I was invited to co-teach a block of lessons alongside a yr 6 teacher. The idea was to see if we could end up with increased quality research by the end of the term. The input I was to bring, as the librarian, was the information literacy skills. I took the opportunity to encourage the use of educational online resources as well as books. We looked at note taking and how to answer a good question and then presenting their findings.
The teacher was delighted by the outcomes. For me, it was really useful to see how a whole topic could work, embedding enquiry based learning throughout. I have attached our case study for you to see.
I have since done this collaboration again with a different teacher and found that we were able to engage the pupils in much harder questions like ‘how did reading about this person affect you’. They really struggled at first with this but it generated a lot of discussions which was good. It was noticeable that their note-taking skills were poor so this is something to be addressed in another session.
Thanks Elizabeth – particularly for the clear and detailed case-study of a successful collaboration. We also find our online resources are a good place to start, particularly Britannica, and that students who are used to flexible search engine searching need a fair amount of guidance to get used to the more formal searching tools in subscription databases. These stand them in good stead as they move up through the school and eventually move on to more complex databases like EBSCO and JSTOR.
I was interested in your comment that, as librarians, we bring the information literacy skills because, as information professionals, I would absolutely agree that we do that, but I think it is important to highlight that we also increasingly bring a sound understanding of good inquiry design and how to guide and support pupils through the inquiry process. This goes beyond what has traditionally been described as information literacy. You put huge effort and passion into implementing and promoting the CWICER model in the Guernsey Schools and beyond (and are doing a great job) and it is this inquiry model and process which is ultimately transformative. The information literacy skills fit seamlessly and naturally within it. I worry that if we ‘sell’ our services to teachers as information literacy experts alone, the danger is that they will expect us to parachute in just to provide resources, or show students how to find and work with them but won’t see the value in involving us with the whole inquiry process. Perhaps our route to expanding our role and helping colleagues to recognise the true value of teacher-librarian collaboration is to change the conversation?
It was really good to see your thoughtful summary and reflection of the inquiry process in your case study, Elizabeth. Linking the lesson objectives to the underlying framework of skills is really helpful. We have struggled to find a standardised way to link to the framework and summarise and evaluate projects that works for us at Oakham, and I would like to try using your format.
I think it is important to be clear about the difference between information literacy and inquiry skills because again we are hampered by a lack of a shared vocabulary! At Oakham, we started our journey looking for a way to teach information literacy and came to realise that it was only part of the bigger picture of helping pupils to make sense of their world. For us, inquiry is a really good way to develop skills essential for this in pupils, including academic honesty, taking a critical approach to sources of information and using information to construct arguments.
There is work do be done on establishing a vocabulary, I think. I hope this forum will provide a space for this to happen.
Thank you for sharing your ideas so freely. This exchange of ideas as well as resources is just what we hoped would come out of this forum.
Jenny and Chris I think you are both right! I have been fighting for information literacy to be embedded in our curriculum over here that I have almost muddled the inquiry process with information literacy and see them as one and the same. It is, however, important to distinguish between the two as this then allows us to support teaching and learning in a more effective way. I am going to write a blog post about this and will share once it is done.
Chris I am delighted that you thought my case study was useful. I have attached one other that is similar but for yr 4 with an Indian topic, I supported.
Thank you, Elizabeth. That’s really helpful. As a science teacher by training, it is really helpful to see case study materials outside one’s own academic discipline as the structure is more apparent, and the content is less distracting. I’ll post some of my own once I’ve worked them up using your format.