Information and Critical Literacy: Aberdeenshire – a joint development event for Network Librarians and Literacy Co-ordinators

I was up in Aberdeen speaking at the Aberdeenshire Library and Information Services (ALIS) Joint development event for Network Librarians and Literacy Co-ordinators last week. It was a great day with librarians and teachers (primary and secondary), literacy co-ordinators working in partnership together seated at mixed tables (5 or 6 people at each table) to look at, discuss and work on Information and Critical Literacy material and activities, Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes. 

The first session was by Kathryn Russell, Literacy Development Officer ‘Literacy across learning: working in partnership’. Kathryn tasked the groups / tables with the following:

Literacy across Learning: working in partnership

Literacy across Learning: working in partnership

  1. Please give an example of successful partnership working between teacher(s) and librarian(s). What factors were key to success?
  2. Barrier / constraint to effective partnership: Suggested solution
  3. Looking to the future  … how would you like to see the working relationships between teachers and librarians evelove?

There was much lively discussion with ‘what worked’ going in a box in the shape of a book and ‘what didn’t work’ going in a small wasterpaper bin.  Sue Cromar, Information Literacy Librarian, ALIS who organised the event and is writing a guide to partnership working collected all the information. The guide should be available in August / September this year.

Next up was Alison Bruce, Information Services Librarian, ALIS  – online resources for pupils and teachers. Alison demonstrated Credo Reference using a Science Experience and Outcome relating to the lungs. The retrieved resources demonstrated had pictures and texts plus source citation. The resources could also be shown as a Concept Map (Mind Map, Spider Diagram) with items linked to the references. The map could be simplified or expanded and the main topic could be changed. It was very impressive.

After tea / coffee break I did a presentation and workshop on Integrating Information and Critical Literacy across the curriculum . The workshop centered on each group / table unpacking a Curriculum for Excellence Experience and Outcome.

Librarians, teachers and Literacy Officer unpacking a CfE Experience and Outcome

Librarians, teachers and Literacy Officer unpacking a CfE Experience and Outcome

  Participants in mixed groups:

  • choose a Curriculum for Excellence Learning Experience and Outcome – Science or Health and Well Being
  • unpack it using CfE template  created by Edinburgh Science QIO and used by Holy Rood High School, Edinburgh (link to  case study and template)  – unpacking is effectively a mapping exercise which allows the opportunities within the learning outcome to be explored.
  • link to Literacy across learning experiences and outcomes  specifically ‘information and critical literacy’ activities
  • identify relevant ‘information and critical literacy’ resources.

The workshop went well and it was interesting to hear the discussions and see librarians and teachers working in partnership to unpack their chosen experience and outcome. One school librarian was keen to replicate the exercise in her school as part of an in-service day.

After lunch there was a carousel exercise were groups (different groups from the morning) started at one table to hear about information literacy activities created and or used by Aberdeenshire schools:

Joint Geography Library Webquest

Joint Geography Library Webquest

Table 1: Evaluating online resources – using Learning and Teaching Scotland’s online Information Literacy material

Table 2: Note-making and mind-mappingRISK (Research and Investigation Skills) developed at Meldrum Academy by the Netwwork Librarian and teaching staff. A CD of the programme and material was included in the event pack of information given to everyone.

 Table 3: Webquests – joint working between Geography Principle Teacher and school librarian  

Table 4: Online resources – more in depth look at Credo Reference
Read it! Write it! Reference it!

Read it! Write it! Reference it!

Table 5: Plagiarism, referencing and bibliographies – A guide to referencing for S4-S6 pupils Read it!  Write it!  Reference it! written  by a school librarian who previously worked in Colleges. Copies of the guide was included in the event pack of information given to everyone.
Also included in the event pack of information given to everyone was a copy of :
  • Aberdeenshire Library and Information Service Draft Information Literacy Strategy
  • Libraries Supporting Learning from 0 – 18  Information Guide for Parents and Teachers

The day was a great success and Sue Cromar recorded aspects of it for the Libraries R 4 Learning Project: Information Literacy Multimedia clips .


Building the Curriculum 4: Skills for learning, life and work

If you haven’t read Curriculum for Excellence 4: Skills for learning, life and work then I would certainly recommend it.  I found it to be a very useful document which covers not just the school sector but everyone involved in lifelong learning.

It sets the context:

To meet the aspirations of Curriculum for Excellence, there will need to be changes in the way people think about curriculum, shifting the focus from a view of curriculum content as either ‘academic’ or ‘vocational’, towards curriculum as encompassing the whole range of knowledge, skills and attributes that contribute to the four capacities.

As we move forward, we need to build on and strengthen the development of skills across the curriculum. The focus will need to shift from the route to learning, and the settings where learning takes place, to the outcomes of learning, and the skills that young people need for their learning, life and work. (p4)

It sets the roles and responsibilities                                                               

All children and young people are entitled to opportunities to develop skills across the curriculum wherever and whenever they are learning. These skills are relevant from early years right through to the senior phase of learning and beyond, and into lifelong learning. All educators should therefore contribute to the development of these skills. (p.6)

It outlines who is involved in partnership working and their role:

Working with each other, and with other partners such as parents, employers, public bodies and voluntary organisations, can help schools and other learning providers to make the most of their contribution and recognise their part in promoting lifelong learning. In implementing the Experiences and Outcomes and planning for the senior phase of learning all partners, including learners themselves, will need to review the way they plan, reflect on and evaluate the development of skills for learning, life and work. (p.8)

On page 11 is a section titled Thinking skills across learning which to me looked very much like information literacy: 

It is important that all learners are given appropriate opportunities to develop their thinking skills. These skills can be developed across a range of contexts including through more practical or applied learning opportunities:

  • Remembering involves such activities as recall, recognition or locating information
  • Understanding might involve activities such as describing, explaining, summarising and translating
  • Applying requires the learner to use or apply their knowledge and understanding in different contexts
  • Analysing requires learners to break down information into component parts and search for relationships
  • Evaluating involves making an informed judgement about something, for example an issue or method. Activities such as comparing, appraising, prioritising, rating or selecting, could involve learners in evaluating
  • Creating happens when learners are required to generate new ideas and products through activities such as designing, creative writing, planning, reconstructing, inventing, formulating, producing and composing

Reflective questions on page 12:

  • What range of learning activities could you use more effectively to help to develop young people’s higher order thinking skills?
  • What kinds of questioning by both staff and learners might help to develop thinking skills?

 My answer to that would be – information literacy skills and school librarians / learning resource co-ordinators have the learning activities and questions / answers you are looking for.

Page 21 refers to placing learning within a practical context which the project has always found to be essential. In the context of early years there is reference to active learning which I heard a lot of at the early years sessions I attended at the Scottish Learning Festival.

Active learning is learning which engages and challenges children’s thinking using real and imaginary situations. It takes full advantage of the opportunities for learning presented by:

  • spontaneous play
  • planned, purposeful play
  • investigating and exploring
  • events and life experiences
  • focused learning and teaching

Building the Curriculum 2 – Active Learning in the Early Years, provides further guidance on the use of active learning to support children’s development of the four capacities.

Active learning should continue beyond the early years.

 On page 27 it provides next steps for different groups / categories to consider  – Pre-school and teaching staff; Pre-school, school and college curriculum leaders; Local authority staff; Colleges, universities, employers and others who recruit young people; Local delivery partners (Skills Development Scotland, voluntary organisations, associated schools groups, private training providers and Learning Communities etc); Parent Councils; National Agencies and bodies (Skills Development Scotland, SQA, SCQF, Sector Skills Councils, employer bodies); The Scottish Government.

Under Pre-school, school and college curriculum leaders one of the points is –

How to develop and nurture a shared understanding and common language between partners.

I think this is important not just for this group of partners but the wider partners listed above.

Finally the document has some exemplification to support the development and delivery of skills through the CfE and it is worthwhile having a look at these. It has given me an idea of how we show the development of information literacy skills / critical literacy / thinking skills to CfE experiences and outcomes that are information literacy skills or information literacy related activities.