What Makes a Literacy?

Miller, Olivia


Bergson-Michelson, T. and Serof, J. (2016). What makes a literacy? Knowledge Quest 44(5).
This essay clearly and concisely defines “literacy” in a way the explains all the contemporary uses of “literacy” that have been springing up in educational contexts: digital literacy, civic literacy, financial literacy, etc. Answers the question: are these emerging skill sets the province of school librarians? With a resounding YES. Defines literacy and fundamentally a sense-making process; traditional literacy (as in, learning to read and write) transforms symbols on a page into consumable content and information. Other kinds of literacy similarly transform the unknown into sensible components. Students are struggling with sense-making in new contexts; school librarians can help. This includes learning to ask the right kinds of question as a learning process skill that can be applied everywhere. New situations, subjects, and technologies are not impossible to tackle if students know how and what kinds of questions to ask.
This essay is very short; I felt its conciseness actually helped its articulateness. Literacy is a huge topic that branches out into many different kinds of things. This helped me step back and understand it before diving into to more particular details and sub-topics like 21st Century Skills and Digital Literacy. It also contains references to scholars and other essays that become more specific under the Literacy umbrella. A strong piece with many paths to other readings and references.

Teachers & Teacher Librarians Collaborate on Inquiry-based Science Instruction

Gabrielle Thormann
CO and IL
Montiel-Overall, P. & Grimes, K. (2013).  Teachers and librarians collaborating on inquiry-based science instruction:  A longitudinal study.  Library & Information Science Research, 35(1), pgs. 41-53.
Summary:  This article focuses on how the teacher and teacher librarian collaboration can be achieved, and as the title says, by collaborating on inquiry-based science instruction.  The article offers basic definitions alongside the complexities of how collaborations were built in six Latino elementary schools with many second language learners.  Students’ and teachers’ skills are generally reviewed:  Currently, many of their skills and knowledge do not support higher-level inquiry-based instruction.  Key points of information-literacy and teacher librarian skills are correlated to the scientific method, and how these points can be used to support students.  The overall process is explained:  to create and support the relationship between the teacher and the teacher librarian, and to provide the necessary content knowledge.  Achievements and challenges of the process are reviewed.  Keys to the success of this project included peer mentors for the teacher and teacher librarian, and the recognition that two heads are better than one.  Challenges are presented and discussed.  Themes – Preparation, Experience, Transformation, Motivation – are also distilled from the process, and examined in writing and in Appendix C.   
Review:  I found reading this article challenging.  However, a lot of practical useful information for creating an inquiry-based science unit is embedded within the theoretical writing.  I found Table 1, “Summary of four modules of professional development intervention workshops,” very interesting as one can see the steps of the transformation for the collaborators.  Also, “Appendix C. Themes and categories from analysis of teacher and librarian collaboration” provides ideas of how the collaborators worked in real time.  Finally, it’s worth noting that this is the eighth article this author appears in in this blog database.  These articles are focused on collaboration/co-teaching and 21st century skills. 

Digital Libraries Postive or Negative

Shibrie Wilson

CA- Who Decides
IL- Analysis and Synthesis
IL-Media Literacy
IL- Other Literacies
IL- Integrated or Separate

The Good News and the Bad News. (2015, May 24). Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/blogs/annoyedlibrarian/2015/05/14/the-good-news-and-the-bad-news/

Summary: There is a constant debate among librarians regarding going digital. Many traditional librarians are opposed to materials being accessible to patrons digitally. The issue that some librarians prefer that patrons access library physically and not accessing just on website. Since libraries are constantly competing and defending its relevance we must continue to offer innovative content and materials for patrons. Individuals are seeking after materials in which they can access online without coming to a physical library. This article focuses on different arguments from across the board from those who fully support a digitized library. Some librarians are ready to change the stereotype associated with library of it being boring and just for purpose of “reading books.” Libraries will continue to remain relevant due to preferences of different persons, according to article. 

Reflection: I resonated with this article because it is frustrating to think about different aspects of library and where it will leave professionals. There are different aspect because as professionals we must continue to provide innovative ideas in order to compete with technology. Yet, downside to such is that it can possibly eliminate our jobs. 

Through the looking glass: Examining technology integration in school librarianship

Deligencia, Nick
Green, L. S. (2014). Through the looking glass: Examining technology integration in school librarianship. Knowledge Quest, 43(1), 36-43.

Beginning with a description of the SAMR model and a review of its popularity and widespread use, the article then questions the validity of the model.  An open letter to the SAMR model’s founder is described, which critically evaluates SAMR in a manner that many teacher librarians are (or should be) teaching to their students.  The author delineates findings about the SAMR model’s creator, what it contributes to the thinking on the subject (how is it different), whether it is research-based and whether its methodology can be vetted, and whether it is a sponsored product.

A comparative evaluation of the TPCK model follows.  This section cites ways in which the model is often shared and used among educators that is, in fact, not consistent with the model’s intention and design.  The article concludes with a recommendation to “visit the Technology Integration Matrix maintained by Northern Arizona University <www.azk12.org/tim>.”

Worth reading; thought-provoking.  I’m a little nervous about posting this here, given the professor’s implicit (and my own, previously explicit) endorsement of the SAMR model.  And yet, this article gets at the core of teacher librarians’ roles in information literacy.  How effective are we if we’re not applying the information credibility checks that we’re teaching our students?

This is not an indictment of the SAMR model, per se.  The article is more critical of the application of TPCK than SAMR, but it is most critical of any unquestioned and unexamined propagation of any model.

IL-Analysis and Synthesis, IL-Critical Thinking, IL-Technology Instruction

Evaluating Multiple Perspectives…

Evaluating Multiple Perspectives…

Deligencia, Nick


Lafferty, K.E., Summers, A., Tanaka, S., & Cavanagh, J. (2016). Evaluating multiple perspectives: Approaching the synthesis task through assessing credibility. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 59(5), 587-598. doi:10.1002/jaal.475

This article examines a synthesis performance task aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  The authors “focused on differentiated instruction…based on the…controversial events on Mt. Everest in 1996” which allowed for the increased CCSS emphasis on informational text.  Students analyzed survivor accounts and assessed each author’s credibility.   Students also examine non-print texts (documentary film, YouTube videos, etc.) that deal directly with the event and also indirectly (as in effects of high altitude on the human body) to build background knowledge.

Worth reading, or at least skimming.  None of the individual elements are particularly impressive, but this is another instance when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  

The authors provide enough detail regarding their design and decision-making processes (and several resources) that one could recreate with relative fidelity the lesson/experience if desired.  “Common Core” and “Differentiated Instruction” are big buzzwords in my district, without a lot of support regarding the actual how to get it done.  

Assessing credibility is an important element of literacy, so lessons to support development in that skill area are worth stockpiling if you work in a school library.  The “Take Action” sidebar near the article’s conclusion lists “steps for immediate implementation” that are generic enough to make sense, but still leave a lot of leg work to be done.

IL-Analysis and Synthesis

Information Literacy and Twenty-First Century Skills

Reece, Madison


Robin, B. R. (2008). Digital storytelling: A powerful technology tool for the 21st century classroom. Theory into Practice, 47(3), 220-228. doi: 10.1080/00405840802153916

Robin (2008) defines information literacy as “the ability to find, evaluate, and synthesize information” (p. 224). Information literacy requires a specific set of abilities to effectively locate, evaluate, and utilize information. The author addresses digital storytelling and it’s place in the world of twenty-first century technologies. 

The author provides an interesting perspective on twenty-first century skills and information literacy. Twenty-first century skills can be obtained when students learn to conduct research on their own, ask critical questions, think critically, and organize ideas in meaningful ways. Librarians and educators should exhibit strong leadership in the fields of technology in order to provide meaningful learning experiences for students. 

Assessments for University-Level Teacher Librarians

Johnson, Meghan


Sobel, K., & Wolf, K. (2011). Updating your tool belt: Redesigning assessments of learning in the library. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(3). Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org

Academic librarians face unique difficulties in assessing the effectiveness of their teaching strategies. Unlike most primary school librarians who may have weekly scheduled meetings with students, academic librarians may only have a single 75-minute instructional session with a class in an entire quarter. An appropriate assessment of these one-shot sessions, though, can be crucial in encouraging collaboration with other faculty members on campus.

As far as assessments in academic are concerned, Karen Sobel and Kenneth Wolf are proponents of group assessments to illustrate knowledge of information literacy. While this will not necessarily gage the competence of individual students at the end of a library session, it will illustrate the knowledge gathered by the group, and individuals will benefit from this group knowledge. When comparing 3 different types of assessment (pretest and posttest combos, posttest only, and activities), they found that students responded best to activities. While it was not always easy to fit the “activity” assessment into library instruction, students responded positively to this kind of participatory learning. The only downside to this type of assessment was that it would take time for instructors to develop a rubric for assessment. Ultimately, Sobel and Wolf encourage academic librarians to experiment with all 3 core assessment types discussed and find what works best for them.

I worry that Sobel and Wolf are too accepting that these “one-off” interactions for academic librarians are the norm. In this article about updating tools for academic librarians, they don’t provide any tools that might encourage more lasting and strong collaborations between instructors and academic librarians. Additionally, Sobel and Wolf seem hesitant to take a stance on which assessment type is most successful. Despite all of the positives that are associated with activity-based assessment, Sobel and Wolf choose to focus on the time commitment it will require from faculty and teacher librarians to successfully practice this assessment. This would be another fantastic opportunity for Sobel and Wolf to discuss the ways that librarians can encourage collaboration between themselves and faculty.

One thing that I am optimistic about in this article is the acknowledgement of Sobel and Wolf of the importance group learning can play. They acknowledge that there are benefits to gauging not only what the individual learns, but what the group learns as well. I am also encouraged by their encouragement for librarians to experiment with Web 2.0 tools as far as assessment is concerned. They want librarians to begin experimenting with these online tools.

Overall, though, I feel that Sobel and Wolf are too accepting of the divide that exists between faculty and librarians as far as student literacy assessment is concerned.   

The Inquiry Process

Chambers, Julia
S00077474. (2011, August). The inquiry process diagram. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://s00077474.wordpress.com/the-inquiry-process-diagram/
Here is a great infographic on the Inquiry Process created by educators in Australia: http://s00077474.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/the-inquiry-process.gif
This website, which was created by a group of educators in Australia for a specific university, also includes a thorough description of inquiry learning skills as they relate to information processing skills, critical and creative thinking skills, communicating skills, and reflective and metacognitive skills.

Evaluation: I like this graphic (as well as the other tabs on this site) because it reveals how deeply the inquiry process should be at every stage of the information gathering, evaluating, and reporting process. I tend to focus inquiry on the initial stages of research, but this visual helps reveal how inquiry is an ongoing, inter-related process.
ET- Inquiry and Problem-based Learning
IL- Critical Thinking
IL- Analysis and Sythesis

Building Skills in the Interactive Schoolhouse

Vaile Fujikawa
Thibodeaux, B. (2013, March 14). Building Skills in the Interactive Schoolhouse. Education Week. Retrieved from: http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2013/03/14/index.html?intc=EW-TC13-EWH


Summary: Very inspiring video about a new take on learning at a school in Texas. Lots of hands on, see how things work, do it yourself type learning in environments that differ from traditional learning spaces. Instead of a teacher telling a child how something works the student gets to look it up or build a model of it herself.
Evaluation: What a great place to go to school. I wish these kinds of opportunities were available for all kids everywhere. It seems like it’s kind of the trifecta of learning: you get to hear it, you get to do it, and you get to see it.