Assessment Task 5 – Part B CRITICAL REFLECTION

My view of the role of the Teacher Librarian has changed dramatically since beginning this subject
When I first began the course, I really had a very limited understanding regarding a TLs role. I believe, even just in a matter of weeks, but with the extensive reading completed throughout the course, my ideas concerning the role has dramatically grown.
I believe that my initial understanding of a TL’s role came from my own personal experiences, both in my own education and during my teaching career. I developed a view based upon the best teacher librarians I had seen within an educational context – the highly enthusiastic, wide readers, who make creative links between the curriculum and written texts. It looked like lots of fun! I hadn’t really considered such things as the growth of electronic resources, collection development and policies, role verification, information literacy, collaboration and search processes. I saw my entry into this course as a new way that I could deal with students (without the ‘shhhhhhh’ stigma of course!). I also saw it as an exit out of the traditional classroom environment and into a new and different line of work.
It has been difficult at times to understand fully the role of the TL, due mainly to the fact I have no actual experience in this area. I found Lamb’s (2011) article that referred to the ‘palette’ of roles carried out by the TL to be a key reading in providing me with some understanding on how diverse the role is. It also provided me with some very practical ideas.
I understand that the role of the teacher librarian is one that will constantly change for years to come. Dependent upon many criteria, the role may be different from one TL to another. Aspects such as the school one is employed in, the constraints the TL must deal with in terms of budgets and environments, as well as the expectations from other teachers and the principal, can all affect how the role is carried out.
A completely new term for me was Information Literacy and due to the large amount of definitions out there, I found it hard to get my head around what it actually consisted of. I understood it to be an understanding of Information, but had little idea of how it could be taught, learnt and assessed. I found Barbara’s mindmap (2013) on Information Literacy extremely beneficial in explaining these factors. Being a highly visual learner, the presentation of a mind map made the facts much more concrete.
When looking at Information Search Process models, I became extremely confused and I found Assignment 2 to be incredibly difficult. Researching the two models was like searching for a needle in a haystack – there was so much to be found on Kuhlthau (and much written by herself) but I found it really difficult to find information on the NSW DET model of The Information Process. This confusion is apparent when you read my blog 2 task (OLJ, Blog Assignment Task 2), as I believed that Guided Inquiry and Kuhlthau’s ISP were one and the same. It wasn’t until I read a couple of the forum questions in the assignment forum and BC’s answers that a realised these two things are different. This fact had me rewriting half my assignment again, but it also made things a lot clearer.
When I reflect upon the last semester of study I have definitely found the subject worthwhile. I have really enjoyed learning and reading about teacher librarianship and about some ideas that were extremely new and unknown to me. I have found the CSU interact site interactive and have found the forums of extreme help. The subject leads me to ask myself the question – By learning more about teacher librarianship, has this made me want to be a teacher librarian? I’d have to say no, but it has opened my eyes to what I do want to achieve in my teaching career and its highlighted to me the immense responsibilities that teacher librarians have in the teaching and learning of information in the contemporary school environment. I think that by learning these things, I will have more of an appreciation of teacher librarians, especially when things are taught correctly (which is no easy task).
REFERENCES

Coombes, B. (2013) Information Literacy Skills Mind Map, Retrieved May 2, 2013, from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201330_W_D/page/06ace263-10c7- 4bcf-00da-c0e3cdbc4c48
Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: Mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.
Taylor, K. (2013, May 7) Blog Assignment 2 Implementing a Guided Inquiry Approach Retrieved from: https://dripsonpages.wordpress.com/

BLOG TASK 3: Information Literacy is more than a Set of Skills

Information Literacy is so much more than a set of skills. Information Literacy involves a process. It is a means of developing skills in critical thinking and in problem solving, it is the means of developing a life long process of learning. Abilock (2004) further reiterates this idea, by stating that information literacy is “a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes”(p.1).
It is easy to get bogged down in the huge amount of definitions of Information Literacy. Obviously it is not an easy term to define. A definition of Information Literacy that I have found which is concise and covers the major ideas is from The Stanford University website. The website defines Information Literacy as forming “the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education. It enables learners to master content and extend their investigations, become more self-directed, and assume greater control over their own learning”. The terms in this definition that appeal are the sense that it is common to all disciplines& environments and is the basis of lifelong learning.
The terms “set of skills” conjures up definitions of skills achieved and set outcomes. Information Literacy is more than that, it is about moving through a process which involves a beginning, but the student may not come to a scheduled ‘end’. Information Literacy appears to require revising and reassessing information, selecting and discarding, as well as being able to produce a reflection of this process. But that process may not end there – for someone who is information literate, the process continues.
According to Eisenberg, Information Literacy requires structures that develop relevance and transferability in students learning. We see this transferability referred to in the Stanford University definition which states that the process is common to all disciplines, learning environments and education levels. Someone who is Information Literate can take the same skills they use to research one subject, into another. From one level of education into the next.
The NSW DET model shows this transferability by illustrating the model in a circular diagram with double ended arrows, meaning one can travel backwards and forwards throughout the process. Although the NSW DET model does provide a set of objectives – these objectives do not refer to the final product. They are merely a way teachers can assess that a student is actually moving through the process.
In conclusion, information literacy is not just a set of skills to be acquired, it is a continual process of acquiring experiences that allow for a development of skills, attitudes and behaviours. This development of skills will lead to a process of life long learning that can cross a multitude of situations.

REFERENCES
Abilock, D. (2004) Information literacy: an overview of design, process and outcomes. NoodleTools. Retrieved from: http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/1over/infolit1.html

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

NSW DET (2007) The Information Process. Retrieved from: http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/index.htm

Stanford University (2013) Definition of Information Literacy. Retrieved from: http://skil.stanford.edu/intro/research.html

Blog Assignment 2

3D Character and Question MarkIMPLEMENTING A GUIDED INQUIRY APPROACH

Guided Inquiry is a planned and supervised process which aims to guide students through curriculum based inquiry units that build deep knowledge and deep understanding of a curriculum topic, and gradually lead towards independent learning (Kuhlthau & Todd).
Guided Inquiry is grounded in the constructivist approach to learning and is based on extensive studies of the Information Search Process (ISP) developed by Kuhlthau in 1985. (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010)
Guided Inquiry, which has been described as a journey by Scheffers, is a process that allows students to learn to think for themselves, make decisions and develop the skills and expertise that they will be able to use in further situations within their lives. It allows students the opportunity to become actively engaged in their own learning.
Examples of Guided inquiry in practice in schools like Broughton Anglican College (Sheerman, 2011) and Caddies Creek Public School (Sheffers, 2008), provide evidence of the positive results that can be achieved through this process.
Guided Inquiry involves 7 key stages of learning that are used to guide students through the researching process. These are Initiation, Selection, Exploration, Formulation, Collection, Presentation and Assessment.
A key component leading to the success of such a program (and further proven through the examples written about by Sheerman and Sheffers) is the importance of collaboration. These positive results were only possible due to the collaboration of a team of teachers working together to assist the students involved. For Guided Inquiry to work effectively there is a need to advocate for a whole school change, where all staff are involved, and providing a whole team approach to learning. The vital role of the teacher librarian as an active member in the teaching and learning team was also apparent. Kuhlthau (2010) describes Guided Inquiry as providing scope for a ‘synergy of ideas’ (p.19) as it allows teaching team members to share their expertise, and share planning, teaching and supervisory roles.
Collaboration can also include individuals outside the school with the possibilities of community members and other experts who can offer students even further information (Kuhlthau, 2010, p19). This allows for the learning experiences to be real, allowing links to the ‘wider world’ and making this approach a more significant experience for students.
What is the role of the Teacher Librarian in regards to Guided Inquiry? The ISP model allows the Teacher Librarian to be both a teacher and resourcer of the curriculum. By working with the teaching team, classroom teachers may learn more about Information Literacy from the Teacher Librarian (therefore fulfilling the role of TL as school leader) and the Teacher lIbrarian will also be able to assess student’s on their information literacy skills (Kuhlthau and Maniotes p20).
Collaboration, being so important in the Guided Inquiry approach, may mean TL’s are required to put in the ‘hard yards’ in order for every one within the school to see that the approach is of benefit to students. In schools, where teacher directed learning is the norm, it may be difficult to change some teacher’s opinions and allow them to lose some control typical of teacher directed instruction. The evidence shows that Guided Inquiry is a beneficial approach for most students, allowing for even lower ability students to achieve (Sheerman, Little & Breward, 2011,p 4).

References
Kuhlthau, C. & Todd, R. accessed icwc.wikispaces.com/file/view/Guided+Inquiry.doc
•Kuhlthau, C. & Maniotes, L. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st-Century Learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21.
•Scheffers, J. (2008). Guided inquiry: A learning journey. Scan, 27(4), 34-42.
•Sheerman, A. (2011). Accepting the challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33.
•Sheerman, A., Little, J., & Breward, N. (2011). iInquire… iLearn… iCreate… iShare: Guided Inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5.

The TL and the Curriculum – some thoughts

What is an appropriate role for the teacher librarian in curriculum development?In terms of curriculum development, the teacher librarian can offer much advice on resources and information available. AltPbl imagehough the TL may not be the expert in a particular KLA, they can perhaps offer advice on how to push students forward in different directions, with regards to providing knowledge on finding and using information, as well as technology.

What benefits can a school obtain from the active involvement of the teacher librarian in curriculum development?By making the Curriculum relevant to today’s students and helping to create students who can use 21st century technology to construct knowledge. Teaching students how to correctly use technology in order to change the ‘cut & paste culture’. Teacher Librarians can be connected – they can help teachers network with others to create cross curriculum and project based learning situations.

Should a principal expect that teachers would plan units of work with the teacher librarian?It’s definitely in the teachers’ best interest to work with the teacher librarian when planning learning experiences but I’m not sure if an ‘expectation’ of this will necessarily work for all teaching staff. I believe the TL should make themselves available to all staff and also make the breadth of their skills known. How will the teaching staff know how beneficial the TL can be to them and to their students if it isn’t ‘advertised’? Therefore, using staff meetings and PD days as opportunities to make it known to all staff how the TL can assist them in curriculum planning will help to invite teachers into the library but also give them ideas on how you can help their individual students.

How are students disadvantaged in schools that exclude the teacher librarian from curriculum development?The student’s may not get the best instruction in information literacy. There may be a lack of access of information and use of technology and digital resources.

MY THOUGHTS ON EVIDENCE GATHERING, BEING A PRO-ACTIVE RESEARCHER AND AN ADVOCATE.

Caveman-ResearchMy thoughts on evidence gathering and my role as a pro-active researcher and advocate –hmmmm?- first initial thought? – It sounds like lots of work! (I know that’s not the type of attitude to have, I think it’s stemming from the end of week 9 blues!).

According to Todd (2007) “The hallmark of a twenty first century school library will be actions that show that it makes a real difference to student learning” (p62). The reasoning behind evidence gathering is highlighted through the readings this week, and through other Masters students experiences shared on the forum also. Through this, it becomes clear that school teacher librarians are having to prove their worth in order to keep their jobs. Reading this, and thinking back to a school I previously taught in where the teacher librarian did lose her job due to cost cutting, it did concern me a little and to be honest, had me thinking whether I was doing the right thing by doing this course. I questioned whether I want to spend my future career trying to prove that my position should exist. It makes me question whether I should stick with my art teaching – at least then, my worth is there, physically, for all to see in the form of a student’s beautiful artwork!

In terms of research and advocating, the benefits are benefits for our students. All the research suggests links between student achievement and a well run library. However, how do we create a well run library? – with research on what works, why it works and considering why it should continue or why it should be changed.

Oberg (2002) states that collecting evidence to show school libraries make a difference is part of the Teacher Librarian’s professional role and that they need to be working on two areas – 1) knowing and communicating research that relates to the library role and, 2) generate their own research – as research closer to home may be more likely considered to be more trustworthy. This is really simple commonsense for if one is to show a professional awareness of the goings on of their line of work, it is only going to heighten the respect they have from others. Advocating is the next step – showing you truly believe in the role you are undertaking and the benefits you are having on the students may just rub off on others. However, you will always have more power with your advocacy, if you have the proof to back it up. This will be in the evidence and how the students are actually benefitting from the library and its services, and this evidence needs to be physically shown to others so that it is known about. This is vital – how to physically show the school community that the TL and the school library is vital to students learning. It is here that Evidence Based Practice and Oberg’s second point for a TL (generate own research) shows its importance.

On a closing note, I love Hay’s (2006) referral to the library as a ‘learning laboratory’; not only is it fantastic alliteration, but it does sum up the changes to the library environment, especially in regards to ICT! It draws me to consider whether we need to change what we call a library in order to change other’s perceptions regarding its role and its importance?

References

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

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories? That’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 18.27.

Todd, R. J. (2007). Evidence-based practice and school libraries. In S. Hughes-Hassell & V. H. Harada (Eds.), School reform and the school library media specialist (pp. 57-78). Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited, available through CSU Library eReserve

 

The Role of the Teacher Librarian – reflection on Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza

ASSESSMENT BLOG TASK 1
In terms of the role of the TL, and reading through the views of Herring, Purcell, Lamb and Valenza, it is obvious the role is indeed ‘multi-faceted’. A Teacher Librarian is a wearer of many hats!

I took note of the quote from Osler within the Purcell (2010) reading. Osler stated, over 100 years ago “The librarian of today, and it will be more of the librarian of tomorrow, are not fiery dragons interposed between the people and the books. They are useful public servants, who manage libraries in the interest of the public”(pg31). This quote appeals to me due to the mention of people and within the readings, whether referred to as patrons, students, teachers or the public, it is the people that dictate what our role should be.

Indeed the role of the librarian has changed, just as the library has changed from only a place filled with “people and books” as referred to by Osler. It is important for TL’s to teach people how to find information, assess it and use it appropriately in a safe environment. Information literacy is a term which continually comes up and a definite role for the TL is to provide tuition on how to understand the changing information environment. It is also obvious that the role of the TL is to keep up to date regarding information technology and ongoing professional development is paramount. Jenkins (2012), within his 30 second Are School Librarians an endangered Species clip, mentioned that young people require a mentor to help them navigate the online landscape. I think this is such an important role for TL’s in terms of the changing information environment.

Within the Youtube clip from the Michegan Media Centre, it was mentioned numerous times about the correlation between a strong library program and strong academic achievement. I believe in Herring’s statement about Teacher Librarians collaborating with teachers and principals an important one in terms of increasing student achievement. So the TL role should definitely include this type of collaboration for the benefit of the students, teachers and the school overall.

It is obvious from the readings that the views regarding the role of the TL is diverse. Purcell’s suggestion of creating time study observation sheets is a notable one. Just like teaching staff keep teaching plans regarding their day to day lessons, this idea allows the TL not only to reflect on what they are doing throughout the day, but would also be good evidence for any discrepancies with principals, regarding your role.

Valenza’s Manifesto (2010) provides a good, practical list for librarians to work towards and I think it highlights the extent of a TL’s role as one that is broad and that an excellent librarian will not just appear overnight, but is a role that requires and individual to consistently work at, in order to achieve a myriad of goals. Purcell (2010) states that all the roles she mentions are interconnected and that one role cannot be performed without the support of the others.   Also, the environment in which one has been employed will greatly affect the role you have as a Teacher Librarian, for instance, how many staff you have to help you carry out the managerial and administration tasks will affect how many man hours you can dedicate to actual ‘teaching’.

Overall, however, the patrons of the library and their needs, need to be at the core of the role of the TL and the TL should work in any way they can to provide the best service possible in this regard.

References

Herring, J. (2007). Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions in information (pp.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Lamb, A. (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

Purcell, M. (2010). All Librarians Do Is Check Out Books, Right? A Look at the Roles of a School Library Media Specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33. Available from http://www.librarymediaconnection.com/lmc/

Valenza, J. (2010, December 3). A revised manifesto [Blog post]. In School Library Journal. Retrieved from: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) (2012, Jan/Feb) 30 Second Thought Leadership: Insights from Leaders in the School Library Community “Are school librarians an endangered species?”  Retrieved from:  http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/knowledgequest/aboutkq/30second_JanFeb12

What could my role be? – mmmmmm

What sort of role do I see myself fulfilling in the school as a TL (Herring lamb, Purcell and Valenza)?

The role I see myself fulfilling in a school as a TL is based purely on the readings and what I would like to see myself doing within this type of role, as I am yet to have any experience in this area. I understand the role would be extremely diverse and dependent upon the type of school that I would be employed.  The role would encompass the management and teaching of much information (whether that information be in a written form, fiction or factual; whether it be digital sources). Haycock (2007) writes that Individuals must be knowledgeable about the curriculum, the library collection, and instructional design and delivery; be welcoming to classroom teachers and use good interpersonal skills; and be committed to information literacy instruction. I would like to be able to offer these skills to the school community. In particular (and probably due to my own childhood experiences with grumpy librarians) I would see my role as offering a welcoming and enjoyable environment to all members of the school community. A role that incorporates collaboration with all parties in order to achieve the learning objectives of the students within our care.

Within your experience, how do principals perceive the role of the TL?

I haven’t had any direct experiences relating to how principals perceive the role of the TL. From the readings it is obvious that principal support has a correlation to how successful the school library program will be. In the schools that I have worked within, the school librarian is always a member of staff with great importance, stature and is always well respected by the school community. The TL is often a member of the schools leadership team and I have only seen examples of support in terms of the principals of these schools and the TL. Haycock (2007) states that “principal support is vital” and I would have to agree with this statement. I do not know how a school would function if the TL did not have full support of the school’s principal. However, I can appreciate how this may occur. The research findings listed in Oberg (2006), page 13, suggest that many principals did not support teacher librarians due to a “lack of knowledge about the management and function of school libraries”. Oberg continues to discuss reasons for this which include TL stereotypes, TL’s low profile in educational literature and the limited exposure a principal has had with successful TLs when they were teachers or at school themselves.

What can you do? ie. suggest 2 strategies to change perceptions?

From the readings I have gathered that the ‘invisibility’ of the school’s TL can be problematic in regards to how the TL is viewed by the school community and in turn, how they are supported by the school’s principal. Therefore, I think one way of becoming ‘visible’ is as Oberg suggests “thinking about the library as being within the school, visible throughout the school, and integral to the mission and work of the school”(2007,pg i) – this may include being visibly seen as working towards the same objectives as the classroom teachers – eg. Linking displays, talks and resources to classroom teachers programs (& not just when asked to).

Another way to change perceptions that I have gathered from the readings is definitely collaboration. Collaboration has benefits for all members of the team – teachers, teacher-librarian, administration – as well as for the students (Haycock, 2007, pg25). Collaboration with the principal is needed to develop a strong school library program (Oberg, 2008, pg16).

References

Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 25-35.

Oberg, D. (2007).Taking the library out of the library into the school. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(2), i-ii.

Oberg, D. (2006). Developing the respect and support of school administrators. Teacher Librarian, 33(3), 13-18.

 

Searching the Library Databases (Sweeping away the cobwebs)

My first blog post is to share my experiences on searching the CSU Library databases. For me there were many ‘aaa-ha’ moments as I began to recall skills that I had acquired during my prior university experiences. I found this module gave me a step by step method to explore the databases and it was all very user friendly.

One option I found very helpful and I can see being extremely helpful for my studies over the next two years, is how one can save articles for later use in personal folders. I did not know about this and its definitely going to be a time saver as I complete the course.

The other point I took note of was that there is always help available, if (probably, more like when) I get lost, with the help services provided by the library staff.