Research undertaken during Phase 1 of the ILA enabled me to gather important data that was used to guide and scaffold further learning. This data was shared with the learning team that consisted of the two classroom teachers and myself. Assessment “should form the backbone of your planning and inform your teaching and learning decisions” (Wilson, 2013, p. 72) so using the results from Question 5 in Questionnaire 1 the learning team was able to respond to the common needs of the cohort. This initial survey guided what we now knew about students’ thinking, research skills and research behaviours. Commonly identified areas of difficulty after the initial survey were;
- Researching in books
- Using the internet
- Using images
- Asking questions
- Using encyclopaedias
- Working when noisy
During this inquiry process there were two main areas of responsibility; resources and internet usage. This is supported by Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari who view the school librarian as an “indispensable member of the instructional team” (2007, p.57). Inquiry learning is “the most challenging part of the role, requiring many skills, including intuition, insight, collaboration, flexibility and at times, enormous amounts of persistance” (Green, 2012, p.19). The information search process undertaken in this inquiry was not specific and the ILA was a busy time where small groups of students were working independently making this a perfect time to intervene and support the learning.
The Information Process (ISP) used was loosely based upon New South Wales ISP. Support was required during the locating, selecting and organising stages of the inquiry. As internet usage was the greatest area of difficulty I set about planning a whole class introduction to search engines during Phase 1 of the ILA. Demonstrations of Duck Duck Go, Quinturakids and Zuula were then presented and students had time to research in small groups or individually using computer nodes and iPads in the Discovery Centre. This lesson was followed by another informative session for the whole class based upon web site evaluation. We used Kathy Scrock’s The 5 W’s of Web Site Evaluation and made the Who, What, Why, When, Where and Why into a puzzle that groups put back together. The ICT capabilities of students has improved and can be seen graphically in the results. Using the internet was the easiest thing to do when students answered question 5 in Questionnaire 3 the second survey undertaken in the ILA.
The second area of difficulty identified from Questionnaire 1 was that of researching in books. Todd, Kuhlthau and Heinström recognise that during this time “instructional interventions typically focus on establishing information quality and relevance” (2005, p. 17) and guided inquiry is more than just finding information. During Phase 1 and 2 I was able to directly teach students how to use the contents and index pages in non fiction materials. The students were introduced to a information, source, page (I.S.P.) graphic organiser that we used to explicitly teach referencing. There was always time made for individuals who needed support with the location of resources in the Discovery Centre. Independent student use of the OPAC was good but some reminders of the geographical book locations was needed due to the age group of the students and the fact that these students were accessing non fiction resources from the main collection not just the Junior Room, some for the first time.
The actions taken enabled students to become independent learners who were able to collaborate, make meaningful connections and respond with authenticity to transform their learning. I attended Jeni Wilson’s recent Melbourne based PD on Activate Inquiry where the idea of small workshops that students can elect to do was introduced to me. Wilson strongly links meta-cognition to self-management and inquiry. Intervention is not just teacher directed but needs to be student centred Importantly “intervention strategies that foster reflection for deep understanding and basic inquiry abilities” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2007, p.146) are valuable and this process of professional reflection has helped me to better understand inquiry as a “messy process” (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012, p.2) and as Edna Sackson writes, inquiry can sound like chaos to those who don’t know about it!
Green, G. (2012). Inquiry and learning : what can IB show us about inquiry? [online]. Access; v.26 n.2 p.19-21; June 2012. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/fullText;dn=193381;res=AEIPT>
Kuhlthau, C.C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. (2012). Chapter 1: Guided Inquiry Design: The Process, the Learning, and the Team. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A.K. Guided inquiry design : a framework for inquiry in your school. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited.
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Chapter 2: The Theory and Research Basis for Guided Inquiry. In Kuhlthau, C. C. ; Maniotes, L. K. & Caspari, A. K. Guided inquiry : learning in the 21st century. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited
Todd, R., Kuhlthau, C.C. & Heinstrom, J.E. (2005). School Library Impact Measure. A Toolkit and Handbook for Tracking and Assessing Student Learning Outcomes of Guided Inquiry Through The School Library. Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries, Rutgers University. Retrieved August 6th, 2013 from http://cissl.rutgers.edu/joomla-license/impact-studies?start=6
Wilson, J. (2013). Activate Inquiry: The what ifs and the why nots. Education Services Australia, Carlton South.