How do we put a spotlight on literacy?

As the secondary librarian on this research team, I am conscious that information literacy features at many library-centric conferences, which illustrates the point Lisa makes in this blog post about preaching to the choir. My focus, since becoming involved with this TLRI, is to extend the conversation into wider education groups, to begin some of the conversations that need to happen, and shine a light on the examples that provide evidence for the success on student outcomes when teachers and librarians work together to make IL skills visible in the classroom.

Information Literacy Spaces

mum-photo.jpgIt’s a month now since I returned from the (very) sunny Northern Hemisphere, and the tan lines have all but faded away. The trip certainly included plenty of fun (and shopping!), but most of all it was an opportunity to present our research findings at two significant conferences on higher education.

Both conferences looked very relevant to the work we’re doing in the Information Literacy Spaces project. The first conference was the European First Year Higher Education Conference, held in beautiful Utrecht. I had high hopes for this conference, as I have a long-held interest in student transition to higher education, both from a research perspective, but also in my role as a Director of Teaching and Learning at Massey University. And, indeed, there were some interesting papers. But the whole focus of the conference seemed to be about testing students at point of entry and ensuring students’ skills/knowledge matched…

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Formative Assessments: Our Compass for Understanding Affective, Cognitive, and Physical Aspects of Information Search Processes

I have been a huge admirer of Buffy Hamilton’s work for a number of years, and as I venture further into collaborative planning and teaching with my staff it makes more and more sense.

I love her concept of Birds of a Feather searching groups. I also like her concept for pre-research/search mapping. In my experience this is an area in the research process that doesn’t have enough time allocated to it. Having visual maps and scaffolds helps to give it due credence. I also love the “ticket out the door” method of getting students to reflect on the period of work they’ve just completed. It also gives opportunities for more targeted interventions as required.

I encourage you to read this meaty post if you are:
1. following my posts about teacher librarian collaboration
2. interested in the Guided Inquiry process by Carol Kulhthau
3. considering ways to work more closely with teachers or librarians

The Tertiary Prep Programme 2015

TTPP SBHS Title page

It’s been a great learning journey to date.  Six years on and The Tertiary Prep Programme a la 2015 only vaguely resembles the unit designed in the fledgling days as I tentatively began forming my thoughts about preparing students for the transition to further study.

After presenting on the work I had begun at Hargest at the LILAC Conference in 2012 I had a whole new lens thrown across it when I began working at Southland Boys’ High School.  Two years of further thinking, trialling, talking and tweaking has now led to the development of a programme designed not for just one particular school, but for any school wanting a solution to bridging the gaps between secondary and tertiary study.

So at the end of last month, at a workshop presentation during the recent SLANZA Conference I launched The Tertiary Prep Programme to a group of librarians and teachers.

Why should we be considering this type of programme in our secondary schools? Recent research out of Massey University, published in the current SET magazine indicates areas of concern in how prepared students are for the switch to tertiary learning. Lisa Emerson and fellow researchers Angela Feekery and Ken Kilpin make some clear conclusions from their work with a group of secondary and tertiary teachers.  Watch out for a blog post on The Tertiary Prep Programme website about this article, Lets talk about literacy: preparing students for the transition to tertiary learning, in coming days.

If you are interested in learning more about The Tertiary Prep Programme, visit the website, check out the resources and follow the site.  I would like it to grow into a community of educators who can share ideas, thoughts and suggestions with each other.

If you’re interested in my next steps with tertiary prep or you’d like my brief summary of the issues and mitigating factors relating to the research article then be sure to take a look at my conference presentation on Slideshare.

And if you’d like support towards embedding a tertiary prep programme in your school, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I’d love to work with you!

Research and the Internet – Are we getting smarter?

Human – business evolution

Reused from Flickr with Creative Commons License

I have just finished reading a thought-provoking article from the American Psychological Association regarding research into whether internet searching makes us feel smarter than we truly are.

It would seem that it does!  Apparently the research would suggest that we gain an inflated sense of our own knowledge, even when we don’t find the answer to what we’re looking for, after the physical act of searching the internet. However, it appears this is not the case when researchers provided the link to a website to enable subjects to answer specific questions.  It is the act of searching that makes us feel all-knowing.

Lead researcher Matthew Fisher suggests that as a result of the act of reading a book or talking with an expert we are more engaged in the research process than when we are searching the internet and so it becomes apparent to us when we have gaps in our knowledge.  This then leads us to investigate further to find the answer. “With the Internet, the lines become blurry between what you know and what you think you know.”

So what are the implications of this on education and our future generations? And will it become more obvious as our current crop of young people who seem surgically connected to their smart phones become adults?

My initial thoughts are that we need to be designing lessons that require a level of critical thinking that demands our students to engage with the material they find, and that we should not be too quick to physically or mentally throw out our non-fiction collections.

We also need to continue to engage in learning conversations with our students as well as encourage those conversations to take place between peers, and demand not only reasoned and cited answers to questions but that further questions need to be asked in the quest for new knowledge.

It could become a dangerous world indeed when decisions are being made by people who think they know everything, but in fact know very little at all.

A Librarian’s Take on the Future of Learning

NZCER’s 40th anniversary special edition of SET is now available on line and will be hitting school staff rooms from next week.

set-2014-1

The theme of this special edition is the future of education and I can’t wait to read the articles published, especially:

“The problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present”: Preparing your students for their critically multiliterate future today byKwok-Wing Lai

Future-oriented pedagogies should focus on supporting students to be creative, innovative, and capable of creating knowledge, both individually and collaboratively, at the community level. This article discusses how a group of teachers have come to understand and use the knowledge-building model developed by Scardamalia and Bereiter (2006) to support secondary students to develop as knowledge creators of the 21st century. Findings from knowledge-building research conducted in New Zealand classes are used to illustrate how the knowledge-building model can be implemented. The PROGRESS practice model is introduced to guide teachers to implement the knowledge-building approach in their classes. and

Transforming New Zealand schools as knowledge-building communities: From theory to practice by Susan Sandretto and Jane Tilson

We can no longer predict knowledge needed for the future, which has significant implications for contemporary literacy programmes. In this article we argue that reconceptualising current literacy approaches will support teachers to develop future-focused literacy teaching. We suggest that a critical multiliteracies lens can provide rationale for a future-focused literacy programme (the “why”), and that the four resources model (Luke & Freebody, 1999) can provide a way to enact such a programme (the “how”). Drawing on our research using this approach with teachers, we provide a mapping template and reflective questions as a springboard to initiate reflective discussion.

I’m also very excited to have a ‘think-piece’ published! 

A Librarian’s take on the future of learning 

Now is an exciting time to be involved in educating our next generation. The way we think about education and our approach to teaching is continually evolving, and our libraries are also undertaking a parallel evolution. They are no longer dusty, silent spaces where the main function is to store and catalogue books. Today’s libraries are becoming vibrant spaces for information seeking, sharing, creating, and communicating new learning. They encompass the best traditions of our old-world libraries while embracing multiple pathways to supporting, connecting and collaborating in our new educational environments. Twenty-first century librarians like me are still there with the right book for the right reader at the right time, but we are also enthusiastic mavens, passionate knowledge-seekers, and committed communicators in this burgeoning landscape.

It has been an amazing experience to work through the process from submitting the abstract and having it accepted to finally seeing it in print.  It was certainly a much harder and more robust process that I had anticipated, but I am so grateful for the experience and I now hope to write more about how librarians fit into the education landscape today and into the future.  This is something I feel very passionate about and believe my knowledge in this area is growing as my role at Southland Boys’ High School continues to develop and I get more opportunities to work with staff and students in a range of ways.

Scaffolding Research and Guided Inquiry

Yesterday was a big day for me!  About a month ago I had been invited to speak to student teachers studying at Otago University in Dunedin about the process of scaffolding research and guided inquiry as part of their Literacy Across the Curriculum paper. I was a little nostalgic and it felt even more surreal walking into a lecture theatre I had sat in during my year at teachers college back in the early 1980’s, only this time I was the one standing at the front talking to students, some of whom had already completed degrees and were now training to go into classrooms as teachers.

The time allocated just wasn’t long enough! There was so much to tell them, share with them and discuss with them.  I easily had enough content to spread across two sessions, but we were constrained to one and so I made the best of it.  My hope is that our short 50 minutes has only just opened up potential discussions as they all contemplate graduation and beginning in their own classes next year.  To that end I have invited them to join me in the new Scaffolding Research and Guided Inquiry Group on the Virtual Learning Network.  I hope we can continue to discuss what guided research and inquiry can look like in classrooms, as these skills are relevant to all subject disciplines in all schools across every year level.

Q.U.I.C.K method for Evaluating Websites

Weighing it up

Dr Susan Sandretto from Otago University gave a stunning keynote address at the recent SLANZA Conference in Wellington on Planning for Critical Literacy. She is an engaging speaker and able to communicate well the need for us as teachers and librarians to create opportunities for teaching students about critical literacy and have them explore what it means to analyse text critically.  I have been fortunate enough to hear Susan speak on two previous occasions and she has been pivotal in giving me the necessary skills to design these two lessons, which help students grasp this concept in a digital environment.

This is the poster I developed using information Susan gave in hand-out form at her workshop I attended about two years ago.   I had several teaching colleagues also attend this workshop, and these posters were ultimately displayed in classrooms throughout the school.  I even saw it on the wall of my friend’s home office when I was visited her recently – she also happens to a former teaching colleague!

Critical Literacy Poster

Lesson 1: How to Evaluate a Website – Q.U.I.C.K

Searching the NetThrough observing typical 12 and 13 year old students’ behaviour in using computers to research, I realised they needed a lot of guidance to achieve effective results.

As part of developing an embedded programme towards achieving this aim, I designed this lesson to get Y8 students thinking about how to decide whether a website they are looking at is a good choice for their research needs.

I would typically teach this lesson after having already taught the class about keyword searching and selecting websites from their results.

The Quality Information Checklist is a great resource to engage students with how to evaluate websites and promote discussion in small groups about why it’s important to do this.

 

Lesson 2: Evaluating Websites

I have designed another lesson activity that I typically teach in either Year 9 or 10 where I remind them of the Q.U.I.C.K steps and get them to use as many as necessary to evaluate an assigned website. Here’s the lesson plan and a link to the Livebinder resource:

Evaluating Websites - Hoax lesson

It really brings home the message to students that just because a website looks slick and has lots of bells and whistles, doesn’t make it appropriate, relevant, correct or even true.