For ETL501’s Assignment 2 I created a pathfinder on the topic “Gold rush in Australia” for a Year 5 grade. The template created is something that I will use and continue to refine over time in developing more pathfinders. The use of a pathfinder to address the teaching of information literacy skills, to showcase the resources available to students and staff and to advocate for the role of the teacher librarian (TL) is invaluable.
Students and many staff are not effective searchers of information and tend to rely on search engines, and Google in particular, as their only source of information for research. My overarching aims for the pathfinder then were; a) to expose students and teachers to a variety of sources of information; b) to broaden their horizons in terms of where else they can seek information and; c) to alert them to the fact that other search engines exist besides Google. In addition to this I focussed on the ICT general capability of the Australian curriculum as I wanted to address several issues that lie in this capability (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), 2013).
The issue of copyright, plagiarism and the use of a bibliography is something my school does not have a policy on for students and therefore teachers do not teach or implement it. This is a major issue and so I wanted to ‘plant the seed’ as a way of introducing this issue and addressing it across the school in the near future (Herring, 2007, p.34). In addition to this I wanted students to be guided in the selection of resources appropriate for their research needs from a range of mediated resources presented on the pathfinder. Finally I wanted to guide students in the organisation of their ideas by directing them to the use of concept mapping as a key information literacy skill (Herring, 2011).
In developing this pathfinder I encountered a few obstacles that I was able to overcome with time. The first was with the website creator I used which was Weebly (Weebly, Inc. 2013). While Weebly is a very user-friendly platform and would be fantastic for use with students, after a short time I found it almost too simplified for my purposes. I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t be more exacting in where I placed things and how the page looked. Having said that, once I adjusted to the limitations I was able to work with and around them and develop something I was happy with. In the future I will explore other tools such as wikis to create my pathfinders.
The other issue I encountered was in the selection of locally-produced resources for the pathfinder that were both age appropriate and covered a range of reading abilities. I had no trouble discovering resources on the topic but the great majority of them were either aimed at teachers or were of a reading level that was beyond the age group. Many hours of refining searches, using various search engines and applying readability tools as well as my own professional judgement resulted in a range of resources that met my criteria.
After having difficulty with selecting appropriate resources I approached the embedding of information literacy in a different way than I had planned. I had initially planned to select the skills I wanted to embed and then choose resources that facilitated the development of these skills. After striking difficulties I changed tack and allowed the resources I’d chosen to dictate to a certain extent the information literacy skills I would embed. This turned out to make better sense anyway as the very skills I had looked at were more than likely the ones that students would require as they worked with the particular resources I’d chosen. The information literacy skills will now be more relevant and will have a better chance of being retained and transferred across curriculum (Herring & Bush, 2011, p.130 & Eisenberg, 2008, p.40).
During this process I have been constantly thinking about how this pathfinder will benefit both the students and staff but also about how it can benefit me in my role as a TL down the road. As an information specialist and resource support person a pathfinder showcases the skills of a TL allowing others to see that you are great at selecting quality resources to support the curriculum needs of students and staff. As a curriculum designer the collaborative teaching of a unit of work that uses a pathfinder allows for the implementation of a scope and sequence of digital literacies across the school. The wow factor that comes from showing the pathfinder to staff and allowing them to hear feedback from teachers and students about its implementation is an advocating tool that can’t be overlooked.
While the development of this first pathfinder has been very time consuming, the energy that I have put into this template will reap great benefits in the future as I get faster at developing them. I have thoroughly enjoyed this process and I eagerly await the feedback from the classes I am giving this to next week. While I am not currently working as a TL (we don’t have one in my school) this pathfinder will be advocating for the benefits of having one and the need for one in the future.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2013). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved September 28, 2013 from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Overview/General-capabilities-in-the-Australian-Curriculum
Eisenberg, M. (2008). Information literacy: Essential skills for the information age. DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, 28(2), 39-47.
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.
Herring, J. & Bush, S. (2011). Information literacy and transfer in schools: implications for teacher librarians. The Australian Library Journal, 60(2), 123-132.
Herring, J. (2011). Year seven students, concept mapping and the issues of transfer. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), 11-23.
Weebly, Inc. (2013) Weebly. Retrieved September 3, 1023 from http://www.weebly.com