The Importance of Literature Across the Curriculum


Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives (Moore 1999 p19).

Today’s students are exposed to a vast array of information through a variety of formats. It is important that they gain the skills and the confidence to interpret and respond to a variety of different texts in different situations, to have the ability to question the attitude, values or beliefs being presented by a text, and to be able to read illustrations to gain meaning as exposure to visual stimuli is common place in any adolescent’s activities.  Traditionally literature and literacy were confined to the English classroom however; globalisation necessitates that a more collaborative effort is required. Literary learning and the benefits attached to this need to be embraced by all curriculum areas.

The Teacher Librarian (TL) has an important role in the promotion of literary learning throughout the school.  Through actively engaging in the leadership teams, the TL can promote literary learning as a whole school focus (ASLA 2012), and provide support and coordination for a literary learning program.  They can work closely with the learning areas to develop and enhance the collection with suitable resources to support the use of literary learning in the curriculum. By collaborating with and supporting teaching staff as they embark on this journey the TL can have a significant effect on student learning (Haycock 2007).

Literary learning provides literacy instruction and language learning (Khatib 2011) by exposing students to a variety of styles of writing, grammar and contextual vocabulary.  It promotes cultural awareness, provides a source of pleasure and motivation, encourages empathy and tolerance as they explore various points of view, and provides the tools for problem solving and conflict resolution.  Literary learning enhances the curriculum by allowing students an insight into the topic through first person narrative.

The use of literature throughout the curriculum helps students broaden their life experiences. Through literature students can feel what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes, visit new places, meet new people, visit different points in history, be exposed to different cultures  and do things they would not have otherwise been able to do (Roe 2006). This helps students to develop empathy, sympathy, and tolerance for viewpoints other than their own and allows them to consider several perspectives simultaneously when discussing an issue (Kidd 2013). By accessing literature which provides a broad view of a topic students are encouraged to think more deeply and critically. The TL can, with a solid knowledge of the curriculum and contemporary issues, ensure that resources are available and provide a broad and balanced viewpoint.


Reading about areas of universal interest allows children to learn to deal with conflict and to problem solve. It also helps them feel that there are others living in similar situations, feeling the same emotions and struggling with the same issues. Literature can give students insights into how to deal with conflict in their own lives (Khatib 2011). The TL should ensure that suitable books, in a variety of formats, are available that address the issues of a contemporary society including, for example,  alternate family situations, drugs, cyberbullying, environmental issues and global conflict.


The use of visual information in picture books, graphic novels and film can complement or reinforce the story or enhance and extend the text. Pictures convey meaning and open new opportunities for interpretation (Giorgis et al., 1999).  The TL needs to ensure that suitable materials are available in a variety of formats and genres including picture books and graphic novels, film, and interactive websites.  In collaboration with the classroom teacher, the TL can assist in the support or development of programs to explore a variety of types of material (ASLA 2012).


The provision of, and teaching through, multicultural literature can help develop tolerance and an appreciation of people from different cultures while providing children from such groups a connection to their own cultures (Dickinson & Hinton-Johnson 2007).  Learning about the similarities and difference between cultures further students understanding of their world (Khatib 2011).The TL must ensure that the collection includes a variety of material to support the needs of the school community including multicultural and indigenous material suitable for the representative cultures in the school as well as materials to support the needs of the curriculum.


As with anything, students are more likely to become masterful at something they enjoy. According to Moore et al (1999) it is important to ensure adolescents have access to a variety of material that they want to read. The TL must engage with students to determine their needs and interests and ensure the collection reflects these. Making time for recreational reading and using high-quality literature help to develop enthusiastic readers and improve achievement (Block & Mangieri, 2002). By providing a collection that includes quality resources, an environment that encourages recreational reading and programs that encourage this activity, the TL can promote reading and its benefits not only in English classes but across the curriculum



 The scope for literary learning in Year 7 Geography.

The Australian Curriculum bears testament to a new paradigm where incorporating literacy into all domains of education is becoming the norm.  All subject areas now include explicit references to literacy and provide opportunities for literary learning. In this article the scope of literary learning pertaining to the “Water in the World” topic which is part of the Australian Curriculum for year 7 Geography (ACARA n.d) will be analysed. In this topic the following content descriptors are the focus:

  • The economic, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic value of water for people, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and peoples of the Asia region(ACHGK041)
  • The ways that flows of water connect places as it moves through the environment and the way this affects places (ACHGK038)
  • Present findings, arguments and ideas in a range of communication forms selected to suit a particular audience and purpose; using geographical terminology and digital technologies as appropriate (ACHGS053)

In ACHGK041 students are required to look at the different ways water in its different forms is perceived and valued as a resource.  The value of using literature in this component of Geography is to explore the different perspectives of stakeholders.  Students who have read literature such as historical fiction, memoirs, biography or autobiography, which provides a first person narrative, can gain an understanding of different viewpoints regarding the importance of water and its value to different groups for different reasons. Historical fiction helps students become more involved in the everyday lives of people from all walks of life and times (Groce & Groce 2005). Using narrative is a primary way for people to make sense things beyond their own experiences (Lehman 2007) and helps to develop empathy for others and their circumstances (Kidd 2013). The value of water can be explored by considering stories about farming (economic), aboriginal (cultural), recreational use (social) and tourism (aesthetic).

By examining various examples of literary fiction, exposing students to their perspectives and discussing the language in a text that encourages the reader to feel empathy, students can develop a more critical standpoint when considering a text. This type of study provides an opportunity for students to recognise that one text is not, by itself, a representative view on a topic. They need to be able read and evaluate its significance in terms of its point of view or bias.  Using literature in this case would provide starting points for class discussions.

Through his research Kidd (2013) has shown that reading literary fiction seems to improve the ability of students to perceive the world from a variety of perspectives at the same time. With an appreciation of the needs of various groups, students can give a broader and better considered presentation on a topic like the value of water, which is full of multilayered and conflicting ideals.

ACHGK038 looks at the way in which water moves through the environment, its interaction with the environment and how it affects places.  The processes involved with water movement in the environment such as the water cycle are investigated initially followed by a closer inspection of the way humans have changed the flow of water through manipulation and land use and its consequential effect on places. Due to the contemporary nature of this theme there is a large pool of literature available on this topic. Traditionally this may have been taught through textbooks, encyclopaedia, teacher centred discussion and other such strategies.  The relatively recent addition of non-fiction picture books to our book shelves (Gill 2009) has provide opportunities to use this kind of literature as a centre piece or starter in many content driven subjects.  Non-fiction picture books are an ideal way to introduce or enhance the “Water in the World” topic and provide opportunities for discussion.  They also provide opportunities for students to develop their visual literacy as they draw information from the pictures as well as the text.


In ACHGS053 students are required to create communication products incorporating geographical terminology and present arguments based on the knowledge gained from the “Water in the World” topic. The exploration of literature helps to develop a student’s grammar, sentence structure and writing skills improving the general presentation of their communication products. Literature assists with the use and understanding of unusual contextual words (MacIntyre 2014) which relates directly to ACHGS053. Seeing vocabulary used in context and developing a clearer understanding of its meaning will encourage students to use these words in the correct context in their writing.  Literature can also be used as scaffolding for these types of projects.  Students can be encouraged to attempt a communication product in a similar style to a literary work or they can adopt a similar theme.

There are several issues that may impede the use of literature for this topic. To fully appreciate literature and explore a variety of materials takes time and this can be problematic in a heavily content-based subject like Geography. For this reason shorter texts and learning activities may be more useful, however finding suitable, contextually relevant and age appropriate material can be difficult.  Picture books could be ideal for exploring but sourcing more sophisticated styles of picture books suitable to the age group and topic can be challenging. Other short texts such as poems or film would also be appropriate to use for this reason.

Another impediment to the suitability of resources is the use of geographical terminology. Literature, unlike textbooks, has not necessarily been written with the purpose of teaching geography in mind and therefore may not use the relevant geological terms desired by the curriculum.  The TL needs to source literature that preferably uses geographical terminology in its narrative to assist students with the development of this language.

As it is much easier for teachers, inexperienced in teaching from and with literature, to use traditional text books for exploring this topic, the TL may find it challenging to encourage teachers to adopt literary learning techniques. The TL has a vital role in engaging and supporting classroom teachers to include literature which enhances the content of the Geography, in this case, and providing scaffolding to assist them to successfully implement this in their learning programs


Teaching and Learning Strategies

The TL can assist classroom teachers through the collaborative development of learning programs and by suggesting resources and suitable learning strategies.  Some strategies that may be useful for incorporating literary learning into the geography classroom specifically to the content descriptors ACHGK041, ACHGK038 and ACHGS053 are reading aloud, literature circles and project based learning.

Reading Aloud

Reading aloud is a highly enjoyable experience for both teachers and students (Serafini (2011).  It allows all students including those that are lower in ability or with English as a second language (ESL) to participate, as often auditory skills are higher than visual ones (Delo 2008).  Texts would need to be age appropriate, highly relevant to the curriculum with a level of sophistication to encourage deeper thinking, and should contain appropriate contextual vocabulary.  This technique would be best used as a starter or centre piece of a bigger study rather than a standalone learning activity.  In order to assist students to get more complex information from the book, the teacher should ask open-ended questions to encourage active thinking about the text and careful observation of illustrations that would encourage deeper comprehension of the text. This should naturally lead into discussion about the concepts being discovered or enhanced through the text.  The TL may have to collaborate or team-teach with inexperienced classroom teachers to role model appropriate use of this strategy.  The following texts would be ideal for introducing the topic of water flowing through the environment or as a way of providing a framework for an assessment task.

All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon (2011) provides an overview of the water cycle in a non-fiction poetry genre. The book includes some very creative artwork which gives a sense of flow and includes interesting descriptive words as well as relevant geographical terminology. This resource begins to develop the idea of water flowing through the environment and, with its discussion of water as a finite resource, it leads on to thinking and discussion regarding water’s value, thus relating to both ACHGK038 (ACARA n.d.) and ACHGK041 (ACARA n.d.).

Another non-fiction picture book with more detailed visual illustrations is A Drop of Water (Morrison, 2006) which follows the journey of a drop of water through the ecosystem.  It has more real life and very detailed illustrations and, as it starts and ends with a drop of water dripping from a boy’s hand, it tends to make the concept of the water cycle a personal one rather than an isolated process.

Literature Circles

Literature Circles is another way of exploring a topic or theme through literature. Students naturally learn from each other and literature circles exploit this fact. They are a way of exploring a text within a small collaborative group, in which each student must take responsibility and be accountable, by encouraging a personal and critical response (Barone 2012, Sanacore 2013).  Pearson (2010) writes that group talk occurring during literature circles allows for a joint interpretation of the story. Students exposed to the opinions and perspectives of others gain a more extensive view and enhanced comprehension (Barone 2012). Typically students choose, or are assigned, roles and each student is expected to contribute and respond to the others’ comments in a respectful way (Fisher & Frey, 2008).

However the skills required to have a successful literature circle need to be developed. All students must be shown how to communicate appropriately and respectfully.  It is important that the role descriptions for each student in the group are clear and that the teacher monitors groups carefully, quickly dealing with confusion about role, and any inappropriate responses to others. Students who have not worked in this way before may need scaffolding questions to assist them. Short texts may be useful to encourage discussion in class as they are not overwhelming and hard to remember and it could all be completed in one class.

My Place by Nadia Wheatley (2012) is a beautifully illustrated and fascinating picture book from the historical fiction genre in which a snapshot of each decade in the history of a particular place is shown through the eyes of a child.  The illustrations show a map of the area and the development that occurs through time.  This book is ideal for the discussion of the social, cultural and aesthetic value of water in ACHGK041 (ACARA n.d.), as the creek is referenced in most decades and it is in obvious decline. The map shows industrial development along the creek and the changes to its flow and use through the decades. It would be ideal for students to read, then re-read looking at the illustrations more carefully and then to read it backwards searching for specific issues relating to the water in the creek.  The book has plenty of support material including a teacher’s guide  and a television series and interactive website to support the television series.  The television series is not directly useful to the content of Geography but may be suitable to revisit in history providing an ideal cross curricula activity.

The Rabbits (Marsden and Tan, 1998) is a highly visual picture story book depicting the colonization of Australia in the form of rabbits.  The effect of the “rabbits” invasion on the environment is alluded to in both the illustrations and the text. The book would support both content descriptor ACHGK038 and AVHGK041 as it provides visual and textual clues to the change in land and water use and its effect on the environment as a whole.  In discussion of this book students may also be able to discern the perspectives of the value of the land and water resources of the different groups. Although not written by an Indigenous author, it clearly considers the perspective of Indigenous people. This book has plenty of support material with a teacher guide and lesson plans.  It also has a partial video on youtube which, although it only deals with half the book, could be used as a starter and may also act as motivation to continue reading and find out what happens next. Again the students can work through the pages, in small groups, discussing the meaning of what they see and to look specifically changes to the environment due to land and water use.

Project Based Learning

Project based learning (PBL) is a student centred approach where students construct their own knowledge and create a meaningful product which demonstrates what they have learnt (Grant 2002).  PBL works best when the product is authentic such as investigations, problem solving and design. PBL can be used effectively to get students to complete projects that demonstrate competencies in entire learning outcomes.  Research constructed by Somers et al. (n.d.) suggests that PBL encourages students to become more active and critical readers.

Although a powerful learning strategy if used correctly, some instruction on expectations, responsibilities and appropriate group skills, and some scaffolding to support students may be necessary if they are inexperienced in this type of activity. It is important that students are assessed not only on the final product but also the individual contributions which will require constant monitoring by the classroom teacher. PBLs can be time consuming to set up and demanding to facilitate and assess.  Depending on the students’ abilities and previous experience they can be slow to start and due to the individuality of each group’s product they may finish the task at different times which can create difficulties in the preparation of a learning program. Projects should be student driven which means the teacher must be very clear about their expectations and be prepared to assessment a wide variety of interpretations.

Tidilik the frog, by various authors, provides an opportunity to include Aboriginal stories into the water discussion.  There are many versions of the story available on Youtube as well as a variety of versions of the children’s book, one of which is by Anne Faundez (2004).  Students could demonstrate the value of water ACHGK041 (ACARA n.d.) through the creation of a dreamtime style story or animation based on the style of Tidilik the Frog.  In the case of the PBL the story could be about the effect of damaging a water supply on a community. Students could view a variety of formats of the Tidilik story for inspiration and chose the type of product they wish to complete.


The TL can encourage the development of literary learning across the curriculum by working with leadership teams to establish a whole school focus, having an excellent knowledge of the curriculum and its scope to include literary learning, and by having an understanding the needs of the school community.  By working closely with classroom teachers, and learning areas, to support, promote and develop literary learning in their learning programs, the TL ensure that all students can access the benefits of language development, broadened life experiences and enjoyment that reading literature can provide.


Reference List

Australian School Library Association (ASLA). (2012). Standards of Professional Excellence for Teacher Librarians.   Retrieved 23rd January, 2014, from


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d.). Australian Curriculum – Geography.   Retrieved 26/1/14, 2014, from


Barone, D. (2012). Building Background Knowledge within Literature Circles. Voices from the Middle, 20(1), 10-15.


Block, C. N. (2002). Recreational Reading: 20 years later. The Reading Teacher, 55(6), 572.


Daniels, H. (2002). Literature Circles – Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups (second ed.). Ontario: Stenhouse Publishers.


Delo, L. (2008). Reading Aloud: Integration Science and Literature for all Students. The Science Teacher, 75(5), 33.


Dickinson, G,  Hinton-Johnson, K. (2007). Integrating Multicultural Literature in Libraries and Classrooms in Secondary Schools.  Retrieved from


Faundez, A. (2009). Tiddalik the Frog. Hinkler Books Pty, Limited.


Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). What Does it Take to Create Skilled Readers? Facilitating the Transfer and Application of Literacy Strategies. Voices from the Middle, 15(4), 16-22.


Gill, S. R. (2009). What Teachers Need to Know About the “New” Nonfiction. The Reading Teacher, 63(4), 260-267. doi: 10.1598


Giorgis, C., & Johnson, N. (1999). Children’s Books: Reading Aloud. The Reading Teacher, 53(1), 80-87.


Grant, M. M. (2002). Getting a Grip on Project-Based Learning: Theory, Cases and Recommendations. Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, 5(1).


Groce, E., & Groce, R. (2005). Authenticating Historical Fiction: Rationale and process. Education Research and Perspectives, 32(1), 99-120.


Haycock, K. (2007). Collaboration: Critical Success Factors for Student Learning. School Libraries Worldwide. 13(1), 25-35


Khatib, M. (2011). Why and Why Not Literature: A task based approach to teaching literature. International Journal of English Linguistics, 1(1).


Kidd, D. C., & Castano, E. (2013). Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind. Science, 342, 3.


Lehman, B. (2007). Skills Instruction and Children’s Literature: Literary study across the curriculum. (pp. 43-56). New York: Teachers College Press.


Lyon, G. E., & Tillotson, K. (2011). All the Water in the World. Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


Marsden, J., & Tan, S. (1998). The Rabbits. Sydney: Hatchette Australia.


Moore, D. W., Bean, T. W., Birdyshaw, D., & Rycik, J. A. (1999). Adolescent Literacy: A Position Statement for the Commission on Adolescent Literacy of the International Reading Association. pp.19


Morrison, G. (2006). A Drop of Water. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Pearson, C. (2010). Acting Up or Acting Out? Unlocking Children’s Talk in Literature Circles. Literacy, 44(1), 3-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-4369.2010.00543.x


Roe, B. D., Ross, E. P., Frank, C., Grossi, J., & Stanfield, D. (2006). Integrating Language Arts Through Literature and Thematic Units. Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.


Sanacore, J. (2013). “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”: Literature circles as reflective practice. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 86(3), 116-120. doi: 10.1080/00098655.2013.773270


Serafini, F. (2011). Creating Space for Children’s Literature. The Reading Teacher, 65(1), 30.


Somers, J., Adams Androne, H., & Polacheck, A. (2006). Critical Reading Outcomes and Literary Study of Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Mountain Rise: The International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3(1). doi:


Thomas, J. W. (2000). A Review of Research on Project Based Learning.


Wheatley, N., & Rawlins, D. (2012). My Place. Walker Books Australia.

Resource Description and Access: a critical reflection on ETL505

Internet information retrieval has become an extremely important part of our lives. With the increased quantity of information has come more complex and less credibility sources.   The overwhelming amount of information  can make it more difficult to find exactly what we want (Hider, 2012). ”Information and our ability to retrieve select, evaluate, process and use it are pivotal to the survival and success of individuals, groups, organisations and communities” (Rowley, 2008). Thus information organisation improves access (Hider, 2012) and provides details of resource attributes to assist users in the selection process (Hider, 2012).  It is the science of describing and recording resources in such a way as to ensure the best resources can be accessed, identified, selected and located by users in a timely and effective manner.

Find, identify, select and obtain are the user tasks of Functional Requirements of Bibliographic Records (FRBR) and have become somewhat of a mantra for all information agencies. All aspects and developments of cataloging and classification stem from the users’ needs to perform these four tasks. As part of the  continual improvement process, information agencies are moving from Anglo-American Cataloging Rules (AACR2) to Resource Description and Access (RDA).  The advantages of RDA includes an ability to cope with the increasing variety of media formats with the greater focus on content  and an entity-relationship approach which supports the FRBR user tasks.

Quality resource description requires well-chosen subject headings to provide better access for users looking for particular information.   Choosing of subject headings is challenging as this at first seems very much open to interpretation of the cataloguer.  Knowing what headings are most likely to provide best for the particular clientele in the library is also a difficult decision. Ideally, users should be able to  use familiar terms to display a set of resources that are very close to their topic.  The more detailed the subject heading are that are attached to a resource, the more likely it will come up in an irrelevant search.  This effects the users’ ability to select suitable resources easily.  Choosing appropriate subject headings are therefore crucial to support the FRBR user tasks.

Although quite complicated to work with initially, somewhat like learning a new language, the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) plays an important part in both resource description, but possible more importantly in a school setting, resource location.  Together with support from the SCIS Standards from Cataloguing and Data Entry, the DDC can be modified slightly to suit different user groups.

As I have worked through this subject what has become glaringly obvious is the lack of continued skill development amongst library staff.  Many did not know what RDA was, nor did they that SCIS cataloguing rules modify DDC numbers to accommodate the needs of the school library users.  They were unaware that DDC is web based and did not realise that subject headings can be searched for and created in SCIS relying instead on old paper copies of these tools.  This highlights a major area of concern in the continuing tenuous state of school libraries.  A lack of support for ongoing professional development to maintain currency, library cataloguing needs are being outsourced reducing the need for specialist staff and devaluing of librarianship as a profession. On top of all the other tasks that a TL must perform I think that maintaining skill currency of the library team need to be a priority.



Hider, P. ( 2012). Information Resource Description: Creating and Managing Metadata. London: Facet Publishing.

Rowley, J.E. & Hartley, R. (2008). Organizing Knowledge: An Introduction to Managing Access to Information (4th Ed.). Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Digital Learning Environments: a critical reflection on ETL 523

The provision for a Digital Learning Environment is of utmost importance if schools believe that they are responsible for preparing students for the life outside of school (Greenhow 2010).  By providing students with learning experiences that encompass the internet, the school provides opportunities to develop their skills as safe and responsible digital citizens.

Although I felt confident in my understanding of the need for a DLE in schools, I had little understanding at the beginning of ETL523 as to the barriers that prevented schools from moving forward and embracing the technology and pedagogy which entail.  I was also unaware of the extent of the digital divide, not only between Australia and the world but also between capital cities and rural Australia.  After working as a team on the wiki, for Assignment 1, I advocated its use at my school I was not met with the enthusiasm I expected.  After some reflection I concluded that in order to effectively develop a DLE the school had to first develop its most important asset – its staff.

Staff can be hesitant to embrace the digital world for a variety of reasons:

1.The infrastructure – specifically the internet access is very poor and unreliable

2. Some staff are finding keeping up with technology just too hard

3.Some are frightened that they will try something new and fail in front of their classes

4. Some express a lack of time to explore, practice and troubleshoot the technology

5. Some felt that the students knew more than they did therefore it was unnecessary to develop their skills. (Bingamlis 2005)

All these factors are true but how do we move staff past these issues and support them to explore?

Firstly the school community needs to have a vision of what the DLE should look like, the expectations of staff, students and parents, and how this will be made possible (   From this, decisions need to be made regarding a consistent approach to workflow and where to find information.  What the skeleton of the DLE looks like?  What skills and knowledge are required at entry level?

Infrastructure needs to be put in place that supports the development of a DLE.  Slow or unreliable internet and inflexible work spaces prevent the development of a DLE as staff can not plan to use technology in their classrooms if there is a possibility that it will not work.   Constantly requiring a backup plan increases staff workload and lowers their confidence (Bingamlas 2009).  Combining the resources of the library and technical support into an iCentre would provide a hub of information support for all school community members ( The support role of the TL also lends itself to the mentoring and collaborative teamwork with classroom teachers as they explore this arena (Bonnano 2012).

The staff need to develop a Personal Learning Network (PLN). As part of this, a portal is needed through which the best information can be easily accessible and shared, and reduce “infowhelm” (Global Digitial Design 2013). The Teacher Librarian (TL) is best placed to curate and organize information sources in Diigo or a similar tool.

Next the staff need a digital citizenship program to bring them up to speed with the issues as well as the skills and behaviours needed to be a safe and responsible digital citizen, at the same time materials can be sent to parents outlining digital citizenship ideals and supporting them to understand the acceptable use agreement (AUA) they co-signed, encouraging a consistent approach at home.

The next important step is to provide professional development (PD) which is in context to support/encourage staff to incorporate the use of technology in the class and so provide opportunities to discuss and practise digital citizenship (Crowe 2014).  This PD needs to be targeted to the needs of the staff as a whole, as well as to individuals.  Observing of colleagues using the technology in classes provides opportunities for staff to see the use of the technology and the exploration of the issues involved prior to trying it for themselves.   Addressing digital citizenship and technology use within a faculty is a way to give staff contextual value and benefits, and encourage staff to develop their personal skills (Carey n.d.)

The development of the schools DLE is vital in order to develop learners who are not only safe online but can search, produce and share new information in an ethical and responsible way.  Our staff are the best placed to ensure students develop these skills, and as a team we can approach digital citizenship in a consistent way, providing ample opportunities for learners to practise and explore using and embedding these skills.


Bingimlas, K.A. (2009).Barriers to the Successful Integration of ICT in Teaching and Learning Environments: A review of the Literature. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science & Technology Education. 5(3). 235-245.

Bonanno, K. (2012). School libraries supporting 21C learning. Accessed 7th May 2013. Retrieved from

Carey, J. (n.d.). How to Infuse Digital Literacy Throughout the Curriculum. Powerful Learning Practice. Retrieved May 21, 2014, from accessed 10/5/14.

Crowe, T. (2013, May 20th). The Future of the School Library. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Crowe, T. (2014, April 30th). [Online forum comment]. Retrieved from

Global Digital Design. (2013). Infowhelm and Information Fluency. Retrieved from Accessed  13/4/14.

Greenhow, C. (2010). New Concept of Citizenship for the Digital Age.  Learning and Leading with Technology. 37(6). 24-25.

Research Assignment skills – Using a variety of information sources

We are in an information rich era and our students are exposed to an enormous variety of information sources.  Developing literacy in a variety of information types is becoming vital for students to be effective researchers. For this reason students should be encouraged to use a variety of information sources when completing a research assignment.  They need to be instructed to critically consider the value of resources they come across.  Books and encyclopaedias are not necessarily the best resources for all research, however, they do have a higher credibility, as the authors are paid, they go through an editing process and need to have demonstrated references from where they got the information in the first place.  This is the type of research product we should be encouraging from our students, product that shows credibility by being able to demonstrate, through referencing and attribution, that they did a thorough research.

Teachers need to be mindful of the following ACARA general capabilities when developing research assignments:

Level 5 – Locate, generate and access data and information using search facilities and organise information in meaningful ways.

Level 6- Locate, generate and access data and information using advanced search tools and techniques or simulations and digital models to locate and generate precise data and information that support the development of new understandings.

A sound research routine may be as follows:

  1. Do a brief google search or check Wikipedia to gain an overview of the topic. Wikipedia can be a useful resource to give you an idea of the topic and it may also have some useful references at the end of the article that are worth following up. It should not be the only resource that a student uses as its credibility can sometimes be questionable due to the variety of people who may contribute.  It is important that students learn to be critical of resources and aim to find other resources that corroborate the information they find. The video below is from common sense media and shows excerpts from a lesson on analysing websites which you may find interesting although this is only very basic.

  1. Check the library catalogue. In our schools case this can be done from the classroom via their laptops/iPads.  Most libraries catalogue not only books but also websites, and in our case DVC videos and journals through subscribed databases.  In many school libraries, with modern library management systems, the websites and journals are click accessible from the catalogue and can be accessed from school or home.
  2. Our library homepage includes links a variety of resources, two of these are links to online encyclopaedia and I would encourage this as the second step in any information search due to its credibility.
  3. The next stop for the more independent learner or year 9 and above, depending on what type of research they are completing would be Ebsco (database of journal articles) and Australian and NZ points of view (a database of curated articles on the different perspectives on a topic) also accessed through the library home page.  There are other useful links to resources that are credible include the State Libraries newspaper article database called Trove, ABC Splash, Flinkr for images, Creative Commons for all sorts of shareable resources (more about these in future articles)
  4. Then of course we have the Web 2.0 tools such as Diigo, Delicious,, Pin interest, facebook and twitter where groups are formed with common interests and articles and information is curated and grouped together (More about these in the future too).
  5. If searching google, or a similar search engine, students need to be mindful of the keywords they use to initiate a search to ensure they refine it as much as possible.  They should use search tools to assist in refining their search as the amount of information displayed can be overwhelming. (Better google searches will be discussed in future articles).

Students can be encouraged to experiment with a broader variety of information types by having it as an explicit requirement as part of any research assignment.  Eg.  Students are required to use at least 3 resources include 1 from each of the following: Physical or eBook, Encyclopaedia (online or physical), Webpage.  Obviously the expectations of complexity increase as the student moves through the years.

Always expect students to reference their sources.  This becomes more important as we work in the online environment and needs to become second nature for students to attribute those that have shared information with them through all manner of ways. And they too can expect others to attribute them when they start to share their own products

The Future of the School Library


Vision Statement

The Horsham College library will be recognized by all staff and students as the vibrant hub of the school, accommodating quality print and digital resources, as well a high level of information, curriculum, pedagogical and technological support.


Langley Teacher Librarian Association (2009) School Libraries are for Learning. Retrieved from Accessed 14/5/13


Major Issues –Curricular and Pedagogical Needs

1.  Resourcing the Australian Curriculum

With the roll out of the Australian Curriculum it is necessary to ensure the library has appropriate resources to support the new teaching and learning needs of our school. Curriculum documents are currently being written for the new curriculum and with this the library staff will be able to ascertain the status of the collection against the needs of the curriculum. They will also be equipped to make decisions regarding the number and type of resources required. Learners of the 21st century need a multi- modal approach, and resources needs to reflect this (Friesen and Jardine n.d.). Physical resources are still important to students at Horsham College at this time but increasingly over the next three years students will be embracing all online sources of information including eBooks, online encyclopedia and audio books as well as catalogued websites in addition to, or instead of, physical resources.

Students prefer to use the internet for their information needs.  In the recent 2013 Library Usage survey, staff and students said that they relied on Google for information rather than come to the library. Unfortunately, information found through Google is not necessarily credible and, despite what some teachers may believe, many students do not necessarily have the information literacy skills to be discerning.  By providing suitable resources in a more structured environment it will provide scaffolding for learners as they develop their information literacy skills. To achieve this, the library will have to continue to develop its eBook and audio book collections as well as the careful addition of credible websites to the catalogue, the provision of online encyclopedia and suitable databases.  Professional development for staff and students will be required to encourage its use.


2. Information/Digital Literacy skills

The Australian Curriculum incorporates Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills and ethical behaviour throughout all learning areas.  Important aspects are: evaluating information sources such as reliability, accuracy and validity of information; the use of technology to manipulate, communicate information, and ethical behaviour when it comes to the use of the internet; copyrights and social networking (Gillespie 2009).  There are concerns that student’s information literacy skills have not developed at the same rate as their access to technology, consequently they rely heavily on search engines and make little use of advanced search facilities and rarely fully evaluating a site (Rowlands and Nicholas (2008) cited in Lee and Finger (2010, p145–146)).  With a quality library program, student’s skills in these areas can be developed and more readily and easily be assessed and supported.  The search and information evaluation skills our students learn in the library will underpin all future information landscapes. (Perez 2011)

3. Professional Development to support ICT

Of equal concern are the information literacy capabilities of staff. The skilling-up of teachers in ICT is paramount as learners are often not introduced to newer more engaging applications because their teachers lack confidence.  With professional development and support, teachers will be more inclined to use ICT in their presentation of curriculum and assessment tasks (McKenzie 2004) Knowing that the Teacher Librarian (TL) and library staff will provide a safety net for technical aspects and the provision of suitable professional development will allow staff to take more technological risks (Wendy Stephen in Perez 2011).

4. Supporting 21st Century learning styles

Teaching has moved towards a constructivist approach, asking students to gather information, manipulate and construct new ideas and communicate these in creative and engaging ways.  It is less important for students to know, memorize, or recall information and more important for them to be able to find, analyze, share, and create information (Wesch 2009).  Because of this the library cannot fully cater for the needs of students in advance. This learning model requires a “just in time” approach to providing information and support, as students construct their understanding and go in different directions, rather than the “everyone together” style of the past.  To cater for this, staffing levels need to be improved to allow for access to the support students require.


Physical space and Technological Needs

1. External access

The learner in the 21st century expects to be able to get information readily and quickly.  The mainstream use of devices such as the iPod and iPhone, have set a precedent that information can be collected as required.  One of the issues this causes is the need for external access. A Horsham College Library Usage survey of both staff and students conducted in 2013 pointed to a need to access resources from the classroom and from home. With the increased reliance on online information access to the library externally becomes vital (Haye 2010, 2009).  The library must address information access as a priority in order to keep 21st century learners and teachers engaged.    The school has recently installed a new intranet system and is currently in the process of preparing to provide external access. Once completed, the library home page will be accessible for anywhere with internet access.

2. Engaging library interface

When the library is able to be accessed externally, a modern library user interface or Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) becomes the “shop window”.  Many young people do not find library-sponsored resources, including catalogues, intuitive and therefore prefer to use Google or Yahoo instead (Hough 2011). An upgraded interface will be more visually pleasing, user friendly, allow library promotion and will be personalized to the user.  It will also accommodate the variety of media types that are part of a modern library collection.  With this in place it will be easier to encourage a culture of including the library as a first stop for planning and research requirements. The Oliver Library system which includes the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) and the library home Page has not been upgraded since 2005.   A new or updated library system would provide newer capabilities and user friendliness.

3. Suitable spaces for 21st Century learning

The 21st century learning model era is participatory and collaborative (Davidson and Goldberg 2009 in O’Connell 2011). The library must reflect this in its furnishings and spaces by providing more group settings and group meeting rooms.  Spaces need to be flexible to allow for multiple seating configurations (Sullivan 2011, WBDG 2011).  The current research area would be split into 3 small rooms to provide for small group meetings, filming making, skyping and quiet areas to produce podcasts or vodcasts.  The current reading area would become a flexible research area with the ability to move tables to suit different requirements. Power supplies are needed to suit the requirements of the various devices used by the school community. Readily available software and hardware options that allow for shared project work must also be supplied.  Margaret Sullivan (2011), in her book Divine Design, also suggests that the provision of an outdoor area would be beneficial to students who spend a considerable amount of their time in front of technology.  The current large covered verandah space behind the library will be secured and will provide a pleasant all weather outdoor area for reading and performances. The area will require fans for summer and outdoor heaters for winter.


4. Central location for all information needs – iCentre

Staff and students require support for the maintenance of devices, the use of hardware and software, in sourcing appropriate information and in information literacy skills. Increasingly student laptops are becoming vital for engagement in classes.  Technical issues stall the student’s ability to learn.  The lack of availability of technical assistance is the cause for much frustration for both students and teachers alike.  An ideal development would be that of an iCentre. This is a central facility within the school where information, technology, learning and teaching needs are supported (Haye 2010, Hough 2011) by bringing together the library, information technology and a qualified team of information, technology and learning staff whose combined knowledge, skills and expertise collectively support the integration of 21st century learning into the curriculum (Bonnano 2012).

Personnel/leadership capabilities

Senior leadership team– The main role of this team will be in the provision of staff, workspace and budget allocations. The team’s open and active support of the actions required to achieve the vision will emphasise the importance of these changes and encourage a higher level of participation by staff and students.

Teacher Librarian– The TL will have excellent communication skills, a high level of professional knowledge, the ability to work effectively in teams, the ability to be flexible and considerate but remain focused on the goal and be informed and proactive about current curriculum documents (SLASA Teacher role statement).

The TL is responsible for articulating the vision, firstly to the senior leadership team and school council, and then to the general staff.  The TL will create and chair a team of individuals who have qualities that will move the vision forward.  She will need to collaborate with this team to plan and implement actions required to achieve the vision and will need to measure success and provide timely feedback.

The TL will also plan and provide suitable professional development/programs for staff and students to develop information/digital literacy skills.

Library technician– The Library Technician needs to have sound communication skills and be efficient and reliable in providing support in the maintenance of the library catalogue, managing borrowing and maintaining the library’s environment including displays and signage under the direction of the TL.  The Library Technician will also be required to provide assistance to the school community in finding suitable information sources in both physical and virtual formats and, at times, will be required to supervise the use of the library space.

Curriculum Coordinator (CC) – The CC must have excellent communication skills.  She must be able to work effectively in a team environment and be flexible and considerate but focused on the goal.  She is responsible for the coordination and communication of the curriculum needs of the Learning Area Teams to the Senior Leadership Team and other stakeholders. The CC liaises with the Learning Area Heads regarding their needs for equipment and resources to support their individual curriculum areas.  She will coordinate the management and maintenance of the school’s curriculum documents and will ensure that the TL is well informed of any changes made to the curriculum document.

eLearning Coordinator (eLC) – The eLC is an expert in ICT software usage and the use of intranet applications.  The eLC requires excellent communication skills and is responsible for providing professional development/programs to suit a variety of learning styles and needs for both staff and students.  To increase confidence and trust, particularly with staff, the eLC requires an understanding of adult learning principles. The eLC works collaboratively with the Technical Support Team (see below) to develop strategies for communicating new and useful components of the intranet and supporting the use of software and applications. He also works with the TL and CC to develop an information/digital literacy program that addresses the needs of ICT, and in collaboration with classroom teachers to strengthen all these skills in context.

Technical Support Coordinator (TSC) – The role of the TSC is to provide advice to the school regarding the development and efficient operation of the school computer network, the maintenance of all hardware and the installation of any networked software. The TSC will provide expertise to the school community on the feasibility of software/application use, hardware upgrades and also technical support for issues with school owned software.

Technical Support Team (TST) – This would be a new position in the school and would require personnel that are capable of dealing face to face with staff and students as they work through a variety of hardware and software issues.   They need to have excellent communication skills.  This team of people would need to be patient and capable of dealing with the variety of learners who may have computer problems.

Classroom Teachers – Classroom teachers are an important part of the leadership team (Teaching is leading) as they are experts in facilitating learning in the context of their particular learning area, they develop close relationships with their students and gain a thorough understanding of their abilities and skill level.  Classroom teachers have excellent communication skills and will provide a key link between Information/digital literacy and its application in context.


The Change Process

Year 1

Initially the vision needs to be discussed with senior leadership and support gained.  It is vital that active support is provided to both the TL and the team (Orridge 2009) for the vision to be achievable.  The TL should use their communication skills and resources, aimed at various levels, to clearly, concisely and transparently articulate the vision to all staff (Kotter, n.d., Orridge, 2009).

A team including a representative from the senior leadership, the CC, eLC, TSC as well as other interested stakeholders should be developed.  They will work collaboratively to translate the vision into action (Orridge 2009) by developing an action plan for the 1st year and a longer term strategic plan for the next 3 years. Developments within this group should be communicated to the entire staff and any concerns or potential improvements to the plan should be considered. Once the 1st year action plan is complete it can be implemented.

The senior leadership team will make the schools explicit learning goal to develop information/digital literacy and therefore all professional development activities for the year would revolve around this topic. Ideally the library system interface should be in place prior to external access coming online as this will reduce the need for further professional develop in the future. Initially staff should be encouraged to use the external library page to access the catalogue rather than using the OPAC computer in the library itself.  At the same time the eLC and his team will commence the roll out of professional development on various software initiatives.  It is important to provide clearly communicated instruction both informally and formally to suit the varying needs of staff. Once staff have gained confidence in these skills and applications it is important to encourage them to share with both colleagues and their students as this will reinforce their learning (Schifter 2008).  An orientation program for new students and staff coming into the school should be put in place.

The TL and team will have to work through some initial concerns about the change.  Many staff who are not currently comfortable with ICT may find the extra focus on this aspect uncomfortable.  These staff need to have a personalized plan that eases them through the process and helps them to feel confident.

The next important step would be to develop an information/digital literacy program to be included in the students timetable.  The plan for this program should be taken to the Curriculum meeting to discuss with Learning Area Heads as time will need to be taken from their timetables in order to implement a library program and considerable negotiation will be required.

Plans should be drawn up for the new iCentre and approved by the senior leadership team and school council after discussion with key stakeholders as to their needs.

Throughout each year the TL will work with the Curriculum Coordinator and Learning Area Heads to establish the resourcing needs of the school community and will act to ensure the collection meets these requirements.

It is important that micro achievements are recognized and celebrated during the process (Sharma 2011) as this will assist to engage the community.

At the end of each year the team should consider the actions it hoped to achieve, evaluate their success and begin work on writing the next year’s action plan.

Year 2

Communication of the vision and the progress the school is making towards it will continue.

The Information/Digital literacy program will be implemented with years 7 and 8, and a professional development program will be provided for staff to ensure they are able to encourage students to put skills into practice in context.

The renovations of the library will begin with the staff offices component and the eLC and the new technical support team will move to the iCentre location on completion.


Year 3

Implement 2nd stage Information Literacy program with year 9 and 10

Renovations to the library space end with the completion of the outdoor area. New furnishings are installed and all relevant staff have moved into centre.  The new collaborative spaces can then be completed with minimal disruption to the useable space.



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Friesen, S. and Jardine, G. (n.d.) 21st Century Learning and Learners. Western and Northern Canadian Curriculum Protocol by Galileo Educational Network. Accessed 17/5/13 Retrieved from


Gillespie, A. (2009). Early implications: the National Curriculum and Teacher Librarians. Incite. 30(10) pp10-11


Hay L. (2010) Shift Happens.  It’s Time to Rethink, rebuild and rebrand. Access (10300155)[serial online].  November24(4) pp5-10 Available from: Library , Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text, Ipswich, MA.  Accessed August 2012


Hay L. (2006) School Libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories… that’s what Asusie kids want Scan 25(2)


Hough, M. (2011). Libraries as iCentres: helping schools. Access. 25(1), pp. 5-9. Viewed 6 May 2013 retrieved from


Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

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Lee, M & Finger, G (eds). (2010). Developing a Networked School Community: A Guide To Realizing The Vision, ACER Press, Camberwell, VIC. pp145-146


McKenzie, J. (2004). Leaders in technology: role of teacher librarians. SCIS Schools Catalogue Information Service. Accessed 12/3/13. Retrieved from,html

O’Connell (2011). Web 3.0: Preparing our students for tomorrow’s world part 2. Scan 30 (4)

Orridge, M. (2009). 75 ways to help sustain organisational transformation. Change leadership developing a change-adept organization (pp. 35-52). Farnham, England: Gower ;

Perez L. (2011). Not Your Grandmothers Library! Learning & Leading with Technology Marxh 38(6) pp16-19 Available from: Education Research Complete, Ipswich, MA.  Accessed August 7, 2012


Shifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the Classroom Through Professional Development. Technology in the Classroom : Continuous practice improvement. pp250-279, Hershey: Information Science Pub.


Sullivan, M. (2011). Divine Design.  School Library Journal, 57(4), pp26-32


Wesch, M. (2009). From knowledgable to knowledge-able: learning in new media environments, Academic commons, Center of inquiry in the liberal arts, Wabash college, Crawfordsville. IN viewed 8th August 2012 retrieved from


Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG). (2011). School Library. A program of the National Institute of Building Sciences retrieved from

Reflection on Leadership


The ability to engage others with the library’s vision is very important and relies on excellent communication. The TL must be flexible and considerate of others abilities but maintain their focus.  As a TL it is firstly important to develop a suitable vision. It must be ambitious but realistic and inspiring to all stakeholders.  My vision for my school library is “the …..  library will be recognized by all staff and students as the vibrant hub of the school, accommodating quality print and digital resources, as well a high level of information, curriculum, pedagogical and technological support” (Crowe, 2013).  Careful collaborative planning of how the vision will be unpacked and implemented will need to occur to ensure that all staff can be encouraged to engage in the process and are not lost along the way.

The TL will have to use their communication skills and resources, aimed at various levels, to clearly, concisely and transparently articulate the vision (Kotter, n.d., Orridge, 2009, Maginn, 2005). It is essential for creating effective collaborative relationships, to motivate and engage by providing feedback and celebrating successes, and to facilitate a two way dialogue which creates an inclusive, empowering, encouraging and respectful environment in which to contribute (Orridge, 2009).  The TL needs to develop strong communication strategies in order to effectively communicate with key stakeholders. It is difficult to speak to people individually and staff meetings agendas are already very full. Innovative methods of communication would need to be developed.

Working in teams towards a vision encourages engagement and ownership of the vision. Consideration for the make-up of the teams to ensure a balance of skills and knowledge is necessary. A high level of understanding of the focus and direction is required so that the team stays on track. Collaboration allows for distributed leadership, “multiple sources of guidance …following the contours of expertise…through a common culture” (Elmore, 2000, p.15), and encourages creativity and innovation with the sharing of ideas.  In order for collaboration to be effective, the leader must encourage and promote respectful and productive relationships (Educational and Training, n.d.) which gives members confidence to contribute safely.  Suitable members on a team to support the library’s vision would include the TLs and library technicians, the eLearning coordinator, technical support technicians and coordinator and the curriculum coordinator as well as a member of the senior leadership team. It is important to invite members of the general staff to be involved to ensure that anyone who has an interest are able to have a say.

Effective leaders should have knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses, skills and experience of the school community and a continuous learning philosophy to improve these skills (Orridge, 2009).  According to Schifter (2008) professional development can be used to engage staff with the vision and therefore make an emotional investment. Professional development needs to be tailored to individual needs (Maginn, 2005).  The staff at my school have a huge variation in their ability to master new technological applications and require a variety of PD options such as short online instructionals for those that have some computer savvy as well  formal meetings for those that need a little more hands on help. 

According to (Sharma, 2011) appreciation and celebration are important factors for successful teams (Maginn, 2005).  It is important that micro achievements are recognized (Sharma 2011) as this will assist to engage the community. Cameron and Green (2004) state that motivating factors include achievement, recognition, advancement and responsibility, and Orridge (2009), promotes the importance of valuing your staff and valuing their skills, knowledge and experience.  Maginn (2005) suggests that leaders should actively measure and look for things to celebrate. “Success breeds more effort and more success” (Maginn, 2005) and the community can see that progress is being made.  As part of the libraries regular communication it would be important to celebrate the small milestones that are achieved that support the vision. This assists in maintaining high motivation and engagement.

The TL needs to be more than just the leader in the library, they need to take a whole school perspective. They need to have a clear vision of how the library will support the school community into the future and work tirelessly to see that goal to fruition. By extending the team to beyond the library and using effective communication, the school library will be seen as the hub of the school in years to come.


Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2004). Individual change. Making sense of change management a complete guide to the models, tools & techniques of organizational change (pp. 12-61). London: Kogan Page.

Crowe, T. (2013). The Future of the School Library. Assessment task 2 Part A. ETL504. Accessed via…school-library/

Education and Training. (n.d.). School Leadership Framework. ACT Government. Canberra.

Elmore, R. (2000). Building a new structure for school leadership, Albert Schanker Institute,

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Maginn, M. D. (2005). Managing in Times of Change – 24 tools for Managers , individuals and teams. USA. McGraw Hill.

Sharma, R. (2011). How to build a winning team – 5 best team building practices. Retrieved March 27 2013, from

Orridge, M. (2009). 75 ways to help sustain organizational transformation. Change leadership developing a change-adept organization (pp. 35-52). Farnham, England: Gower ;

Schifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the ClassroomThrough Professional Development. Infusing technology into the classroom: continuous practice improvement (pp. 250 – 279). Hershey: Information Science Pub..

The Concept of Leadership

Apologies as Concept Map will not transfer to blog.

Effective leaders have appropriate leadership attributes which assist them to convey a clear message and inspire followers.  The leadership concept map (figure 1) shows that to effect change successfully leaders need to use ‘consideration’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘celebration’ with communication as the driving force. Components that contribute to these concepts are; human leadership, understanding human resources available, technical leadership, the capacity to manage financial, human and physical resources, cultural leadership, developing a supportive culture, symbolic leadership, focusing attention on matters of importance and educational leadership, expertise in learning and teaching (Sergiovanni 1984 p. 3.), (Department of Education Victoria. 2007 p 4-9). These concepts are shown as overlapping as each relies on the rest to create an effective environment in which to affect change.

Communication is shown at the centre of the concept map as it is central to the main components. Effective school leaders use their communication skills and resources, aimed at various levels, to clearly, concisely and transparently articulate the vision (Kotter n.d.), (Orridge 2009) and (Maginn 2005). Communication is used to create effective collaborative relationships, to motivate and engage by providing feedback and celebrating successes, and to facilitate a two way dialogue which creates an inclusive, empowering, encouraging and respectful environment in which to contribute (Orridge 2009). A school leader must create a dynamic team and gleaner support, show them the big picture, walk the talk and gain their respect and their trust.

A school leader needs to have appropriate leadership attributes.  To be effective, a leader must be goal focused and communicate this vision with passion and energy, engaging people to a common cause (Sergiovanni 1984). They must possess technical management skills and experience to effectively manage the day to day functioning of the school programs. (Sergiovanni 1984).The leader must be persistent and able to problem solve as difficulties arise (Education and Training. n.d.).  They must be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the team as well as understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, employing a continuous learning philosophy (Orridge 2009).  The leader must be a role model to the school community.  Sergiovanni (2005) also suggests that they must have strong interpersonal skills with which to develop working relationships and enlist support. 

In order to build effective teams leaders must show consideration of the dynamics of the school community. On the Leadership concept map, ‘consideration’ refers to the way in which the needs, skills and experience of the school community are understood, acknowledged and valued. “Consideration” is made up of human leadership and technical leadership. Effective leaders should have knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses, skills and experience of the school community and a continuous learning philosophy to improve these skills (Orridge 2009).  As well leaders should understand the natural reactions to change (Maginn 2005) and assist individuals to move through this process more quickly. According to Schifter (2008) professional development can be used to engage staff with the vision and therefore make an emotional investment. Leaders should recognize when staff are at risk (Principal matters 2009) and tailor professional development to individual needs (Maginn 2005). “The concept of individual development is central idea underlying all teaching and learning” (Department of Education Victoria 2007 p 2). An effective leader also knows his own strengths and weaknesses and continuously strives to improve for the betterment of the team. 

Collaboration involves working as a team.  A high level of understanding of the focus and direction is required which is provided by communication. Consideration for the make-up of the teams to ensure a balance of skills and knowledge is necessary.  Collaboration is a culmination of human leadership and cultural leadership. Collaboration allows for distributed leadership, “multiple sources of guidance …following the contours of expertise…through a common culture” (Elmore 2000 p15), and encourages creativity and innovation with the sharing of ideas.  In order for collaboration to be effective the leader must encourage and promote respectful and productive relationships (Educational and Training n.d.) which gives members confidence to contribute safely. Celebrating successes assists to maintain motivation and engagement.

According to (Sharma 2011) appreciation and celebration are important factors for successful teams (Maginn 2005).  Celebration is characterized by symbolic leadership and cultural leadership in that it is clear what the schools vision is and there is a culture of recognizing good work.   It is important that micro achievements are recognized (Sharma 2011) as this will assist to engage the community. Cameron and Green (2004) state that motivating factors include achievement, recognition, advancement and responsibility and Orridge (2009) promotes the importance of valuing your staff and valuing their skills, knowledge and experience.  Maginn (2005) suggests that leaders should actively measure and look for things to celebrate. “Success breeds more effort and more success” (Maginn 2005) and the community can see that progress is being made.

To be an effective leader takes skill and experience.  It requires excellent communication skills, an ability to understand other people and assist them to move forward, to collaborate and work as part of a team, to provide feedback and encouragement, to maintain focus. Communication is the most vital aspect of leadership as this creates a conducive environment for collaboration, consideration and celebration.  These 3 aspects, working together, motivate, inspire and empower staff to work towards the vision for the common good.


Department of Education Victoria. (2007). The Developmental Learning Framework for School Leaders. Office of School Education. Melbourne.

Cameron, E., & Green, M. (2004). Individual change. Making sense of change management a complete guide to the models, tools & techniques of organizational change (pp. 12-61). London: Kogan Page.

Education and Training. (n.d.). School Leadership Framework. ACT Government. Canberra.

Elmore, R. (2000). Building a new structure for school leadership, Albert Schanker Institute,

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Maginn, M. D. (2005). Managing in Times of Change – 24 tools for Managers , individuals and teams. USA. McGraw Hill.

Sharma, R. (2011). How to build a winning team – 5 best team building practices. Retrieved March 27 2013, from

Orridge, M. (2009). 75 ways to help sustain organisational transformation. Change leadership developing a change-adept organization (pp. 35-52). Farnham, England: Gower ;

Schifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the ClassroomThrough Professional Development. Infusing technology into the classroom: continuous practice improvement (pp. 250 – 279). Hershey: Information Science Pub..

Sergiovanni, T. (1984). Leadership and Excellence in Schooling. Educational Leadership, February, 4-13. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from

Sergiovanni, T. (2005). The Virtues of Leadership. The Educational Forum, 69(Winter), 112-123. Retrieved January 16, 2013, from

A strategy for communicating a new digital literacy program to my school

You have developed a new digital literacy program that you believe needs to be used across the school.  How will you communicate this program to your staff?

Although digital literacy is an important part of the development of a student it is not necessary to involve all staff at its inception as it will not affect all staff directly at this stage.  To head straight to staff meeting would mean that 50% of staff would be yawning and wishing they could go and do some planning and this would affect the attitude of the remainder.  It is better to be more strategic in your approach.  (Let your ears do the talking 2012))

Initially I would begin by including relevant articles about digital literacy and its importance to the development of students to be fit for the 21st century in the libraries weekly newsletter.  This provides all staff with a bit of background and the sense that digital literacy is something that is important to consider.

While quietly marketing the idea I would develop a draft plan. The plan needs to be comprehensive enough to make sense and be doable but flexible enough to allow for the incorporation of others ideas and concerns.

I would then consider the hierarchy in the school.  Depending on the size and type of school it may be appropriate to initially discuss the plan with the Principal or Assistant Principal (AP).  In my case the AP on the Middle School Site would be the normal person to have an initial conversation with as they are my line manager and will take my message higher if required. 

When proposing the plan it is important to;

-Remain open to ideas (flexible)

– Carefully consider alternatives (some ideas may be better)

-Listen carefully to any issues (try to sort out many of these at draft stage or prepare to have good refutes in the future) (Let you’re your ears do the talking 2012)

Once the initial discussion has occurred, re-examine the plan and adjust accordingly and revisit with assistant principal demonstrating your have taken on board their comments and concerns.  This will encourage trust and show that you are a professional. (Forsyth 2009) It will also encourage stronger support of your idea when taking it forward.

For a digital literacy program in my school it is most suitable to approach the Humanities and English faculties.  It would be first appropriate to discuss the plan with the heads of these faculties with the AP also present if possible. I would lay on the coffee and cake at this stage (Thanks Frank!!).  Again be open to input and ideas and flexible to adjust to changes where appropriate.  The heads of faculty may have more “coal face” concerns. Once you have their support it is time to approach the staff of these faculties with the support of the leaders. 

Often times this is where the persuasive communication is needed as it is the teachers who are feeling time poor and they need to feel that this will be of maximum benefit to the students without being an unnecessary added burden.  The setting is important (How the communication Process works 2012). Again coffee and cake is an important factor as too is the more relaxed setting.  If the setting is formal often staff may feel that they are being told what to do.  If the setting is relaxed they will feel more like they are being asked for their opinion on how to implement the plan which encourages ownership. Start by explaining your vision and then you ideas of how to implement the vision. Again it is important to listen carefully pausing, questioning and paraphrasing to demonstrate that you are listening to their concerns and ideas seriously (Tracey 2012). After this meeting any necessary tweaks to the plan should be communicated back to let staff know that they have been listened to and strengthen the support for the program. 

I would not ask the staff to “Think pair share” or brainstorm in small groups.  I find that style of discussion off putting and annoying.  This may be necessary in a full staff meeting due to the size of the group but with only these two faculties it amount to about 20 people. Instead I would encourage a round table discussion and chair the discussion in a way that allows everyone’s ideas to be heard and keep the discussion on track.

A second meeting with staff to outline possible professional development to support them should be held and again any concerns be dealt with as flexibly as possible.  This professional development should be in a form that is as flexible as possible to allow for the differing needs and strengths of the staff. Eg: online, one on one and group settings or setting up mentoring within established triads (Klein 2012, Keengwe 2013).

Once the Humanities and English Staff are on board and the program is in implementation stage it is important to offer PD to the remainder of the staff to ensure that students are encouraged to use these new skills across the curriculum if the opportunity arises.  It also keeps staff skill level high and means that if staff roles change in the school they have still got a handle on the digital literacy expectations.

Forsyth, P. (2009). Understanding the process. Negotiation skills for rookies from rookie to expert in a week (pp. 11-30). London: Marshall Cavendish Business.

How the communication Process works (2012)

Keengwe, J. (2013). Multi-modal professional development for faculty. Virtual mentoring for teachers: online professional development practices (pp. 43-65). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Klein, S. (2012). Action research: before you dive in, read this!. Action research methods plain and simple (pp. 43-65). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Let you’re your ears do the talking (2012) retrieved from

Tracey, B. [Brian Tracey]. (2012, October 5th). 3 ways to improve your communication skills [Video file]. Retrieved April 11th, 2013.

Reflection on understanding and practise of leadership in a school library

Leadership in a school library requires the same attributes and processes as that of the Principal.  School Librarians require leadership attributes to assist them in their endeavors, including excellent communication skills.  They must consider the strengths and weaknesses, skills and experience of their library team when placing expectations on them and encourage continuous development of skills. They must employ their skills to lead in the cultural, technical, educational, human and symbolic arenas (Sergiovanni 1984), keeping abreast of constant changes to curriculum, pedagogy and technology and consolidate this into a vision for the future. 

Teacher Librarians (TLs) must be able to communicate the various stakeholders. They must have a set of communication skills that can be deployed to communicate the vision to a variety of levels and through various vehicles.    They must be able to communicate their vision in such a way that it paints a picture of the future and do it with such passion and energy that inspires stakeholders to “buy in” (Kotter n.d.).  They must also have the persistence to keep pushing their vision regardless of various barriers such as budget and avoidance of change by staff and students, and problem solve such barriers by sourcing other funds, providing training and celebrating successes.  

TLs must develop a culture that develops respectful and considerate working relationships with staff, students and the broader community so that members feel safe and capable of contributing. They must develop an inclusive communication program that allows the contribution of ideas from the community and values the knowledge and skills available (Orridge 2009). The communication must be two way to be effective and it needs to take the form of a variety of vehicles to ensure that members of the organization from all levels can comprehend and engage in the message (Orridge 2009). In the library this communication can be in the form of a suggestion box, email, blogs, surveys, and dialogue but it must be welcomed and acted upon and both constructive, positive and negative feedback should be encouraged (Sergiovanni 1984).  

A TL must have a sound understanding of the human component of the school.  They must know the strengths and weaknesses, knowledge and experience of the school community and develop these skills to help move the community gain success (Orridge 2009).  They must work out ways in which to engage the community to embrace the vision. The TL can do this by creating win-win situations, providing training and mentoring for stakeholders to ensure all are able to engage and contribute effectively.  When making changes to the library program the TL needs an understanding of how different people deal with change as well as how best to support them and move them through the process. Innovation is about problem solving to work around or through barriers to change.

Effective leaders believe in collaboration and cooperation and pick members of teams carefully, fostering healthy, respectful and productive relationships (Belbin 2010).  The TL needs to select teams from their comprehensive knowledge of the member’s knowledge and skills and strengths and with an understanding of their weaknesses (Belbin 2010). Team members need to complement each other to be truly effective.  They need to feel that they all have a say (Belbin 2010). Teams need to feel accountable and responsible for work completed and decisions made.  They also must feel appreciated when they succeed.

I have a new respect for the leaders around me and a new understanding of the depth of knowledge and skill I need to practice if I aspire to be a leader in my school.  Sergiovanni ‘s (1984) concepts of cultural, human, technical, symbolic and educational leadership has given me much food for thought and, is even today, quite a good way of showing the complexities of school leaders in a simplified manner.



Belbin, R. M. (2010). Chapter 9. The art of building a team. Team roles at work (2nd ed., pp. 97-106). Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved February 3, 2013, from

Orridge, M. (2009). 75 ways to help sustain organisational transformation. Change leadership developing a change-adept organization (pp. 35-52). Farnham, England: Gower ;

Sergiovanni, T. (1984). Leadership and Excellence in Schooling. Educational Leadership, February, 4-13. Retrieved January 24, 2013, from

Acquistitions and the School LIbrary


What are the benefits of considering the process of acquisition separately from the process of selection?

The benefits of considering acquisition as separate from selection is that once chosen books can be sourced from a supplier that will provide the best price or the best timing to get the book to the school.  We can also consider whether or not to support local businesses.   It reduces the chance of impulse buying and encourages buying specifically required books.

In what ways is information technology changing acquisition?

Technology has both increased the choice of supplier and reduced the time it takes to compare suppliers.  It has however added a new dimension to the type of resource acquired.  TLs now have choices to make as to whther we acquire the resource in a physical format or electronic format.  It has also added complicatiosn to the acquistition process such as licensing agreements and or adding websites to catalogues.

Examine the assistance being provided to locate suppliers for particular items given on the libraries Australia database: (you will need to join as a member). Easier to use and really quite attractive pricing wise is Booko. Another useful source is The Book Depository.

Is this assistance practical, or impractical?

This assistance is very practical I think and assists with what would have been a very time consuming process.  It allows the TL to find a more cost effective source.  It does however focus on the issue of budget and time rather than on the others such as supporting local businesses and format choices.

What are the desirable qualities that a preferred supplier should possess?

Suppliers need to be easy to work with in terms of their accuracy in filling orders and administration of orders.  Ideally they will be prepared to give schools a reasonable discount.  They should be able to supply requests in a timely manner and should be approachable and prompt in sorting out problems.  Suppliers will have good processes in tracking the status of ordered resources.

Determine what the acquisition processes are for the school library collection in your school or for a school with which you are familiar. Relate these processes to your reading and consideration for this section. Are there changes that you would like to see implemented in the existing process? How well do acquisition principles relate to the ‘real life’ situation in the school?

Our library tends to support a bookseller in Ballarat primarily.  We get books on appro from them fortnightly, these include mostly fiction but the occasional non fiction.  We select and then buy from these.  Perhaps we would be better to also check “booko” or similar to see if we can get the book more cheaply and get more bang for our buck.  We hunt a little for books in a given topic and once selected we have a few preferred supplier choices but more often than not we will simply ask Ballarat books to supply it with the next appro run. My observation in the last 10 months is that our library rarely goes out hunting for specific titles we just tends to go with the flow. The issue here is in selection – we need to be more proactive in working with staff to establish curriculum requirements and focus on supply these needs.  Our staff do not often encourage students to use the library they tend to use the internet in their own rooms with much scaffolding with regards to credible sites.  I am in the process of changing this. I feel that our selection process needs to change and then the acquisition process can be expanded.