As one of three teachers who developed this Year 2 history unit, the opportunity to collect data about my student’s information literacy skill development this semester added a new dimension to the way I have been able to reflect on not only my own teaching practice, but how we are approaching planning and implementation of Australian Curriculum Units of Work. In regards to the Australian Curriculum, this year has been a steep learning curve. Although I have taken on leadership in the planning and implementation of units of work, my confidence in my professional practice has been low as times. This is of course in line with Kuhlthau’s stage of initiation in the Information Search Process, feeling “bogged down and overwhelmed at the amount of work ahead.” (Kuhlthau, 2007, p18). This stage of initiation is certainly very much where I could see myself in terms using the new curriculum documents The information that I was able to reflect upon using the data collected from Questionnaire 1 and 2 was confronting, and made me question everything I was doing, from teaching style, to learning activities that I was developing for students.
The information I have gathered from the first and second questionnaires, also allowed me to identify patterns and isolate particular weaknesses within the construct of my Information Learning Activity. I found myself focussing on the negative aspect of these results, which I know will enhance my future practice, but it resulted in me having an overwhelming feeling of disappointment.
Using the results of the first two surveys I was able to make adjustments to activities that were previously planned. One of the significant adjustments that were made was looking at the role I was playing during the information gathering sessions. I became more aware of the fact that I needed to step back and let go of “control” of the learning environment, acting as a facilitator, to allow the students more freedom in the direction that their inquiry would take. As a result of my reflection I was able to observe my role change over the course of the Information Learning Activity as I moved from the “provider” to the guide or facilitator as students became more independent in their information gathering skills.
As a result of this change of role, additional research activities were developed to encouraged children to explore information sources in different contexts, and environments. I have come to realise that there are many incidental opportunities in the course of a school day to encourage children to question and seek out information about the various topics that are discussed. The results of the questionnaires therefore did not only see changes to my teaching practice as part of the Information Learning Activity in question, I also made me aware of the ways in which information literacy skills can be developed during the everyday course of a school day.
In addition to new discoveries, I came to realise that I was already providing many of these opportunities, but now have a renewed understanding of the theoretical principles that underlie my teaching practice. From observation these opportunities allow students to gain confidence as “information gatherers”
As part of my reflection as a result of questionnaire 1 and 2, I was able to identify firstly things we were doing well. In particular children were able to demonstrate a growing awareness of new information sources as lots of opportunities were provided for them to interact with primary and secondary information sources. It was clear that the children were able to demonstrate that they had increased awareness of an inquiry based process and have demonstrated an awareness of the need to find information from a variety of sources to gain new understanding of the given topic.
One of the significant weaknesses that hindered students’ progress as part of this Information Learning Activity was that as the classroom teacher, I did not consider the importance of explaining the inquiry process to my early years class. After analysing the students responses from Questionnaire 1 and 2, I came to the realisation that I had underestimated the students level of understanding. Through their responses they indeed demonstrated that they had an understanding of thinking processes and skills involved in an inquiry process. As part of the concluding part of this Information Learning Activity I only had a brief amount of time to formally outline stages of an information search process. Being an early years context I looked at exploring the TELSTAR model of inquiry with my Year 2 class. This exercise was limited due to time constraints. It is clear to me however the acronym has huge potential in an early years context as it is easily remembered and uses simple language to explain each stage of inquiry. I look forward to seeing the true potential of this model in future units of work.
Throughout this journey, I have felt overwhelmed about creating and implementing a history unit of work, and have also felt a great deal of angst in regards to my ability to able to successfully implement an inquiry based unit. Despite these feeling I have also become inspired to look more closely at how I can provide a learning environment to maximise opportunity for development of information literacy skills, in an inquiry context. Like my Year 2 students I continue to be on a journey of discovery. By analysing the results of questionnaire 1 and 2, I was provided with solid information I could use to evaluate my existing Information Learning Activity plan, to deepen the learning opportunities for my early years class.
Kuhlthau, C. C. M., Leslie K. & Caspari, Ann K. (2007). Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century. Retrieved 15 September 2012 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/guided_inquiry/introduction.html
SOSEAQ An Integrated Learning Community – SOSE Inquiry. Retrieved 28 September, 2012 from http://www.learningplace.com.au/deliver/content.asp?pid=50241)