Why science teachers need both information literacy skills and content-specific knowledge

Loving the science teachers who have been willing to share their thoughts and experiences through the Information Literacy Skills research project. We’ve had an English teacher also share her observations, and I just know there’s more to come. This is such an exciting project to be part of!

Information Literacy Spaces

kid smart lightbulb brainI was marking Year 12 Biology NCEA reports on the extreme environment of the deep ocean and reading about the goblin shark and the adaptations they have to survive in this dark inhospitable place when it struck me that I was correcting the grammar and punctuation in my head! I had always considered myself a teacher of biological information, but I realised I was emerging as a facilitator of students learning biological concepts for themselves and writing like scientists. I was also a teacher of search techniques, a collaborator with other professionals, namely our school librarian who knows infinitely more about referencing than I, and a facilitator for students to formulate focus questions to keep themselves on track. This came as quite a shock after so many years in the job!

Reflecting on my own path through the education system, I can recall doing very little research or peer review…

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Making the implicit explicit: Reactions to chemistry report writing and collaborative learning

One of the collaborations I’m involved with through the Information Literacy Spaces research project, Jess is one of the teachers in our Science department and is so open to ideas and working with others. I hope to get her to collaborate on another blog post about the working we’re doing with Year 7 Science, alongside Heather, a very experienced Science teacher.

Information Literacy Spaces

Visible Learning Hattie

It’s fair to say that when I left teachers college three years ago I had greatly underestimated how much focus there would be on teaching literacy strategies. As a science specialist, I had been taught some scientific literacy, but mostly it was theory-based or examples given during lectures of other peoples teaching practice. As a learner, I find it a lot easier to implement new techniques into my teaching if I can watch or talk to someone who is already giving it a go. This made it difficult to know where to start when I came to realise just how much support my students needed with literacy.

Before Southland Boys’ High School became involved in the Information Literacy Spaces research, I was already working with our amazing librarian Senga White, as well as English teachers on different literacy strategies for junior science. When Senga approached me about the new project…

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Collaborative Planning

Information Literacy Spaces

TL Collaboration KSullivan

I have been fortunate to work with some great teachers over the years, and have enjoyed a collaborative partnership with many of them.  Some collaborations have been of the quick, basic, on-the-run variety, while others full team-teaching lessons. There are benefits to both of these approaches,  but over more recent years I have been included in more assessment and department planning, where I have worked with the head of department or teacher in charge to embed identified information literacy skills (IL) across several lessons for all classes at that year level. This is an approach which offers more potential for sustained success and impact for a greater number of students while providing the foundation for more skills to be built upon.

However, no matter how willing and enthusiastic a teacher and librarian pairing may be, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to begin the collaboration and work out the…

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Collaboration in Action

I get very excited when I’m collaborating with teaching colleagues. I get to have rich discussions about research and learning and always gain as much from the experience as I contribute. This also has the added benefit of helping me to get better at what I have to contribute to the process. This is an example of my most recent collaboration

Information Literacy Spaces

After an enthusiastic and productive two days of learning and sharing at our annual Hui, I returned to school and a mountain of work.

However, through the busyness, I was reminded how rewarding and exhilarating collaborating with a teaching colleague is.  My level 2 chemistry teacher booked space for her Year 12 class to use the library computers in the last three weeks of this term.  We then met to discuss the research requirements of the upcoming assessment.

Now, I am no scientist, and chemistry definitely doesn’t feature on my personal knowledge radar, but together we had a highly productive discussion that resulted in a planned collaboration that neither of us had expected.

After identifying areas for grade improvement based on the previous two years’ results for this assessment, my teaching colleague articulated wanting to try a strategy that would move some of this year’s cohort from a merit to an…

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Research Planning with Students

Some of the work I’m currently doing to support research at Southland Boys’ High School. More to come!

Information Literacy Spaces

Planning ResearchThe library I work in at Southland Boys’ High School has been a flurry of research activity this year!  Last term Year 7 & 8 classes were researching World War I, Year 9 & 10 social studies classes a variety of events from the 20th century, Year 12 biology classes were discovering element of the abyssal zone and Year 13 history students were investigating New Zealand-focused topics.

This term has already become a real juggling act to accommodate all the research that’s happening.  The Year 12 history classes have come onboard the research train with conspiracy theories, English classes are researching inventions as well as conspiracy theories, and our lovely Year 7 & 8 classes (all 11 of them!) are undertaking individual research about a conflict of their choice, following on from their WWI topic in term 1.  To say we are a busy library would be an understatement!

Y10 Group

Research becomes…

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Information Literacy Skills for Senior Secondary Students

So, here’s one of the things I’ve been up to so far this term …..

Information Literacy Spaces

Tips & Tricks Photo

Today I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of working with the Year 12 & 13 students at Aurora College in Invercargill.  Aurora is a small co-educational Year 7-13 secondary school, which is part of the group of schools working in our project.

Following on from our initial Hui in February I was invited by their lead teacher Kirsten Erasmus to present an introduction to their senior students about information literacy skills needed for successful learning.

Success for LearningI had two one-hour sessions, the first with Year 12 students and the second with Year 13 students.  I kicked off by talking about what makes us successful learners and why a positive attitude is vital to push through when things are hard.

The Research Process

We then went on to cover

  • the importance of following a research process
  • using a research pathfinder to keep on track
  • Google searching strategies for successful searching
  • moving beyond Google and using databases

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