ETL501 – Information Environment – Assignment 2 : Part B – Critical Reflection

This critical analysis reflects on the process of creating a pathfinder on Antarctica designed for Year 6 students. Its purpose is to guide students to a range of resources where they can enhance information literacy (IL) skills. This reflection analyses the curricular context and learning outcomes, search strategies and tools used, how the pathfinder enhances IL skills and how a pathfinder relates to the role of Teacher Librarian (TL).

Curricular context of topic and projected learning outcomes when students are using the pathfinder

For this Year 6 subject, three Australian Curriculum General Capabilities learning outcomes were selected: Literacy, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability and Personal and Social Capability (ACARA, 2013). The curricular context of Antarctica is rather broad. In a real life situation, classroom teacher collaboration would be essential to target specific outcomes and so the TL was aware of all learning needs (Kuntz, 2003).

I had difficulty in translating the outcomes for students. This process highlighted the need to use appropriate language, particularly for those with poor literacy skills. The pathfinder as a teaching aid provides students with opportunities to determine their own information needs and to make informed decisions as they locate and use information. Students achieve the learning outcomes as they are able to work independently at their own pace, which is a major strength (Valenza, 2008).

Search strategy, use and evaluation of tools and sources

My own knowledge was extended in utilising different search strategies and engines to locate resources. Students often over rely on Google (Kuiper, et al, 2008); however, Google searches retrieved websites too complex for Year 6 students. Twurdy was difficult to access and took a long time to load. These difficulties reiterated the importance of website evaluation and links being regularly checked to ensure they remain active and appropriate for students’ needs (Kuntz, 2003). In contrast, Kidrex was simple to use and provided a good selection of resources although it contained some broken links. Through this process I enhanced my own ICT skills and the importance of modelling effective search strategies was reinforced. My knowledge of website evaluation was also useful as I considered educational, reliability and technical criteria (Herring, 2011).

How the pathfinder will enhance students’ use of IL skills

Students often experience difficulties in finding suitable resources to meet their needs (Valenza, 2004). The pathfinder is a teaching and learning tool that enhances IL skills as students are guided to resources where they can independently locate, select and evaluate information suitable for their learning needs, which is a fundamental life skill (Kuhlthau et al, 2007; ASLA, 2013 & Valenza, 2008). In this instance, more explicit IL instructions were not included due to word count constraints.

Students’ IL skills are developed through navigation, link exploration and assessing their own information needs in a regulated environment. The annotations and explicit instructions encourage students to think more critically about the resources they need and allow for differentiation. Students are able to work independently to develop information search strategies and evaluation skills to locate information that best suit their needs (Hague & Payton, 2010 & Kuntz, 2003). This caters to individual learning needs at students work at their own pace (Valenza, 2004). However, although a pathfinder develops IL skills it is not comprehensive (Kuntz, 2003). Students still require support and scaffolding, with a TL modelling effective search strategies.

How the process of constructing the pathfinder relates to the TL’s role

Constructing the pathfinder was challenging. I discovered it is a valuable tool to enhance the teaching and learning of IL skills and it is the role of the TL, as information specialist, to lead in this regard and prepare students for the world beyond school (O’Connell, 2008 & Horizon Report, 2013). The pathfinder has many strengths; it can be duplicated, refined to meet individual needs, be differentiated and used for different subjects across all levels, saving time in the long term, and this is important for a TL (Kuntz, 2003). IL is embedded throughout the curriculum and it is the role of the TL to offer support and training to classroom teachers to create collaborative pathfinders and to empower students to identify their own information needs (O’Connell, 2008 & ACRA, 2013).

However, the process was initially frustrating and time consuming. This is a limitation in a school context as it takes time to select suitable resources and annotate them (Kuntz, 2003). Difficulties were encountered in attempting a wiki as I found it cumbersome and difficult to navigate. This was abandoned for a weebly which I found much simpler to use. However, once construction was underway and I became more confident, it became evident how important pathfinders could be to a 21st century TL. Another major limitation is access to technology. Currently our school has one computer lab with limited computers that students share so pathfinders may be problematic unless students work collaboratively, which is incongruous to their purpose.

* * *

A pathfinder is a useful teaching and learning tool to enhance IL skills vital for the 21st century. Students independently engage with pathfinders to locate, select and evaluate information suitable for their learning needs. I believe that pathfinders are indispensable to a TL whose role is to provide ongoing support and scaffolding to maximise efficiency and to achieve IL learning outcomes.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2013). General
Capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www. australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/General-capabilities-in-the-Australian-Curriculum

Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2013). Future learning and school libraries.  Retrieved from http://www.asla.org.au/site/DefaultSite/filesystem/documents/2013-ASLA-futures-paper.pdf

Hague, C. & Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum. Retrieved from
http://www2.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/handbooks/digital_literacy.pdf

Herring, J. E. (2011). Web Site Evaluation: A key role for the school librarian. School
Library Monthly. Vol. XXVII No. 8.

Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide.

Kuntz, K. (2003). Pathfinders: Helping students find paths to information. The online
educator, 10(3). Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/mmschools/ may03/kuntz.shtml

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 http://informationr.net/ir/13-3/paper351.html

NMC (2013). Horizon Report. K-12 Edition. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013horizon-report-k12.pdf.

O’Connell, J. (2008). School library 2.0: new skills, new knowledge, new futures. In Godwin, P. & Parker, J. (Eds.). Information literacy meets Library 2.0. pp. 51-62. Retrieved from http://heyjude.files.wordpress.com/2006/06/oconnell-j-facet.pdf

Thibault, M. (n.d.). The student pathfinder. Learn NC. Retrieved from
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/968

Valenza, J. (2004). Substantive Searching Thinking and Behaving Info-Fluently. Learning &  Leading with Technology. 32(3). Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ696450.pdf

Valenza, J. (2008). Top ten reasons why your next pathfinder should be a wiki. Retrieved
from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/Ten+reasons+why+your+ next+pathfinder+should+be+a+wiki

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ETL504 – TL as Leader – Assignment 2 : Part B – Critical Reflection

Reflecting on what I have learnt during this subject, my knowledge and understanding of the role of the Teacher Librarian (TL) as leader has extended significantly.   My previous understanding and beliefs about leadership and in particular, the role of the TL, have completely altered.

Disappointingly, in my Reflective Journal Blog for Assignment 1 (17 August), I could not even contemplate the idea that a TL could be a leader.  My views on leadership in general were extremely dated and incorrect.  I believed that leadership was hierarchal and there could be only one leader in a school – the principal.  How fundamentally wrong I was.  This initial Reflective Blog inspired me to evaluate my own leadership views in a school library context and to view the TL role from a very different perspective. That is, one of leadership.  Already I have worked on improving my communication skills and have become a more proactive and collaborative member of the school.  Unfortunately, beforehand, I considered myself to be an “appendage” to the school ranked behind classroom teachers.  I now perceive the role of TL differently and feel empowered to make positive changes to improve student learning outcomes.

In Blog 1 (11 August) I discussed how my understanding of leadership began to change and that I realised it was more complex than one leader making all the decisions.  I learnt that leadership involves many people, at all levels, empowering others to become leaders themselves and working together towards achieving a common goal or vision (Avolio, 2009).  I further realised that leadership is about having excellent communications skills, working collaboratively, having a school wide focus, being proactive and adaptable and recognising individual strengths to build strong teams (Kotter – Change Leadership; Avolio, 2009).  I came to understand that the TL is in a pivotal leadership role as an information and curriculum specialist within the school.

In Blog 2 (11 August) I discussed issues relating to leadership adaptability in a technological and pedagogical world that is changing exponentially and the need to continue to change to meet these challenges.  I analysed the impact of Tapscott’s 4 principles of collaboration, transparency, sharing and empowerment in improving leadership skills (Tapscott).  Furthermore, I examined the importance of developing critical information literacy skills so that students are empowered to meet 21st century needs effectively and efficiently (ACARA, 2011).  Again, I began to understand the importance of the TL as leader to collegially empower and build teams across the school and ensure a school wide digital literacy program is in place so that our students have opportunities to develop strong information literacy skills.

I discussed the implementation of a digital literacy program in more detail in Blog 3 (31 August) and the importance of having principal support (Farmer, 2007).  I now realise the importance of effective communication skills for a TL to be successful in this regard (Marzano, 2005).  This was set out in my Concept Map which also acknowledged the importance of a clear vision and goals and building relationships within the school community to achieve those goals.  Motivation, collaboration, problem solving and decision making are leadership concepts and skills that are intrinsically linked, inter-related and mutually dependent on each other.

A digital literacy program is critical to meet the learning needs of 21st century students and the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum.  The TL as leader is well placed to design and implement programs to suit the individual needs of the school and to conduct staff development training to ensure school-wide success.

Comparing Blogs 1, 2 and 3, my Reflective Journal Blog for Assignment 1 and this Critical Reflection, I now realise that beforehand I was content to remain on the periphery of the school prior to this subject.  Now I am empowered to make change.  I believe I have developed the knowledge and skills through this subject to meet the school’s 21st century learning needs and to work collaboratively with other staff members to implement a digital literacy program.

Finally, through the process of creating a three year vision statement for the school library in this Assignment, I have further developed an understanding of 21st century teaching and learning needs.  I realise that our school has a long way to go to achieve this vision but that it is certainly attainable with a TL embracing a leadership role and a clear focus for the future.  I feel extremely privileged to be a TL, and a leader, ready to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

References

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2011). General capabilities in the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australian curriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/General-capabilities-in-the-Australian Curriculum

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F. & Weber, T.J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research and future directions. Management Department Faculty Publications. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/managementfacpub

Farmer, L. (2007). Principals: Catalysts for collaboration. School Libraries Worldwide, 13(1), 56-65. Retrieved from http://collaborate-inservice.wikispaces.com/file/view/Principals+as+Catalysts.pdf

Kotter International. (n.d.) Change Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/change-leadership

Marzano, R.J., Water, T. & McNulty, B.A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works : from research to results, 13-27. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy

Tapscott, D. (n.d.). Radical openness. Four unexpected principles for success. Retrieved from http://www.elsua.net/2012/07/27/four-principles-for-the-open-world-by-don-tapscott-hippie2-0/

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ETL504 – TL as Leader – Blog 3

In implementing a school wide digital literacy program, you initially need to have the support of your principal. A brief report, backed up with evidence, identifying your particular school needs and the best ways to address these needs is essential.

At a staff meeting we have already collaboratively discussed digital literacy and how we can meet the ICT General Capability in the Australian Curriculum. As Teacher Librarian, I have offered to put together a potential program next year for trial implementation across the school. I have explained that this year I have too many other commitments to contemplate instigating such a major program. This open communication at a staff meeting was very important so that everybody knows that this is a plan for next year.

I have/would continue to conduct extensive research into similar programs and see how they can be adapted to fit our school’s context. This may include combining a variety of different ideas or concepts to form a suitable school program. In addition, collaboration with other staff members is vital to ensure that they have adequate input into the program. This in turn would smooth the implementation process as there would be a greater support and conceptual understanding of why the program is vital in the 21st Century if other staff members are involved. Empowering others to be involved in the process and building strong teams would be fundamental (Lewis, 2011).

I am looking forward to the trial implementation and making any necessary changes to ensure a successful digital literacy program across the school.

References

Lewis, L. K. (2011). Communication approaches and strategies. Organizational change creating change through strategic communication (pp. 144-176). Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.

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ETL504 – Assignment 1 : Part B – Reflective Journal Blog Task

Reflecting on my understanding and practice of leadership after engaging with the research and literature in this subject, I now realise that my previous views on leadership in general and in a school library context were fundamentally dated and incorrect.

I now recognise I had no idea how leadership really worked and could not see how a Teacher Librarian (TL) could be a leader as I incorrectly believed there could only be one leader within a school environment and that was the principal. My earlier notion of a hierarchal relationship and my understanding of what leadership actually is has completely upturned. I understand now that leadership is not actually an individual trait of one person but about empowering others to lead by performing to their strengths collaboratively within the school context to meet collective educational learning needs and outcomes (Avolio, 2009). It is all about shared commitment and responsibility and I am excited about this prospect.

Disappointingly, my earlier view of a TL was more as an accessory to the school rather than a potential information specialist leader. Through participation in this subject and engaging with the resources and readings, I now understand that a TL’s role as information specialist is one of professional leadership, with so much to offer and this is very empowering. A TL is virtually indispensable in today’s school environment with rapid and ever-changing advances in technology and communication and somebody has to step up and take a lead. A TL is the perfect contender to lead the school in this regard.

In addition and upon further reflection, I now appreciate that to maximise opportunities and gain support I must become a more effective communicator and ensure I am involved in school decisions and planning days, particularly in sharing my skills as an information specialist (Oberg, 2006, p.16). Furthermore, I recognise the importance of excellent communication skills in building strong relationships and teams within the school context (Marzano et al, 2005, p.15).

A TL in a school can be very isolated and through gaining a greater understanding of leadership practice I intend to set a clear vision and goals and hopefully inspire others to become involved in leadership positions within the school where we can all work collaboratively to achieve the same common goals and where I can feel more involved in the school’s culture (Bacon, 2012, p. 18 & Lingard et al, 2008, p. 20). This means empowering assistants, library leaders and volunteer helpers.

Finally, this subject has inspired me to evaluate and consider my own leadership practices in a school library context. Rather than remaining on the periphery of the school, this subject has provided me with the understanding I require to work on the skills I need to become an effective leader. Through setting clear achievable goals, working collaboratively with others and becoming a more effective communicator I will continue to develop my own leadership skills. I intend to embrace my “new” professional leadership role by being proactive and adaptable striving to meet 21st Century learning needs and challenges.

References

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F. & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research and future directions. Management Department Faculty Publications. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/managementfacpub.

Bacon, T. R. (2012). Elements of Influence : The art of getting others to follow your lead. New York. American Management Association.

Marzano, R. J., Water, T. & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works : from research to results, 13-27. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy. csu.eduau/lib/csuau/doc.

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

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ETL504 – TL as Leader – Blog 2

TLs must be proactive and adaptable as our role will change exponentially into the future. Therefore it is imperative that TLs embrace Tapscott’s 4 principles of collaboration, transparency, sharing & empowerment.
Collaboration – By working with other staff members and not re-inventing the wheel when planning and programming, we can ensure a more effective school wide approach to teaching and learning.

Transparency – Keeping other staff members informed through effective communication and attendance at staff meetings, development days etc. reinforces support and unity within the school.

Sharing – Continually sharing and expressing ideas and information throughout school networks and with other TLs to build a repertoire of differing ideas and knowledge.

Empowerment – Empowering students and other staff members through sharing, teaching, guiding and scaffolding them through the process of developing critical information literacy skills so that they themselves become empowered and are able to deal with technology (and the 21st century) effectively and efficiently.

The TL’s role will continue to evolve. Accordingly, TLs must embrace the challenges that lie ahead.

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ELT504 – TL as Leader – Blog 1

Leadership is complex. It is not about one person setting the goals and expecting others to follow them. It is about empowering others to become leaders by building on individual strengths within an organisation (Avolio, 2009, p. 422).  You can only do this through having excellent communicaton skills, working collaboratively, having a school wide focus (not an individual one) and by being proactive with the ability to change as circumstances do.  Adaptability is a key criteria to be an effective leader  (Kotter – Change Leadership).

I have met some wonderful (and not so wonderful) leaders in my time. Fortunately I work with some terrific leaders who are inspirational and incredibly supportive of my role as TL encouraging me to step up in a leadership role.

References:

Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F. & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research and future directions. Management Department Faculty Publications. http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/managementfacpub.

Kotter International. Change Leadership. http://www.kotterinternational.com/ourprinciples/change-leadership.

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ETL503 Resourcing the Curriculum : Part C Reflection (Assignment 2)

Reflecting on what I have learnt during evaluation of the current collection and the research undertaken in preparing the collection policy, I am alarmed as to how limited my knowledge of collection development was and unfortunately how dire the current collection actually is!

I have extended my knowledge considerably so that I now feel confident to make decisions about types of resources, selection, acquisition, weeding and evaluation through establishing certain criteria.  Previously, I had no idea that the process was so complex.  Given that the collection process is so complex, I must now ensure that obstacles to weeding and evaluation, such as time and effort, are not used as an excuse to follow through (Bishop, 2007. p. 143).

I believe this assessment task has also extended my knowledge and understanding of the role and nature of the collection in that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ policy.  That is, collection policies must reflect individual schools so contextual needs of students and the wider school community are vital (Debowski, 2001, p. 126).  Previously, I had doubts as to whether a collection policy was even necessary.  I now understand that a collection policy is indispensable: having a plan is imperative (Katz, 2012, p. 16).

I appreciate that a collection policy must continue to evolve to ensure its relevance and meet changing needs and priorities.  For example, digital online resources need to be selected and acquired to meet 21st Century student needs (Gray, 2010, p. 22).  This will be a priority in developing the current collection through access to quality ebooks and digital online resources.  This is essential to meet 21st Century student learning needs and evaluating the collection has made this deficiency transparent.

Another example of what I have learnt is the importance of accountability.  This is something I had not considered before.  This includes accountability when making decisions regarding selection, acquisition, funding, weeding or evaluation.  Beforehand, I had no idea how these decisions were made.

My views have also changed in relation to challenged resources.  I had never considered challenged resources prior to this task.  I believe that I am now adequately prepared to face any challenge that may arise and I feel more comfortable knowing there is a collection policy is place to support the process.

However, having established a solid foundation of understanding and knowledge in collection development, I am still overwhelmed by the mission ahead.  To bring the entire collection up to date is overwhelming given its current neglectful state.  I believe that I now have the theory (and ability) to develop the collection to meet the school’s 21st Century learning needs, however, converting this into practice and implementing change is another thing entirely.

Funding limitations and time restrictions means that collection development will be extremely gradual.  As this is a constantly evolving process, I am concerned that the collection may never be current, relevant and meet the changing needs of students and the wider school community.

Nevertheless, I intend to be proactive and make changes one section at a time, having identified priority areas.   Although terrified, I am also excited about my role in developing and maintaining the collection and hope that one day it will be a collection to be proud of.  I only wish I had of inherited a more current one!

References

Bishop, K. (2007). Evaluation of the collection. In The collection program in schools : concepts, practices and information sources (4th ed.) pp. 141-159. Libraries Unlimited.

Debowski, S. (2001). Collection management policies. In K. Dillon, J. Henri & J. McGregor (Eds.). Providing more with less: collection management for school libraries (2nd ed.) pp. 126-136. Wagga Wagga. NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Gray, M. (2010). i-tune, e-book, u-learn with laptops. Scan. 39(4).

Katz, L.S. (2012). Collection Development Policies: New Directions for Changing Collections. Retrieved from EBL CSU.

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