Assignment 2 Part B: Critical Reflection

During this subject, my view of the role of the teacher librarian has changed and broadened considerably.  As noted in my first blog post for this subject on 09 December 2014, many of my assumptions about the role of the teacher librarian were informed by my professional experience undertaken as part of my undergraduate degree and my own primary and high school education, rather than real experience in the library.  My image of a good teacher librarian and library program was a reflection of the librarian at one of the schools in which I completed my professional experience: one who taught internet skills, supported and encouraged reading and provided a positive learning environment, as noted in my forum post (Dezman, 2013). Studying ETL401, the aspects of the role of the teacher librarian which I reflected upon the most were the support and promotion of literacies in students, inquiry learning, and collaboration with teachers to integrate information skills into the curriculum.

I have always viewed supporting literacy in students as a key role for any teacher, and on beginning this subject, considered the teacher librarian as an extension of the classroom teacher in this respect.  The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment (2011) found that half of the adult population does not have the level of literacy required to successfully participate in Australian life.  Reading this statistic solidified my belief in the importance of teaching reading, prompting me to reflect in my blog post of 09 December 2013 that teacher librarians should work with classroom teachers to do so.  In that blog post, I considered the importance of promoting reading, and the importance of teaching multimedia and ICT skills in order to thrive in the 21st century, but failed to connect the concepts under the broad definition of literacy.  For Assignment 1, I considered the definition of literacy as used by the New South Wales Board of Studies (2012).  This definition encapsulates locating, evaluating and using information from many sources and highlights the importance of being able to do this in order to participate in society.  This definition of literacy changed my view of a key role of the teacher librarian from one who promotes reading and using technology, to one who teaches children to become capable information users.

The question which follows is how the teacher librarian can best fulfil this role.  My blog post of 02 January 2014 was a reaction to the discovery of what seemed like the introduction of yet more learning theories that would be presented to us as the best way to teach.  I concluded that all students learn in different ways, and resolved to learn a variety of teaching strategies and apply them as I felt necessary to each situation.  On reflection, this resolution demonstrated my unwillingness to investigate the worth of implementing any model across my future library program.  The topic of guided inquiry, which I chose for my blog post of 20 January, led me to adjust my perspective.

While I still view guided inquiry as one of many teaching approaches to information literacy, I now appreciate its worth as a method which can benefit students greatly.  From my experiences in school libraries, I had considered library lessons to be separate 30-minute blocks which students participate in once per week, and which have no real connection to classroom learning. I had recognised the importance of collaboration between teacher librarians and classroom teachers, but could not see where the connection would lie.  The Kuhlthau (2010) paper provided this illustration, by describing research projects which connect the library to the classroom curriculum, and added additional elements to the role of the teacher librarian which I had not previously considered.  As noted above, the teacher librarian appeared as an extension of the classroom teacher.  The Kuhlthau (2010) and Sheerman (2011) papers demonstrated that the teacher librarian should be a leader, working to ensure that all students could benefit from these integrated units, and that students received instruction, intervention and assessment in locating and using information for projects connected to what they were learning in the classroom.

Many of the views I held about the role of the teacher librarian changed with my readings.  One view I found to cloud my study this session was my perspective on assessment.  Feedback for my blog post of 28 January, 2014 highlighted that my discussion on assessment in general clouded that of information literacy and inquiry learning assessment.  Assessment has been an interest area of mine, and I have found it difficult to consider assessment techniques of information literacy and inquiry learning as separate to assessment of any other aspect of the curriculum because I feel that assessment is a natural aspect of the teaching and learning process, and is task and outcome dependent.  I recognise that I will have to read more widely on this topic in order to focus my perspective on the best approaches to assess information literacy.

Board of Studies New South Wales. (2012). Learning across the Curriculum.  In English K-10 syllabus. Retrieved from http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/english/english-k10/learning-across-the-curriculum/

Dezman, N. (2013). Re: Discussion starter 1: Teacher librarian role statements [Online forum comment].  Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL401_201390_W_D/page/515f5461-9ff3-469f-8033-e891dd370696

House of Representatives Standing Committee of Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Retrieved from Parliament of Australia website: http://www.aph.gov.au/parliamentary_business/committees/house_of_representatives_committees?url=ee/schoollibraries/report.htm

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21.

New South Wales Department of Education and Training. (2007). Information skills in the school: engaging learners in constructing knowledge. Retrieved from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/teachingideas/isp/docs/infoskills.pdf

Sheerman, A. (2011).  Accepting the challenge: Evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33/

OLJ Blog post #3 Assessment of information literacy and inquiry learning

Blog post #3  Comment on the role of the TL in practice with regard to assessing information literacy and inquiry learning.

 

Assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. Without it, there is no way for teachers to know whether their students need to be taught a particular skill, whether instruction is effective, or whether students have achieved what learning experiences are designed to enable students to do or know.  From this, teachers are then able to confidently report to parents, principals and other stakeholders and provide feedback to students. Assessing skills such as information literacy and the effectiveness of inquiry learning is equally as important as assessing content from key learning areas for this reason. Therefore, teacher librarians are just as responsible for assessment within their programs as classroom teachers.  The readings for this module highlight the varied methods of assessment available to teachers and teacher librarians, authentic assessment as a tool for assessing information literacy and the importance of working with classroom teachers through this process.

Stripling (2007, p. 26-28) provides a good description of diagnostic, formative and summative assessments in the context of the school library and argues that they are all important to different stages of the learning experience.  She has developed an inquiry model with six phases, and links assessments to phases.  Even without this specific model, diagnostic, formative and summative assessments occur in that order.  While classroom teachers may be able to provide some of this information to teacher librarians, especially in the beginning, it is important that the teacher librarian assess students within the context of the library, as students may not be able to transfer certain skills yet.

Summative assessments can be completed as part of a unit, with students working towards a final product to be submitted at the end of the unit. Mueller (2005) argues for authentic assessments, which are assessments that require students to apply skills to a real-world problem.  He writes that an example of this is a research paper, and argues that these are more helpful for measuring students’ skills than examinations.  In the context of information literacy, teacher librarians are able to assess students’ abilities to gather, sort and present information in this manner more effectively than an exam.  It would be beneficial for this to be linked to a unit students are learning in classrooms in order to assess information literacy skills rather than knowledge.

When assessing information literacy, it is important for assessments to be varied. While a research paper can assess a student’s ability to locate, analyse and organise information, a student could be placed at a disadvantage if their writing skills are not good enough to complete the task, or if they did not have enough background knowledge to begin at the same place as their peers.  Therefore, it is important that teacher librarians use many assessment techniques and judge students’ work against the outcomes they have set out to measure. Mueller (2008) provides a series of questions to guide teachers in writing assessments in order to ensure that assessments are valid.

Finally, the readings agree that teacher librarians should collaborate with teachers to include information literacy in curriculum, and provide a means for the library program to complement curriculum being taught in classrooms (Pappas, 2007, p. 21).

 

References

Mueller, J. (2005). Aithentic assessment in the classroom… and the library media center. Library Media Connection, 23(7), 14-18.

Pappas, M. (2007). Tools for the assessment of learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23 (9), 21-25.

Stripling, B. (2007). Assessing informative fluency: gathering evidence of student learning. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 23(8), 25-29. 

OLJ Blog Post #2 Guided Inquiry

Guided inquiry is a form of inquiry learning in which students undertake research on an open-ended question either individually or collaboratively.  It is based on the Information Search Process developed by Carol Kuhlthau. In guided inquiry, teachers and teacher librarians collaborate to guide students through the research process, assessing students and intervening as needed (Kuhlthau, 2010, p. 18).

Reading through the papers on guided inquiry for this unit, there appear to be three main areas in guided inquiry which relate directly to the teacher librarian’s role.  These are leadership in implementing guided inquiry, working closely with teachers and students to teach the unit and assessment of both students and the effectiveness of the guided inquiry method itself.

Guided inquiry requires collaboration between classroom teachers, teacher librarians and any other teacher or community member who may be helpful (Kuhlthau, 2010. P. 18). Sheerman (2011, p. 24) in particular writes that it is the teacher librarian who should push for implementation of guided inquiry and encourage its use at a whole-school level. In doing so, the teacher librarian must be skilled in time and schedule management.  For example, in Scheffers’ (2008, p. 35) case study, a stage 3 unit required that students spend 90 minutes per week in collaborative library lessons to complete their research task.  This particular case study was highly structured and quite in depth, and teachers recommended more time be spent in the library for similar units in future (Scheffers, 2008. p. 40). In order to implement guided inquiry at a whole-school level, teacher librarians must ensure that all students have the opportunity to complete guided inquiry projects and provide equitable access to library resources and teaching.

Collaboration in teaching the unit or units should also be extended to assessment (Sheerman, Little & Breward, 2011, p. 4). This allows student achievement to be measured, in addition to success of the unit.  Continued formative assessment is a feature of guided inquiry and is a tool to assist teachers in targeting intervention strategies. The SLIM model, which is a questionnaire provided to students at varying points of the inquiry process, appears to be a popular method of formative assessment, as it assesses student attitudes and difficulties.  Fitzgerald (2011, p. 28) writes that the SLIM method can also be used to assess success of the unit and teaching strategies. One challenge that could be faced with regard to implementing this questionnaire is the possibility of students being untruthful in their answers, claiming to be progressing with more ease than in reality.  For this reason, it is important that teachers employ varied formative assessment strategies in addition to observation and review of students’ work in addition to these questionnaires.

Guided inquiry has been shown to be a successful method of teaching, and keeping students engaged throughout their research project in the case studies included in the readings (Sheerman, 2011, p. 32). It does, however, involve much planning and very careful attention to students’ progress, in addition to time management. It is highly dependent on collaboration with classroom and other teachers within the school.  It is the teacher librarian’s role to ensure that guided inquiry is implemented correctly, and that teachers and students are well supported throughout all units.

References:

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

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Building guided inquiry teams for 21st-century learners. School Library Monthly, 26(5), 18-21.

Sheerman, A. (2011). Accepting the challenge: evidence based practice at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(2), 24-33.

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

Sheerman, A., Little, J., and Breward, N. (2011). Iinquire… ilearn… icreate… ishare: guided inquiry at Broughton Anglican College. Scan, 30(1), 4-5.

OLJ Blog post assessment #1: Comment on the role of the TL in practice with regard to: the convergence of literacies in the 21st century.

OLJ Blog post assessment #1: Comment on the role of the TL in practice with regard to: the convergence of literacies in the 21st century.

 The initial readings for this course very strongly indicate that the role of the teacher librarian is incredibly varied, and context dependent. Having only recently finished my teaching degree and not had the opportunity to work in a school outside of my practical experience, I have found the readings to be very helpful to my understanding of the role of the teacher librarian. The teacher librarian has a wide range of responsibilities ranging from collection management and record keeping to curriculum support and staff training; all of which exist, and are dependent on, the context of the school.  The facet of the teacher librarian’s role which has stood out most to me is the support and promotion of the literacies required for students to succeed in the 21st Century.

According to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment’s report (2011), only half of Australian adults have achieved the level of literacy required for everyday life.  It is therefore vitally important that all aspects of a child’s education support their literacy development and reinforce its importance.   Effective teacher librarians should collaborate with teachers to promote reading and reading programs (Australian School Library Association, 2012) as it has been shown that teacher librarians do effect learning and literacy outcomes for students (Australian School Library Association, 2012; Herring, 2007; House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2011)

It is especially important that students’ literacy development is supported considering the expanding technologies students will be expected to have mastered when they leave school, and the range of literacies required in order to use these and become responsible digital citizens. In the USA, teacher librarians are called School Library Media Specialists in order to underline the multimedia aspect of the position (Purcell, 2010).  In this age where large volumes of information is so readily accessible (Frey, n.d.), it is important that students learn how to locate information effectively and apply higher order thinking skills to sort and evaluate this information (Purcell, 2010). The role of the teacher librarian includes teaching students to do this. Teacher librarians must therefore be highly skilled in searching across all technologies and platforms, teaching students a wide range of strategies (Valenza, 2010).

As students learn best when they are able to see a real-world connection to what they are doing at school, the teacher librarian should embed search and ICT strategies into their lessons (Lamb, 2011) and collaborate with classroom teachers in order to teach not only the skills necessary, but how to transfer these skills across key leanring areas (Hay, 2006) and technologies (Herring, 2007). The teacher librarian may also be responsible for teaching the use of new technologies and search strategies to classroom teachers (Australian School Library Association, 2012; Purcell, 2010). Valenza (2010) adds that rather than ban popular and social networking sites, teacher librarians can and should use these as a teaching tool. However, it should be noted that certain social networking sites have age restrictions, and the teacher should always use caution to ensure the safety of their students online and campaign against cyberbullying.

With regard to digital citizenship, it is noted in the readings that students do not have a strong grasp of plagiarism and respect for copyright, particularly with consideration to online sources (Herring, 2007; House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2011; Valenza, 2010), and so need to be taught about these points from ethical and legal standpoints.

As it has been shown that good teacher librarians impact student learning outcomes (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment, 2011), it is important for teacher librarians to maximise the time spent with students by integrating learning areas with literacy development and ICT, and working with classroom teachers to promote literacies in students.

References:

Australian School Library Association. (2012, 12 10). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved 12 06, 2013, from http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Frey, T. (n.d.). The future of libraries. Retrieved 11 20, 2013, from DaVinci Institute: http://www.davinciinstitute.com/papers/the-future-of-libraries/

Hay, L. (2006). School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning labratories? That’s what Aussie kids want. Scan, 25(2), 18-27.

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

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment. (2011). School libraries and teacher librarians in 21st century Australia. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Lamb, A. (2011). Bursting with potential: mixing a media specialist’s palette. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 27-36.

Purcell, M. (2010). All librarians do is check out books right? A look at the roles of the school lbrary media specialist. Library Media Connection, 29(3), 30-33.

Valenza, J. (2010, 12 3). A revised manifesto. Retrieved 12 06, 2013, from School library journal: http://blogs.slj.com/neverendingsearch/2010/12/03/a-revised-manifesto/