Essential Skills for the Information Age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.

Langford, L. (1998). Information Literacy: a clarification. from http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html

Warlick. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape. Library Media Connection, 26, 20-21.

managing time and teaching…10 tips to be an effective teacher librarian with so much to do and so little time…

1. Be organised
2. Have a plan
3. Set goals – give yourself a deadline
4. Work smarter not harder
5. collaborate and communicate with others
6. enjoy what you do and be enthusiastic
7. put needs of students first above all admin tasks
8. delegate tasks where appropriate
9. be flexible when necessary
10. know your stuff – this means curriculum, technology and pedagogy!

NetGeners

The readings did make me really think about what do my students need to know in order to function in the modern world and what is my role in creating effective and ethical citizens. In a previous role I was part of a team that introduced students to issues surrounding their use of technology. This was partly prompted by instances of online bullying and problems with social networking and teenagers. We focussed on personal conduct, safety and privacy mostly and aimed to arm students with knowledge to avoid making irreversible online disasters and become more responsible.

I found that the more we delved into the topic the more I realised I had no understanding of what my students were doing online, how they were communicating with each other and how often, and how powerful and influential technology was for them. For this reason I found the reading on NetGeners (Lorenzo, 2007) very interesting. I have realised that it is very important for me to understand the world in which my students are in, to be able to function on a similar level and create a learning environment which better suits them. Knowing that NetGeners are multi-taskers who can change from one context to another seamlessly, that they prefer visual learning as opposed to text based learning, or that they prefer a lateral approach to learning rather than a hierarchical one, helps me to create an atmosphere in my classroom that is more conducive to learning for them.

My reading have refreshed my enthusiasm on how I can be a better teacher and understand my students on a deeper level.

References
Lorenzo, G. (2007). Catalysts for Change: Information Fluency, Web 2.0, Library 2.0 and the New Education Culture (Vol. March). Clarence Centre, NY: Lorenzo Associates Inc.Convergence of literacies in 21C – IL and digital literacies

Transliteracy and the digital age

The notion of ‘transliteracy’ concerns itself with what does it mean to be literate in the 21st century. It aims to describe a literacy across all different kinds of platforms and how these are all interconnected, not compartmentalising different literacies in isolation.

It makes sense that the definition of literacy skills is being redefined and questioned as technology has advanced. Multiple literacies, including digital, visual, textual, and technological, have now joined information literacy as crucial skills for this century. The sheer amount of information now available to us all means that we must acquire new skills to select, evaluate, and use information appropriately and effectively.

It is simply not enough that our students be able to locate and decode information or regurgitate it. They must become able to use information in its variable forms in a range of situations and become independent learners. This ‘information fluency’ must be a continuous learning process throughout schooling and result in our students being able to apply this knowledge beyond their school years.

References
Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy. College & Research Libraries News, 71(10), 532-567.

Warlick. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape. Library Media Connection, 26, 20-21.

Waters, J.K. (2012, 9 April). Turning students into good digital citizens. THE Journal. from http://thejournal.com/Articles/2012/04/09/Rethinking-digital-citizenship.aspx

IL transfer

Transferring information literacy across time and the curriculum is an essential part of education. Building on previous knowledge and refining skills is what teachers strive to do and to a huge extent EXPECT students to do.

From my own experience as a high school humanities teacher, I regularly encountered times where I expected students to be IL competent and it became immediately clear that I would need to either teach or re-teach a skill. I could ask students to complete a simple research task, submit a correct reference list, or in-text reference, and found either they didn’t remember, didn’t think it applied in that subject or had no recollection of ever learning it in the first place.

In hindsight now I can see how this can happen. In my school there is no scope or sequence in regards to IL. Every teacher develops their own learning programs in isolation and this also applies to integrating IL skills into their units. In fact from my experience it was evident that some teachers didn’t factor IL skills into their teaching at all. This resulted in senior secondary students having to use valuable time during the year learning these skills when they should have been so ingrained by then they simply were skills and knowledge they could draw upon to complete their studies.

From the readings I can now see that a IL school policy which is adopted by all staff is essential for students to transfer their skills through grades and subjects. It is imperative that the TL become a collaborator and facilitator of IL into all areas of the curriculum and to be the driving force to ensure that skills are introduced and refined at the right stages.

References
Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and Transfer in High Schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32-36.

Blog Task # 2 – Guided Inquiry

Guided inquiry is a constructivist approach to learning which aims to equip students with the skills they need to function successfully in the 21st century. (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 18) It is based on the Information Search Process (ISP) developed by Kuhlthau, and aims to develop students competence in information literacy while increasing their understanding of the content areas of the curriculum. Guided inquiry provides a way of making information literacy an accepted essential element of the major assessment tasks students encounter in their school life. (Fitzgerald, 2011, p. 29)

Guided Inquiry is exactly as it says – a process to guide students through curriculum based inquiry units of work that aim to build a deep understanding of the topic, and help students to develop skills to become independent learners. Guided Inquiry must be carefully planned and monitored to be effective and requires a collaborative approach between the teacher librarian, teachers and any specialists who may be able to contribute. The teacher librarian has a crucial role wearing many hats – the resource specialist, information literacy teacher, and collaborator. (Scheffers, 2008, p. 34)

As opposed to traditional textbook learning, Guided Inquiry creates meaningful learning experiences where students become active participants in their own learning. The process challenges students to develop and improve their their organisational skills, information literacy, collaborative skills and self-awareness and reflection. It promotes the development of deep knowledge, as well as skills that are transferrable to real life situations. As stated by Kuhlthau, (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 19), the inquiry process has the advantage of helping students to accomplish integrated learning of: “…curriculum content, information literacy, learning how to learn, literacy competence, and social skills.”

Based on Kuhlthau’s ISP, Guided Inquiry provides a step-by-step framework for students to follow to successfully complete a research task, and importantly highlights the common feelings, thoughts and actions in each stage. This provides the teaching staff also with opportunities to be keenly aware and ready to intervene when uncertainty or a learning need arises. This results in targeted intervention when most required, deepening student’s learning experiences. These timely interventions in the learning process help students to understand their own learning and changes in their feeling and thoughts – they learn “how to learn” and eventually can transfer this into others areas of their learning and lives. (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 18)
Guided inquiry places importance on initially building background knowledge and linking already known information to a research task. Gathering this information from students, using the ISP process with keen observation of students and soliciting feedback from students provides, valuable insights into student learning experiences and understanding, and importantly can provide data for evidence based practice.

Evidence can be gathered by use of feedback reflections and questionaries and provides information for teaching staff for intervention, as well as data to be analysed using methods such as the the Student Learning Inquiry Measure (SLIM). (Fitzgerald, 2011, p. 28) Feedback can be used as formative assessment for teachers also and to promote metacognition about information processes for students. (Fitzgerald, 2011, p. 29)

Summary aspects of Guided Inquiry Approach

Advantages
– Offers a vast amount of expertise from TLs and teachers combined; ensuring the curriculum, students’ interest and learning needs have been addressed.
– can utilise experts in given field promotes engaging, informational, informal presentations
– Participation and engagement by students
– Authentic, deep learning and skills development
– Creative learning approach for teachers and students, because questions driving inquiry may lead in unexpected directions
– Learning is student and interest driven
– GI facilitates lifelong learning with transferable (21st century) life skills
– Students become more independent learners and transfer skills across all subject areas.
– Ongoing assessment and evaluation occurs – ongoing observation of students allows some real insight into the depth of their skills and understanding, allowing targeted support and intervention
– Provides students with targeted intervention when a learning need arises; dealing with their emotions and cognitive processes, resulting in them understanding how to learn.
– TL’s and teachers have the chance to explicitly teach skills / strategies that are relevant and meaningful to the task e.g. planning strategies, evaluating resources, note-taking, referencing
– teachers and TL’s are modeling the collaborative behaviour they want to see from their students

Disadvantages
– May not suit the individual learning needs of the student.
– The workload of the TL may intensify as they implement the GI approach and individually guide students and collaborate with staff
– In a content heavy curriculum guided inquiry may take a lot of time away to teach new processes, classroom teachers may feel restrained by time
– Students that are used to explicit instruction may become confused and frustrated with the TL or teacher
– Students that lack motivation can easily disengage during the ISP process if not intervened

Challenges
– Timetabling to enable team teaching approach
– Timetabling to enable longer lesson time to enhance guided inquiry
– Resourcing with high-quality relevant resources, both inside and outside the school
– Providing ease of access to all resources
– Planning and preparation time for excursions, museums visits or field trips
– Encouraging teachers to move from teacher instruction to student centered learning
– Getting staff and administration on board

References
Fitzgerald, L. (2011). The twin purposes of guided inquiry: guiding student inquiry and evidence based practice. Scan, 30(1), 26-41.

Kuhlthau, C. C. & Maniotes, L, K. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 36(5), 18-21.

Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided Inquiry: A learning journey. Scan, 27(4), 34-42.

Blog Task #1 – Evidence Based Practice

TLs are under increasing pressure to demonstrate that their role makes a difference in terms of student achievement and that their job is a specialist area that makes a real contribution to life long learning.

Simply advocating the importance of the library and its function is not enough. Without real evidence of what the TL is contributing, and what students are gaining from input and guidance of the TL, there is the risk that any advocating will fall on deaf ears. Evidence based practice is, “…the systematic process of documenting how a teacher librarian makes a difference in student learning”.(Lamb, 2004-2010b) The profession needs to be acutely aware of the requirement of TLs to build their expertise in anaysing their role and outcomes to further strengthen the position of the library in schools. TLs must also be confident with their knowledge of recent research findings and be able to translate that information into language that can be easily understood in addition to their own research.(Oberg, 2002)

According to Todd, (Todd, 2003), it is imperative to create a systematic approach to gathering authentic evidence of your impact on student learning. It is important to embed information literacy and evidence-procuring strategies into your planning of lessons. This focuses your planning on teaching explicitly what you want students to learn. It also makes clear to collaborating teachers what you are trying to achieve and how successful you have been, strengthening their confidence in your importance and further collaboration. Evidence of this nature also makes clear to staff that the role of the library is not just to teach information literacy separate to the school curriculum, but being able to competently show that reaching these standards has an impact beyond the school library. (Todd, 2007)

Evidence may be collected directly or indirectly on three different levels: learner, teacher, and organisational.(Loertscher, 2003) Test scores, rubrics, portfolios, reflections, evaluation forms, library statistics are just a few of the many ways that a TL can document their impact.

Evaluation of collected data will help a TL to determine whether their work is supporting the curriculum, the needs of students and being responsive to changes in the school program and new technology. Evidence-based reports make the TL accountable to the school community, justifies budgets and strengthens the perception of the library. (Lamb, 2004-2010a) It will also serve to make you more aware of your own failings as a teacher and collaborator and improve your own teacher performance. It is important to make this information concise and palatable to the wider school community and publish material in in such places as school annual reports, newsletters and on the school website, and to the school board if necessary to justify and request funding.

References
Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2004-2010a). Library Media Program: Evaluation. The School Media Specialist. from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evaluation.html

Lamb, A & Johnson, L. (2004-2010b). Library Media Program: Evidence-based decision making. The School Media Specialist. Retrieved 23.03, 2013, from http://eduscapes.com/sms/program/evidence.html

Loertscher, D.V. (2003). California Project Achievement. Retrieved 24.03, 2013, from http://www.davidvl.org/Achieve/CAProjectAchievement.pdf

Oberg, D. (2002). Looking for the evidence: Do school libraries improve student achievement? School libraries Canada, 22(2), 10-14.

Todd, R.J. (2003). Irrefutable evidence: How to prove you boost student achievement. School Library Journal.

Todd, R.J. (2007). Evidenced-based practice and school libraries: from advocacy to action. In S. H.-H. V. H. Harada (Ed.), School Reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, CY: Libraries Unlimited.

What is the role of the TL? How do Principals perceive the role of the TL?

After reading the ASLA statements, (ASLA, 2012a, 2012b) , I now have a much clearer understanding of the TL role, standards and expectations. I must admit I really have come into this course with a limited understanding of the TL position! However, the more I read the more I feel that my interests and skill set really suits the changing nature of the job. Phew…

I think the most important aspect of the TL job is, as stated by ASLA, “…advocating and building effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners.” (ASLA, 2012b) The role of the TL is integral to creating a system for the whole school to integrate information literacy into all aspects of the curriculum, and to, “…prepare students for a life that requires thinking, inquiry, problem solving and ethical behaviour”. (Lamb, 2011) What could be more important than that.

For me I find differentiating the role of the TL into categories as done by Purcell, Herring and Lamb very helpful. However, how a TL would find time to accomplish all the important aspects of the job I do not know. Of all the readings, Valenza struck me as the most modern and perhaps most comprehensive. Strikingly Valenza (Valenza, 2010) makes it clear that harnessing technology is the key to engaging students, allowing them to create and express themselves and connect. It is imperative the the school library promotes and enables this and concurrently embeds competent and ethical use of technology across the curriculum.

As I have not worked as a TL in a school I have limited knowledge of the TL-Principal relationship apart from my own observations while working in different subject areas. In my school there did not seem to be any support or interest in the function of the library apart from a resource centre for books and a place for students to work quietly! On reflection of my own teaching practice I must admit although I encouraged use of the library when setting assignments, it did not ever occur to me to use the actual librarian as a source of information and collaborative partner. After reading Haycock, (Haycock, 2007), I now realise what a wasted opportunity that was. Haycock states, “…collaboration is the single professional behavior of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement.”

I think it is important for myself to remember to be an effective TL, I must build up the credibility and image of the library and its importance as the centre for learning in the school. I must pave the way for effective communication between the principal and staff to create effective collaboration. As stated by Oberg, (Oberg, 2006), “… by contributing as school leaders to school-wide initiatives and concerns, TL’s build their credibility as educators and increase the willingness of others to work with them.”
It is the role of the TL to make the mission of the TL role clear to the whole school community. This will ensure a shared, clear understanding of the role of the TL and the library in the school and the connection of the library to empowering students to become information literate and to improving student learning.

References
ASLA. (2012a). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 13 March, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
ASLA. (2012b). Statement on teacher librarian qualifications. Retrieved 14 March, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/teacher-librarian-qualifications.aspx
Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.
Lamb, Annette. (2011). Bursting with Potential: Mixing a Media Specialist’s Palette. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36. doi: 10.1007/s11528-011-0509-3
Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.
Valenza, J. (2010). A revised manifesto Retrieved 14 March, 2013, from http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

Searching the library databases

While searching the library databases and working through the module links, I found myself thinking – this is so different to my previous university experiences trudging through library shelves and carrying heavy bags of books home to study. It has been a revelation that I can find so much information so easily while sitting in my pyjamas! After watching some of the library tutorials I feel confident that I will be able to find and use a range of sources for assignments and general reading.

I have also reacquainted myself with the Endnote program. I used this previously but not to its full potential as I didn’t have great internet access then for uploading references. I have spent some time practising uploading references from various sources and inserting them into my documents correctly. Accurate referencing and presentation of my assignments was a worry of mine returning to study and I feel much more confident after taking the time to rehearse this.

The initial anxiety of ‘can I really do this course?’ has subsided somewhat…