Information Literacy

Here are some definitions of Information Literacy:

Langford (1998,p.59): information literacy is a type of literacy that has been transformed to work with the technologies of the time.

My comment: Literacy is active and changing and as the types, sources, reliability and access to information change and develop through the use of the internet and web2.0 applications,  students must be able to make sense of this information.

Abilock (2004, p. 1): information literacy is a transformational process where information is taken and used.

My comment:  This is an active sort of definition – information literacy is a process or strategy to work with information in a purposeful way.

Herring & Tartar (2006, p. 3): list of things information literate students will be able to do. 

 My comment: Add the idea of reflecting on the way the information was used to serve an identified purpose.


All of the authors added extra dimensions and  aspects to my understandings of information literacy.

Langford’s references to information literacy complementing technology is very relevant as students are dealing with many types of information in many formats and from varied sources. They need strategies and skills in identifying, deciphering and evaluating the information they come into contact with.

Abilock’s idea of using information for personal, social and global purposes support both constructivist and connectivist thinking where students are learning for an authentic purpose and audience.

Herring & Tartar identify actions that students are able to do with information in a step by step manner.

It seems to me that information literacy is a process to help students “help themselves” learn. So much about learning is not just content related facts. Students need to be able to collect, sort and use information in many ways to make meaning from what they read, view and hear. Information literacy is both a process and strategies to help them do this.


Herring, J. and Tartar, A. (2006). Progress in developing information literacy in a secondary school using the PLUS model. School Libraries in View, 23, 23-27





Literacy is my home, my comfort zone: I know what to do and what to expect.

So I’ve been a bit uncomfortable for the past few weeks, as our wiiMusic unit develops and grows.

Enabling the students to discover, explore and make connections with what they know and are familiar with about music and what they are learning about music through playing with the wiiMusic game, is a vital part of the learning cycle.

We have been talking our way through the game, the concepts and the terminology, investigating ideas and thoughts more fully through art as well.

We’ve written some informational texts, but I have been uneasy and at a bit of a loose end and I think it’s because I haven’t been able to harness the fun and excitement of the wiiMusic game into the literacy learning of the class.

I have tried to placate myself with thoughts that my students are learning about music – the language, the sounds, the instruments etc – but I was a little apprehensive about the lack of meaningful literacy moments that I could take advantage of.

DSC07402I LOVE creating and crafting texts with my students: of playing around with writing so that it connects to readers and says exactly what you want it to say – but the opportunity had not arisen ……. Until today!

Today we shared ideas –

We built on each others words,

We explored vocab together,

We searched for the appropriate phrases,

We put images into words.

We created together!


This class is different to the classes I’ve had over the last couple of years: as a group they are much more reserved, they are less confident in themselves, there are fewer risk takers, there are more early phase ESL students in the group, and as a group they are less academically engaged in school.

So the strategies I used

⇒ were modified,

⇒ the positive reinforcement more frequent and specific,

⇒ the scaffolding was greater,

⇒ the re-phrasing and modeling more explicit, and

⇒ thinking time was more individual rather than shared

But the results were astounding!

Once the initial shyness was overcome there was much clapping and supporting of the efforts of all!

A shared purpose.

A shared pride.

A shared success.

Writing rocks!

Mouse Woman Rocks!

I was introduced to Mouse Woman today, a cute and cheeky character found in stories from the Haida, one of the First Nations bands of the North West coast of Canada.

Mouse Woman is a shape changer, a narnauk, who lives and travels between the human and spirit worlds, helping and guiding young people in need by offering suggestions, options and alternatives.

Mouse Woman, or Grandmother, likes life to be balanced and works with humans and nature to equalise good and bad, right and wrong, and deal with the humans or spirits who had upset the order of the world.

As payment for her help, Mouse Woman loves wool, which her ravelly little fingers like to tear into a lovely, loose, nesty pile of wool.

The stories, written by Christie Harris, are refreshing, fun, mischievous, scary and thought provoking. I ‘m sure that I will be using the stories with my class. They will be great for discussing and exploring positive values, symbols and actions, and even ideas of natural balance, ecology and rights and responsibilities.

The stories also give a wonderful insight into traditional Haida life and beliefs – the descriptions of the forests, coasts and oceans are beautiful and poignant. The social structures and way of life in the Time Before are also shown and explained.

I’m so glad that I’ve met and fallen under the spell of Mouse Woman – and I hope she will join me back in my classroom to share her adventures with children on the other side of the world.




When Web2.0 Meets Reading2.0

I think my brain is about to explode!

Today was the third 7 hour, all day workshop that I’ve attended over the past four days – have to make the most of my NECC experience!

A plethora of web2.0 tools were presented enthusiastically as a way of teaching various (and varied) reading skills across the grades. From phonic awareness, to vocabulary, to comprehension, to talking and listening – all apects of reading instruction were comprehensively covered.

Linking assessment  was always stressed and ways and examples were demonstrated. The importance of always ensuring that the use of a tool is based on its relevance to the learning task and outcomes, was also constantly reinforced.

Ideas and examples of teachers and classes using these tools in a variety of ways was really helpful to visualise the use of web2.0 in the reading classroom:


  • Using simple voice recordings (and using Vocaroo to embed on blog or wiki) for multiple purposes – such as identifying rhyming words, syllabification,fluency, reading out loud, oral instructions, books onto a podcast for listening to whenever you like (family members can record books for class to listen to).
  • Making simple word/vocabulary alphabets for class topics and units or basic English words for ESL students using Yodio – where you add voice to digital photos.
  • have lots of games that you can adapt to your class’s needs. There’s a random name picker – try matching rhyming words or homophones or opposites.
  • Some great hands on and practical examples of using Voicethread were also shown to help students develop fluency when reading, to develop critical thinking and responses.
I got a lot of great ideas from this session and it made me realise that even though I know and use most of these tools already, there are any number of new ways of using them with kids in the classroom. It wasn’t the tools that were new – it was the ideas of other teachers that really inspired me this time.
I would also like to explore in my classroom the kids being the ones who are making these resources. In the examples shown today it was mostly the teacher who made the resources for the kids to use. In my classroom I think I would like my students to make the resources as a demonstration of their proficiency in many areas of reading.
Thanks so much to Elizabeth and Shawndra for your work and dedication shown throughout this session – lots of work to be done back in the classroom!


Haluz – playing with words!

  I noticed many times during our work with Haluz that the kids were re-working paragraphs or sentences to get better effects. They would start off with an OK paragraph, sentence or idea, and then have another try, often changing the word order around.Sometimes they would try out various emotions and the associated vocab or language that went with the emotion. Over the years I’ve been constantly frustrated by my students inability or unwillingness to work on their writing – to improve the meaning, even to edit their work. Yet I have noticed that many students seem to enjoy working at making their sentence or paragraphs interesting, clear and entertaining.

This playing about with words and language – either to experiment with the power of the words, or to try out different effects of words – is really positive and encouraging. 80%of my class speak another language at home, and have rarely had the time or the confidence at school to experiment and play with English.

In our hurry and intent to “teach” non-English speaking students as much English as possible, we haven’t allowed time to use language for “play” purposes. I noticed my students were excited to try out different ways of writing the orientation, or about a character, or about an event they had experienced in the game. Was it the control over their writing? over their ideas? over the language? that was most exciting? Or was it the confidence of being in charge of English and being in charge of their story? What do you think?

Haluz and Narrative Writing Part 1

 In May, Australia is undertaking, for the first time, national (as opposed to states-based) literacy and numeracy testing for students in Years 3, 5, 7 & 9. In the follow-up information received after last year’s state based testing (the NSW Basic Skills Test) my school identified a variety of areas we needed to focus on this year to improve our school results.

In the Literacy – Writing area our Areas for Focus were identified as:

  • Text Processes: Effective orientation
  • Text Processes: Effective resolution
  • Topical language
  • Figurative language
  • Paragraphs
  • Sentence structure
  • Punctuation

The genre of Narrative is the only text type required this year, so my time has been spent working on my students’ narrative writing.

Last year I explored the use of the on-line “point and click” game Samorost with my class, and used it to work with my students on their writing skills. The results were inspiring and very exciting – you can read about what we got up to here ….

I was keen to use a computer game again to explore writing, and to motivate, engage and involve my students in writing narratives. However, I didn’t want to/ couldn’t just repeat what I’d done last year (two thirds of my class this year were in my class last year) as I was interested in a number of areas:

  • to explore what other areas of writing lend themselves to using a game
  • to investigate if more structured, text-based writing skills could be learnt/taught/practised using a game

Fortunately I came across another post from Ewan , who threw out a link to Haluz – a “point and click” game in the same genre as Samorost – which has meant that I can explore some more with my students  ……  and teach writing as well   🙂 

You gotta love that don’t you?

dsc04609.JPG    dsc04610.JPG

ReView and PreView

 timeout.jpgAfter an interesting week or so on Jury Duty I’m back – rearing to go after an enforced “time-out”. 

My last week at school saw me using our new laptops in my room. After a frazzled first session – sorting internet cords, and placement of the laptops within the room – we made a great start at our individual maths focus contracts. The students felt responsible for getting on with their work and seemed very motivated to work on their own to complete the maths topics they needed to work on. 

The setting up of the laptops got quicker over the week and the students came up with exciting ways to take advantage of the laptops when they were set up. We had a great session with the kids working in threes using Google Earth to locate places referred to in the “Behind the News” current affairs program we watch each week. 

My use of the iWB was probably not as exciting as I had hoped – a few techno problems, but they will be sorted soon I hope and I will continue on (and on and on!) 

My focus for this coming week will be:

  • Laptops – in the room as much as possible – set up and ready for the kids to work on.
  • Writing Focus – narrative using an internet game again to support and motivate students and improve their writing. This time I will start with the planning of the game narrative: does it fit the planning model we are using? How does it differ? How are the different parts of the narrative linked to each other?

            Hmmm, lots to work on here!

  • Look at using the DSLites for daily? thrice weekly? basic maths practise. I’m sure this will really motivate the class to improve their basic operations skills, and by recording their scores we can collate and graph results. This will link in to the Data section of our Mathematics curriculum, and “interpreting graphs” is an area my students need to work on.

        The DSLites are set up to use in the Library at lunchtimes so I will have to make sure we use them first thing in the morning and then reset them up ready for lunch 🙂

 Heaps to look forward to……. BIO!  (bring it on!  😀  )

Image is “Timeout” by katenet

Just Thinking

An excellent post from Graham Wegner which he refers back to a post by Konrad Glogowski had me thinking about the way in which students work on individual projects, and the potential for the use of blogs in this process.

My thinking took me in two directions:

1. Need for “critical friends”

My class has been communicating with a school class in another state, these students were working on a “passion project” for the term. I was concerned that my students were adding only a social connection to this other school and I think I need to strengthen the academic connection – to make the comments and responses from my students more meaningful and purposeful. I want my students to reflect, consider, and engage in conversations with these other students on the topics chosen by these students for their “passion projects”.

I will need to examine the ways my students learn about asking questions about the projects – in-depth and worthwhile questions that will help to clarify or extend the learning about a topic. I need to work with my students to enable them to move on from “I like the part about XXXX – it was very descriptive” to develop deeper, more probing questioning about content.

2. Another way of using blogs

Konrad Glogowski writes:

The one thing that technology makes easier – that blogging makes easier – is the Immerse – Build – Contribute aspect of the model I described.
IMMERSE: I wanted my students to become researchers who locate valuable content, read, interact, and document their learning on the blog by writing entries about the topic and their journey as researchers.
BUILD: The students used their blogs to document their research and to build their own knowledge in their respective fields of expertise. There were many connections that emerged among students researching related ideas. The students interacted with each other by posting comments and by sharing and commenting on resources.
CONTRIBUTE: This final stage happens when, as learners, the students begin to contribute through their own creativity. It happens when, having acquainted themselves with the topic, they begin to rewrite or remix it in their own unique way and thus contribute to and enrich the field they’re researching. This is the stage when the students begin to create unique artifacts that contribute to the existing body of knowledge on a given topic.

Most of my class has been blogging since March this year and to date their blogs have been a way of publishing pieces of writing they have done. I have made a few attempts at getting the class to reflect on classroom activities and to report on school events. But I am quite excited at the ideas that Konrad raises and the uses for blogging he puts forward – blogging as an important, even integral part of the research/learning cycle.

Using blogs to document student learning whilst they are in the middle of their learning is very exciting and is an area I would like to work on and develop with my class.