Saturday, 18 October 2014

ETL 501: Assignment 2: Part 2: Critical Reflection

I created a pathfinder for Year 5, based on the Science understanding – ‘The Earth is part of a system of planets orbiting around a star’ (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2013). It is worthwhile considering the curricular context of the pathfinder, the information literacy skills it aims to develop, an analysis of my learning through the development process and how it relates to my potential role as a teacher librarian.
The focus of the pathfinder was specifically on information about the solar system. The information on the home page was included to provide a context for student learning, which alongside with the sharing of outcomes is essential to meaningful learning (Pardoe, 2009, p. 35). The provision of resources in this pathfinder is aimed at enabling students, regardless of reading or cognitive level, to locate, identify and classify facts about planets. These resources can then be used by students to apply, analyse and evaluate the information they have selected. This incorporation of higher order thinking skills into the use of the pathfinder provides for curriculum differentiation and scaffolding (Conklin, 2010, p. 80). The focus is not on there being a ‘correct’ planet to choose but on what information they locate, select and evaluate to support their judgment.
This is the first time that I have created a pathfinder utilising readability tools and website evaluation criteria. The use of these tools was eye opening. One of the best aesthetically designed and age appropriate websites, Planets for Kids (2014), was eliminated after my reliability criteria ascertained it was published by a 9 year old and his father, with no reference as to where they source their information. The search process was time consuming, with most websites unsuitable due to visual organisation and/or reading level. Through my frustration, I realised how significantly knowledge of scientific vocabulary contributes to student understanding (ACARA, 2013b). That by making a glossary an integral part of the search process, many of the previously inaccessible pages became accessible to students at a Year 5 reading level.
My learning of effective search strategies (Ferdinand, 2014, July 28 & August 17) enabled me to target more appropriate resources using boolean strategies and search filters, especially for locating images with non-commercial usage rights. Admittedly, I am still most comfortable with Google (2012) as my preferred search option, rather than employing the effective search habit of utilising more than one search engine (Boswell, n.d.) and must consciously address this if I am to further develop my web search expertise.
Access to the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) (Education Services Australia, 2013) from ETL 503 was vital for me to source potential resources in Australian school libraries. While I find both the search and filtering options of SCIS limited in their capacity, inclusion of reviews from Horn Book (2014) and School Library Journal (SLJ, 2014) were helpful in determining the appropriateness of materials for upper primary students. Google book preview links from SCIS also enabled me to see sample text for the assessment of reading levels.
A role of the teacher librarian is to support teachers explicitly teach information literacy skills within the context of a teaching and learning program (Australian School Library Association (ASLA), 2009). Through providing websites and print resources that have already been scrutinized for suitability, this should theoretically, allow both teachers and students to focus on development of skills to navigate, read and view subject specific texts and how to use the features of both print and online non-fiction texts. However, the one difficulty I encountered was not having a particular group of students or teachers to develop this pathfinder for, therefore having to ‘create’ a purpose (Combes, B. 2014). Without knowledge of current skills, understandings and prior knowledge to build on, it is difficult to evaluate whether this pathfinder is adequately tailored to meet the authentic learning needs and abilities of the students (ASLA, 2014).
This semester has contributed to strengthening my understanding of why Kaplan (2007) describes the teacher librarian as information specialist, media specialist, teacher and instructional partner. Learning how to build integrated library media programs like this pathfinder, ulitising effective search strategies and applying website criteria has taught me skills for effectively resourcing curriculum programs. Not only is it a useful tool for the development of information literacy skills, but I also see how it can be an effective pathway towards fostering collaborative partnerships for the benefit of student learning outcomes (Department of Education W.A., 2014).    
I am aware that I currently lack sufficient knowledge for creating a pathfinder that competently meets the needs for disability access (Conway, 2013). This critical learning about equitable access to technology is one that I must follow up and learn more about if I am to resource programs effectively (ASLA, 2014b).
Finding ways to support teachers in developing information literacy skills is one of our core roles as teacher librarians. Creating this pathfinder was a very practical and informative process about how to integrate information resources, technology and student learning across the curriculum.

Reference list

Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). The Australian curriculum v7.2: Science Foundation to Year 10. In The Australian Curriculum v7.2. Retrieved from
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013b). The Australian curriculum v7.2: Science: General capabilities. In The Australian Curriculum v7.2. Retrieved from

Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2009). Statement on information literacy skills. Retrieved from

Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2014). Resource based learning curriculum. Retrieved from

Boswell, W. (nd). Seven habits of highly effective websearchers. In Retrieved from

Combes, B. (2014). Websites – educational criteria [ETL501 Module 3.2] Retrieved October 16, 2014 from Charles Sturt University website

Conway, V. (2013). Experts in website accessibility. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from Charles Sturt University website

Department of Education WA. (2014). School library support: Role of library and staff. Retrieved from

Education Services Australia (2103). Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS). Retrieved from

Ferdinand, J. (2014, July 28). Rainforest task using boolean strategies (ETL 501). Retrieved from

Ferdinand, J. (2014, August 17). How Google-savvy are you? (ETL 501). Retrieved from

Google. (2013). Google Canada. Retrieved from

Kaplan, A. G. (2007). Is Your School Librarian ‘Highly Qualified’?. Phi Delta Kappan. 89(4), 300-303

Pardoe, D. (2009). Towards successful learning (ebook). Retrieved from Ebook Library. (2014). Planets for kids – free astronomy network for kids. Retrieved from

SLJ. (2014). School Library Journal. Retrieved from

The Horn Book. (2014). The horn book – publications about books for children and young adults. Retrieved from

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