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.

Theme 2 Reflections

Lesson 5 Reflections

Reference Interview


  • “To determine the nature, quantity, and level of information the student requires, as well as the most appropriate format” (Riedling, 2013, p.99)

Types of Reference Interviews:

  1. Ready-reference interviews: “questions that can be answered with short and factual information” (Riedling, 2013, p. 104). The librarian provides brief and accurate information in a short time through the use of basic resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries.
  2. Research project interviews: “to provide the student with the most adequate materials, then to explain and encourage information skills [needed] by the student” (Rieldling, 2013, p. 104)
  3. Readers’ advisory interviews: involves recommending books to a student for leisure reading

Although I do see the importance of each type of interview, I wonder that if over time and with practice, modelling and explicit instructions, we would be able to move our older students along the continuum towards problem solving and answer retrieval. With technologies available in a library, students should be able to quickly retrieve the information that would have been previously delivered via a ready-reference interview or a readers’ advisory interview. In saying that, however, I would never want to turn away student’s questions in any of these categories. Relationship building is key to encouraging students to want to come to the library.

As a reminder to myself, important skills needed by the Teacher-Librarian are:

  • Exceptional knowledge of the collection (both print and nonprint) and the community resources
  • Interpersonal and communication skills (to foster a positive relationship with students) and to set the tone of the library
  • Design the physical setting of the library to create an atmosphere conducive to conducting interviews
Novel List on EBSCO
Novel List on EBSCO

My students have access to this Novelist database through our library. If you haven’t had a chance to explore this site, it is a great way to look up books that may be of interest based on author, genre or similarity to previous books read. By teaching our students how to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers, we can encourage them to take ownership for choosing books of interest. Wouldn’t it be great to begin to train older student volunteers to conduct Reference Interviews with younger students?

Collaboration with Colleagues

As part of this week’s readings, I enjoyed the perspective offered by Haycock (2007) in his article on collaboration. Part of the downfall of teaching in a traditional building is the silo effect in which we are segregated in our own small classrooms. It takes concerted effort to put aside one’s work (marking, planning, cleaning, assisting students…) and make a way to the staffroom for lunch break. However, this is where a lot of rich conversations occur between colleagues. As Haycock remarks, “collaboration ignites creativity among teachers” and this “creative fire” spreads to learners (p.25). He goes on to say that “collaboration is not easy. But collaboration is the single professional behaviour of teacher-librarians that most affects student achievement” (p.32). Wow! If that isn’t a motivator to set collaboration as a number-one priority, I don’t know what is! Collaboration does take effort on the part of all parties; however, the benefits are richer relationships, increased positivity in the school community and increased student achievement.

While doing a bit of digging around for collaboration tools to use with colleagues, I came across this great resource of an evaluation of several different apps and tools for students to use when collaborating. Check out this link on Common Sense Media.

Student Collaboration Tools previewed by Common Sense Media


I came across this very well developed website that I would like to remember as a sample for a future library website at my own school. Categories for research tools, collaboration tools, making tools (including electronics and robotics projects) are easily accessed. (note to self: look this up when teaching my electricity unit!)

Thames Valley District School Board Library Commons Website

A few helpful videos that were accessible to students on this website relate to research skills and are excellent to use in my classroom.

 Lesson 6 Reflections

I really like the itemized list that outlines the Teacher-Librarian’s role from the Greater Victoria School District. I organized the list according to the tasks that I would need to complete more independently (or with volunteers/library assistants) and those that are in collaboration with colleagues.

Role of Teacher-Librarian Collaborative Tasks Independent Tasks
Program and Instruction


  • help teachers address learning outcomes –cooperate with classroom teachers to develop critical thinking and information retrieval skills
  • support the integration of instructional technology and media literacy


  • promote reading and language development and literature appreciation


Learning Resource Management


  • participate in information networks
  • organize and direct clerical staff, parent and student volunteers
  • effectively use a system for the selection, acquisition, processing and circulation of resources
  • spearhead the development of library policies and procedures (then collaborate with others)
  • manage the library’s facilities, services and budget
Leadership in Resource-Based Learning


  • provide leadership to promote strategies for effective use of a variety of learning resources
  • participate in school activities which advocate support for school libraries and resource-based learning
  • promote school library programs in the school and in the community
  • develop a network of parent and student volunteers
  • evaluate and select learning resources to reflect the curricular, informational and recreational needs of the school and its learners
  • seek opportunities for personal growth in school librarianship and participating in collegial networks



Information based on “Role of Teacher-Librarian” (Greater Victoria School District) as retrieved from Theme 2, Lesson 6 Course Content. LIBE 467.

Budgeting Tips and Suggestions from this lesson to keep in mind:

  • total number of volumes: 100-200 (elementary); 800-1500 (secondary)
  • total value of reference collection: $3,000-$7,000 (elementary); $75,000-$100,000 (secondary) [Vancouver School Board]
  • sample budget allocations (2012/2013: $3, 288 (elementary); $9, 241 (secondary)

[(Source BCTLA 32nd – 2012/2013 Annual Survey of Working and Learning Conditions)]

I must admit that I was surprised by the high costs for reference materials as listed on the “Approximate Costs of a Variety of School Library Reference Materials”. This list, however, may be instrumental in setting up a preliminary budget for a new library.  Keeping in mind the high cost of materials, a critical role of the teacher-librarian is to thoughtfully and carefully evaluate and select references.

The following strategies for purchasing learning resources are helpful for me to keep in mind:

  • involve key people in the decision making (especially for the initial investment of resources) such as teacher-librarian, library clerks, curriculum consultant, classroom teacher reps, administrator, technology consultant, and parent and student reps
  • create a timeline for a yearly purchasing cycle
  • Look for cost effective ways to acquire learning resources such as using jobbers and bulk purchasing
  • Use publishers’ catalogues
  • Develop an efficient system for processing and receiving materials
  • When possible, select materials from the lists of evaluated and approved (by the Ministry of Education and ERAC) to save time
    • Ministry of Education: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp_resources/ lr/resource/gradcoll.htm
    • ERAC lists of evaluated and selected resources (at www. bcerac.ca/textbook/summer2007_Recommended.aspx and related locations)

ERAC, (pages 71-74)

Since I am new to the Selection Process, I took some time to investigate the tools available as listed in Riedling’s book (Riedling, 2013, p.19-20).

  1. Horn Book Magazine http://hbook.com

I was very impressed with the easy to use website to locate resources on particular topics or genres. I happened across a link to a blog post by Sharon Gill “What Teachers Need to Know about the “New” Nonfiction”. In this article, Gill provides a great list of criteria for selecting nonfiction picture books. What Teachers Need to Know

  1. Booklist http://booklistonline.com
  2. School Library Journal http://schoollibraryjournal.com

Lesson 7 Reflections

Standards of Practice for Learning Commons
Standards of Practice for Learning Commons

During lesson 7, I spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on the goals and roles of reference services within the library. I found the five components described in Leading Learning document to be very helpful and clearly organized. In reading several district library handbooks, the Leading Learning document, the Points of Inquiry document (BCTLA) and the AASL Learning Standards documents, I would describe the reference resources as a medium to build information literacy skills with students. In the Surrey District handbook, I love the scope and sequence for literacy skills and will use this as a helpful outline to guide a new T-L such as myself in building these skills. In the Points of Inquiry document, important skills that are identified include:

  1. “how to find the right resources for specific purposes (including books, journals, databases)
  2. how to evaluate sources critically
  3. how to write a solid research question and a thesis statement
  4. how to use quotations and cite sources
  5. how to paraphrase (without plagiarizing)
  6. how and whom to ask for help” (Points of Inquiry, 2011, p. 4)

As described in the Learning Standards guidelines (2009), information literacy skills are no longer limited to print resources but now include the multiple literacies of digital, visual, textual and technological (p. 3). As teacher-librarians, it is increasingly important to include a variety of resources and modalities in our collections and to teach the skills needed to access these resources.

Information Literacy Skills
Information Literacy Skills

(AASL Learning Standards, p. 3)


American Association of School Librarians. 2009. Standards for the 21st -Century learner in action. Chicago: AASL.

British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association. (2011). The Points of Inquiry: A Framework for Information Literacy and the 21st Century Learner. BCTF.

Educational Resource Acquisition Consortium. (2008). Evaluating, Selecting and Acquiring Learning Resources: A Guide. Retrieved from http://www.bcerac.ca/resources/whitepapers/docs/ERAC_WB.pdf

Gill, S. “What Teachers Need to Know about the ‘New’ Nonfiction”. [web blog]. Reading Rockets. Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-teachers-need-know-about-new-nonfiction

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

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

Thames Valley School District Library. (Nov. 30, 2016). [website]. Retrieved from http://tvdsb.libguides.com/elementary

Western University. (Jan. 14, 2013). “Developing Search Terms”. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/74M0O3nKnfg

Yavapai College Library. (Sept. 29, 2011). “What Are Databases and Why You Need Them”. . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Q2GMtIuaNzU

Evaluation and Selection of a Reference Resource


The World Book Encyclopedia was the main source of information for all research projects when I was an elementary student. Is there still validity in maintaining a set of current encyclopedias? I will evaluate the merits and limitations of the print version and consider the selection of a digital version of the World Book Encyclopedia. My personal motivation for choosing this resource stems from observations in my middle school that both the print and digital World Book Encyclopedia are sorely under-utilized.

(Assignment 1: if preferred a PDF Version)

Assignment 1 PDF Version

Evaluation of a Reference Resource

Regardless of a student’s grade level or educational goals, information literacy skills are vital for developing critical thinking, informed inquiry, application of knowledge and personal growth.  Throughout the process of gaining information literacy skills, students must be immersed in high quality references and resources.

To ensure student access to high quality resources, it is imperative that teacher-librarians regularly conduct evaluations of their current resources while seeking out new sources. Several criteria should be considered when conducting an evaluation but above all, a “good reference source is one that serves to answer a question” (Riedling, 2013, p. 17). As suggested by Riedling (2013) in “Reference Skills for the School Librarian”, one must consider the following:

  • Content Scope
  • Accuracy, Authority and Bias
  • Arrangement and Presentation
  • Relation to Similar Works
  • Timelessness and Permanence
  • Accessibility and Diversity
  • Cost      (p. 22-23)

One such reference source that requires regular review is the print encyclopedia. Harber (1988) differentiates between encyclopedias and dictionaries with the following definition: “dictionaries are for quick reference and [encyclopedias] are for reading at greater length” (p.20) in other words, “the entries in an encyclopedia [are] words relating to things, and entries in a dictionary [are] words relating to words” (p.20). Encyclopedias can be classified according to the way the material is organized, either alphabetical or topical.

When evaluating an encyclopedia, Harber recommends the careful consideration of the following criteria:

  • “the work must be up to date, frequently and systematically revised according to high standards of scholarship and authority
  • easy enough to read for students to use it
  • little to no evidence of bias or prejudice
  • physical appearance of the volumes and the lay out of the pages are important (example: “double-page spread with large colour illustrations covers a single topic on at least two levels of difficulty”) (Harber, 1988, p.20)
World Book 2004
World Book 2004

(image retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/2004-WORLD-BOOK-ENCYCLOPEDIA-SET/dp/B000NPPDLI)

One encyclopedia to consider is the World Book, which has been the ‘go-to’ for elementary encyclopedias. As stated by Elvekrog (2014), students can easily retrieve reliable and current information that has been “reviewed to reflect accuracy and authenticity by expert scholars and researchers” (p.211). In addition, publishers continue to make an effort to include “up-to-date, full-color illustrations, images, and photographs which complement the articles, along with a distinct font, and durable, high-quality paper” (p.211) to appeal to ages six through adult. In addition, newer volumes such as the World Book Encyclopedia 2014 includes “QR codes so smartphone users can effortlessly access further content to dozens
of topics” (p.211).

To assist in the review process, a rubric was created based on the criteria outlined in pages 71-74 in Riedling’s (2013) book “Reference Skills for the School Librarian” and various sample rubrics based on the acronym C.R.A.A.P.O. which stands for:

  • Currency
  • Relevancy
  • Accuracy
  • Authority
  • Purpose
  • Objectivity

Evaluation of World Book Encyclopedia 2004 (Print):

(See Appendix 1 for Evaluation Rubric)

My Rubric for Print Reference Evaluation

My Rubric for Evaluating Reference Source

Reference Source Evaluation Rubric


The articles related to chosen topics and were appropriate for the intermediate reading level. The information “reflects student interests and the cultural interests” (Asselin, 2003, p. 32).


World Book does provide information and answers to many questions in an efficient manner. There was no evidence of any overt propaganda or advertising. The articles appeared objective and free of any biases (political, religious, ideological or personal). In regards to the accessibility of information due to layout and font size, I found some pages to be excellent with colourful images, illustrations and helpful maps. However, other pages were completely devoid of all colour and contained row upon row of small font. I can imagine how children would be completely turned off from the challenge of picking out key facts from such small print.


Unfortunately, it is difficult to maintain a current collection. Our library has two complete sets: 2004 and 2012. Riedling (2013) suggests encyclopedias need to be replaced every five years (p. 24). Upon close inspection of the 2004 set, the publishing dates of many of the resources listed under “Additional Resources” fall between 1992-2000. (between 17-25 years old)

Curricular Connection:

Even with the recent changes in the BC Curriculum, the new topics were accessible. World Book offers information on a wide variety of topics that would be of interest to students as they pursue inquiry projects.

Efficient Use of Library Space:

Considering the emphasis on student inquiry, the World Book offers a lot of information in a relatively minimal space. I would suggest that two sets are not necessary, though, and the 2004 set can be recycled to free up additional space. The physical accessibility, however, is a bit of a challenge for younger or shorter students. The heavy volumes are placed on the top of a 5’ bookshelf. (Asselin, 2003, p. 32).

Selection of a Reference Resource

Although print encyclopedias have merit and should be included within a school library, outdated sets should be updated every five years (Riedling, 2013, p. 24). The print version of World Book Encyclopedia 2016 is currently listed at $899.95. Because of budget constraints, digital versions are a great alternative.

To access the digital resources in my school, students click on the school website and then find the link to the library. The school’s library website is not user-friendly and is certainly not appealing to students. Very few students (or teachers) even know the digital resources are available, not to mention the passwords needed to access the resources. My goal is to increase exposure and usage of this excellent resource.

Existing Library Page
Existing Library Page

Both Prince of Wales School Library Learning Commons and Dr. Charles Best School Library have excellent websites that are user-friendly and informative and could serve as models for updating our own library site. The image below shows a screen shot of the various encyclopedias available for student use.

Prince of Wales Website
Prince of Wales Website

Screen shot Retrieved from http://pw2.vsb.bc.ca/library/refdesk.html#encyclos

Upon close inspection, the World Book Online is an excellent source. When evaluated using the rubric, (see Appendix 2) this resource would meet the needs of the student population. Features that I particularly liked and found helpful for student use were:

  • MLA or APA citations listed at the bottom of each article
  • Tutorial videos
  • What’s New pages to easily identify updates and revisions
  • Images, audio and video links
  • Visually appealing layout with text that is appropriate for elementary reading level

(Appendix 2)

My Rubric for Evaluation of Digital Source
My Evaluation Rubric Highlighted for Suggested Reference


World Book updates and revises regularly, however, these revisions are quite minor and can be accessed in the What’s New page.

Evaluation of Suggested Selection:


The information is accessible to the entire student population. The digital features allow for more individualized consideration of the “needs of linguistically, culturally, intellectually varied learners and learners with special needs” (Riedling, 2013, p. 23). I appreciated the audio feature for each article as this would greatly assist students with lower reading ability.


The purpose to inform is clear. No ads or pop-ups appeared nor was any overt propaganda or bias apparent. The layout of the pages is excellent, with ‘clickable’ tabs for additional images and video. The use of white space helps your eye to focus on the important information.


Because of the ease of updating information digitally, the online version remains current. The What’s New pages quickly identify what articles have been updated. I investigated the cost and the World Book is included in the EBSCO bundle (with Destiny) through our independent school association. The yearly cost for the complete bundle is not much more than the cost of purchasing only one set of encyclopedias, making this a worthwhile investment.

Curricular Connection:

This is a great asset for student inquiry projects and teacher research. Topics in the new BC curriculum are covered in depth as the user is able to select the grade level, province, subject area to view the BC Curriculum. What a cool feature!

World Book Online Curriculum Connections

Efficient Use of Library Space:

With only a digital device and internet, very little library space is required and students are also able to access the World Book anywhere.

(For my additional comments regarding Riedling’s (2013) suggestions for general encyclopedias, in order of my favourite to least favourite) (pgs. 76-77)

Resource Evaluative Comments and Observations
Encyclopedia Britannica Kids


  • Able to select appropriate resource according to age level
  • Search tips available
  • Results are easy to view with clear layout, images to click
  • Articles reveal a Table of Contents for quick search of relevant information
  • Citations in several formats are listed
  • Price?
Surfnetkids Online Encyclopedia
  • Advertisement popups appear immediately
  • More difficult to navigate as the site is not solely an encyclopedia (other features include games, colouring pages, calendar, blogs, shop…)
Grolier Online (Scholastic)
  • Two age categories are available (ages 3-7; ages 8-12)
  • Unfortunately, the contact information (via email and phone number) had been changed but not updated on website so price information was not available


  • ·Geared more to adults
  • Advertisements pop up
  • Hierarchical organizational structure with difficult layout and higher reading level

CRAAP Test Worksheet

CRAP Test Worksheet
CRAP Test Worksheet

Retrieved from: http://legacy.juniata.edu/services/library/instruction/handouts/craap_worksheet.pdf

Lewis Library CRAAP Test for Websites
Lewis Library CRAAP Test for Websites


Retrieved from http://libraryguides.ccbcmd.edu/ld.php?content_id=14159296

Sample Evaluation Guide

Lewis Library CRAP Test
Lewis Library CRAP Test

CCBC Library. (Dec., 2016). Evaluate It!: C.R.A.A.P. Criteria. Retrieved from http://libraryguides.ccbcmd.edu/evaluate-it/craap [Date accessed January 15, 2017].


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.

Bauman, C. (Dec. 30, 2013). [Video file]. The CRAPpy Song (aka, the C.R.A.P. Test Song). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMaLgec2XWY [Date accessed: January 16, 2017).

Beeghly Library. (n.d.). The CRAAP Test Worksheet. Juniata College. Retrieved from http://legacy.juniata.edu/services/library/instruction/handouts/craap_worksheet.pdf [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Byerly, G. & Brodie, C.S. (2007). Fifty Nifty Websites: Choosing them was Fun! School Library Monthly, 23(9), 39-41.

CCBC Library. (Dec., 2016). Evaluate It!: C.R.A.A.P. Criteria. Retrieved from http://libraryguides.ccbcmd.edu/evaluate-it/craap [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Elvekrog, J. (2014). The World Book Encyclopedia 2014. Catholic Library World, 84(3), 211.

Glenbard High School Library [website]. (n.d). Evaluating Sources. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/a/glenbard.org/diglit/home/evaluating-sources  [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Harber, P. (1988). French-Language Encyclopedias. Manitoba Library Association. A Reviewing Journal of Canadian Material for Young People, 16(3). Retrieved from https://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/cmarchive/vol16no3/frenchlanguageencyclopedia.html [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2015). From sea to shining sea: Online resources for states projects. Teacher Librarian, 43(1), 60-63,67. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/1721912889?accountid=14656 [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Mongtomery, B. (2014). A Case for Browsing: An Empowering Research Strategy for Elementary Learners. Knowledge Quest, 43(2), E5-E9. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/NovDec14_OE2_Montgomery.pdf

Ron E. Lewis Library. (2016). Thinking Critically about Web Information- Applying the CRAAP Test. Retrieved from http://library.lsco.edu/help/web-page-rubric.pdf [Date accessed January 16, 2017].

Rowly, J. & Johnson, F. (2013). Understanding trust formation in digital information sources: The case of Wikipedia. Journal of Information Science, 39(4), 494-508.

Southern New Hampshire University Library: Shapiro Library. (2016). CRAAPO- Source Evaluation Rubric. Retrieved from http://libguides.snhu.edu/ld.php?content_id=13078862 [Date accessed January 16, 2017].

Wexelbaum, R. (2012). Is the encyclopedia dead? Evaluating the usefulness of a traditional reference resource. Reference Reviews, 26(7), 7-11.

World Book Encyclopedia Store. [website]. Retrieved from https://www.worldbook.com/store/p/399-World-Book-Encyclopedia-2016.aspx

Reference Skills for Lifelong Learning

In working with students on research projects and inquiry based learning activities, the biggest challenges I see students facing are the ability to decipher what information is important and the ability to accurately read the information. I find that the ‘reading level’ of most of what students dig up in a Google search is far above their reading level. As a result, students tend to pick out one sentence or two without really digesting the information correctly. This leads to some hilarious mixed up ‘facts’ and research projects or essays that are cut and pasted together.

As such, I applaud the emphasis on “instruction or guidance reference services that teach or direct students to locate information themselves” (Riedling, 2013, p. 5). I liken this to the old adage,

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Life long skills
Life long skills

(Image retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/p-1545695/?no_redirect)

I want to give my students the skills to support life long learning! There is no point asking students to memorize and regurgitate facts. To be successful throughout their school ‘career’ and beyond, students must “know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them” (Riedling, 2013, p.7).

I appreciated the descriptions of the roles Riedling gives to a librarian in chapter 1. A librarian is a:

  1. Provider of quality information resources” (p. 4)
  2. guide for using information resources effectively” (p. 4)
  3. mediator between the perplexed student and too much, or too little, information” (p.4)
  4. leader who “leads students to information, not knowledge” (p.5)

In regards to changes in our society, Riedling (2013) states “our complex, global society continues to expand at a rate beyond the capacity of individuals to comprehend” (p.10).  I disagree; I don’t think our society is expanding at a rate that is beyond our ability to understand. Rather, I think that the way we understand, view, access, evaluate, organize and use information needs to change.  If I was to take Riedling’s viewpoint at face value, I would simply give up trying to understand the world around me as it is “beyond my capacity”. I would rather challenge her view and celebrate the abundance of new information by finding new ways of acquiring, accessing, evaluating and organizing the abundance of information available to me.

This is what excites me as a teacher-librarian. How can I model, teach, guide, and inspire students to access, evaluate, organize and use the information that is so readily available to them? I don’t want to sit around bemoaning the fact that there is too much information; let’s embrace it and inspire a generation of lifelong learners.

In reading the various research models, my mind was already swirling with an idea of how to further incorporate my evening UBC learning into my day-to-day classroom teaching. What topic are we covering in grade seven that I can use as a ‘test-case’ for implementing one of the research models? (Information Seeking, Big6, Research Process, Points of Inquiry, Research Quest) Well…I am just getting ready to launch a social studies unit on Ancient Egypt. Hmmm, perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to really guide and inspire the research process.

Based on the readings in theme one, here is my outline of an initial draft of my plan to use a combination of the Research Quest Model and the Big6 Model:

  1. Define the Task
  • Question Formulation Technique (http://rightquestion.org/education/) (This organization is free to join and gives you access to excellent resources for implementing the Question Formulation Technique: well worth the time to sign up!) 
  • Stimulate access to prior knowledge with a Question Focus and provide an opportunity to brainstorm many questions related to the topic

An idea for Question Focus:  Ancient Egypt was one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations in the history of the world. Ancient Egypt was rich in culture including government, religion, arts, and writing.

Brainstorming with Questions
Brainstorming with Questions

Following our session on brainstorming, students browse through the following websites to narrow down their own research question.

10 Surprising Facts About Ancient Egypt

Ten Facts about Ancient Egypt

Understanding Ancient Egypt

Another great resource to teach how to formulate excellent questions is Jan Richardson’s (2009) book “The Next Step in Guided Reading” by Scholastic. Pages 210 and following give explicit instructions on teaching the skills of turning facts into questions. She talks about three levels of questions:

  • Green questions (literal questions in which a student can go directly to the text to find the answer)
  • Yellow questions (complex questions which require students to search in several places in the text: slow down and look… These include cause/effect; compare/contrast; main idea/details)
  • Red questions (inferential questions in which the student must stop and think about the text as the answer is not found directly in the text. These include I wonder…; Why do you think…; What would happen if…)

Although I used this with my grade three students, it would be a great exercise for reading nonfiction and fiction at all levels.


My Research Plan (as it is unfolding in my grade 7 Social Studies Classes)

  1. Students record and submit their research question on their Research Plan
  1. Outline the research process and teach Information Seeking Strategies

To introduce the Big6 Model, have students watch the following:

Library Queen E. (Aug. 23, 2015). [Video file]. The Big 6 Model for Research. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaKbYcoeGi0

Register, A. (Sept. 23, 2012). [Video file]. Big 6-Anna Register-Big 6. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEmCfinUQAg

Vierira, D. (Jan. 29, 2015). [Video file]. Big 6 Research Model. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acynozl1LbQ

For more resources, check out Big6 Helpful Resources

(I must say that my classes thought these videos were rather cheesy, but funny. Considering the way they were laughing and singing along, I would venture to guess that they will remember some, if not all, of the concepts of the big6 model.) 

  1. Location and Access
    1. School library
    2. Selecting resources
      1. Print resources first (appropriate reading level; get a general sense of what the topic is; collect many facts…)
      2. Non-print resources (websites; ERAC databases; online encyclopedias, video…)

(I explained the art of browsing for resources through the analogy of shopping for clothes) A great article to refer to about the merits of browsing for sources can be found at:

Mongtomery, B. (2014). A Case for Browsing: An Empowering Research Strategy for Elementary Learners. Knowledge Quest, 43(2), E5-E9. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/NovDec14_OE2_Montgomery.pdf

  1. Use of Information: Gathering relevant information
    1. Use index cards to gather facts (one fact per card; with author’s name on the back)
    2. Teach how to access digital sources through school library database
    3. Sort cards into subcategories
    4. Organize within categories into paragraphs
    5. Cite sources
  2. Synthesis: Present paper or information in some format
    1. Students choose a format for presentation
    2. Decide on a presentation style (brainstorm options), class-generated rubric
    3. Model how to correctly cite works within the presentation and how to include a Works Cited page
    4. Suggestions for a format to share your information may include (but are not limited to)
      1. Read aloud to small group?
      2. Create a few slides in a power point? (limit number of words per slide and the number of slides…)
      3. Ignite presentation style (20 slides, with 15 sec. per slide)?
      4. Create a true/false listening guide for students as they listen to your topic. Organize information; review, revise, edit
  1. Evaluate the process and the product
    1. Answer the reflection questions on student Research Plan
      1. What did I learn about the topic?
      2. What worked well?
      3. What will I do differently next time?
      4. What did I learn about research?

As part of the research process, students will also be introduced to different rubrics to evaluate print and non-print sources using the C.R.A.A.P. acronym.

CCBC Library. (Dec., 2016). Evaluate It!: C.R.A.A.P. Criteria. Retrieved from http://libraryguides.ccbcmd.edu/evaluate-it/craap [Date accessed January 15, 2017].
C.R.A.A.P. Evaluation Strategy
Retrieval Information for C.R.A.A.P. Image


Critical Evaluation Guide for Web Sites

For a funny video about applying the CRAAP evaluation criteria, check this one out!

Bauman, C. (Dec. 30, 2013). [Video file]. The CRAPpy Song (aka, the C.R.A.P. Test Song). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMaLec2XWY

I like the phrase “information skills continuum” (LIBE 467 Course Content, Theme 1, Lesson 4) in regards to developing literacy skills and the skills needed to move from print to online sources. I wholeheartedly agree that students waste an abundance of time online searching and searching for that perfect website or article that will magically answer all of their questions. Print sources, on the other hand, are a great starting point at the focus stage. When doing research projects with my students, I am a bit of a traditionalist and I insist that they must first collect a certain number of facts from print sources before moving to digital sources. I explain the ‘saturation’ point of fact-finding (that point when the books you have available are repeating the same information).

Alas, not all of my students agreed with my stance on promoting the value of print sources and questioned my wisdom in insisting that books must be consulted! But, my quest to teach research skills that last a lifetime continues on.

We have now moved on to learning how to effectively use electronic sites to continue our search. This led to more mini-lessons on how to choose search key words, how to access and use a few databases available on the school site (through EBSCO) and how to evaluate websites critically (compare sites such as Wikipedia with other sources).

This week’s lessons include how to choose an appropriate presentation format to suite your information and personal style and how to develop a class-generated rubric for authentic assessment. I must say that this Ancient Egypt project is taking us down many more rabbit trails of information literacy skills than I had originally thought! However, as the students are learning about a specific topic related to our overarching theme, they are learning so much more about the skills of “research”. I am curious to see what the students will say in their reflections.


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.

Bauman, C. (Dec. 30, 2013). [Video file]. The CRAPpy Song (aka, the C.R.A.P. Test Song). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMaLgec2XWY [Date accessed: January 16, 2017).

Beeghly Library. (n.d.). The CRAAP Test Worksheet. Juniata College. Retrieved from http://legacy.juniata.edu/services/library/instruction/handouts/craap_worksheet.pdf [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Byerly, G. & Brodie, C.S. (2007). Fifty Nifty Websites: Choosing Them was Fun! School Library Monthly, 23(9), 39-41.

CCBC Library. (Dec., 2016). Evaluate It!: C.R.A.A.P. Criteria. Retrieved from http://libraryguides.ccbcmd.edu/evaluate-it/craap [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Glenbard High School Library [website]. (n.d). Evaluating Sources. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/a/glenbard.org/diglit/home/evaluating-sources  [Date accessed January 15, 2017].

Mongtomery, B. (2014). A Case for Browsing: An Empowering Research Strategy for Elementary Learners. Knowledge Quest, 43(2), E5-E9. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/aasl/sites/ala.org.aasl/files/content/NovDec14_OE2_Montgomery.pdf

Richardson, J. (2009). The Next Step in Guided Reading. Scholastic Canada Inc.

Ron E. Lewis Library. (2016). Thinking Critically about Web Information- Applying the CRAAP Test. Retrieved from http://library.lsco.edu/help/web-page-rubric.pdf [Date accessed January 16, 2017].

Rowly, J. & Johnson, F. (2013). Understanding trust formation in digital information sources: The case of Wikipedia. Journal of Information Science, 39(4), 494-508.

Southern New Hampshire University Library: Shapiro Library. (2016). CRAAPO- Source Evaluation Rubric. Retrieved from http://libguides.snhu.edu/ld.php?content_id=13078862 [Date accessed January 16, 2017].

Wexelbaum, R. (2012). Is the encyclopedia dead? Evaluating the usefulness of a traditional reference resource. Reference Reviews, 26(7), 7-11.