Bec in the library

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." — Jorge Luis Borges

Finding my way: a reflection on pathfinder creation October 5, 2013

This is Part B of my final assignment for ETL501: The Information Environment, critically analysing the process of creating a pathfinder.

 

This pathfinder was created to assist Grade 4 students inquire into how environmental changes are connected to human consumption. Whilst students will choose their own personal inquiries into this central idea, expected broad topics under this umbrella, which are covered by this pathfinder, include global warming, climate change, waste management and conservation.

This unit is one of six taught throughout the year, however the only one under the transdisciplinary theme of “Sharing the Planet”. It has a strong social studies component but there are also science and literacy links. The key concepts are connection and responsibility with related concepts of consumption and sustainability. The learning outcomes the students will be working towards when using the pathfinder are:

  •  LAA.CT.4.7 comprehend, respond to and analyze literary non-literary texts.
  •  HUM.GU.4.3 Learners will gather, evaluate and use information.

Throughout the pathfinder creation process, I took myself through the steps I would expect of a student when searching for resources. Based on Kuiper, Volman & Terwel’s (2008) and Valenza’s (2004) observations of effective student searching, as well as the readings from Module 6 (CSU, 2013), I planned my search using a concept map consisting of key words from the unit vocabulary list and a list of questions taken from the unit planner.

Keeping Herring’s (2011) website criteria in mind, I used the librarian created, student-specific search engines, KidsClick and ipl2. I knew it was highly likely I was going to find sites that were technically and educationally sound as well as reliable in terms of authorship and content.

I was absolutely shocked by how high the sites I had chosen had come out on readability tests, there was not a single site that came out lower than Grade 5, even those targeted to K-3! These results certainly rammed home Kuiper, Volman & Terwel’s (2008) assertions about how important it is to scaffold internet use for elementary aged children.

As information about the environment can change rapidly, using the school’s OPAC proved extremely helpful, enabling me to find the most recently acquired resources. A basic search on Google and Bing led me to a Follett comparison tool for texts by the various publishing houses. This clarified the reading and interest age of the resources I had chosen, leading to the discarding and replacement of several choices.

Understanding how to create a pathfinder that would enhance my students’ use of information literacy skills was challenging. Based on my knowledge of how my school’s students are taught interactively through the online world of blogs (heavily embedding files and links), I was creating online curriculum instead of a pathfinder embedded with ILS. The difference between giving instructions and directions baffled me for some time and I was mired in indecision and frustration about how I could make my pathfinder’s emphasis on ILS simple yet effective. This was especially important as our students have had very little explicit instruction in, or practice with, ILS.

Discussing my problem with the school’s two Technology Integrators and re-reading Abilock’s (2004) and Eisenberg’s (2003) ILS work helped guide me in a new direction. I decided adding one or two key skills as dot points to each resource could help students learn and assimilate ILS into their research toolkit in small increments.

The biggest lesson constructing this pathfinder has taught me is that effective research relies on extremely high quality ILS instruction. There is no point making a pathfinder full of pertinent resources if the students don’t know how to use those resources to their fullest extent. The information universe is massive yet very few teachers and students have the time or understanding of how to harness it effectively (Valenza, 2004). Being aware of such concepts as the hidden web, search engines more powerful and specific than Google, and the different kind of reading skills needed to access the right kind of information at the point of need, is absolutely integral to effective access to accurate, current, reliable information (CSU, 2013; Kuiper, Volman & Terwel, 2008; Valenza, 2004). I can now see how pathfinders can help TLs to explicitly and patiently give teachers and students the help they need to understand these concepts.

 

A clever TL could utilise the hard work of others in order to cut down the time it takes to create pathfinders. This could be done by using the existing unit planners and OPAC Resource Lists as a base for pathfinders. The school’s two Library Technicians (who already routinely create Resource Lists) could be taught how to make pathfinders. Additionally, as part of the reflection process, each grade level could complete a skeleton pathfinder of the most useful resources used during that unit. In the case of the latter strategies, it would be prudent for the TL to edit and flesh out the pathfinder with appropriate annotations and citations. The final step of publishing them on the Grade Level blog home page as well as the Library website would help ensure the pathfinders are used again.

 

Pathfinders can be a simple and powerful way to provide students with both relevant information and important ILS. I have learnt that regularly creating and updating pathfinders that are used in conjunction with explicit, in person, and frequent ILS instruction by the school TL can contribute to highly effective student research.

 

 

 

Why kids suck at REALLY using the web (and what we can do about it). September 17, 2013

Topic 6: Improving students’ web use

“One of the tasks of the TL is to persuade both students and teachers that students need to be not just web users but web learners. Improving students’ web use is not a simple task, as it requires that students are taught how to improve their web searching AND this teaching is embedded into curriculum programs across the school.” Module 6

Helpful ways to improve students’ web use:

  • Planning for web use through:
    • Mindmapping, concept mapping, brainstorming before online searching

http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/Organiser+Tools

    • Questioning  – what are they looking for, where might they find it, why that page/enginge, what criteria are they going to look for, what are their key words (based on their concept mapping)
  • Effective search strategies
    • concept mapping what constitutes good searching using http://www.wordle.net/
    • give groups of kids different search engines but same key words, compare top ten results
  • Reading for information

How do we teach students to be critical readers not just consumers of the information they find online?

    • Surely this will be taught in tandem with the website evaluation criteria – is the information reliable, current, educationally sound?
    • Teacher modeling of website deconstruction with pre-prepared website and notes!
    • Note taking, skim and scan, referring to list of pre-made questions
  • Reflecting on web use:

Students could ask themselves:

    • Were they effective in locating the information they needed?
    • Was the information useful for their purpose?
    • Did they plan the search well and did they use the correct search engine?
    • Were the keywords correct or did the student need to revise the search terms?

 

Important other notes gathered from the readings:

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

Three major components of Web literacy skills:

  • Web searching skills (find the right information)
  • Web reading skills (understanding how text online differs from static text – hyperlinks, multi-modal information etc – and therefore being able to understand the content; most of the content on the web is aimed far too high for our elementary aged students therefore a high level of reading and comprehension is expected and needed; when students do not know how to use the Web in a critical way, knowledge cannot be obtained.
  • Web evaluating skills (able to critically assess the reliability and authority of the author/website)

Tendencies in student web use (why they often suck at it):

  • inflexibility – they stick to one search strategy and one search engine, regardless of how terrible the results
  • impulsiveness/impatience – hopping from one site to another, randomly clicking on “interesting” links, not checking spelling
  • focusing on finding the “one right” answer – making their focus too narrow, omiting good websites because of careless or too broad reading; forgetting that just because the “answer” is there, doesn’t mean the website is reliable or has authority.
  • lack of reflection – no point in having the 3 web literacy skills if you don’t reflect on your web experience

“It is not enough to look at the Web as merely a replacement of print information resources.”

“…when students do not know how to use the Web in a critical way, knowledge cannot be obtained.”

Regardless of being taught other strategies and directed to multiple search engines, students in the study STILL went to Google first and foremost. (As do most of us, c’mon, admit it!)

“the school needs to deal with Web use in earlier school years, when students have not yet fully developed their own Web using habits.”

“At home, students do not learn critical reading and reflective skills naturally. They need others to show them the need for such skills and to learn their specific use. At school, these skills are already part of the literacy curriculum but mostly with respect to conventional reading resources only. In fact, most students learn such skills from print-based methods and do not apply them when using the Web as a matter of course.”

 

Valenza, J. (2004). Thinking and behaving info-fluently. Learning & Leading With Technology, 32(3), 38-43.

This is a really useful article, giving many helpful “how to’s” and “why should’s” for teaching info-fluency. A great read for teachers too, if you wanted to give them the short version of why and how to get kids better at using the net.

Aimed at G5-12, which is too high for my audience but still useful for understanding the basics. Collaborating with grade level teams to translate this into elementary sized appropriate pieces would be great.

Key points

  • the info-fluent student
  • smart students are not always the best searchers
  • teachers aren’t very good searchers either
  • good searchers have common abilities and behaviours
    • prior knowledge, search choices, research holes, strategies, the process, advances searches, three types of searches, thinking about queries, quality, a sense of inquiry, a plan, mind tools, persistence and fussiness, consulting a professional
  • teachers can encourage better searching
    • create research challenges, evaluate students’ works-cited list, scaffold, create pathfinders with your librarian, create an appropriate search tool page for general student research, ask students to annotate their works-cited lists, use formative assessment to check student progress.

Other readings for Topic 6

Chung, J. and Neuman, D. (2007) High school students’ information seeking and use for class projects. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58(10), 1503-1517. Available CSU Library.

Herring, J. (2010) School students, question formulation and issues of transfer: a constructivist grounded analysis. Libri, 60(3) 218-229. Available CSU Library.

 

 

 

The hidden web August 22, 2013

ETL505 Module 3 – tools and systems

Periodical databases

I’ve really enjoyed using the CSU databases for my assignments. I just love the “all in one place” nature of them. It takes away all that “is it worthwhile?” factor of using a random internet search – all the credibility has pretty much been done for you. Truth be told, I also REALLY love that the referencing is also done in-site. Well, the database and BibMe… Hate referencing!

Required reading

‘Periodical databases’ and ‘citation databases’ on page 46 of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.

 

Federated search systems

Do a search on Primo or Trove to see the wide range of sources that are brought together by these federated search engines. 

Hey, WOW, how cool is Trove?! I did a search for Father Bob McGuire as I just love him. I used VERY loose parameters just to see what would get thrown up and, as expected, i did have to do A LOT of trawling but it was fantastic to see all the different hits in different places – lots of varying sources. So interesting. Definitely a place I would recommend for students to use (upper school, not my age group) for research.

Required reading

‘Federated search systems’ on pp. 46-48 of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.

 

Digital libraries

“A challenge for teacher librarians is how to integrate, and provide access to, selected external digital collections through the library to best serve the needs of their school community.”

This is absolutely true at our school. We have subscribed to so many amazing databases and digital libraries but because the teachers don’t have enough knowledge about how to use them, the kids rarely access them. The reall key to utilizing these amazing resources is teacher PD. Hider also makes the interesting point in his section on library catalogues and how they could/should incorporate results from databases and digital libraries when searched. I wonder how this could be possible when the databases are subscription based?

 

Resources

‘Digital collections’, pp. 51-52, of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.

Explore ‘The scope of digital libraries’, pp. 7-9 and ‘Metadata: Elements of organisation’ pp. 285-286 of Witten, I. H., Bainbridge, D., & Nichols, D. M. (2010)

. How to build a digital library. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann. Available from CSU eBooks.

Scootle http://www.scootle.edu.au/ec/p/home is an example of an Australian educational digital library for schools.

http://www.esa.edu.au/projects/national-digital-learning-resources-network

 

Searching, searching, searching…

ETL505 Module 2 – tools and systems

Search engines

Regardless of how effective other forms of information organisation and retrieval are, kids still rely on google, first and foremost.

Never mind the fact that our library has outstanding databases that have been thoroughly researched and written to be appropriate, kids still go to what is easiest and what they really do believe is going to be easiest. Grrr!

To be honest, I also blame the teachers! I see how little emphasis they put on our collection of databases and how easily they let kids rely on Mr Google, even without teaching them how to search EFFECTIVELY. We have a long way to go before our students are web learners instead of just web searchers.

 

Wowsers, spam tagging! I had never heard of that phrase before but it certainly explains some of the very dodgy hits I get occasionally when I use search engines!

Search by image?! Oh. how. cool. is. that?!

Screen shot of my "search by image" in Google

Screen shot of my “search by image” in Google

While my search didn’t bring up anything as cool as the Google intro video, I still love the concept. It would be extremely handy if you wanted to help someone identify a place or animal.

Music search engines

What rock have I been hiding under that I haven’t been utilising Pandora?! Created a “station” using the search tag of U2 and every.single.song that came up in the playlist caused me to squeal with delight! Maybe I was doing it wrong but I couldn’t see the search box for a specific song, just an artist/genre/composer.

Spotify required me to sign up and while I could access most of the mp3.com site, my computer lacked some kind of plug in or player to use the site to it’s fullest.

To be honest, if I’m looking up a song, I really like Shazam. Granted, you have to HEAR the song to use the app but at least the result is instantaneous.

Resources

‘Search engines’, pp. 53-54, of Hider, P. (2012). Information resource description. London: Facet.

 

iOPAC, one system can do it all. Maybe.

ETL505 Module 2: Tools and systems

Tools used in libraries for organising information include:

  • Library catalogues
  • Periodical databases
  • Citation databases
  • Image and other special kinds of database
  • Bibliographies and subject guides
  • Online subject gateways and directories
  • Search engines

The library catalogue

Our OPAC, Destiny, is a treasure trove of awesome once people know how to use it. Sadly, most do not. Students and teachers can do basic searches for materials in Destiny Quest – the “kid” interface – but any further than that and they are stumped.

During my time as a Lib Tech, I was often astounded at how much amazing information lay dormat in Destiny just waiting to be used effectively. Teachers had no idea they could search through the “back door” and use the same system we (LT and the librarian) did, thereby getting such better results.

I continue to be frustrated by staff who don’t see why it’s so important to catalogue physical technology resources such cameras, laptops etc through the library catalogue. Why don’t they understand how much easier and more efficient it is to keep track of everything in one place? Accountability becomes  easier, budgeting more transparent and workflow much smoother!

When all resources in a school are catalogued through the library… “audit reports can be generated easily for senior administration and stock takes for all resources in the school can be carried out on a regular basis, an essential process for resource-poor schools which need to get maximum value and longevity for everything they purchase.” (Coombes, 2012)

 

An overview of the roles a school library catalogue can potentially play in a schools educational programs.

Coombes, B. (2012). SCIS | Practical curriculum opportunities and the library catalogue. SCIS | Schools Catalogue Information Service. Retrieved August 22, 2013, from http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_82_2012/articles/practical_curriculum_opportunities.html

 

The interweb said what?! August 18, 2013

ETL501 Module 3: Critical evaluation of print and e-resources

‘…TLs will be evaluating websites which, as far as possible, match the learning needs of their students – and obviously, these needs will be different for students in Year 7 or Year 12. Website evaluation, therefore, starts with student needs, and not with websites.”

Barbara Coombes, (2013) module 3

 

Surely this area is one of the most important jobs we have as TLs – getting the right info to the right kids at the right time.

How best to ensure the quality of the e-resources we guide them towards? Run all e-resources through criteria based on three key areas:

  • educational quality/relevancy,
  • reliability
  • technical aspects

The following questions can help crystalize the criteria:

  • Does the site meet the TL’s or teacher’s purpose?
  • What is the range of reading levels of the student group for whom the website is being considered?
  • Does the site contain activities for students?
  • Does the site allow for differentiation?
  • Will the site extend the learning of the student group?

Useful links

http://www.cyberbee.com/content.pdf – provides very comprehensive criteria to evaluate websites. Not kid friendly but good for TL/teacher use in planning stages.

http://kathyschrock.net/eval/pubs/weval_02.pdf – very comprehensive “think abouts” for website evaluation for teachers/TLs, not helpful for kids.

 

Readings for website evaluation

Barcalow, T. (2003). CARS: Evaluating websites.

Ferguson, J. (2005). Why evaluate information found on the Web?

Harris, R. (2010). Evaluating Internet research resources.

Johnson, D. and Lamb, A. (2007). Evaluating internet resources

McGraw-Hill. (2001). How to judge the reliability of Internet information.

Porter, J. (2003). Testing the three click rule

Rogers, T. (2013). Eight ways to tell if a website is reliable. 

Schrock, K. (1996 – 2009). Critical evaluation surveys

Schrock, K. (2009). The 5 Ws of website evaluation: For students

 

Assignment 2: evaluative and reflective statement February 2, 2012

A) An evaluative statement using three (3) experiences documented in your OLJ as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of the subject

The OLJ tasks that best represent my understanding of social networking (SN) technologies are the ones in which I discuss how teacher librarians (TLs) can assist teachers to use RSS feeds to better themselves both as educators and as well rounded people, and my exploration of the strengths and areas of improvement of delicious. Above and beyond that, however, is the ‘off topic’ work I participated in during January. The exploration of FriendFeed (incorporating my burgeoning use of Twitter) and delicious, along with the creation of a new Facebook page on educational technology showed that I could competently navigate SN for my own purposes. This personalisation of SN will serve me well in transfering my new skill set into the school environment. The whole concept of using SN for the creation of my professional learning network (PLN) is exciting me beyond expectation and I am proudly flying my computer geek flag!

The Library 2.0 concept is so stimulating and the meme map included in one of my module response posts really helped me understand the concept more clearly. To my mind, the whole point of Library 2.0 is to use emerging and existing technology to better meet the information needs of my school. Library 2.0 and participatory library service is NOT about having the latest tool that does the coolest  new thing, faster and with a better interface than ever before. If it’s not relevant, if it doesn’t get users excited and pushing for more, then no matter how ‘cool’ a SN tool is, it will be a waste of time and effort and my teachers will simply turn their nose up at it. Knowing what your teachers need and when, then differentiating content and training for them based on those needs, is absolutely the best way to immerse schools into the concepts, theories and practices of Library 2.0 without instilling fear of change. I believe that the underlying principles of Web 2.0 can, and should be, mirrored by effective Library 2.0 TLs: education can only be better if we engage in collaboration, conversation, community and content creation (or co-creation). These practices must be part of the exploration process.  If teachers are creators, users who collaborate and converse in virtual and real life communities, then they are far more likely to use SN tools critically and for authentic purposes, not just because they are interesting or ‘the latest thing’. These values are reflected in my questioning and ruminations on how teachers can be part of best practice dialogue and action using RSS, delicious and other SN tools like FriendFeed. Bernoff and Li’s (2010) ladder concept was hugely influential in my understanding of how SN is both perceived and used.

To effectively scaffold my interpretation of Library 2.0, I must evaluate and know the features and functionality of any social networking reliant information tool or software and how that tool can best be used to meet the needs of their staff and students. I demonstrated that knowledge through my critical examination of delicious. This was especially evident when I highlighted how different aspects of the social bookmarking tool can be a help or hindrance when collecting information for units of inquiry. Additionally, in my RSS OLJ task, I clearly pointed out there were issues that needed to be solved in how teachers could authentically gather information that was personally relevant to them in one place. I also made clear in my marketing strategy post that professional developing in the SN area must be differentiated if the tools and training itself is to be on any use. 

Participating in SN means being cognizant of the inherent social, cultural, educational, ethical, and technical management issues that exist in a socially networked world. In my experience and opinion, these include, but are not limited to, privacy, cyber bullying, access to technology in and out of school, funding for staff and hardware/software, bias (in programming and in content), confidence levels and attitude, gender and age stereotypes, censorship and intellectual property. There is no bigger arena for these issues than when students and teachers are creators within the SN world. Collaborating and  communicating within a community, perhaps using a SN tool itself, such as delicious to discuss, analyse, evaluate and overcome these issues is paramount.

B) Reflective statement on your development as a social networker as a result of studying INF506, and the implications for your development as an information professional.

Funnily enough, the spark that ignited the flame of interest in social networking (SN) came right at the beginning of the subject but not necessarily as part of the subject! I was researching blogging in late November with the view that I would use it as the basis of my first assignment both in this subject and in EER500. I stumbled across a Sydney Morning  Herald article by Haesler (2011) which referenced the notion of personal learning networks (PLNs).The concept came at exactly the right time for me and drove my learning from then on.

Admittedly, my learning through this subject has come in fits and spurts, depending on the information need I had at any given time. Of course, I learnt a great deal through the modules, with regular a’ha moments steering me off on tangents of excitement. However, the real learning came when I could use the new SN tools I was exploring for real world purposes, in situations where my blood was really pumping and I pushed myself to go further, test the technologies more so that I could get the result I wanted. This was especially obvious in my delicious Stacks on positive parenting. Whilst, admittedly, this was not 100% work related, as a primary teacher, we are also surrogate parents so I guess it could come under the banner of parent education! I’m part of many parenting communities online, mostly consisting of members who are constantly in need of more information to inform and affirm their parenting. I loved having a tangible community service purpose for my own reading. Knowing my use of social bookmarking could potentially help another parent overcome hurdles is exhilarating and very gratifying. I am now looking ahead and planning how I can harness this energy and apply it to my professional life. The most obvious is helping teachers and grade levels organise their online resources into curriculum areas.

Blogging has always been my favourite use of social networking technologies, even before starting this course. When my husband and I started our lives as international vagabonds, we began a travel blog that allowed our families and friends to share our travels. This blogging experience helped me feel enthused about using an OLJ to record my learning in my M.Ed (TL) across many subjects, including this one.  My interest in blogging now goes beyond the personal. As witnessed in my first assignment for this subject, the benefits of educational blogging for primary aged students are huge. I am so excited to share my study with the school involved and be an active participant in seeing my recommendations a reality.

Facebook is another SN tool that has been enhanced through my involvement in this subject. I’ve been an avid facebooker for many years on a personal level, using it as another way to connect with distant loved ones. However, the innovative and, for me, game-changing use of facebook for educational purposes demonstrated in this course has helped me see how I can harness it’s power. I love the idea of teachers using the page I created – virtually schools – as a lead in to their own learning; a place where they can discuss and share ideas. I am planning on offering my services as ‘PLN facilitator’ to the teachers involved in my blogging case study and will use my facebook page as its beginning platform because I know all the teachers on the team are already comfortable with the tool.

One frustration I have experienced over the course of this subject has been the difficulty in relating much of what we are learning about to the primary school student. I’ve started a post collating relevant articles, information and ideas expressly for this purpose. I will add these to my Virtually School FB page for others to benefit from.

My own intense engagement with SN in both personal and professional contexts over the past six or seven weeks has made very clear to me, over and over again, how essential personal relevance is to the implementation of SN in schools. Teachers simply will not use a tool for a tool’s sake; they must see how it can be used to better their teaching and to make them a more efficient educator with the little time they have. My mission and catch cry going forward: personally relevant, educationally effective.

References

Bernoff, J., & Li, C. (2010, January 19). Empowered. Forrester Blogs | Making Leaders Successful Every Day. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2010/01/conversationalists-get-onto-the-ladder.html

Haesler, D. (2011, November 14). For today’s learners, it just clicks. The Sydney Morning Herald. pastedGraphic.pdfhttp://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/for-todays-learners-it-just-clicks-20111113-1ndwi.html

 

 
loving the learning

continuing tales of a teacher librarian

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Reflections and thoughts on ETL401.

ETL507 PROFESSIONAL REFLECTIVE PORTFOLIO

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