Assignment 3: Evaluation plan to improve your reference services

“Successful reference services for school librarians consist of three components: 1) knowledge of the library media collection, electronic information resources, and tools; 2) effective conversational skills (communication); 3) competence in selecting, acquiring, and evaluating resources to meet students’ needs.” (Riedling,Shake & Houston,  p.6)

 

Introduction

Riedling, Shake & Houston (2013) believe that this success can be achieved only with “instruction or guidance in the use of information sources” (p.6).  From my view point as a classroom teacher, I feel we, as a school, are lacking in the instruction of electronic reference resources; hence, in developing an Evaluation Plan on how I would (theoretically) improve the reference services in my school library resource centre, I decided to focus on the instruction of electronic reference resources for both staff and students.

 

  1. An analysis of the present conditions of my school’s electronic reference resources.

In analyzing our physical electronic resources, I can say that we do not, without any doubt in my mind, have adequate resources for our school; however, we do have 25 Chromebooks and 30 iPads to share (albeit amongst 440 students) and it is, at least something.  I cannot change the type of funding given to our school for technological resources but, I can ensure that the technology we have is used to better the education of our students and staff.

As my school no longer has a print reference resource section we use the ERAC BC Digital Classroom bundle of resources purchased by the district (https://bcerac.ca/agreements/bc-digital-classroom-new/).

Image result for erac database bc digital classroomInterestingly, because of this incredibly vast bundle of resources, we are meeting at an “acceptable” level for a myriad of resources, such as, encyclopedias and periodicals, as deemed by the Canadian Association for School Libraries (2006).  However, the problem remains that both teachers and students alike do not access these resources and this concern is the foundation for this evaluation plan.

  1. Develop a rationale for why this area needs to be changed and improved including how it is affecting student learning (use examples)

The rationale for developing understanding of how to use the digital resources available through our district ERAC bundle is simple: they provide children-friendly, verified information that is accessible from home and school while ensuring that teachers know that the information being accessed passes rigour, is appropriate for children and, for the most part, is unbiased.

In speaking with teachers and students at my school about what resources they access when researching, they all responded “the Internet” and 90% of them said that, presently, they seek information through crowd-sources sites, such as, Wikipedia.

Do I use Wikipedia?  Yes, on a daily basis but, the difference between me using Wikipedia and a student are miles apart.  I use it purely for pleasure, or verification of something I believe I already know, or sometimes as a jumping off point for further learning.  I have been TAUGHT to not accept what I discover on Wikipedia as “gospel”.  I do not cite information from it in academic papers, nor do I trust what is on it.  Then, I bet you are wondering, why use it?  Well, it’s easy and, for the most accurate.  In 2010, “a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that Wikipedia had the same level of accuracy and depth in its articles about 10 types of cancer as the Physician Data Query, a professionally edited database maintained by the National Cancer Institute.” (Wolchover, 2011).  Further research showed that, when compared to conventional encyclopedias, Wikipedia fared well in other studies by the Library Journal, PC Pro Magazine, and the Canadian Library Associate to name but three. (Wolchover, 2011).  None of this means, however, that I would teach my students to trust in the information but, I would teach them how to verify the information’s validity.  Per Harris (2007),“it would be much more productive to teach colleagues, students, and parents how to best use Wikipedia”  using the following three steps to Wiki research which really should apply to ALL research:

1) A minimum of three sources required to verify research.

2) Use Wikipedia only as a starting place

3) Serious research projects/academic papers should not cite general knowledge/crowd-sourced encyclopedias (Harris, 2007).

Riedling, Shake & Houston (2013) say, “The information issue today is not related to access or quantity.  It’s more a matter of being able to effectively navigate the sea of information to obtain desired answers from authoritative sources.” Taking this to heart, the plan below is developed to teach students and teachers how to effectively access information through navigation of our ERAC digital bundle, focusing predominantly of the reference resources that apply to elementary school learning.

Based on the “Typical Expressions of Concern about an Innovation” taken from the “Concerns Based Adoption Model” and in speaking with the 3 other teachers, from primary to intermediate grades, in my school they expressed the following levels of concern and innovation respectively:

Expression of concern model

Teacher A – Level 0 – Aware if the resource but not concerned about it; she felt that book resources could serve the research purpose just as well.  Subsequently, her behavior was also Level 0 – non-use and she was not concerned about learning new technology.

Teacher B – Level 1 – Information and he would like to know more about it.  Behaviourally, he is at the orientation level and has already asked me to show him how to access the resources and requested mentoring on how the online resources can support in-class learning, jumping him into the preparation level of use.

use of innovation model

Teacher C – very much like teacher B. She determined that she was at a Level 1 expression of concern, although she does not where to find the resources and has used them herself for planning units.  Concerning levels of innovation, I feels she spans across three levels from 1-3 and is looking toward seeing how the resources can enhance her teaching program.

This paper is not a study of these three teachers but the purpose of speaking with them was to understand a possible cross-section what to expect if I get the opportunity to implement the education plan below.  It allowed me to see that teachers are at varying levels of concern and willingness to try new innovation which would help me in the development of my instructional ideas.

After explaining to the teachers that, with these available databases, students could be taught research and critical literacy skills which would benefit inquiry-based learning, I then asked them one last question: “If I were to teach classes in your classrooms that focused on how to access our ERAC online digital resources, would you partake in the class with your students, and learn along with them?”  Since all three gave a resounding “yes”, it allowed me to develop one educational plan that would benefit both students and teachers.

  1. Include a step-by-step plan based solely on accessing databases from the ERAC BC Digital Bundle:

I feel that setting a specific timeline would be restrictive to all parties concerned.  As a classroom teacher, I often need to find time to work around my TL and I am aware that he is doing the same for me.  If I were “forced” to pick a deadline, then I would choose to have the students at a level of comfort in accessing these databases by the end of the first term; but, alas, the best laid plans of teachers and TLs often go awry!

The Plan – The beginning
I hesitate to quote Julie Andrews but “Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start.”  Many students and teachers are not aware of where they access these databases so, I would show them two portals from which they can be accessed (district and school – learning commons).

Have them explore through following-the-leader (the TL) then later try exploring through a pre-made scavenger hunt that asks them to seek out various databases and their hosts (i.e. EBSCO or GALE) to find certain information.

The key to “the beginning” is to demonstrate to students that the information they are seeking is readily accessible, appropriate, available in French at their language-levels and verified.

The Plan – The Middle
Now that teachers and students have explored the district databases over several classes and have achieved a greater level of comfort with these digital resources, the time comes to refer to the Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada (2014), to see how fostering digital literacy can empower life-long learning along the continuum from “exploring” to “leading into the future”.

Children and adults need to be taught to be digital leaders and citizens which includes, learning how to become digitally literate – knowing how to critically think, share information, draw conclusions, make informed decisions, ask meaningful questions and solve significant problems.

There needs to be discussions around ways to seek information and the differences between using databases, such as “World Book” and “Wikipedia”.  What are the pros and cons?  What makes one more reliable than the other?  What is the value to seeking the same information from varying sources? What is plagiarism and how does it affect teachers and students?

The Plan – The End? Well, there is never really an end…

How can this new knowledge support learning of both the teachers and the students?  If students and teachers have begun to foster the skills of a digitally literate citizen, then they have the basic building blocks of knowledge to develop or support inquiry-based learning through which more skills, such as cultural and informational digital literacy, can be reinforced (…there is never really an end…).

With guidance, support and a certain level of confidence, students and teachers can find ways to improve both student learning and engagement through the integration of technology, and sometimes it can be as simple as knowing how to use an online Altas or look up a biography on Culturagrams.  Teaching and learning can be transformed where the learner starts to seek answers to questions related to his/her interests; thus, being digitally supported in the construction of new learning, resulting in self-initiated and self-directed education.

Conclusion/Follow-up/Re-evaluation

There are so many names because the “right” name would rely on the outcome (success or lack thereof) of the evaluation plan.  Of course there are certain things to consider, such as, lack of teacher buy-in as not all teachers feel comfortable having a fellow colleague instruct their classes.  There may also be some kinks to work out when looking at teacher-librarian time and how much is available for collaboration/in-class support and, then there is always the issue of reserving the technology when it is in such demand and we have little to go around.  I do, however, choose to look at the glass half full and see the potential in developing with at least some classes, the beginnings of digitally literate citizens.  In schools, the proverbial grapevine is a wonderful thing and if word gets out about how some students are developing their critical skills through digital literacy instruction, then one can only hope that others might want to jump on that band wagon!

 

References:

Asselin, M., Branch, J., & Oberg, D., (Eds). (2006). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian School Library Association & The Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.  Retrieved from http://accessola2.com/SLIC-Site/slic/ail110217.pdf

Canadian Library Association (CLA). (2014). Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons. Retrieved from http://llsop.canadianschoollibraries.ca/

Common Sense Media. (n.d.). What Are the Deep Web and the Dark Web? Retrieved from Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/privacy-and-internet-safety/what-are-the-deep-web-and-the-dark-web

ERAC Retrieved from https://bcerac.ca/bcdc-access/

Harris, Chris. “Can We Make Peace with Wikipedia?”. School Library Journal ; New York Vol. 53, Iss. 6, (Jun 2007): 26.

Loucks-Horsley, S. (2005). The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals. Retrieved from The National Academies: http://www.nationalacademies.org/rise/backg4a.htm

Riedling, A., Shake, L. & Houston, C. (2013). Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips, (Third Edition). Santa Barbara, CA: Linworth.

Wolchover, N. (January 24, 2011). How accurate is Wikipedia?  Retireved from https://www.livescience.com/32950-how-accurate-is-wikipedia.html (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

 

 

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Theme 3: Reference Materials

I had never realized the enormity of reference materials available and the importance of ensuring the rigour of these resources within a 5 or 10 year span.  With that being said, with our world changing so rapidly, I cannot see how any resource, unless online, can keep up with the fluctuating information.

As part of this reference materials learning by far my biggest learning curve was the Deep Web and, as a component of the “below surface level information” the Dark Web.  I had previously never heard of the Deep Web or Grey Literature and but the simple fact that it falls into the “invisible web” category still leaves me feeling uneasy about accessing it and, by the same token, frustrated that there is so much information that I could be missing out on.  When I look at what is part of the Deep Web, I know that I have already accessed information there and do so on a regular basis as “Deep Web pages include information protected by a login, a website database, or a page that doesn’t have a link” (https://www.truthfinder.com/infomania/dark-web/deep-web-search/) , much like my banking information or certain databases I access.  However, the idea of searching for something myself, without first being provided with the step-by-step process on how to get there, is still daunting.  Suffice it to say, my head is going to stay above water until someone offers professional development of how to safely research on the Deep Web!

Learning takeaway – I’m a chicken and won’t “play” in the Deep Web until someone teaches me!  hint, hint…Aaron!

Image result for the deep web

Speaking of researching databases, what I realized the most in this section of learning is that the online databases purchased by my district (BC Digital Bundle) and VERY good and cost effective at the present rate of $1/child.  I also wish that more teachers knew about reading magazines, like Highlight and Kayak, on devices yet, that bring up the elephant in the room…it’s great having these resources and databases but it is challenging when you’re in a school of 440 students with access to 24 Chromebooks and 20 iPads for everyone!  If online databases are now the expectation, then teachers should be provided with the tools to achieve this expectation and there are days I feel like shouting…

Image result for show me the money gif

Learning takeaway – If I become a TL, I want to have professional development sessions to show teachers how these databases can be used by both them and students.

When reviewing online Encyclopedias, I really enjoyed the collegial debates over “to Wikipedia or not to Wikipedia”.  I still stand by allowing students to use Wikipedia or Vikidia or any other online crowd-sourced content as a starting point, but reiterate of TEACHING how to research properly.  I agree that it is a challenge for teachers and TLs to teach these skills but they are necessary to develop a child’s critical literacy and thinking abilities; they need to know how to determine real from fake information and so much more.

Image result for erac bundle

Following on from online encyclopedias is the use of other online resources like thesauri, almanacs, yearbooks, handbooks and dictionaries.  With the cost of these print resources being prohibitive for most schools, especially with the stringent evaluation process that requires TLs to look at authority, format, currency and accuracy, while ensuring that, per Riedling (2013), the guidelines for replacing reference material is anywhere from 5-10 years, it is evident that online references will become the way of the future.  I cannot disagree with this as a viable option; however, and I reiterate, it continues to be a source of frustration for teachers who wish to use and teach referencing and researching skills but do not have access to the digital tools.

Learning takeaway – No matter the reference format, be it print or digital, one must consider the myriad of criteria when evaluating a reference resource, such as, accuracy, content, bias, currency, format, bias and more.

My last Theme 3 reflection is a personal one…about maps!  You see, I love maps…and atlases.  It could have something to do with growing up in a house where “spin the globe” and find the location that my dad would shout out, like “Gobi Desert”, was a Friday night game.  It could have something to do with my father being a cartographer and land surveyor and he would take me to his work and show me how Canada’s first digital plotter could make maps (he named a tiny island after me!).  Or my love could have come from when I got to visit Spot Image, a company that develops images from satellites orbiting the Earth, in Toulouse with my father one summer.  Tuzo Wilson even came over for dinner one night and shared with me his theory of Plate Tectonics.  As a family, we travelled all over the world while my father mapped countries; our last location being in Riyadh where he translated satellite images into digital maps for fighter planes. So, after researching the many online resources for maps and atlases I felt no connection to them.  They paled in comparison to spinning the globe, putting thumbtacks on the world map of our travels or looking up new places we were going to visit in the MASSIVE world atlas book that was kept under every coffee table.  I understand the value of current online resources like maps and atlases but, like many things in our lives, I feel the digital aspect is alienating the potential for personal connection.

 

References

Common Sense Media. (n.d.). What Are the Deep Web and the Dark Web? Retrieved from Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/privacy-and-internet-safety/what-are-the-deep-web-and-the-dark-web

ERAC Retrieved from https://bcerac.ca/bcdc-access/

Riedling, A. M., Shake, L., & Houston, C. (2013) Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips (3rd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: Linworth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIBE 467 63C – Assignment 2: Can collaboration help evolve practice?

The Evolving Practice of Mrs C

As a classroom teacher of almost 20 years, I have seen a lot of change within our school systems but these last 8 years have demonstrated the most radical change in various aspects: the children; the curriculum; the new technologies; myriad of instructional approaches such as, inquiry-based learning and collaborative, dialogic-talk based learning; new pedagogies; new practices…and the list goes on.

All of these changes are not just overwhelming new teachers but also those “seasoned” teachers, who see that these changes need to happen with our evolving clientele, but are struggling to make them.  I have seen many teachers approach new pedagogical practices with an open mind and some who seem resistant to change, perhaps from fear, anxiety or just plain stubbornness.   Since moving to my school in BC nine years ago, teachers have experienced a few “top-down” pedagogical initiatives from differentiated learning to project-based learning, pedagogy on dialogic talk as part of collaborative learning and, most recently, inquiry-based learning; hence, I can understand the hesitation from some of my “seasoned” colleagues to jump in with both feet because the school wide focus seems to be constantly changing.    We have a new principal this year, and her school wide focus is teaching to and about the Core Competencies in the new BC Curriculum.

Again, I do not truly know what makes some of my colleagues more or less willing to try new approaches and accept new changes, but I do know that if any of them come to me for mentorship, I will do my best to support whatever level of learning they want to achieve.  With that in mind, the examples of support given below do not necessarily focus solely on the effective use of reference resources, but demonstrate how I was able to mentor a colleague, and support her professional growth, as she tried new tools, new resources, new pedagogy, and new practices.  I have chosen to focus this essay on the evolving practice of one colleague as this has been an on-going evolution, spanning over almost two years now.

Of importance to note is that I am not a teacher-librarian and, although I feel comfortable “playing” with technological tools, I have not had formal training on using the electronic references available at my school.  Again, through “playing” with the sites, I have found ways to use resources from the ERAC digital bundle and have demonstrated how to access these resources to my students but, I do not profess to know the “correct” method of supporting digital resources.  I also have “played” around with Google Suites, and Google Classroom – some things I have tried worked and others, like an field-trip survey I recently tried, have not!  Failure, however, can be intimidating and I have seen it result in the self-depreciation of capable teachers who should not feel this way.

In order to better understand how to discuss my colleague’s professional growth I used metalanguage derived from “The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals”.  (See model charts below)

Expression of concern model

use of innovation model

 

Mrs C

Mrs C has been teaching for many years and is nearing retirement.  She is an enthusiastic teacher who is constantly trying to better her teaching practice.  As a colleague, she was an incredible support for me when I moved into teaching the same grade level, grade 4/5, as her and, as a result of us working collaboratively and both enjoying coaching, we evolved past colleagues into good friends.  Mrs C is the kind of teacher who likes to have her lessons well-planned and developed in advance.  Although she can be flexible, she prefers to be organized and follow routines which she feels benefits her classroom instruction, classroom management and helps with challenging students.  Mrs C and I are very similar in many respects which is most likely why we connected and easily built a level of trust.

Over the last 5-6 years, many of our in-school professional development sessions have had focused on the use of technology to support pedagogy, per the new curriculum expectations.  Mrs C has expressed to me that she struggles with incorporating technology into her practice for the following reasons:

  • She becomes easily frustrated when the tools are not performing the way she has understood/learnt them as she does not know how to troubleshoot problems
  • She views her inability to troubleshoot or use technology as a failing and is, sadly, one of those excellent and very capable teachers who “beats herself up” for not being successful

These above-mentioned challenges have resulted in the following consequences:

  • She finds it time consuming to learn how to use the tools to the level of mastery, which is the level at which she is most comfortable when teaching
  • She feels that whatever the students can do with technological tools can just as easily be demonstrated on paper in a written fashion

At a pro-d session last school year (September, 2017), Mrs C became so overwhelmed by the technological terminologies (the young early 30-something presenter talked as though everyone should know what twitter, a padlet, Instagram, iMovie and Adobe Spark were!) that Mrs C left, very upset, crying and feeling like she wasn’t a good teacher – which is far from the truth.  After witnessing that, I chose to teach her one “cool computer thing” each week that wouldn’t overwhelm her but would make her feel more confident to consider other technological possibilities.  They were generally shortcuts that helped her improve her user skills but it enabled her to see that using technology in the classroom was a possibility.

According to the CBAM, at the start of opening up this dialogue with Mrs C, I would have said that her levels of concern were ranked at “1. Informational – I would like to know more about it” and “2. Personal – How will using it affect me?” as, emotionally, technology was, and continues to be, a trigger for her.  I would have said that Mrs C’s level of innovation would have ranked at “0. Non-use – The user is taking no action” but, not out of disinterest, instead more out of overwhelmedness (yes, it is a word, invented in the mid-19th century by Edward Pusey).

Through our quick, weekly, “cool computer thing” sessions, Mrs C saw that I did not judge her lack of techno-savvy and began asking questions about how I use technology in my classroom.  I told her about Google suites and how I have the students write in google docs and share it with me for editing.  I also shared with her how to develop a district teacher page but, these seemed a little overwhelming to start so, with parent-teacher interviews coming up in October (of 2017, this has been an on-going mentorship) I showed her how I used google sheets to set-up my interviews instead of having parents email me individually and THIS…she connected with.

It took some time as Mrs C wrote notes and refused to let me touch her computer as she said she would learn best by doing it herself and, after a couple hours, we had put together a document to share with her class parents.  There were a couple of “glitches” which we handled together when parent emails came in but, all in all this was a rousing success.  Mrs C now uses google sheets for all her parent-teacher interview sign-ups and she extended her learning to use it as a sign-up for basketball games.

Last June I organized a “marketplace” whereby all grade 4/5 students developed a product, submitted cost receipts (to later determine net vs gross profit), marketed the product and sold it at our Marketplace fair.  All the monies earned were to go to charity so, to add an inquiry component to our financial literacy project, my students had to research a charity, develop a 5-slide presentation following set criteria, and present it to the grade 4/5 classes so we could vote upon a charity.  After seeing our Slides presentations, Mrs C asked me how I taught google slides in my classroom and how the children were able to input pictures into their slides.  I was so excited that she wanted to learn this so, we arranged an after-school session in the library on a Chromebook, as this is the tool we use with the grade 4/5 students.  Mrs C was definitely progressing according to the CBAM and was now entering “01. Orientation stage” by taking the initiative to learn more.  Again, Mrs C wrote notes and we practiced the steps until she mastered them.  After about 3 hours, she felt that she understood and was confident enough to try teaching it to her students.  She reported to me that it went better than anticipated but, she was overwhelmed when a couple computers froze and many children were not understanding how to save their images to their desktops then inputting the images into their document.  I offered to teach her next class during my prep so she could observe but, sadly, in her mind, this was akin to failure; thus, the google slides project was put aside for when she felt more confident.

After one success and one semi-failure, I was concerned that Mrs C would pull away from technology but, I am happy to say that she has accepted it in small doses.  Although I would assert that her level of concern remains the same, she has definitely progressed levels in ability to innovate with technology.  With her future projects in mind, I would go so fa as to say she is in the “Preparation” stage, and is looking forward to ways of using new technology and the tools.

 

Future collaborations

Related image

Mrs C has two future collaborations on the go!  For the first time since I have been at my school, Mrs C has sought computer direction from someone other than me!  I recently told her how I was having the school TL come in and instruct my class on appropriate use of the iPad applications we have downloaded for students.  I explained that many of the apps we use can improve our student’s spelling and understanding of phonemes and, although I know how to use them, my students were likely to focus better if taught by our TL.  I also said that I was going to sit with an iPad and learn with them to model how teachers can learn from teachers.  She hummed and hawed a little but then agreed that it was a good idea and signed up to two in-class sessions as well!  I am proud that she is willing to take this risk and, hopefully, from this, she can build a stronger technology-assistance relationship with our TL.

As for Mrs C and me, well, she has asked for me to share my ideas on inquiry-based learning.  She knows that I teach my science solely as inquiry and she wants to know how I manage to cover the content using inquiry.  Hand-in-hand with that, she has asked how I teach research skills on the computer and what resources I use!  I hope not to overwhelm her with the ERAC digital bundle but, knowing her as I do, once her heart has stopped racing, she will see the incredible benefit of accessing “teacher approved” reference resources!

 

References:

Concerns-Based Adoption Model. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. https://sites.google.com/site/ch7cbam/home

The Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM): A Model for Change in Individuals.” The National Academies. 2005. Web. 29 Feb. 2016. http://www.nationalacademies.org/rise/backg4a.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thematic Blog Post #2 – Managing and Evaluating Reference Services

Collaboration – Cooperative program planning

What I have discovered from this second theme is that the role of teacher-librarian (TL) seems to be ever increasing, much like the role of the classroom teacher, and that it is a role that functions best when teachers, students, administration and the community collaborate – like the holistic approach suggested in the Leading Learning document.  Through our discussion posts, I have also recognized that other TLs are struggling with engaging teachers in collaboration and that the role of the TL is not necessarily viewed as a collaborative one by some teachers but instead it is sometimes seen as the “prep coverage” teacher or “the one who just reads books”.  Again, this tells me that TLs, with the help of administration, need to educate teachers as to their roles and how they can benefit the learning of students, especially in their roles as mediators who connect students with appropriate information (Riedling et al., 2013).

Management of the Reference Collection

In respecting the choices of my school’s TLs in removing print references from the library and entering others, such as almanacs, into circulation, it now behooves the TLs to ensure that all children understand how to access the digital references available through the district ERAC bundle.  Perhaps with less funds being applied to print references, the school can examine technology purchases that would support the new digital references.

ERAC_BCDC-page

In appreciating that all schools should have access to resources, whether hands-on or virtual (CLA, 2014), ERAC digital bundles offer schools access to a variety of sources from reference materials to journals to almanacs, magazines and more.

 

Evaluating Reference Services

Not yet being a TL, I had not fully realized the importance of this aspect of the role.  As a teacher, I think I just took it for granted that our library seemed “stocked” with all the latest curricular-related books…it was like magic!

giphy

In learning more about this aspect of the job of TL, I appreciated several viewpoints of consideration for when I become a TL:

  • Being impartial (Lamb, 2013)
  • Respecting quality over demand (Lamb, 2013)
  • Doing a needs assessment Lamb, 2013, specifically speaks of software needs however, I believe that this form of assessment is relevant for all resources
  • Understanding the standards of acceptability in various aspects of the learning commons and, more specifically, the standards for school library collections (CA for SL, 2003)
  • Being more aware of students with learning disabilities and needs in their learning (ERAC, 2008)
  • Ensuring that the needs of English language learners and French language learners are met (especially in my school where we have 76% FI enrollment) (ERAC, 2008)

Overall, I can certainly say from this theme of learning that I, again, found out there is so much about which I don’t know that a TL does.  I am both excited about the prospect of being a TL and frightened about what I can achieve when only working 0.4 FTE in the position!

 

Works Cited

Canadian Association For School Libraries (2003). Achieving Information Literacy Standards for School Library Programs in Canada.Ottawa ON, The Canadian School Library Association and the Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.

Canadian Library Association (2014). The Leading Learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada Ottawa ON, Canada: Canadian Library Association’s Voices For School Libraries Network and the CLA School Libraries Advisory.

ERAC (Revised 2008). Evaluating, Selecting and Acquiring Learning Resources: A Guide.  Retrieved from https://bcerac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ERAC_WB.pdf

Lamb, A. (2013).  Electronic Materials for Children and Young Adults. Eduscape.  Retrieved from http://eduscapes.com/electronic/17.htm

Riedling, Ann, Shake, Loretta & Houston, Cynthia. (2013). Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips, (Third Edition). Santa Barbara, CA: Linworth.

 

 

 

 

Technical essay – Resource Evaluation

 

  1. Introduction

The print reference section at my school is non-existent.  In speaking with my Teacher-Librarians (TLs), a decision was made to remove the print reference section as the cost of maintaining the print materials were too high; furthermore, they can quickly become outdated.  For the sake of both practicality and easing the pull on the already strained library purse strings, it seemed more sensible to use the district’s digital subscription package which, I feel, is very comprehensive.  That being said, certain materials that were formerly print references, such as, National Geographic Almanacs, have been placed into circulation to allow for students to take them home and have deeper engagement with the material.

When our TLs weeded out the print reference section, I was asked, by our French Immersion (FI) TL, if I wanted to keep the set of French World Book Encyclopedias, “L’Encyclopédie Découverte” in my class as he knew that I used print references and enjoyed teaching my students how to “read” a print reference.  It is from this set of references that I will be making my evaluation.

  1. Evaluating a resource

The rubric was designed after reviewing Asselin, Branch & Oberg’s Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Program in Canada, and Riedling, Shake & Houston’s Reference Skills for the School Librarian: Tools and Tips.  The rubric incorporates aspects that ensure that the reference source “serves to answer questions, [unlike] a bad reference source [ ] that fails to answer questions.” (Riedling et al, 2013, p. 20-21) and serves to evaluate the encyclopedia resources below.

  1. Resource being evaluated – L’Encyclopédie Découverte

 

Image result for L’Encyclopédie Découverte

 

  Below Standard Acceptable Exemplary
Relevancy Content is not suitable for elementary students.

 

Content is not current.

Content is suitable for most elementary students.

 

Content is mostly current.

Content is current and suitable for elementary students. Includes easy-to-read text features, maps, illustrations, etc.
Curricular Connections Material does not support BC Curriculum. Material supports much of the BC Curriculum in content. Material fully supports BC Curriculum in content and competencies.  Resource provides provocative questions that foster inquiry.
Currency Copyright exceeds 5 years.  Resource is outdated according to Riedling’s evaluation Standards. Copyright date is within the last 5 years.  Resource is mostly current according to Riedling’s evaluation Standards. Copyright date is within 1 year.  Most current resource possible according to Riedling’s evaluation Standards.
Accuracy of information Content contains biased and/or incorrect information.

Source of information unknown – authority lacking.

Content is mostly accurate but some bias is present.  Published by a known source – good authority. Content is both accurate and unbiased.  Published by a highly reliable source – demonstrated authority.
Ease of use Resource difficult to follow.  Poorly organized and structured.  No index.

Does not meet the needs of all learners.

Resource is organized and flow is easy to follow.  May not have an index.

Meets the needs of most learners.

Resource is well-organized and structured with an index.  Content is appealing to the eye.

Meets the cultural, linguistic and special needs of all learners.

Use of Library Space Resource requires an unreasonable amount of space and is not easily accessible. Resource requires some space and is accessible. Resource needs minimal space and is easily accessible in an designated, signed area.
Cost Cost is prohibitive to budget. Cost is within budget. Cost is minimal or free.

Relevancy – Although the content is accessible for most Grade 4-6 French Immersion students, if they are achieving grade-level reading competency and comprehension, some content is not current due to the publication date, most specifically country population numbers.  Surprisingly, from what I compared, 95% of the resource is identical to the up-to-date online version.

Curricular connections – The information provided supports the “content” objectives in the BC Curriculum; however, since it is simply objective information based on facts, there is little to no link to the competencies.

Currency – According to the evaluation standards by Riedling et al. (2013), this resource would be outdated and hence, not considered current; however, if one were to use the evaluation standard by Asselin et al. (2006), the encyclopedic copyright date allows 10 years, placing this resource on the cusp of being outdated.  That being said, to reiterate, comparison to the online version demonstrated that 95% of the resource is still current.

Accuracy of Information – Looking long and hard for bias in this resource, most specifically in areas known for bias like religion (Jeanne d’Arc) and politics (MacKenzie-King) I was pleasantly surprised not to find any.  World Book is well-known for its authority by its reputation; although, I was not able to find from where they access their information nor was there any information under their “Contract Licensing” link.

Ease of Use – There is no doubt that this resource was designed for children.  World Book is visually pleasing, using graphics, maps, colour and images to entice the reader to learn more.  Furthermore, they have added certain features such as, captions, subtitles, and specific text features, like bolding words.  In order to appeal to children, they have kept the text to one page and interspersed it with visuals so as not to intimidate the reader.

Use of Library Space – As previously mentioned, there is no longer a reference section in our school library but, the entire 2009 set is housed in my classroom and takes up about 2 feet of shelving space.  It would be an acceptable use of library space if it were decided to have a reference section anew!

Cost – With a total budget of $6,600 to be used to maintain the library (other funds were allocated for authors’ visits and Red Cedar book purchases), the cost of World Book as a reference would be within the budget at $1000 US; however, I could not find a print version for L’Encyclopédie Découverte. It now appears to only be available online.

  1. Replacement Resource – L’Encyclopédie Découverte Online
  Below Standard Acceptable Exemplary
Relevancy Content is not suitable for elementary students.

 

Content is not current.

Content is suitable for most elementary students.

 

Content is mostly current.

Content is current and suitable for elementary students. Includes easy-to-read text features, maps, illustrations, etc.
Curricular Connections Material does not support BC Curriculum. Material supports much of the BC Curriculum in content. Material fully supports BC Curriculum in content and competencies.  Resource provides provocative questions that foster inquiry.
Currency Copyright exceeds 5 years.  Resource is outdated according to Riedling’s evaluation Standards. Copyright date is within the last 5 years.  Resource is mostly current according to Riedling’s evaluation Standards. Copyright date is within 1 year.  Most current resource possible according to Riedling’s evaluation Standards.
Accuracy of information Content contains biased and/or incorrect information.

Source of information unknown – authority lacking.

Content is mostly accurate but some bias is present.  Published by a known source – good authority. Content is both accurate and unbiased.  Published by a highly reliable source – demonstrated authority.
Ease of use Resource difficult to follow.  Poorly organized and structured.  No index.

Does not meet the needs of all learners.

Resource is organized and flow is easy to follow.  May not have an index.

Meets the needs of most learners.

Resource is well-organized and structured with an index.  Content is appealing to the eye.

Meets the cultural, linguistic and special needs of all learners.

Use of Library Space Resource requires an unreasonable amount of space and is not easily accessible. Resource requires some space and is accessible. Resource needs minimal space and is easily accessible in a designated, signed area.
Cost Cost is prohibitive to budget. Cost is within budget. Cost is minimal or free.

 

Relevancy – Again, the content is accessible for most Grade 4-6 French Immersion students, if they are achieving grade-level reading competency and comprehension and the online 2019 version is the most up-to-date resource available.

Curricular connections – The information remains the same – it provides support to the “content” objectives in the BC Curriculum but, due in part to the nature of an encyclopedia, it is lacking in the promotion of research/inquiry-based learning.

Currency – Being an online resource, updated for 2019, it provides the most current information available, including (as retrieved from the World Book website https://www.worldbook.com/world-book-encyclopedia-2019.aspx ):

  • Over 1,200 new and revised articles, including North Korea, drones, virtual reality and the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle.
  • Current census and economic data for U.S. and countries around the world
  • New biographies of actors, directors, musicians, authors, and politicians, including Jeffrey Bezo and Elon Musk.
  • Recent outcomes of national elections around the world
  • Updates to tables of winners of prizes and awards, including Nobels, Pulitzers, and various literary awards
  • Sports updates for outcomes of major tournaments and races, including the 2018 Winter Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup.

 

Accuracy of Information – World Book remains a reliable source and is objective in its Canadian content.

Ease of Use – The online version on World Book is fairly easy to navigate for computer-savvy students; nonetheless, it is recommended that tutorial sessions be given prior to use in order to explain certain aspects, such as how to “search”, links to the “article contents” and “related information”, as well as, how to print, translate or email documents.

Use of Library Space – Being an online resource there is no physical space in the library that is taken but, it is important to note, that access to technology is not always available when needed.

Cost – Since this resource is part of the district’s resource bundle, there is no cost (of which I am aware) to our school library, specifically.

  1. Conclusion

In conclusion, the benefits of the online version of Word Book in both French and English outweigh those of the print versions.  One cannot argue that having the most up-to-date resource available, paid for through district funding and accessible wherever a computer can be found, is simply better for budgetary and “authority” reasons.  From an ecological standpoint, the online version has a lesser carbon footprint that the production of materials required to make the World Book and deliver it.

  1. References

Asselin, M., Branch, J., & Oberg, D., (Eds). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada. Ottawa, ON: Canadian School Library Association & The Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada.  Retrieved from http://accessola2.com/SLIC-Site/slic/ail110217.pdf

British Columbia Ministry of Education. B.C.’s New Curriculum. (2016) Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca/

Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada. Canadian Library Association.  Retrieved from http://llsop.canadianschoollibraries.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/llsop.pdf

ERAC Online Resources. Purchased by SD #63 for the 2018-19 school year. Retrieved from https://keating.sd63.bc.ca/mod/page/view.php?id=3784

Riedling, Ann, Shake, Loretta & Houston, Cynthia. (2013). Reference skills for the school library media specialist: Tools and tips, (Third Edition). Santa Barbara, CA: Linworth.

World Book.  Retrieved from  https://www.worldbook.com/world-book-encyclopedia-2019.aspx

 

 

 

Thematic Blog Post #1

My journey in learning: The foundation of reference services

Since our fearless leader opened up this blog post to discuss feelings, expectations, reflections and take-aways from our first theme of lessons, I am going to be frank and admit that I am freaking out about how little I know about reference sources and reference services.  I will preface this blog post with the caveat that I am NOT a teacher-librarian nor have I ever worked or subbed in the library.  I presently teach grade 4/5 French Immersion and I am taking these courses to learn how to be a teacher-librarian.

Firstly, my understanding of a reference source was considerably narrower that the definitions given by Riedling and Katz.  I built upon what I experienced as a student in school and university and recognized what “references” were but had not considered the addition of non-print, images and technology.  Secondly, I was completely thrown by the terminologies and very specific reference-vocabulary.  Case in point, my father made maps for a living yet I had never heard of the word “gazetteer”.  Thirdly, I was astonished by the rigorousness of the Riedling’s evaluation processes and, through our discussion posts, how unattainable they seem to many of our school libraries due to funding.  In fact, I think many of my colleagues were surprised by the “below average” grade they had to attribute to their libraries based on Riedling’s severe criteria.  From all of the readings, my biggest, and most reassuring take-away actually came from Reidling:

“A good reference source is one that serves to answer questions and a bad reference source is one that fails to answer the questions.” (p. 21)

Finally, something less stressful happened: reference services.  This felt familiar and in my wheel house as I am most comfortable when helping students and teaching them where, how and why to find the answers.  Here I realized that, yes, I can be a TL.  I can use the appropriate resources to help find answers and yes, I am great at building questions from the seed of an idea.  I teach most of my subject areas using an inquiry platform and I can be a great resource for teachers and students who would like to build inquiry-based units/lessons for their classes.

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Of course, a component of the reference services is to weed materials and select new materials, but these now seem more manageable after that little boost of confidence!

 

References

Riedling, A. (2013). Reference Skills for the School Library Specialist: Tools and Tips. Linworth Publishing. Ohio.

 

A work in progress…but it’s on the way.

 

giphy-downsized

Although during a busy time, working on this website was interesting on many levels for me and I am hoping my little spark of interest in graphic novels, takes hold and starts a flame for a few teachers.

Thoughts:

Firstly, I mastered creating a website which, not too long ago, I paid someone $4k to do for my business!

Secondly, I feel like I am getting the chance (although it’s the tip of the iceberg, this is by no means a finished product) to share my love of graphic novels with colleagues and in doing so, perhaps changing some minds about their potential use in the language arts curriculum.  I also hope that, by providing them with some starter lesson plans and a bibliography of vetted graphic novels, that it might help those who are sitting on the fence about using them as a teaching tool.

Thirdly, I am using media to share knowledge.  It’s something that is lacking in my professional life…and personal (I had to go kicking and screaming onto Facebook and Instagram) but, I now know that this is an easy way to share information with my peers.

Finally, I actually created something.  I know that we always talk about how the process is more important than the product but I think we all (kids included) like to have a product.

That being said, this is a working product and I am not finished; however, it is at a place where I can publish it and continue to build resources for it.  Presently, I only have two lesson plans on it but have many more ideas to add.  During the course of making the site and focussing on what I wanted to share, I realized that this is for teachers.  I have added a section with my favourite graphic novels and a bibliography to go with it, but really it’s more for teachers to be able to look at the selection (they are for kids ages 7-13).

Challenges – the technology piece.  I registered for 4…yes 4 websites and the other 3 were too difficult for me to manage.  Webnode was by far the easiest for a recovering technophobe.  Highly recommend it if you would prefer a website as opposed to blog.

Well, I shall end off by thanking the Wolf Pack for their insights and support.  I have really enjoyed learning from you and stealing your many wonderful ideas:)

Enjoy checking out:  GRAPHIC NOVELS RULE

Yup, that’s my domain name!

References:

Cook, Mike P. & Kirchoff, Jeffrey S.J. (2017). Teaching Multimodal Literacy Through Reading and Writing Graphic Novels. Language and Literacy 19(4), 76-95

Delkic, Melina. (May 28, 2018). How graphic novels and comics can move a story.  Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/insider/graphic-novels-comics-book-review.html rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FGraphic%20Novels&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=collection

Morrison, Leslie. (April 14, 2017). The research behind graphic novels and young readers. Retrieved from: https://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/blog/research-behind-graphic-novels-and-young-learners

Volin, Eva. (Spring, 2011). Good comics for kids. Children and Libraries. 3-9