Tag Archives: guided inquiry

Future Proofing Critical Analysis and Reflection

LeaderImage uploaded from: https://www.avanoo.com/landing/454/Leadership


There is no doubt that the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has vastly changed over the last decade with the introduction of computers and easy access to the Internet into the majority of schools (Herring, 2007; Kuhlthau, 2010). The TL’s role is complex and varied.

Dewey (1916) suggested that the purpose of schools is to develop educated individuals or cohorts to actively participate in society. Globally this continues to be the primary purpose of schooling… (Starkey, 2012, p. 20).

The assimilation and introduction of the Australian Curriculum (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, (ACARA), 2015), with revamped syllabuses in New South Wales (Board of Studies, Teaching & Educational Standards NSW, 2015) has made the role of the TL critical in terms of being a curriculum leader, an information literacy leader and an instructional leader (Herring, 2007). This has necessitated the need for the TL to have a thorough and current knowledge of key issues that surround leadership and change management.

Teacher Librarian as Leader

It is interesting to note that in my assessment task one blog, “the next step in my leadership journey will be to implement an information literacy model that is adopted school-wide” (Ellis, 2015, April 14). This did become a strategic focus, but it was so much easier said than done! Discussion was also about the TL as leader in the areas of team teaching, collaboration and promotion of information literacy (IL) skills, supporting classroom teacher practices and as a service leader in resourcing the Learning Centre (LC) with quality print and digital materials. While all these are important components of the role of TL, my view has now been dramatically expanded to include that of being a curriculum and pedagogical leader who must understand change management and have a vision for the future of the LC to ensure it is a central learning space in the school. Defining and articulating a vision statement as opposed to a mission statement proved rewarding, but challenging.

Changes In 21st Century School Libraries

A key area of growth and understanding with regards to 21st century school libraries is the incredible, fast-paced changes that are occurring in terms of web tools and the importance of having a flexible LC, physically and virtually for students to access information resources and learn individually or in a group setting at school or at home. The implementation of a whole-school Guided Inquiry (GI) process can be the key to stabilising these changes as it provides an educationally sound framework for information literacy learning (Kuhlthau, 2010).

Current evaluation of the Australian Curriculum is that it is too crowded in terms of content and that it is currently under review (ACARA, 2015). Keeping up-to-date with present-day curriculum implementations is crucial in being able to support classroom teachers with the new syllabuses and supporting resources.

One personal weakness, highlighted during this module, has been my lack of technological knowledge. How can I support the entrenching of information literacy skills in the school if I don’t have the skills myself? Using the forum to seek suggestions from others (Ellis, 2015, April 8) and delving further into a name – Karen Bonanno (2015), proved extremely valuable. Excitingly, the discovery of Bonanno’s F-10 Inquiry skills scope and sequence and F-10 core skills and tools has piqued my interest and will become the building-block, that not only informs my teaching practices next semester but my role as curriculum and information literacy leader.

The deliberate provision of time for teachers to collaborate on issues of curriculum and instruction is paramount in providing opportunities for “teachers to learn from one another, refine their practice, and work with others to deepen their understanding of the complexities of teaching (Lieberman & Mace, 2010, p. 79). However, this does not necessarily have to be done face-to-face. As a result of this module I have now:

  • joined the New South Wales TL Listserv;
  • encouraged the school to subscribe to SCAN;
  • begun experimenting with web tools to use with students; and
  • joined a variety of educational diigo groups.

This has been significant in terms of feeling supported in my journey as TL as I seek help and keep abreast of new concepts and student and teaching learning practices (Coatney, 2010, p.x). Collaborating digitally, has made me realise how important it is for students to be able to feel connected and supported in their learning journey. Not only do we want to create a safe physical learning environment for students but a safe virtual learning environment where students can seek support and learn from others.

Curriculum Design Leader

In one of my earlier forum posts I commented that the principal wanted me to become a leader in the LC (the first time I’ve ever worked in the library) and that I was thrown in the deep end and led by “selecting library monitors, organising rosters…coordinating PRC and Book Club” (Ellis, 2015, March 8). While I understood that this was more leadership management (even at the time), the concept of leader in curriculum design, delivery and strategic planning were well out of my realm of understanding.

The TL role as a leader in curriculum design is multifaceted. However, I kept going back to Sinek’s Golden Circle (Sinek, 2007), where he inspires all great leaders to take action by initially asking the question “why”, then, “how” and finally “what”. Answering the “what” is always much easier than the “why”. When developing this strategic plan, I kept trying to focus on “why” – Why GI? Why IL? Strategic plans need to begin with educational outcomes. During the strategic implementation stage, it was then “how” – How can GI and IL be integrated as a lasting change practice embedded as part of the school culture.

Key aspects of understanding about the role of the TL have been:

1) Leadership from an organisational perspective as opposed to being a curriculum leader – eg. volunteer for leadership roles,

2) Knowledge of innovation and change;

3) Communication – be active at staff meetings to promote digital and physical resources, attend stage meetings to help with curriculum planning, develop relationships with students and parents; initiate and implement workshops for all stakeholders advocating the role of the LC and TL in supporting the curriculum;

4) Planning – be intentional and deliberate; start small with interested teachers and grow from there (Zmuda & Harada, 2008).

A critical component of strategic planning is to take the time to assess the current situation and context before leaping in with an action plan. While the gathering of information and analysis of the school’s internal and external context can be time consuming it is worthwhile to critically think about any possible issues that may arise. It may not always be fool proof in avoiding unknown problems, but at least the TL will be more aware (Allison & Kaye, 2005, p. 125).


Currently, there is no whole-school approach to embedding IL or GI as part of the school culture. It is therefore critical that the TL adapts a leadership role to promote, establish and embed these concepts within the school. This is only possible if the TL understands the motivating forces behind personnel undergoing change and the concepts that underpin lasting change. Implementing change can be challenging and as the image at the top suggests, the TL needs to be intelligent, honest, creative confident, driven and courageous.


Allison, M., & Kaye, J. (2005). Strategic planning for non-profit organizations: A practical guide and workbook (2nd ed.).Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2015). Australian Curriculum v7.4. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au

Board of Studies: Teaching and Educational Standards, NSW. (2015). Syllabuses. Retrieved from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/

Bonanno, K. (2015). F-10 Inquiry skills scope and sequence and F-10 core skills and tools. Retrieved from http://eduwebinar.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/curriculum_mapping_scope_sequence_skills_tools.pdf

Coatney, S. (Ed.). 2010). The many faces of school library leadership. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.

Ellis, S. (2015, March 8). Re: Task 1: What is your understanding of leadership? [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/conference?toggle_mode=read&action=list_forums&course_id=_6061_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&mode=view

Ellis, S. (2015, April 8). Re: Task 3: Digital Learning [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/conference?toggle_mode=read&action=list_forums&course_id=_6061_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&mode=view

Ellis, S. (2015, April 14). A reflection on a concept map and critical analysis of leadership [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://samanthaellis4.wordpress.com/

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. Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17 – 28. Retrieved from http://www.iasl-online.org/publications/slw/index.html

Lieberman, A., & Mace, P. (2010). Making practice public: Teacher learning in the 21st century. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 77-88. Retrieved from http://jte.sagepub.com/

Sinek, S. (2007). Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. London: Penguin Books.Starkey, L. (2012). Teaching and learning in the digital age. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Zmuda, A., & Harad, V. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: moving from the margins to the mainstream of school leadership. Teacher Librarin, 36(1), 15-20. Retrieved from http://www.teacherlibrarian.com/

1 Comment

Filed under ETL504

Topic 4 – Information Literacy

Activity 1 – Definitions of information literacy


“Why have not the understandings and skills that inform information literacy become embedded into the classroom practices of teachers and educational systems? Is it because information literacy is understood as something that is teacher librarian oriented and not part of the general curriculum?” (p. 60)

  • teachers need to become literate in the field of information
  • promote literacy as part of the necessary skills for information development and thinking
  • “the concept of literacy really depends on the information needs of the society of the time.” p. 63
  • all literacy is information literacy
  • “the Australian definition of literacy may, in fact, be the best: to be able to function well in society, which entails the ability to read, use numbers and to find information and use it appropriately” p.65
  • students need to develop skills that enable them to locate and access information in all its forms and to be able to solve information problems that develop competencies in the skills necessary to survive in the information age
  • at present most teacher librarians are at the forefront for developing information literacy skills that will enable students to become lifelong learners.
  • In order to become a lifelong learner, one must develop literacy information skills


This model was based on Engaging, Defining, Initiating, Locating, Examining, Recording, Communicating and Evaluating.

  • comprehensive explanations
  • exhausting

Herring & Tarter:

This model was based on Purpose, Location, Use and Self-evaluation with the premise that one could go back to purpose if after location and use the student either didn’t have enough information or had too much.

Activity 2 – Guided Inquiry

I am overwhelmed at the number of different Guided Inquiry models. However upon reading the literature, I’m still drawn to Kuhlthau’s model as it takes in to account the feelings of the students as they progress through the stages. Students learn in different ways and I feel that this model is structured yet flexible enough to accept different learning styles. I like the idea of GI, but am still not sure to tackle this within the job that I currently have. I simply don’t have the time with my study commitments to take anything extra on. I can see the benefits that this can have and am hoping that with the Website that I’m designing in 501, I may be able to start next year with a small GI unit. The challenges are finding someone willing to collaborate with you and having the time to set such an adventure up. I’m still not confident enough of my technology skills to go in to a classroom and try and teach it. I’m hoping to go and visit a few different libraries in T4 to check out how other teacher librarians are working it.

Activity 3 – Transfer of information literacy skills and practices

It’s a little discouraging to read that despite good teaching practice, not all students will transfer information literacy skills unless prompted. However, I believe that this is the case with any learning. Until it is does often enough it is not automatic. It’s like learning to drive a car. There is the theoretical knowledge as well as the practical. It is initially daunting to drive a car and one needs lessons and prompts before it becomes automatic. The same thing with GI – it needs to be repeated several times.

Activity 4 – Forum Questions

1)   Has the school in which I work developed an information literacy policy?

NO! We don’t even have a library policy!! I work in a resource-learning centre that has a lady in charge that is neither teacher nor librarian qualified. I have to contend with the noise of Yr7-12 classes as they are “dumped” in the library with “quiet” work to do by the absent teacher. I have to throw high school students off the available computers that I have booked to use with Stage 3. Not conducive to learning or teaching!

2)   Should this be an essential policy for a 21st century school?


3)   How is information literacy approached in your school? Do you see gaps in the approach used, and if so, where?

There is no approach to teaching information literacy in the school. There has not been a qualified librarian in the school for over 5 years. I was only employed 1-day per week as a stop-gap measure for the AP who no longer wishes to take library RFF because she is too busy.

4)   How can a transliteracy approach expand the teaching role of the TL beyond the traditional information literacy paradigm?

I would be happy just getting an information literacy program up and running first and then be able to think about a transliteracy approach.

Information Literacy vs Information Fluency

I was surprised to read that:

Information fluency is the ability to access, make sense of, and use information to build new understandings. The term “information fluency” is now accepted in the field as a replacement for “information literacy” because students must not only know the skills, but also apply the skills fluently in any personal or academic learning situation. (Stripling, 2007, p.25)

My understanding of information literacy was that it was the teacher librarian’s objective for the skills acquired by the students to be with them in any learning situation either personal or academic. Is Stripling trying to rename something that already exists?

Any other thoughts?

Leave a comment

Filed under ETL401

Topic 3 – The TL and the curriculum

Activity 1 – Webinar: constructivist learning in the curriculum

  • literacy underpins all that we do
  • need to be able to read words, images, videos, sounds
  • Bloom’s digital taxonomy – problem and project based learning in the 21st century
  • active participant – construct knowledge actively, rather than mechanically
  • 21st century curriculum is outcomes based
  • project based learning (PBL) is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world challneges

Activity 2 – Inquiry learning

  • Collins et al. (2008) state that: ‘Inquiry learning can be an effective form of tuition for acquiring intuitive, deep, conceptual knowledge’, and that ‘inquiry learning across the school curriculum is becoming a widely recommended approach’. Like other approaches to learning, inquiry-based learning is defined in different ways by researchers and practitioners, but the focus of inquiry-based learning is on the students using a range of skills and abilities to complete a task or solve a problem. There is an obvious connection here between inquiry learning and information literacy as both involve higher order thinking skills such as question formulation, evaluating information and building new knowledge. We will explore information literacy in depth later in this subject. Meanwhile, this video shows a teacher librarian in action – using a variety of tools and strategies to promote 21st century inquiry learning.
  • Video on farting shows how students need to:

–       locate

–       select

–       evaluate

–       synthesize information

Activity 3 – Curriculum Corporation

Nothing there.

Activity 4 – Forum discussion

* How do the dimensions of quality teaching relate to inquiry learning and project-based learning approaches?

–       professional teachers keep up-to-date with new/emerging pedagogy and are willing to try different approaches such as with inquiry learning and project-based learning

* What is an appropriate role for the teacher librarian in curriculum development?

– TL needs to be involved in any school-wide scope and sequence in order to be able to resource the library appropriately

– TL can advise what resources are currently available and if not suggest a budget to have more material included.

* What benefits can a school obtain from the active involvement of the teacher librarian in curriculum development?

– time management – TL can find resources easier

– collaboration eases the work load

* Should a principal expect that teachers would plan units of work with the teacher librarian?

– definitely, but this doesn’t always happen

* How are students disadvantaged in schools that exclude the teacher librarian from curriculum development?

– TL is unable to support students who come to the library looking for help

– TL has not prepared lessons to support the learning that is currently happening in class

– there may be no resources available to the students as the TL was unaware of the topic

Leave a comment

Filed under ETL401

Blog Task #1 – Guided Inquiry

Implementing A Guided Inquiry Approach


There is no doubt that the role of the teacher librarian (TL) has vastly changed over the last decade with the introduction of computers and easy access to the World Wide Web into the majority of schools (Herring, J., 2007, and Johnson, J., et al. 2009). The Information Process (ISP) advocated by the NSW Department of Education and Training (2007) is the springboard for this text. The ISP is the framework upon which teacher librarians in NSW are encouraged to plan and implement lessons for students. A brief explanation of the research and theory that has led to the adoption of this framework will be explored and how it links into implementing a Guided Inquiry approach.

Constructivist Approach To Learning

“Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction” (Audrey, G., n.d., p.1).  This statement is based on the premise that learners come to the learning situation with some prior knowledge of the topic. The teacher librarian’s role is to tap into, engage with, stimulate and build upon this knowledge, in order to encourage the learner to be academically dynamic and involved in the learning situation. The learner is no longer seen as submissively receiving information from a teacher but actively engaged in making meaning.

Implementing A Guided Inquiry Approach

In February 2009 the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) adopted the Guided Inquiry approach to teaching students because it encouraged creative thinking, problem solving abilities and was based on the learner constructing meaning and knowledge. Guided Inquiry is structured on a collaborative teaching approach, whereby classroom teachers and the teacher librarian deliberately and methodically plan lessons which, build upon the scaffolding of previous knowledge to “guide students through curriculum-based inquiry units that build deep knowledge and deep understanding of a curriculum topic, and gradually lead towards, independent learning” (Todd, 2010, p.7). From their research and knowledge of Guided Inquiry and based on over two decades of solid research Kuhlthau (2010) and Todd (2010) developed the Information Search Process (ISP) model which is deeply embedded in the constructivist approach to learning.

There are seven stages of inquiry in the ISP model: initiation, selection, exploration, formulation, collection, presentation and assessment. Learning from one stage is built upon as the student works through each stage. The role of the teacher librarian is to provide digital and print resources to support the learning process and to work collaboratively with the classroom teacher in implementing engaging lessons.


I “fell” into the role of TL about four weeks ago. The school was looking for someone to be TL to fulfil RFF requirements and relieve the Assistant Principal who was currently doing this job. Not knowing much about what this role involved I did a search and found the Information Process that the NSW Department of Education and Training (2007) encourage. By defining this model with my Principal about how I would approach being a teacher librarian, I got the job! It has been fascinating to undertake reading in this area to ascertain why and how this model has been produced. This is an area of focus that I would like to further develop and eventually implement as teacher librarian.


Australian School Library Association. (2009). Statement on guided inquiry and the curriculum. Retrieved from Australian School Library Association website: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/guided.inquiry.curriculum.htm

Gray, A. (n.d.) Constructivist Teaching and Learning [ETL501 Part 1]. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from Charles Sturt University website: http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL501_201260_W_D/page/a3f259ea-c828-4e4f-80ec-26eee70de0c7

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.

Johnson, J., Cooper, R., & Johnson, A. (2009). Introduction to teaching: Helping students learn. (pp. 241- 280). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University.

Kuhlthau, C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16, (1), 17 – 28.

NSW Department of Education and Training, (2007), Information skills in the school. Retrieved from NSW Department of Education and Training website:


Todd, R. (2010). Curriculum Integration: Learning in a changing world. Victoria: ACER Press.

1 Comment

Filed under ETL401