Critical Reflection ETL501 Assignment 2

hay_nationaltlroundtableFor this assignment I created a pathfinder for year 3 students based on the Australian Curriculum content descriptor ‘Earth and Space Sciences’.

In this reflection I will examine how pathfinders enhance the use of information literacy skills and the important role the Teacher Librarian (TL) plays in the creation of these pathfinders to meet the projected learning outcomes of students. 

Learning outcomes:

Stage 2 students will: describe how relationships between the sun and the Earth cause regular changes (NSW Syllabus, Australian Curriculum, 2012).

The Australian Curriculum Earth and Space Sciences strand encompasses knowledge about how the Earth’s rotation and orbit occur and how this causes regular and predictable changes to take place on our planet (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2013).

General Capabilities: (ACARA, 2011)

  • Literacy

Students will develop competencies in language through knowledge and skill building and by interacting with others. This involves students listening to, reading, viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts for a range of purposes.

  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Access, create and communicate through a variety of digital technologies, working collaboratively and becoming responsible digital citizens.

  • Critical and Creative Thinking Capability

Students clarify and consolidate knowledge through deep thinking, imagination, creativity and innovation. Students develop understandings through actively planning and selecting appropriate information and forming conclusions based on the evidence and knowledge they acquire.

Critical analyses of search strategies:

While investigating websites for this pathfinder I utilised the Cyberguide ratings (McLachlan, 2002) for content and web design and also Shrock’s’ (2009) 5W’s of website evaluation as I was keen to see if each website I chose fit the criteria from a student’s point of view. This turned out to be quite a time consuming exercise and so the Cyberguide ratings and prior knowledge of my year 3 students were my tools of choice when selecting websites.

This assignment forced me to really think about the information overload and unstructured nature of the web (Ferguson, 2005) and to be critically selective in what I chose to offer students as the best options for their research. It was essential to cater for the visual, audible and kinaesthetic (Combes, 2013) learners as well as the vast range of reading levels and technical capabilities across this grade. The star ratings as suggested by Combes (2013) also ensured that I differentiated between the various sites in order to meet the needs of all students.

I also discovered the vast array of search engines available other than GOOGLE! Once I began using websites better suited to children I was able to locate sites which catered for students and spoke in their language, this was a revelation to me.

Critical analyses of information literacy skills:

As Wall & Ryan, (2010) suggest, it is no longer acceptable to simply give children information and have them represent it in a nominated format to demonstrate understanding. Preparing students for the 21st century is about collaboration,  critical and creative thinking and using Information literacy (IL) skills to enhance student learning, by being active participants in that learning (Herring, 2011). A pathfinder supports this notion, guiding students through the ever increasing maze of websites, however as Kuntz (2004) suggests, it does not do the work for them, it is simply a starting point which students may use to develop their own skills and understanding of how to find information effectively. Including print materials, online encyclopaedias, dictionaries and search engines allows students to inquire, create and independently investigate a variety of resources using various multimodal platforms.

What did I learn from the process?

Godfree (2012) advises that what we used to term “library or research skills” have now become essential skills for functioning in the modern world. We, as TL’s have a huge responsibility to help students develop these real-world skills through authentic learning (Todd, 2003).

Creating this pathfinder for me was like opening up a whole new world. The potential of web 2.0 and web 3.0 tools in my teaching and when providing resources for classroom teachers, has completely changed the way I view teaching and the dynamics of learning in the 21st century. I also see the necessity of website evaluation. It is imperative that students are given adequate knowledge of evaluation to make informed decisions about the information they find and its worth and relevance to their study.


Throughout this assignment and in fact through this course I have found myself agreeing with the constructivist view that knowledge is not a series of isolated experiences but an ongoing sequence of construction and connection of information (Herring, 2007). Information literacy is a perfect example of this. The pathfinder I created for this assignment is somewhat simple in nature but is targeted at year 3 students with very little experience at researching and navigating websites. Over time their skills will improve and they will build upon the knowledge they have gained as will I and I look forward to the next few years where I can put into practice my newfound pedagogical views and technological skills.




ACARA (2011). General Capabilities: Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority: Education services Australia:
Retrieved from:

ACARA (2013). The Australian Curriculum: Science, Year 3 Earth and Space Sciences. Foundation to Year 10 curriculum.
Retrieved from:

Combes, B. (2013) personal communication: Online meeting.

Retreieved from:

Ferguson, J. (2005). Evaluating web information. Why evaluate information found on the web? University of North Carolina. Retrieved from:

Godfree,H. (2012,September 4).  Teacher librarians crucial in info age. The Canberra Times Retrieved from:

Herring, J. (2007) Teacher librarians and the school library. In S. Ferguson (Ed.) Libraries in the twenty-first century: charting new directions (pp.27-42). Wagga Wagga, NSW: Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University

Herring, J. (2011). Assumptions, Information Literacy and Transfer in High Schools. Teacher Librarian, 38(3), 32-36.

Herring, J. E., & BushS. J. (2011). Information literacy and transfer in schools: implications for teacher librarians. Australian Library Journal, 60(2), 123-132.

Kuntz, K. (2004). Pathfinders: Helping students find paths to information. The Online educator. Retrieved July 30, 2013.

McLachlan, K. (2002). Cyberguide Ratings. East Know High School. Retrieved from:

Schrock, C. (2009). 5W’s of website evaluate. Retrieved from:

Todd, R. (2003).  WASLA Conference: Authentic research and authentic learning through school libraries. Retrieved from:  PowerPoint.

Wall & Ryan (2010) Resourcing for curriculum innovation: Learning in a changing world








About karynjansen

I am married and have two sons,21 and 17. I have been teaching for 27 years and still love it.
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