Becoming the embedded school librarian begins with understanding our place in the New Zealand Curriculum

It is critical that school librarians work very hard to become embedded in the curriculum delivery process within their schools.  We need to explore ways of making explicit connections to the vision, values and key competencies in the curriculum document.  We need to understand and connect with the charter and goals articulated by our school community, and to be clear and forthright in expressing those connections to our teaching colleagues.

The key competencies are thinking, using language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing.  A careful reading of the intentions on p12 of the curriculum document will resonate with school library teams.  If thinking speaks of making sense of information and constructing knowledge, such students actively “seek, use and create knowledge”.  We are better placed than most of our teaching colleagues to truly understand the complexity concealed within this notion.  Seeking, using and creating knowledge in a Web 2.0 world is not the stuff of chalk and talk!  It is the stuff of critical literacy, transliteracy, social media tools and connectivity.  It is through the careful scaffolding of these skills that students will become the connected, confident, actively involved life-long learners described in the vision statement.

Using language, symbols, and texts is the key competence with which our teaching colleagues will most easily make the connection to school libraries.  My deep fear, however, is that the connection they make will simply be to the world of books, and for some few, to the notion of information literacy.  These aspects of this key competence are, of course, important, but we need to find a way to make the wider notions of multi-literacy, transliteracy and critical literacy explicit to our school communities.  Our broad knowledge of the range of texts and media available for teachers and students to explore must be extended by our use and promotion of the Web 2.0 tools that support the thinking competency, and that make this exploration relevant and engaging to our young people.

How do we do this, I hear you thinking?  Some simple ways spring to mind.  Using a tool like Wordle to facilitate understanding of information is easy and effective.  Copying and pasting the full text of a speech by Sir Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King into a Wordle creates a visual expression of the ideas in the speech.  During an election year, promote the use of Wordle to compare party politics and make the concepts accessible to younger students.  Tom Barrett’s Ways to use Wordle in the classroom continues to grow, and is full of great ways to promote Wordle as a tool for assessment and learning.  As an aside, that gentleman is worth a follow on Twitter if you want insight into the educational perspective.  Find him on Twitter @tombarrett.  The following is the text of “I have a dream” in Wordle form – the key ideas are obvious in this format.

Infographics are another tool which has the potential to engage students in the information process in a different way.  If infographics are not yet being widely used in your school as an assessment tool, here is a golden opportunity to share their potential as tools which will not only engage students, but provide a scaffold for assessing students’ critical literacy skills.  In order to create an infographic students will need to demonstrate information seeking behaviours, critical literacy skills as they evaluate sources and search for bias, awareness of intellectual rights and licensing as they seek permission to reuse and remix.  If library teams fail to leap on this opportunity to scaffold the use of infographics as a tool for teaching these skills, teachers may not make the connections, and infographics will become another way of ‘posterizing’ stuff found. Here is Kathy Schrock’s infographic page – she has done the hard work for us, our role is to learn how to make them, and market them to our educational community as a tool for learning and assessment, not as just another pretty postering tool.

As we begin to work our way through the myriad tools shared by Judy O’Connell and Joyce Valenza at the SLANZA Conference, 2011, we need to ask which tools can we explore and then share with teaching colleagues? How can I demonstrate their ability to improve student learning outcomes? How might they be used as assessment tools? Can they facilitate the growth of critical literacy, multi-literacy or transliteracy skills?  How will my sharing of these tools promote my own expertise within the school? We need to become Wizards of the Apps, and weave some magic with our students and teaching colleagues.

Next post:  Web 2.0, social media – it’s all too hard!  Where do I start?

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