The LibGuide, Local People, Far Places is for Year 3 and 4 students at a culturally diverse primary school. These students will undertake a cross-discipline unit about the local environment with their class teachers. To infuse information literacy skills in this unit I expand on the local environment concept and introduce an additional global focus element. The development and construction of the LibGuide incorporates specific learning objectives and draws on learning theories and approaches, search strategies, and evaluation criteria examined in The Information Environment.

Local People, Far Places addresses Australian Curriculum General Capabilities, Level 3 (By the end of year 4) on the Learning Continuum. In working through this Guide students will interpret maps (Numeracy); identify the effects of choices in the construction of images (Literacy); develop a creative, digital representation (Information and Computer Technology capability); and identify and describe their intercultural understanding (Education Services Australia, n. d.).

The resources were chosen to specifically target these key objectives within the Information Skills Process (ISP) (Curriculum K-12 and NEALS, n. d.). I considered Bloom’s new taxonomy (BNT) and have attempted to focus on the Meta-cognitive aspects of Understanding through to Creating (Dalton, 2003). The key resource in this Unit is the fictional text, “Mirror = Mira’t” by Jeannie Baker (2010) . This text was chosen for this group of students for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it is an excellent example of the wordless, pictorial construction of the product that students are to create. Secondly, it provides students with an example text that represents their cultural domain. Pritchard (2009) suggests that cultural relevance, coupled with authentic learning tasks ensures both effective learning and high engagement. As a large proportion of these students are of Middle Eastern backgrounds they can relate to both cultural contexts presented in this text.

As students use the LibGuide they will build on their information literacy skills to Define their problem by gathering general knowledge about the world and specific countries using General References such as print Atlases or the Fact Monster website.  The Locating and Selection facets of the ISP is partly constructed for students through the LibGuide but students will gain experience in these important steps by making choices from the book selections, web resources and search engine depending on their focus country and the reading level of the resource. Students will further develop their Selection skills by working through the activities at the “Difference Differently” (Together for Humanity Foundation Ltd, n. d.) website to create a survey for a local community member from their chosen country and make decisions about the relevance of the information and images they find to create their product. Once they have Selected their resources, students will then Organise them for Presentation, leading to the final assessment of the effectiveness of their digital book as an explanation of their learning. The LibGuide resources provide a broad orientation of the topic for students as well as progressively more narrow topics to guide their thinking and searching.

At the professional level of development of the Guide, I used a variety of strategies to find the information required and assessed the value of each finding against specific criteria. Drawing on recommended texts across channels such as the Premier’s reading Challenge (New South Wales Depatment of Education and Communities, 2013) and using the Subject headings facility of the Schools Catalogue and Information Service (Schools Catalogue Information Services, 2014) cross-referenced with my school OPAC, suitable Atlases, Books and websites were identified. LibrarySpot (2014) also proved useful in identifying a suitably “easy-read” alternative to print atlases for students with lower reading abilities. Kathy Schrock’s “5W’s of website evaluation” (Schrock, 2014)  was invaluable as I assessed the resultant websites for reliability, validity and authoritativeness and heeded good web design principles to reduce distractions with unnecessary images and brief text. The majority of the resources chosen are government sites and therefore represent a good example of ‘trusted’ sites for students. Finally, a readability check of the resources allowed me to categorise them according to reading ease from Easy to Harder to Hardest for students to choose from. The readability check often proved considerably higher than what I expected but those chosen match the range of their abilities.

The experience of researching and creating this LibGuide has been very engaging. Whilst I was frustrated at times by the readability levels of the most interesting and engaging resources I had found, it revealed the importance of matching ability to resource to ensure success.

Overall, this exercise demonstrated the importance of closely matching Curriculum and student needs to resources, and ensuring that the resources chosen are accessible and available.  It also revealed that checking for reliability, validity and authoritativeness is an important task that sets and demonstrates high expectations for students when they conduct research.

(Revised Word Count = 793)

References

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