Sarah Elliott’s Blog

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Archive for the ‘Information Literacy’ Category

Student Discussion Groups

Posted by sarahelliott on May 26, 2009

These 2 videos show the preliminary findings by the Project Information Literacy team on what it means to be an undergraduate student in the digital age. The accompanying article makes for interesting reading, especially when I’m thinking about evaluating information process models. It highlights students’ concerns as they learn in the digital age and makes me think about what would be an effective information process model to have in school that would give students the skills that they need before leaving school rather than them arriving at university without them.

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Information Process Models

Posted by sarahelliott on May 25, 2009

OK, maybe I’m turning into a TL geek (!) but I can’t help it, I am really enjoying reading about Kuhlthau’s ISP and the I-Search process! It’s as if I ‘ve developed the itch that Ken Macrorie is often cited as referring to…
From Kuhlthau’s model, I really like the emphasis that is placed on the affective side of the research process. I can identify in myself the feelings that she lists for each stage of the process. Undoubtedly, I have been struck by anxiety, doubt and confusion and those negative feelings have become far more positive as I have made progress and neared closure on my assignments. Of course, they all returned when I was nervously awaiting my first assessment mark! However, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed that she stops her information model at search closure/ presentation – I find myself asking what about the rest? What about the guidance for learners on what happens once you’ve collected the information for your focus?…
The I-Search model is one that I can really imagine working for learners of all ages. Its apparently simple nature is one that I believe students would be really comfortable working with. It is prescriptive in terms of getting students to reflect on all elements of the search process. In a way, I can imagine students all blogging away to log their thoughts for their I-Search papers. I-Search represents genuine student-centred learning. Learners are given far more ownership of their work than with more traditional research styles, as they are given real choice.
Inevitably, the learners will become more personally involved in their projects and therefore more engaged. I can’t help but think that perhaps this should have been the style that was used for our second assignment. Information Process Models could have been the overarching topic, we could have read through various general information on that and from there, determined what we found genuinely interesting. Then we could have formed a focus of our own within the main topic.
I am really interested in I-Search – it seems like such an applicable process and one that truly encourages metacognition. I would love to pursue it further, but it is so difficult to find the time to do more than the necessary as we are required to write about 3 information process models. I hate the idea of ‘doing the necessary reading’ – if anything, in all the reading that I have done about information literacy and inquiry and constructivism… this is a notion that we should be seeking to avoid – so why doesn’t the course practice what its preaching on this?…
Tied into this idea of choice and interest and engaging learners, why are we all required to write traditional style research papers? We are individuals with different strengths and weaknesses. We are learning about learning styles, multiple intelligences and student-led learning, yet we are all required to churn out the same kind of final product. What if someone thinks there is a different (more creative) style to present their findings in?
I feel like I’m learning to think more critically, which is fantastic!!! I  am so happy and so taken by this course in so many ways, but at the same time I am beginning to feel a little disappointed that we are all expected to fit one mould. I would love to see more scope for personal interest.

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Teaching the Information Process

Posted by sarahelliott on May 25, 2009

I have just read Joy McGregor’s article “Teaching the Information Process: Helping Students Become Lifelong Learners” and once again, I feel that she has hit me right in my Zone of Proximal Development! I’m not sure what it is about her articles, but they just seem to make simple sense to me! Anyhow, I really enjoyed reading this article, as I felt that it didn’t just tell me the usual information that I must have read multiple times now – that is that we are living in the information age, students are confronted by countless data, they need the skills to deal with all that information (which of course is totally valid and true and I admit I did state all of the above in my previous assignment…). But, what I liked about McGregor’s article is that she gets right to the simple essence of the problem, yes the above is the case, but what is really worrying is when the parties involved just assume that students already know about the information process, what it is and how to apply it. One of the most important messages that I got out of the article is that we mustn’t assume that students already know what to do.  We must remember that ‘they need guidance to make the (research) experience enjoyable, engaging, enriching and meaningful’ (p. 7) It is important for us all to remember that the research process is complex and we should work together to help students feel comfortable with it.

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Fresh idea and thinking in response to literature.

Posted by sarahelliott on March 30, 2009

Feeling inspired by all the reading that I have done (yes I think it’s paying off!) on ILSCs and the role of the TL, I think it’s time that I tried to become a ‘catalyst for change’ in our school!
If ,in order to be a successful ILSC, the whole school community must be the focus of the learning process, then the staff too should be actively involved in building upon their knowledge and skills. Through my new understanding of the role of the TL, I am looking to how I can show leadership and initiative by encouraging the development of an ILSC in our school.
I have decided to try to introduce the idea of sharing knowledge better within our faculty.
How? By developing a system for sharing video clips, podcasts and potentially articles with each other. My initial idea was to somehow create a space on our virtual learning environment where people could post these PD resources. The reasoning for this was that everytime staff log on to our VLE they are immediately told of new items that have been added since their last visit. This way, they would hopefully click on the link and be presented with the relevant resource. However, I’m not convinced that our VLE is totally suitable for this purpose. Therefore, I am considering developing a wikispace. Another staff member also supports this suggestion, as it would enable us to create different pages for different curriculum areas and pedagogical ideas. My vision is to have an organised area where people can post items and where we can discuss our ideas and thoughts on them. I particularly like the idea of posting video and audio clips, as they are so accessible and don’t require the same intense level of concentration as reading an article.
The problem? How to get the staff to keep checking the wikispace? I am wondering if it’s possible to set up some sort of live link to the VLE to alert staff when new resources are posted… Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated – share information with me and help me become better informed!
Of course, I’ve never set up a wikispace before, but I’m taking confidence from the fact that I’ve succeeded in creating a blog. There ain’t no stopping me now!

Posted in Information Literacy, Topic 2 | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Information Literate School Community

Posted by sarahelliott on March 24, 2009

In Henri’s chapter on the information literate school community (ILSC), he sets out to define exactly what is meant by an ILSC. It is clear upon reading his work that an ILSC does not have to be a physical place, but is an idea and a philosophy that a school should aim to develop. In a successful ILSC, the whole school community (not only the students) is the focus of the learning process -learning how to be informed. It is especially important to recognise the need for all teachers to become masters of being informed, as they are to act as role models for the students in the school.

The sharing of information and knowledge with our peers can help us all better our own knowledge and skills. Issues that are linked to an ILSC should be addressed in staff meetings and through professional development and in-school training. The principal of a school should act as a leader and instill in others an openness to new ideas and a desire and eagerness to learn new skills. The Teacher Librarian should also play a key role in the development of an ILSC, as they should help facilitate collaboration and implement professional development programmes that will assist other staff members to understand information literacy better and to provide them with strategies to integrate it into their teaching (p.25).

Henri sees the Teacher Librarian as a leader for change within a school. Somebody who other teachers will look to for help with implementing what they have learned, for expertise on issues such as copyright and plagiarism, for knowledge on latest technologies and resources. In my experience, teacher librarians have never had such an important role within a school. They have not necessarily been viewed as having the same authority as teachers and too often, teachers have not made use of the expertise that a TL has to offer. In modern times, the TL is becoming more of an expert (not just in terms of knowing different resources that are available) and more of a curriculum leader in school. They are taking on new responsibilities that will raise their status within the school community. I hope that the school community is ready for this change and are happy to collaborate with the TL and share knowledge and skills together.

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Resource-Based Learning

Posted by sarahelliott on March 9, 2009

After reading through the literature on resource-based learning, I am writing down some of my thoughts and impressions. I have also shared some of these on the Topic 1 forum – so apologies for the repetition if you have already read my post there.
Over the past 4 years I have worked in 2 IBO schools as a class teacher in the primary years. The IB PYP curriculum promotes the idea of the constructivism and learners making meaning for themselves and hence, requires RBL in the classroom.
I personally totally support the RBL approach, as I think that it is imperative that students are active learners and that schools are learner-centred. I agree with all the reading that I have done that talks about information literacy skills and learners needing to know how to learn. It is so important that they have the opportunity to develop those skills of locating, evaluating, using and communicating information. I’m only 28, but when I think back to when I was in Primary school, we really didn’t have the chance to find things out for ourselves, we were simply taught what we were required to know and judged on how well we remembered that information! This method does not create lifelong learners… RBL certainly better prepares students for life. It gives them the skills to find out about what they want to know, it turns them into problem-solvers and it engages the learner, as they are genuinely interested in the information that they find.
I understand and appreciate teacher concerns over students needing to know the basics too. It would be ridiculous to push RBL if it were at the expense of children knowing how to read and write. However, I don’t believe that it needs to be about either RBL or direct teaching. I think that it is important to remember (and this point is also made in the reading) that of course sometimes you have to direct-teach certain things. There is a time and a place for that kind of teaching too. For example, you have to introduce phonics (or other methods for teaching reading) to your youngest classes in order for them to develop their reading skills, but perhaps you do this in a way that gets them thinking more about what they are learning, rather than just directing them. Also, it’s worth considering how understanding and use of certain elements (grammatical, spelling etc) can be assessed through the student product that has come about from their RBL. For example, if they have created a newspaper report about an area of study, do they use direct speech correctly?
RBL aims to make students interested in learning more about the world, in making them into inquirers. Of course, the teacher must still structure the learning and guide the students, but the learning is much more open.
As a teacher, I love the fact that we might not be able to answer all of a student’s questions about a certain topic or theme. That’s the beauty of it all – we don’t have to know everything! But, we can help that student by helping them think about how to find the answer to their question, how to interpret the information that they are confronted with. We can facilitate their learning.
The role of the teacher librarian in resource-based learning is paramount. The TL should work in collaboration with class teachers to ensure that suitable resources are available in the library and they should design learning activities that will help students understand how to use those resources to support their learning. The TL should also support the teaching of information literacy skills to the students so that they are able to use those skills to further their inquiries.

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