Learning Curation #3 (462)

Essential Question:

  • How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new middle/high school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

Consider the following Secondary scenario

A grade 10 student comes into the library weary because he has to submit an intended reading list and goals for the year. The teacher is excited about his/her new syllabus and is making attempts to slowly integrate more choice in reading in combination with the required novels assigned.  The only novels he has ever finished, reluctantly, have been the ones that were required reading in class. He dislikes reading and the idea of finishing one novel let alone a list for the year is overwhelming. He is thinking of dropping the class.  (Module 3)

As a teacher-librarian, I see my role as two fold. First, my role is to act as an empathetic support to this grade 10 student. Second, my role is to be a collaborator with the teacher. For the sake of personalizing this scenario, I am going to refer to the student by the pseudonym “Dave” and describe a possible dialogue in a script-like format.

In considering my essential question of building a culture in which the library is the bridge within the school, I feel that collaboration amongst staff is a large component. I spent some time reading about how to build a participatory culture. In Hamilton’s (2011b) article “The school librarian as teacher: What kind of a teacher are you?” essential conditions that lead to a participatory culture are described (p.35). As a teacher librarian, I hope to foster a culture of collaboration through

  • the creation and sharing of lessons and units that recognizes the value of each contributor
  • mentorship
  • the development of social connections

In this article Hamilton (2011a) describes a new library model as one that moves away from a “data warehouse” to a “learning site” (p.41). Yes! That is what I desire; a learning site where the “the school librarian is a partner for learning, the boundaries between the traditional classroom and library space become one shared learning space” (p.43).

In the dialogue below, I describe the mock scenario in which I take on two of the many roles of a teacher librarian.

A: Teacher-Librarian as a Student Support

TL: Dave, I am so glad to see you today. But, you look frustrated. Is there something I can help you with?

Dave: I am thinking of dropping English Lit 10. I have to submit an intended reading list and my reading goals for the year. I admit that I am not a big fan of reading and only took this course because it fit my schedule and I needed the credits. Reading novels is so hard; the only ones I have finished in the past are those that were assigned readings. Thank goodness, movies and Coles’ Notes were available for those novels. Now, I need to come up with a whole list of books that I will actually finish.  I can never do that.

TL: Would you mind if I helped you? Perhaps I can speak to your teacher and see if she will allow us to come up with a list one book at a time, rather than an entire reading list.

Dave: I guess I can give that a try. What book do you recommend?

TL: What are your passions, hobbies and interests? Let’s start with that. Then, let’s see what kind of books you like.

Dave then describes his hobbies and interests and his love for action movies, especially those with a clear hero.

TL: I have an idea, let’s look at a book list and see what we can find. I will show you a few, tell you a bit about each and then you can choose one to start with. I will talk with your teacher and describe the plan that you and I have come up with. I know your teacher loves reading and is so excited with her new plan to allow students more choice in the books they read.

We then spend some time digging through the Novelist in the ERAC bundle on the library computer. I show Dave how to search for books by topic or by type. From the list, we then narrow it down to three choices. I pull them off the shelf and give a mini book talk to Dave. He selects one to try. I encourage him to read the first two chapters and then come and tell me what he thinks.

 We write down the names of the other two choices to keep for future possibilities. I ask Dave to check back with me tomorrow, after I have had a chance to talk with his teacher. Dave feels supported and listened to and leaves the library feeling much more hopeful. 

Screen Shots of EBSCO site that could help Dave find books of interest.

Background Knowledge:

As I heard recently on Stephen Krashen’s video: “The Power of Reading” one positive reading experience can make someone into a reader. He referenced a book titled “The Read Aloud Handbook” in which one’s ‘homerun book’ becomes a catalyst for a love of reading. Furthermore, as stated by Gaiman (2013), “to discover that reading per se is pleasurable…you’re on the road to reading everything”.

So, if I can find one great book that Dave will enjoy he will be motivated to read another. Tackling an entire list is too daunting, but starting with one book seems more manageable.

Through a 1:1 conversation, I helped Dave identify his ‘reading identity’ and to find that one “home run” book that will lead him down a road to reading.

B. Teacher-Librarian as Collaborator

I am very careful to approach the teacher with enthusiasm and support for her efforts to encourage more student choice and for her goal of stimulating a love of reading. I explain that Dave came to see me and how he was feeling frustrated because he just didn’t think he could come up with a list of books. He has struggled to read any book, let alone many. I explain that I helped Dave find one book to begin with. I share Gaiman’s article with the teacher and ask the teacher’s permission if I can work alongside Dave to create an ongoing list, rather than a complete list at the onset of the course. I explain that I asked Dave to check in with me tomorrow after I had a chance to speak to the teacher.

I tell the teacher how I am so proud of her for deliberately including in her syllabus more student choice. I show her the following quote from the article:

“The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

I also share with the teacher the link to the study by the Institute for Education (2013) about reading for pleasure. I tell her how surprised I was to read that “reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education” (web post).

I ask the teacher if she would like to bring the whole class to the library so I can demonstrate how the Novel search through EBSCO works and how this may be a good starting point in finding books.

The teacher is delighted that I have helped Dave get started and that he is willing to give the class a try. The teacher wholeheartedly gives me permission to work with Dave and to allow him to submit an ‘ongoing’ list (formative) rather than a complete list. She is equally thrilled that I am willing to work with the whole class to support them in finding their books and in creating their lists.

The initial project takes off and becomes a treasure hunt for the nuggets of gold in the library!


Gaiman, N. (2013, October 15). Why our future depends on libraries, reading an daydreaming. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming?CMP=twt_gu

Hamilton, B. J. (2011a). Creating conversations for learning: School libraries as sites of participatory culture. School Library Monthly 27(8): 41-43.

Hamilton, B. J. (2011b.). The school librarian as teacher: What kind of a teacher are you? Knowledge Quest39(5): 34-40.

Institute of Education, University of London. (2013, September 11). Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, study finds.  Retrieved from http://www.ioe.ac.uk/newsEvents/89938.html

Krashen, S. (2012, April 5). The power of reading. The COE lecture series. University of Georgia. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSW7gmvDLag


Learning Curation #2: October 1 (LLED 462)

A teacher-librarian wears many hats and has many roles within the school. As a classroom teacher with no actual experience (yet) in the library/learning commons, I do wonder if I can accomplish everything and can meet all of the demands. However, I find the role very exciting as a teacher-librarian has the opportunity to really feel the pulse of the entire school.

I like the change from “library” to “Learning Commons”. As stated in Leading Learning (2014), “a learning commons is a whole school approach to building a participatory learning community” (p.3). Like the center hub of a wheel or the centre of a spider web, the learning experiences spiral outwards into all aspects of the school. “This space, which is a blend of physical and virtual environments, transforms teaching and learning by allowing both staff and students to co-create knowledge” (Leading Learning, 2014, p. 5). I love that description to ‘co-create knowledge!

To create my ‘recipe for a school library as a place of literacy and learning’, I decided to make a Prezi. I have only dabbled with this tool a bit a few years ago but had hoped to use Prezi as a digital tool with my grade 7 classes. One of my curriculum mini-units is centered around digital literacy/citizenship. With each lesson topic, I want my students to then create a short presentation summarizing the information using a digital tool. I framed the assignment as “create a short presentation to teach grade 5-6 students about what it means to be a good digital citizen.

My essential question framing my thinking is:

  • How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

In formulating my recipe, I consulted a number of readings and have listed them below as References.

The link to my Prezi:

Recipe for Literacy and Learning


DeWith, Y. (n.d.). [web blog]. Tech Tools for learning. Retrieved from www.techtoolsforlearning

Canadian Library Association. (2014) Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa: Ontario.

Ekdahl, M. and Zubke, S. (Eds). (May 2014). From School Library to Library Learning Commons: A Pro-Active Model for Educational Change. Vancouver School District #39. Retrieved from http://bctf.ca/bctla/pub/documents/2014/SL2LLC_ReviewingCopy.pdf

National Library of New Zealand. (n.d.). School libraries. Retrieved from http://schools.natlib.govt.nz/school-libraries)

Together for Learning School Libraries and the Emergence of the Learning Commons: A Vision of the 21st Century. (2010). Ontario School Library Association. Retrieved from https://www.accessola.org/web/Documents/OLA/Divisions/OSLA/TogetherforLearning.pdf


Learning Curation #1: September 17

Ah, the development of an essential question!!

In reading the passion profiles, I was immediately struck by Passion #2 “The Curriculum”. I love tweaking curriculum to make it more relevant and engaging for my students. I rarely teach the same lesson in the same way. I always considered myself a bit of a ‘nerd’ to actually enjoy curriculum planning and development. Over the course of my 24-year career, I have seen several re-inventions of the BC Curriculum: from “Whole Language” to “Back to Basics with detailed IRPs” and a variety of iterations in between.

My second passion would be #4: “Teaching Strategies and Techniques”. Yes, I do find myself lying awake some nights devising new strategies for teaching a particular concept. I do have my tried and true methods that are successful, but I love to glean and/or invent new ways to engage my students.

Passion #7 “Advocating Equity and Social Justice” certainly ranks in my top three. I love to challenge my students to think deeply about social justice issues that pertain to both world events and to their local communities/relationships. Moving to grade 7 last year provided many opportunities for rich conversations about “Conflict”, “Stereotypes”, “Homelessness” and “Refugee Crisis”. I created action projects in which my students went out into the community to help build community gardens for Habitat for Humanity housing complex, make sandwiches/cookies for a weekly homeless ministry in Burnaby and interact with immigrant and refugee children at a nearby non-profit housing complex. The reactions from my students were fantastic. One student commented, “It felt great to meet some of the needs in my community, even though I am only a kid.”

Passion Profiles

I suppose one could say that my goals for this course are wrapped up in my passions. I seek ways to interact with the curriculum (both this course and the new BC Ed Plan) through a variety of tools and techniques that would really cause my students to pause and think about what they are learning and how they can impact the world around them.

Essential Question formation:

In wrestling with my essential question, I need to provide a bit of background into my teaching environment. I am teaching at at K-7 independent school. (just a side note, it is the same school that I attended as a child!) We are bursting at the seams and are in the midst of a building project of a new high school. I have strongly indicated my desire to take on the role of the teacher-librarian at this new site. My administration is completely on board with the Learning Commons model and whole-heartedly embraces this direction. However, we are new to this! I have the possibility to set up a new library in a new facility. What a fantastic opportunity!

So the essential questions I am wrestling with are:

  1. How can maker spaces in the Learning Commons be used to foster knowledge building, creativity and innovation? (Leading Learning, p. 30)
  2. In a brand new Learning Commons, how can I foster a culture that values life-long learning? [refer to Leading Learning, p. 30]
  3. How do I set up a learning commons in a brand new school that will become the “nerve centre of the school” (Leading Learning, p.6)

Response to Readings:

 “Leading Learning”

I have looked through this document on several occasions as part of my previous course work in the T-L program. It is a well-written document that clearly outlines the steps schools can move through in transitioning towards a learning commons model. I am especially drawn to pages 6-7 that describe the rationale and the explanation of the learning commons model. I don’t want my library to be just about collecting dots but about “connecting [the dots] through cross-curricular partnerships that boost critical thinking, problem solving, decision making and communicating abilities” (Leading Learning, p.6.

As listed in the document, the following standards outline the various roles of the Learning Commons and provide a framework for my thinking as I set up a Learning Commons:

  • “The library learning commons plays a key role in cultivating and facilitating collaboration to provide rich experiential learning opportunities” (p.11)
  • “The ultimate goal of the library learning commons is improved student achievement through the refining of instruction for essential literacy, research and inquiry and communication skills.” (p. 13)
  • “Knowledge-building, creativity and innovation, and honing of information management and literacy skills are key goals of the learning commons. (p. 15)
  • “The school Library Learning Commons has a leading role in assisting learners to hone and apply an expanded notion of literacy as well as fostering an active reading culture.” (p. 17)
  • “Active and knowledgeable involvement in participatory learning… through the [development of] security, privacy and good digital citizenship practices as well as effective collaboration skills and ensuring accessibility for all.” (p. 19)

IFLA School Library Guidelines

The second reading is a very helpful resource. My school does not have a library handbook and I can see that much of the detailed information within this document would be so useful in creating one. I appreciate how well laid out the document is and the extensive list of resources at the end of each chapter. In light of the possible direction of my essential question, chapter 5 “Programs and Activities of a School Library” stood out for me.


 Bermudez, P., Cabera, B., & Emm, L. (n.d.). Passion Profiles. Adapted from G. Thompson-Grove’s, “Student Profiles,”. National School Reform Faculty. Retrieved from http://www.nsrfharmony.org/system/files/protocols/passion_profiles.pdf

Canadian Library Association. (2014) Leading learning: Standards of practice for school library learning commons in Canada. Ottawa: Ontario.

International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. (2015) IFLA School Library Guidelines., 2nd revised Ed. Den Haag, Netherlands.


Evaluation Plan to Improve Reference Services: Assignment 3

Assignment 3: Yvonne DeWith

LIBE 467: Winter, 2017  Assignment 3 Y. DeWith


Children are curious by nature; one of the first words my children ever learned was “why?” Although children have an innate desire to ask questions and search for answers, the skills needed to “determine what information best fits our needs at any point in time involves a skill called ‘information literacy’ and a process called “information inquiry’” (Riedling, 2013, p. 3).

The school library provides information through quality references sources and instructs or guides the use of this information. Both are instrumental components to increase student achievement. This second component of instruction for information literacy skills has been a ‘hit and miss’ endeavour in my school. Currently, my school does not have any policies or procedures in place regarding the library and/or information literacy skills. Some of the skills are taught in isolation within the library, while other skills are taught within the classroom setting as parts of curriculum units. However, the absorption and adoption of these skills is most effective when the teacher-librarian collaborates with the classroom teacher. (Haycock, 2003)

To clarify, the term ‘information literacy’ includes “students’ capacity to find, evaluate, organize and transform information” (People for Education, 2011). Although there is a growing recognition on the importance of these skills in the 21st century, many schools are lagging behind. When Ontario principles, for example, were asked if their school had an information literacy plan, most principals pointed to plans to improve test scores in reading and writing and ignored the need for information literacy (People for Education, 2011, p.2). Because of the importance of information literacy skills, I would like to develop a scope and sequence plan that can be incorporated through collaboration between the teacher-librarian and the classroom teachers.

Analysis of Current Practice

To begin with, I wanted to get a sense of the current practices in my school as described by the teachers. So, I developed a google form survey. Realizing that it is report card week and teachers’ time is so limited, I tried to create the form to be simple to use and quick for teachers to complete. As described below, my initial hunches were confirmed. Teachers were implementing some form of information literacy skills into their lessons and units but these were disconnected to the library and were sporadic in nature. There did not seem to be a common, shared vocabulary among the staff as teachers were ‘doing their own thing’.

Rationale for Improvement

Because information overload faces 21st century students, explicit information literacy instruction is crucial to increase student achievement and to develop lifelong learners. Haycock (2003) states “such contributions are essential to student achievement and [are] most successful when the teacher-librarian works collaboratively with the classroom teacher” (p.22). Furthermore, “information literacy is most effective when integrated with classroom instruction through collaborative planning/ team teaching; in other words, the school library extends beyond its walls as an integral part of every classroom experience” (p.22). Teaching these skills in isolation of real-life, practical or classroom applications diminishes the effectiveness of the lessons. Through a scope and sequence that is mutually agreed upon and collaboratively planned between classroom teachers and teacher-librarian, the benefits of integrated information skills instruction will be maximized (p.23).

During a recent project on Ancient Egypt, my grade seven students engaged in the research process and reflected on the information literacy skills learned along the way. The following student quotes taken from DeWith’s blog (Feb. 15, 2017) demonstrate the effectiveness of incorporating skills within classroom application.

  • “I learned that books actually have a lot of useful information since I always used the internet”  (Note, I insisted they had to start with 3 books)
  • “It was hard to think of a question that I really wanted to do…I learned that books are REALLY helpful”.
  • “Facts are not only on websites but there are a lot of facts in books!”
  • “I learned that you should be organized and know where you got those facts”.
  • “I learned that I shouldn’t rush through looking for facts but instead, I should look thoroughly and also keep track of where my information was from.”
  • “I learned that sometimes you have to look at multiple books and websites to find facts and also to verify facts.”

In collating background research to develop a scope and sequence, I looked at the following resources:

As the basis of my scope and sequence, I used the Points of Inquiry (BCTF, 2011) to structure the categories.

Points of Inquiry

Points of Inquiry Resources


The Plan

The Leading Learning Document is a great resource to use when guiding a school through transition. Although the guide targets bringing a school towards a Learning Commons approach, I adapted the steps of the process to my plan of integrating a shared vocabulary and a scope and sequence for information literacy skills.

Leading Learning Document: Standards of Practice for Learning Commons

Leading Learning
  1. Consult phase

As part of the consult phase of leading a school through a transition and to create an environment conducive to change, I would enlist the support of my administration and primary/intermediate coordinators. I will share my rationale for developing a scope and sequence.

2. Plan phase

I would assess the current practice at my school regarding information literacy skills through

  • Informal conversations with teachers and with the librarian
  • Google form survey for teachers

I created a google form survey but due to the busy time of year, only a limited number of responses were recorded. In the future, I would conduct this survey during an August staff meeting. However, the results did show some interesting trends. I found it interesting that ‘inquiry process’ was most familiar with teachers and that none of the teachers had heard of ‘points of inquiry’.

Familiarity with Research Processes

As recorded, skills in isolation at the library were infrequent.

Information Literacy Skills in the Library

By looking closely at the skills of each stage of the research process, I was able to get a sense of what the teachers expected of their students at grades 2, 4 and 6. I was curious to see how many teachers value collaboration and was pleased to see that 100% of the respondents would love to collaborate on a unit.

Interest in Collaboration?

Develop a suggested scope and sequence as a draft document (August Staff Meeting)

  • As a staff, preview the suggested scope and sequence I developed
  • Meet in grade level groups and primary/intermediate for feedback and suggested changes or additions
  • Revise the scope and sequence

Share finalized scope and sequence with administrators and staff (September Staff Meeting)

Information Literacy Skills Scope and Sequence

Scope and Sequence Page 1 (sample)
  • Points of Inquiry research process
  • Encourage a ‘shared vocabulary’ throughout the school for the research process
  • Provide posters of Points of Inquiry to each classroom teacher

3. Implement Phase

Invite teachers to collaborate with the library  (begin in October and continue throughout the year)

  • Co-plan lessons to target specific information literacy skills
    • Points of Inquiry lesson planning resources may be helpful

Elementary Planning Package: BCTLA

  • Lead professional development sessions for primary and intermediate staff to target specific skills such as how to teach ‘effective keyword searches’ and ‘how to use databases for searching’

Encourage and support teachers as they continue to teach information literacy skills within their curricular topics and units.

4. Monitor Phase

Encourage the use of information literacy skills and a shared, common vocabulary through brief monthly check-ins at monthly staff meetings. Each month, I would draw attention back to the scope and sequence and invite feedback on how the process is going and inquire if help is needed in any area. Through this, I can also then target mini professional development workshops to assist teachers in developing these skills.

5. Evaluate Phase

At the end of the year, I would create a short google form survey to ask for feedback on the effectiveness of the scope and sequence. Did they notice an improvement in information literacy skills of their students? Were students more prepared for the inquiry process? What gaps were found? What skills will be needed to target those areas?

6. Follow Up Phase

If any changes are necessary, revisions will be made and an updated scope and sequence will be drafted for August’s staff meeting. Due to the nature of a fluctuating staff, I will meet with new staff members each August/September to share the scope and sequence plan, to invite collaboration with the teacher-librarian, and to highlight resources and professional development assistance offered through the library.


Asselin, M., Branch, J., & Oberg, D. (Eds.). (2003). Achieving Information Literacy: Standards for School Library Programs in Canada. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Association for School Libraries.

BCTLA Task Force. (2011). Points of Inquiry: A Framework For Information Literacy and The 21st Century Learner. BCTF. Retrieved from http://bctf.ca/bctla/pub/documents/Points%20of%20Inquiry/PointsofInquiry.pdf

Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading Learning- Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.

DeWith, Y. (Feb. 15, 2017). “Student Reflections on the Research Process”. [web blog] Experience Learning. Retrieved from https://ydewith.wordpress.com/2017/02/15/student-reflections-on-the-research-process/

Haycock, Ken. (2003). The crisis of school libraries in Canada. Toronto, ON: Association of Canadian Publishers. Retrieved April 8, 2014 from http://bccsl.ca/download/HaycockReport.pdf

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

People for Education. (2011). School Libraries and Information Literacy. People for Education Annual Report on Ontario’s Publicly Funded Schools. Retrieved from http://www.peopleforeducation.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/School-Libraries-2011.pdf

New York City Department of Education. (2017). Standards and Curriculum. [website] Retrieved from  http://schools.nyc.gov/Academics/LibraryServices/StandardsandCurriculum/default.htm

Stec, E. (2004). Guidelines for Information Literacy Assessment (A flyer). The Hague: IFLA

Theme 3 Reflections: To Boldly Go…

Into The Deep Web…and Beyond (Weeks 8-13)

I have enjoyed each week of theme three. The weeks have been filled with important content that I hope to incorporate into a future teacher-librarian position. To avoid memory loss and to increase retention, I have organized and summarized my key learnings as my blog reflections.

In week 8, I explored the ‘deep web’. Before this week, I was vaguely aware of the plethora of information available on the web but I really didn’t have a solid understanding of what the deep web was or how it differs from the visible web. Boswell (2016) describes the visible web as “the web that you can access from search engines and directories” and the “information in the invisible web as [that which is] not visible to the software spiders and crawlers that create search engine indexes”.

In her article, “Search the Invisible Web: 20 Resources”, Boswell describes the pros and cons of several different mega search engines and databases that you can use to search the invisible web. The ones that caught my eye as potential ones I might use are:

-Clusty (when I searched further, I found that Clusty.com was bought out by Yippy.com)

-Internet Archive https://archive.org/

-www virtual library   http://vlib.org/  (to test this one out, I searched for science fairs and it took me to links to all science fairs in the US and Canada)

-science.gov https://www.science.gov/

-Wolfram Alpha http://www.wolframalpha.com/

How to Use Wolfram Alpha 

You might be wondering, what is the difference between Google and Wolfram Alpha? As described in this video, Google finds links but Wolfram Alpha finds answers.

As I read further about the differences between search engines and data bases, I was reminded that search engines such as Google are only able to retrieve a small percentage of information on the internet. This is understandable considering that the internet grows at the astonishing rate of 7.3million new pages per day! Because search engines are limited in their scope, it is recommended to use the “right tool for the job”. In other words, if possible, use a search engine that specializes in a specific subject. For example, use worldwidescience.org for searching for science related topics. (Colley and McDonnell, n.d.)

To search for educational lessons and resources, try using OERcommons.org https://www.oercommons.org/  This is a great search engine to introduce to staff!

As I perused the topic of how to search effectively, I came across a slide show presentation, powersearchingwithgoogle.com. On this site, online courses are offered to teach you how to become fast and efficient at searching the internet. http://www.slideshare.net/resourceress/digging-into-the-deep-web

Wikis and Tweets

On reading one of the other tutorials I learned how to search through wikis, blogs, videos and twitter more effectively. (Valenza, 2010). Use wiki.com or Google Wiki to search wikispace. I did, however, find that some of the links offered were outdated and no longer working.

For a helpful tutorial to guide students step by step in how to set up and use a Twitter account, have a look at this link.  http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Twitter

How Set up a Twitter Account


Bibliographies, Biographies and Directories

What are they and what is their purpose?


  • List that provides author, publisher, date of publication and price
  • Gives details of where this work can be found
  • “brings order out of chaos” (Riedling, 2013, p. 29)
  • Subject Bibliographies list materials related to specific topics to help users research specific areas of interest
  • Current Bibliographies and library catalogs “list works close to the time at which they are published” (p. 29)
  • Retrospective Bibliographic sources list “materials published during an earlier time” (p.29)

Library Catalogs:

  • “list works located in a given library” (Riedling, 2013, p. 29)
  • Union catalogs list the materials held in more than one library (ex. WorldCat, Library of Congress)


  • helpful in selecting and purchasing materials
  • allows user to locate works
  • allows user to locate materials related to specific subjects
  • some bibliographies also provide recommendations and evaluations about the materials

Select bibliographies for the school library to suit the needs of the school and student population.

Examples of online bibliographies that could be helpful as a selection tool:

One bibliography to keep in mind is “A to Zoo” (2006) by Rebecca Thomas. This book guides teachers to pictures books on certain subjects. I wish I knew about this resource earlier in my teaching career!

A to Zoo: Subject Access to Children’s Picture Books


  • “used to locate and verify names of phenomena, as well as match individuals with organizations” (Riedling, 2013, p. 38)
  • useful for locating “people, experts, organizations, and institutions through addresses, phone numbers, zip codes, titles, names…” (p.38)


  • College Net (www.collegenet.com) can be useful when applying to colleges worldwide
  • Encyclopedia of Associations (published by Gale Research) lists more than 20,000 associations and organizations


  • “tell about what people have done or what they are doing, whether it is their occupations, dates of birth, major accomplishments, or their lives in general” (Riedling, 2013, p.51)
  • Two types: direct (gives factual information) and indirect (lists bibliographic citations to direct students to other works)


Internet Sources:

Dictionary of Canadian Biography  This is a great resource as it focuses on Canadian historical figures and is easy to navigate. I enjoyed looking through the section for Educators with lessons on Champlain and Cartier.

I was reminded through this week’s lesson of the importance of evaluating each reference source. As suggested by Riedling, directories, biographies and bibliographies (both print and digital) need to also be carefully evaluated according to their accuracy, comprehensiveness, ease of use, currency and cost. When selecting the best one to fit the needs of your school/community, it is important to consider these factors.



The skills to effectively search and navigate databases are critical for developing excellent information literacy skills. Before I can teach these skills, I must be fluent and adept in searching! Learning to search by natural language (how we speak), by key word or by controlled vocabulary is a first step in the process. Another part of the process is an increased awareness of websites and databases. The following were introduced in this week’s lesson:

  1. Open educational resources (OER)- freely accessible and useful for teaching…
  2. Government publications (useful for secondary students) ie. Members of Parliament…
  3. Pamphlets-offer brief information on a topic or organization (newsletters, brochures, flyers…)
  4. Grey Literature: “any documentary material that is not commercially published and contains technical reports, business documents, conference proceedings…” One needs to consider authenticity and reliability as there may not be control and may be difficult to identify.
  5. Blogs
  6. Listservs
  7. The Deep Web (resources not indexed and difficult to find with search engines)       (Theme 3, Lesson 10, LIBE 467)

As I had not really explored several of the websites and databases listed above, it was a worthwhile exercise to delve into each one. During my searching, I also looked up a few places for lesson plans on searching the internet can be found on Google’s Education site or on Finding Dulcinea.

Google Education Lesson Plans

Finding Dulcinea Education Site

Lesson Plans

Through exploration of various databases and a more thorough look at Google as a search engine, I learned it is important to “use the right tool for the job [and] do not use a general search engine when you know there is one that specializes in a specific subject, for example the law, newspaper articles or photographs” (Pedley, 2009).  To search for science related topics, try using database worldwidescience.org to search by keyword.

Another great discovery from Theme 3 were the various databases and indexes available through my local public library website. I had no idea all that was available to me; definitely something I plan to highlight with my students and colleagues.

During Theme 3, some of the discussion posts centred around the merits of Wikipedia as a valid resource. The posts were enlightening and broadened my perspective. I began the course with the mindset that Wikipedia was not valid and had no merit. However, through discussion, readings and exploration, I can see how Wikipedia can be used to teach information literacy skills and as a starting point for a research inquiry. In the chart below, I summarized the comparisons from Berinstein (2006) and Harris (2007).

Wikipedia Britannica
Contributors -volunteered; motivated by community spirit or public interest

-unsigned articles

-may have hidden agenda (personal bias)

-may write out of interest, hobby or learning experience

-selected and paid

-signed by author

-tend to be experts in their fields

Audiences -anyone and everyone (general audience)

-in many languages

-knowledge and information seekers; students, professionals and lifelong learners
Mission -freely licensed (can be copied, modified and redistributed)

“to create a free, democratic, reliable encyclopedia”

-“definitive source of knowledge” and “the most authoritative source of the information and ideas people need for work, school, and the sheer joy of discovery”
Scopes -“large and diffuse”

-can the information be verified?

-“finite and well-defined”

-argue that Wikipedia’s large number of articles develops a source with “a high level of inaccuracy, sloppiness, and just plain poor articles”

Wikipedia Process -register as a user and then anyone can edit an article so the premise is that the community at large will edit and revise any errors or misconceptions that are posted; system based on community

-writers are supposed to write without bias





Dictionaries, Thesaurus, Almanacs, Yearbooks, and Handbooks

I taught grade 3 for many years and only recently made my way back up to middle school. As a grade 3 teacher, I spent considerable time focusing on spelling, punctuation and grammar. When I was in elementary school, I remember loving a game we called “The Dictionary Race”. Of course, I taught this to my students and it too, became a favourite activity of grade 3. To play the Dictionary Race, each student has a copy of the same dictionary. I call out a word (perhaps a spelling list word or one from our thematic unit). The children then ‘race’ to be the first to find the word and report the page number. It was an effective way to reinforce the skills needed in using a dictionary. (besides, the competitive nature of a race emphasized the need to become adept at these skills!)

However, as I read, edit and mark middle school essays, I now wonder if middle school students even remember what a dictionary is and how to use one. Learning to alphabetize, use guide words, and decipher dictionary entries are important skills to include in a school’s scope and sequence for information literacy skills.

In chapter 6, Riedling (2013) explains the differences between various types of dictionaries.

  • Descriptive dictionaries: entries show “how the language is actually used” (p. 61) and is based on the premise that languages are ever changing and the dictionaries should reflect that
  • Prescriptive dictionaries: entries tell “how [languages] ought to be used” (p.61) and is based on the philosophy that dictionaries set standards to “prevent corruption of language by jargon and slang” (p. 62)
  • Unabridged: “attempts to include all of the words in the language that are in use at the time the dictionary is assembled” (p.62)
  • Abridged: “are selectively compiled” and are “created for student use” (p.62)

One of my favourite courses in my undergrad degree was on the etymology of the English Language. Each new word was like a treasure chest of history and intrigue. (How did that word come into the language? Why? What was its intended meaning and how has it changed over time?) I loved it!

Throughout the readings, discussions and independent research, two main points were often repeated. When evaluating sources for my school, I need to carefully consider factors such as currency, authority, format, and accuracy. When selecting sources, I need to choose wisely “based on the particular needs and requirements of the school, student population, and community served” (Riedling, 2013, p. 64).

Maps, Atlases and all things Geographical

In the course content for this week, the author (Aaron) suggests we could make a globe in a makerspace. Several years back, I had my grade 6 students make a mini globe out of an orange. We were investigating plate tectonics and how the continents fit together like a puzzle. Using a sample map projection, a sharpie and an orange, students created a ‘globe’. It was a cool project! Check out the video demonstration. (mind you, I taught this long before Youtube became a sensation!)

When questions arise during a reference interview that relate to geographical information, it is important to understand what information is needed. In chapter 7, Riedling discusses several differences of ‘needs’ that students may face when researching geographical information. Keeping these in mind will help the teacher-librarian to better guide the students to the most relevant information.

  1. Levels (depth of information):
    1. Uncomplicated level- example, “where is the country…located?”
    2. Sophistical level that requires information related to relationships between environment, history, climate and political boundaries
  2. Sources:
    1. Online
    2. Atlas (current, historical, or thematic)
    3. Individual map (designed for different purposes: physical, topographical, satellite…
    4. Gazeteers (provide information regarding geographic place-names)
    5. Travel guides
    6. encyclopedias
  3. Time:
    1. Current and up-to-date (no more than 5 years old)
    2. Historical (in this case, age is no longer a primary factor for weeding)

(Rielding, 2013, p. 79-81)


Berinstein, P. (2006). Wikipedia and Britannica: The Kid’s All Right (And So’s the Old Man)Searcher 14(3), 16-26.

Boswell, W. (Aug. 3, 2016). “Search the Invisible Web: 20 Resources”. [web blog]. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/search-the-invisible-web-20-resources-3482497

Evans, S. (Dec. 2, 2013). Orange Globe . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/YWCIdrlYHmc

Harris, C. (2007). Can we make peace with Wikipedia? School Library Journal, 53(6), 26.

Pedley, Paul. “Finding the Hidden Treasure.” The Future Just Happened: Black Holes in Cyberspace: The Invisible Web. Annabel Colley and Matthew McDonnell. BBC News. 2001. Web. 26 Jan. 2009. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/programmes/2001/future/invisible_web.stm>.

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

Sellors, Wendy. “Dig into the Deep Web: Going on a Treasure Hunt.” Slideshare. March 2008. Web. 21 Jan. 2009. <http://www.slideshare.net/resourceress/digging-into-the-deep-web>.

TechnoBuffalo. (Nov. 1, 2009). “Wolfram Alpha is Your On-Call Genius”. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/oORzFifLFGI

Wavechaser91. (May 19, 2009). “Google Vs. Wolfram Alpha- CNET.” . Retrieved from  https://youtu.be/h3emFpcOfek

Valenza, J. (June 17, 2010). “The New Invisible Web: on Searching Wikis and Tweets and Blogs and More.” [web blog]. School Library Journal. Retrieved from http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/neverendingsearch/2009/05/04/the-new-invisible-web-on-searching-wikis-and-tweets-and-blogs-and-more

Assignment 2: Collaborating with Teachers towards Change

Professional Development to Pursue Excellence

As educators, we must be lifelong learners who pursue excellence in teaching practices. Professional development is one avenue of lifelong learning available to teachers. Professional development, however, can be like visiting a candy store. Attending single, one-off workshops give you a taste of various innovations or teaching strategies but, unfortunately, does little to actually change or influence one’s teaching practice. So if one-off workshops are ineffective, what is a better approach to collaborating with colleagues to help them evolve in their teaching practices?

(For the Link to PDF version of Assignment 2: Yvonne DeWith: see below)

PFD Version of Yvonne’s Assignment 2

Photo taken in Italian Market
One-off Workshops: Gives a Taste of Approaches

The SAMR Model and the Concerns-Based-Adoption-Model both recognize that learning is a continuum. When collaborating with others, it is important to remember that change is a process and not an event. In addition, supporting colleagues through the change is essential for the changed behaviour to take root.

The Continuum of Learning
The Continuum of Learning
Learning is a Process!
Learning is a Process!

Learning to drive a car is a great example of supporting the learner through the steps from a novice to a new driver. Without support, a beginning driver would not be able to move along the continuum.

Retrieved from https://youtu.be/us0w823KY0g

Another great video clip on the SAMR Model can be found on the Common Sense Media website (Commonsensemedia.org).

SAMR Model Explained for Teachers

Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/videos/introduction-to-the-samr-model#

Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6E3rarcATqU

According to the SAMR Model and the Concerns Based Adoption Model, we must first meet our colleagues where they are and alleviate their fears by addressing questions regarding the impending changes.  Once initial questions are answered, our colleagues move into a task-oriented phase by asking questions such as “How do I do it? How can I use these materials?” Following this stage, our colleagues are ready to consider the impact this change will have and be able to adapt, reflect, and evaluate.

The Plan

Keeping these models in mind, I developed the following plan to encourage the use of digital resources in two grade five classes through the collaboration with two colleagues.

Phase Needs of the Learner Phase Goals/ Collaboration Process
  • needs reassurance
  • seeks answers on how it will personally affect himself/herself
Session 1:

have an informal conversation with both colleagues about research skills in teacher’s classroom: what works; what has happened in the past; what resources do you expect students to use; how do they access these resources; what support do you give through the research process

  • provide explanation and discuss possibilities for change
  • focus on self-concern and answer questions about the upcoming process
  • become familiar with materials
  • test out strategies
  • practice, in a supportive environment
  • modelling
  • introduce the strategy through a demonstration of the online digital resources available to students at our school (World Book Online and EBSCO databases)
  • goal setting #1: teachers were asked to try out the World Book and EBSCO search engine on their own over the next week to brainstorm possible uses within their current units/lessons
  • Session 2:

help teachers become comfortable with the materials and strategies

  • work alongside colleagues to try out the digital reference resources (without students)
  • spend time ‘playing’ and ‘experimenting’
  • through informal discussion, brainstorm ways to use these references in their classrooms
  • after time experimenting, build a specific lesson using the Smart Board (as a way to model another teacher resource: technology)
  • goal setting #2: teach a lesson on how to use the reference resource and allow time for student experimentation

Session 3:

ongoing teacher support 

  • work alongside the teacher to have students use the reference resources with a specific goal (ie. To find answer to specific research question). If requested by my colleague, we can schedule a time that we ‘team-teach’ the lesson.
  • sharing new information with others
  • reflect and evaluation
  • ready to consider “what’s next?” and “how can this be used?”
Session 4:

evaluation, self-reflection

  • brainstorm with colleagues on how this new skill can be used to further develop and broaden students’ effective use of reference resources
  • incorporate the new skills into a research project, assignment or curriculum focus
  • goal setting #3: implement these skills within a class project

Meet My Colleagues

Teacher 1: “Isaac” (pseudo-name)

Isaac has been teaching for about 15 years in a range of grades from 4-8. He describes his technology skills as “limited”. When working on research skills with his students, he focuses on print sources and requires a simple bibliography to include title, author and publishing date. He finds that students get lost in the ‘digital world’ when allowed to use computers to research. He mentioned his dislike of Wikipedia because students (at his current grade level) can’t comprehend the information or the information is unreliable.

Teacher 2: “Greg” (pseudo-name)

This is Greg’s first year as a classroom teacher. His first four years of teaching have been as a gr. 3-12 music teacher. Greg enjoys using technology in his class and often engages student learning through technology. When doing research skills/projects with his students, he begins with print sources. He talked about the value of books and mentioned how the pictures/information are helpful, rather than distracting (as compared to a computer search). When the number of books on a topic ‘runs out’, he allows students to use computers but limits their searches to teacher-selected sites. For example, he directs students to select Youtube videos but insists they view the video without sound and use the caption feature to help with note-taking.

The Execution of the Plan

Session 1: Informal Conversation and Brainstorming

I demonstrated the digital resources: World Book Online Encyclopedia and EBSCO Search Engines. Neither teacher was aware of the online resources available to students through out school and were excited to be able to model and teach students how to search using the World Book site and the EBSCO databases.

Isaac has not used the digital resources available through our school library. Although he tends to focus more on print resources from our library, he has, however, allowed students to use computers to search for resources on the internet. Difficulties encountered by students includes finding the most helpful keywords, too high reading level of sources, and time wasted searching and searching for the perfect source. Isaac would like to try the online World Book for his upcoming science unit on the digestive system.

Greg has also not explored the digital sources available through our school. He also tends to encourage students to begin research with print sources. Following that, he provides students with a specific list of teacher-selected sites. During the first conversation, Greg thought he might use the EBSCO database search engine for student research on natural resources.

Side Note: in our brainstorming and sharing, Greg demonstrated how he uses a google chrome app “savefrom.net” to download videos from Youtube to eliminate ads and to provide safe links for his students.  Also, Greg demonstrated an app called “pear deck” which he uses to create interactive slide show quiz questions. His students select answers on their own computers and the class can instantly view responses.

Pear Deck. (February 9, 2015). How Does Pear Deck Work?

Session 2: Narrow Down Focus and Prepare a Lesson for Students

After exploring the EBSCO site over the week, Greg now decided to guide students to the “Novel K-8” resource through the EBSCO site. When guiding students to choosing books for independent reading, he offers suggestions but is excited to guide students to take more ownership over the process and to push themselves to try new literature.

After exploring the sources, Isaac decided to limit his students to the World Book Encyclopedia and to teach them the features available. The features he liked included: short articles with appropriate reading level, easy to find citations, links to further articles, videos and images. His students will research the function of one organ of the digestive system or an illness related to a particular organ in the digestive system.

Because Greg has not used the interactive functions of his Smart Board and would like to learn how to make use of the smart software, he chose to create a lesson for the Smart Board. I spent time teaching Greg how to use the Smart software and guided him through the process of creating a lesson. He was so motivated that he quickly found our school’s technology support person to load the software onto his computer. He came to me during the week to report that he had tried the Smart Board several times this week.

Isaac preferred to use Power Point to create a lesson to guide his students through the World Book resource. I showed him how to use the Snipping Tool to take screen shots to insert into his lesson to help guide his students.

Goal 2: use their lesson over the next week

Side Note: After our brainstorming and sharing session, I tried the Pear Deck in my Gr. 7 Current Events class. The students loved the interactive component and the questions sparked great discussions about Black History Month.

Additional resources to Demonstrate to my colleagues:

When creating or implementing a lesson on research skills and using keywords, teachers may want to have a look at the following:

  1. Keyword search lesson (Readwritethink)

Keyword Search Lesson Plan

  1. Basic Search Education Lesson plans through Google

Search Lesson Plans through Google

3. 15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers

15 Lesson Plans for Online Research

  1. How Search Works (video file)

Cutts, M. (Mar. 4, 2010). “How Search Works”. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs&feature=youtu.be

How Search Works

Session 3: Debrief and Review (Impact-Oriented)  

Greg tried Novel K-8 with his class. After demonstrating, the students were asked to find five books that may be interesting by using the Novel K-8 search engine on the EBSCO database. Greg then demonstrated how he can access his public library account through their website and how he can request books to be placed on hold. The students were invited to explore their own public library site at home and see if they could locate the books that they pre-selected on the Novel K-8 site. Some students reported back the next day that they had successfully located and placed holds on a few of the interesting books. Success! Greg motivated his students to take ownership in selecting books of interest and then following up by locating the books. 

During another lesson, Greg invited his students to explore the World Book Online. He gave free exploration time to search for any topic of interest to become familiar with the layout, search tools and available resources on the World Book Encyclopedia.

In reflection, Greg felt that he could have been a bit more prepared prior to the lessons. by taking more time to explore some of the other areas available. However, overall, Greg felt that the students enjoyed the resources and that the learning experience was a great first step in the ongoing instruction of research literacy skills.

Due to the unexpected snow and weather conditions, lessons and day plans were rearranged. Isaac did not yet have time to try out his lesson but will meet with me next week for follow up.

When I met with Isaac, he had just finished introducing his students to World Book Online. As a class, they searched using the key words “digestive system” and then each student chose articles from the generated list. His students liked the fact that “the site is a more authoritative source of information than many others that they could find online”. Isaac felt prepared to guide his students through enough of the site for this particular activity but indicated that he would need to take some time to explore further aspects of the site to be better able to guide his students beyond the basics. If time allowed, another collaborative session with me (the T-L) would help to dig through the additional features available on World Book Online.


Through effective collaboration, the position of the learner changes from a “receiver of knowledge to [an] active participant in its creation” (Taylor, 2013, p. 10). In addition, as teachers engage in the learning process, they are “finding new ways to think and be a teacher [which] creates energy and encourages teachers to experiment more in their teaching practice” (p.14). I would argue that this renewed energy and enthusiasm is not limited to the learner but also to the ‘teacher’ or ‘teacher-librarian’. Through collaboration, all parties benefit!

As stated in the Learning Leaders document, a whole school benefits through the process of change as “participants support each other and build on each other’s thoughts and ideas to push further than each team member could individually” (Learning Leaders, p. 4). This encourages the viewpoint that “everyone is a learner; everyone is a teacher working collaboratively toward excellence” (p. 5). The previously drawn lines of “expert” and “novice” become blurred as everyone joins together in collaboration.

Thank you to Isaac and Greg for collaborating with me. I thoroughly enjoyed the learning and sharing together.


Bell, T. (August 15, 2015). My Personal Context through the lens of the CBAM. [web blog]. Retrieved from http://learning0utloud.blogspot.ca/2015/08/my-personal-context-through-lens-of-cbam.html

Canadian Library Association. (2014). Leading Learning- Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.

Candace M. (May 30, 2013). SAMR in 120 Seconds. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/us0w823KY0g.

Crockett, L. (Mar. 30, 2015). 15 Lesson Plans for Making Students Better Online Researchers. [web blog]. Global Digital Citizen Foundation. Retrieved from https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/15-lesson-plans-for-making-students-better-online-researchers

Cutts, M. (Mar. 4, 2010). “How Search Works”. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNHR6IQJGZs&feature=youtu.be

Google Search Education Evangelism. (n.d.) Basic Search Education Lesson Plans. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/gwebsearcheducation/lessonplans

Haycock, K. (2007). “Collaboration: Critical success factors for student learning” School Libraries Worldwide 13.1: 25-35

International Literacy Association and NCTE. (2017). “Keywords: Learning to Focus Internet Research”. Readwritethink. Retrieved from http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/keywords-learning-focus-internet-1122.html?tab=4#tabs

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

SEDL. (Feb. 24, 2011). Introduction to the Concerns-Based-Adoption Model. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/6E3rarcATqU

Taylor, L. (2013). Lived childhood experiences: Collective storytelling for teacher professional learning and social change. Australasian Journal Of Early Childhood, 38(3), 9-16.


Student Reflections on the Research Process

In light of our discussion on the role of reference sources and the various research models (Big 6…), my gr. 7 students just submitted their project on a topic of their choice within the theme of Ancient Egypt. I was very impressed with the results. One created a power point presentation of mummies and then included a short video of himself “mummifying a fish”. He actually had footage of dissecting a fish and completing the mummy process (and brought in the “mummy” fish). His peers were super impressed and excited to watch the video. Another created a stop motion video (using cookies as the characters) to tell about her research. Others brought in models, an ancient ‘newspaper’, power points, game boards…

But, I was also impressed with their reflections of the research process. Here are a few thoughts:

“I learned that books actually have a lot of useful information since I always used the internet”   (BTW, I insisted they had to start with 3 books)

“It was hard to think of a question that I really wanted to do…I learned that books are REALLY helpful”.

“Facts are not only on websites but there are a lot of facts in books!”

“I learned that you should be organized and know where you got those facts”.

“I learned that I shouldn’t rush through looking for facts but instead, I should look thoroughly and also keep track of where my information was from.”

“I learned that sometimes you have to look at multiple books and websites to find facts and also to verify facts.”

We spent one block sharing our projects in small groups. The shy students were so relieved that they didn’t need to present to the whole class but could sit with a group of 4-5 peers. It was so much fun to walk around and listen in to the conversations.

Yeah!!! They did learn something!  I was getting a bit worried as to how much time we were devoting to projects. But, I am consoling myself that they are learning SKILLS and building COMPETENCIES rather than memorizing facts on Ancient Egypt.