Blog Task: One
Using your readings for this unit choose one of the following topics to write a 500 word reflective piece which demonstrates your understanding of the role of the teacher librarian with regard to this aspect of Teacher Librarian Practice. Comment on the role of the Teacher Librarian in practice with regard to – The convergence of literacies in the 21st century.
To demonstrate my full understanding of the role of a teacher librarian in regards to teacher librarian practice and the convergence of literacies in the 21st century I must first define this multidimensional role within the school community. Teacher librarians wear many hats; they are educators, librarians, literacy leaders, mangers, developers and information specialists. They play a vital role in student education. They constantly strive to challenge and engage their students. They abide by a set of professional practices to ensure high quality teaching. They are focused on effective learning outcomes and equip their students with essential knowledge and long-lasting educational skills.
In this digital age of web 2.0 the way in which students acquire knowledge and teachers teach has changed rapidly. “There is no question that learning in the 21st century is different to learning in earlier contexts, in its scope, in its complexity and in its fluid interactivity with online environments”. (O’Connell & Groom, 2010, p. 12) This new convergence of literacies means students no longer require the stereotyped librarian who sits behind a desk and checks out books all day. Instead today teacher librarians require a ‘hands on’ approach to learning and a willingness to try new things. “Those who are truly literate in the twenty-first century will be those who learn to both read and write the multimedia language on the screen”. (Lippincott, 2007, p.17) Only then can teacher librarians excel in their craft and enhance student learning.
If steps are not taken to change and adapt to the convergence of literacies in the 21st century I fear the role of the teacher librarian risks becoming obsolete. Just as the job of the supermarket checkout chick is being replaced by self-checkout machines or bank teller positions that are being replaced by ATMs and Online Banking. Lankes (2012) strongly argues that the “efforts to lay off or consolidate school library positions are so misguided. The room and the books are all a product of a learning process, not the method – that is the school librarian”. (Lankes, 2012, p.11) If a student were to undertake a quick internet search a plethora of information immediately becomes available to them. However the information itself becomes ineffective if the guidance and knowledge base provided by a teacher librarian is non-existent.
In order to prevent redundancy teacher librarians must move with the times, evolve as a profession and expand and explore new avenues of learning on a continual basis. They must acknowledge the convergence of literacies – written, visual, and digital, “create lessons that incorporate the standards of the 21st century learner with the academic standards in order to create authentic learning”. (Harvey, 2010, p.39) Be willing to incorporate new technologies in their teaching and guide students to relevant resources that will enhance learning outcomes.
Herring (2007) suggests, and I agree, in order for Teacher Librarians to gain professional excellence they need to adapt to new pedagogies and technologies that best serve their students and their school. They must be committed to this cause and be willing to continue to learn and adapt throughout their professional practice.
By implementing and embracing new technologies, by acknowledging the convergence of literacies in the 21st century and by continually adapting to new pedagogies the teacher librarian will continue to be viewed as a pivotal role among students, colleagues and the wider school community. The enormity of such a role can seem overwhelming but the roles rewards prevail over any apprehension.
Harvey, C.A. (2010) The 21st Century Elementary Library Media Program
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.
Lankes, D.R. (2012) Joining the conversation – School librarians as facilitators of learning. 39 (3), p. 8-12
Lippincott, J.K (2007) Student Content Creators: Convergence of Literacies EDUCAUSE review Nov/Dec Issue, p.16-17
O’Connell, J and Groom, D (2010) Connect, communicate, collaborate – Learning in a changing world.
An essential aspect of teacher librarian practice is implementing a Guided Inquiry approach in student learning. Guided Inquiry has been defined by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) as “an approach or methodology which allows students to seek and engage with a variety of ideas to increase their understanding in pursuit of knowledge and greater awareness”. (ALIA/ASLA, 2009, p.1) Teacher librarians develop library lessons that incorporate Guided Inquiry methodologies to modify learning experiences that suit the needs of individual students. These lessons incorporate curriculum based learning requirements and provide students with the necessary skills for lifelong learning.
Guided Inquiry is a collaborative, practical approach to learning. It “enables learners to develop higher-order thinking through guidance at critical points in the learning process. Learners are able to use a variety of sources of information and different modes of learning to enhance their deeper understandings”. (ALIA/ASLA, 2009, p.1) Learning through Guided Inquiry is more than just about gathering information. It’s about students taking responsibility for their own learning, about students developing a deeper understanding in their work and about students being able to successfully transfer new knowledge into everyday life situations.
Guided Inquiry is closely related to a constructivist learning environment. “In a constructivist learning environment, the instructional team needs keen observational skills to teach and assess learners as well as to notice when a learning need arises. When the team observes confusion and uncertainty, they need to be ready to intervene”. (Kuhlthau & Maniotes, 2010, p.1) An interesting term for this method of teaching has been referred to by Smith (2012) as ‘Helicopter Librarians’. This concept is based on the positive aspects of ‘Helicopter Parenting’. Where a parent hovers over a child’s everyday interactions interceding whenever a problem or an unpleasant situation occurs. During the Guided Inquiry process the role of the teacher librarian takes the place of the parent. They hover over student activity and intervene whenever a student need arises. They clarify any uncertainty and step back when students have fully grasped the concept.
For many educators, especially those whose teaching methods are solely based upon behaviourist approaches to learning, implementing a Guided Inquiry approach can be extremely daunting. A variety of frameworks, models and rubrics have been designed as a great first step to successfully implementing Guided Inquiry practices. One such instructional framework by Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari (2007) is The Information Search Process. This model “describes the thoughts, actions and feelings commonly experienced by students in each stage of the inquiry process”. (Todd, 2010, p.11)
This model has been described by Todd (2010) as an information-to-knowledge journey. It’s a seven staged process where students move away from simply collecting information. Instead they collect, extensively explore, prepare and present new information. The model serves as a strong basis for developing a program of inquiry based learning and effectively highlights areas where students may be struggling and where intervention may be required.
With regard to the aspect of implementing a Guided Inquiry approach teacher librarians must re-engineer their role and become proactive educational leaders. They must engage and encourage students, successfully collaborate with fellow educators to guide students on their quest for knowledge, and utilise instructional frameworks that have been proven to produce effective lifelong learners.
ALIA/ASLA. (2009). Policy on Guided Inquiry and the Curriculum. Joint policy of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) Retrieved from The Australian Library and Information Association website: http://www.alia.org.au/policies/guided.inquiry.html
Bonanno, K. (2011). Do school libraries really make a difference? InCite 32(5), 5. Retrieved from
Kuhlthau, C.C. (n.d.). Carol Collier Kuhlthau. Information Search Process. Retrieved from http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/~kuhlthau/information_search_process.htm
Kuhlthau, C.C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries World Wide 16(1), 17-28. Retrieved from
Kuhlthau, C.C. & Maniotes, L.K. (2010). Building Guided Inquiry Teams for 21st Century Learners. School Library Monthly 26(5), 18-21. Retrieved 01/08/2012, from Charles Stuart University website: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=013d0087-480b-46b4-b40691594e144949%40sessionmgr10&vid=1&hid=13&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=f5h&AN=47122065
Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L.K. & Caspari, A.K. (2007). Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century, Libraries Unlimited Westport CT. Retrieved from Google Books.
Lee, V.S. (2012). Inquiry-Guided Learning. New Directions for Learning and Teaching no.129 Wiley Periodicals, INC. Retrieved from EBook Library.
Smith, F.A. (2012). Helicopter librarian: Expect the unexpected. Library Journal. Retrieved Sept. 9, 2012, from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/08/opinion/backtalk/helicopter-librarian-expect-the-unexpected-backtalk/
Todd, R.S. (2010). Curriculum Integration – Learning in a changing world:
Blog Task: Three
Information skills are an essential component of information literacy however other essential foundations are also involved. To explain this further let’s look at a six year old who has just learnt to read. In learning to read the child now possess a new set of skills. Now ask the child to read a medical journal. The child may possess the necessary skills to read, and might even be able to read some of the words, but they would not yet be at an age to fully understand what they were reading. Information literacy is more than just a set of skills.
Information literacy has been defined by Herring as a “critical and reflective ability to exploit the current information environment and to adapt to new information environments; and as a practice”. (Herring, 2010, p.63) This definition views information literacy as an ability rather than as a set of skills. Herring (2010) believes students can become effective information practitioners if they first think about what skills to use, and then reflect on why they might use a particular skill.
From a practical viewpoint a teacher librarian could incorporate information literacy models into their everyday library programs. These models would provide students with the ability to locate, filter through and utilise information effectively. They would also provide students with a strongly embedded set of practices that could be used throughout their entire learning lifetime. The librarian could incorporate these models via mind mapping or brainstorming exercises or by encouraging students to develop their own personal search strategies. The teacher librarian could further ensure the success of these models by collaborating closely with fellow educators to ensure students transferred their new found abilities across the curriculum.
Michael Eisenberg (2008), co-developer of The Big 6 model believes it is critical for people to recognise their information needs and to progress through a series of stages to solve information problems effectively and efficiently. Eisenberg also discusses the importance of student reflection. Students should always reflect on how well they understood and used their information resources. From a practical viewpoint teacher librarians could incorporate student self-evaluation sheets. These documents would support student reflections and allow students to see what they did well and where they could improve. They would also provide the teacher librarian with some hard evidence on how well students were actually taught. They would become a source of continued personal development for the teacher librarian.
Langford (1998) argues teacher librarians are responsible for both the distinct concept referred to as information literacy and the development and encouragement of an array of skills that include information and thinking. Everyday students are faced with countless life decisions. As they mature their life choices will become more complex. As adults they may need to decide which school to send their children to, where to find the best doctor, or where to holiday. To successfully answer these questions in later life students must first recognise that they need to locate a particular type of information. Then they must possess an effective combination of information literacy skills to research, evaluate and effectively utilise up-to-date information proving information literacy is more than a set of skills.
Abilock, D. (2004). Information literacy: An overview of design, process and outcomes. Retrieved 12/09/2012, from Charles Sturt University website: 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), 39-47. Retrieved 14/09/2012, from Charles Sturt University website: http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ehost/detail?sid=f5db57cf-b9f840a38f8f72af06fcd7bb40sessionmgr11&vid=1&hid=21&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=lih&AN=51198131
Herring, J. (2006). A critical investigation of students’ and teachers’ views of the use of information literacy skills in school assignments School Library Media Research, 9. American Library Association. Retrieved 11/09/2012, from Charles Sturt University website: http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume9/informationliteracy
Herring, J. E. (2011). Improving Students’ Web Use and Information Literacy – A guide for teachers and teacher librarians. Facet Publishing.
Langford, L. (1998). Information literacy: a clarification. From Now On the
Educational Technology Journal. Retrieved 11/09/2012, from Charles Sturt University website: http://www.fno.org/sept98/clarify.html
Thomas, N. P., Crow, S. R., & Franklin, L. L. (2011). Chapter 3: The Information Search Process: Kuhlthau’s legacy. In Information literacy and information skills instruction: Applying research to practice in the 21st century school library (3rd ed., pp. 33-58). Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved 13/09/2012, from Charles Sturt University website: http://CSUAU.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=715256
Wolf, S., Brush, T., & Saye, J. (2003). The Big Six information skills as a
metacognitive scaffold: A case study School Library Media Research, 6. American Library Association. Retrieved 13/09/2012, from Charles Stuart University website: