Creating a pathfinder was a challenging and rewarding process. The topic for my pathfinder is the life cycle of a butterfly for Year 4 students. The following will be discussed:
- Curricular context
- Projected learning outcomes
- Search strategies
- How searching tools and sources were used and an evaluation of these
- Information literacy (IL) skills
- How a teacher librarian (TL) can utilise pathfinders in their role
The curricular context focuses on the scientific understanding that all living things have life cycles (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2013). The learning outcomes for students when using the pathfinder as a searching aid are as follows:
- Students will use ICTs to improve their ability to access information to solve their information needs (ACARA, 2013, General capabilities ICT section, para. 1).
- Students will develop knowledge and skills to interpret the language used in the pathfinder. They will develop the disposition to use these skills when using language for learning and communicating (ACARA, 2013, General capabilities literacy section, para. 1).
- Students use critical and creative thinking to evaluate knowledge, clarify concepts and consider alternatives. This enables students to generate their own knowledge and ideas for learning (ACARA, 2013, General capabilities critical and creative thinking section, para. 1).
These search strategies were used for the resources listed on my pathfinder.
- Diigo (2013) as a search engine. This was an effective search tool as the information found had been bookmarked by educators with similar information needs.
- NoodleTools (2013) to locate search engines other than Google. This was an effective search strategy as it allowed me to use the best search engines for my information needs.
- Readability was tested with a readability test tool (Simpson, 2013).
Non-fiction print books
- Online vendors used to search for books.
- Trove website (National Library of Australia, 2013). This was an effective source as you can specify what resource format you require.
- Selection criteria included appropriateness, scope, accuracy, treatment, authority, physical quality, aesthetic quality and literary merit (Hughes-Hassell and Mancall, 2005, pp. 46-47).
- An audio book for aural learners and EAL/D students was included. The audio book is useful for students that have a visual impairment.
- Judy O’Connell’s LiveBinders (2011) information, for alternatives to Google provided quality search engines for children.
- When using Diigo (2013) as a search engine, I found the MakeUseOf (Basu, 2010) website with suggestions for ten search engines that are appropriate for children.
- Readability of these search engines was tested.
- Used Diigo, Google, NoodleTools. These tools were effective as they provided a broad range of website resources.
- Readability for websites was tested to find a graduation of difficulty in reading levels.
- Educational criteria was focused on first, as websites need to meet students learning needs and be relevant to the curriculum before anything else (Herring, 2010, p. 40).
- Web design factors such as avoiding too much red and green to cater for colour blindness (Charles Sturt University, 2013, pp. 3-4).
- Websites with videos were selected to enhance the learning process for visual and aural learners. Websites with text and images were selected to enhance the learning process for visual learners. Interactive websites were selected to enhance the learning process for kinaesthetic learners (Hook, 2002, pp. 247-248).
Information Literacy Skills
On the home page I introduced the idea that some of the resources will be easy to read and some harder. I provided students with a legend to guide their selection of resources. This reading level guide allows students to independently evaluate the resources and provides an opportunity to select resources that best suit their reading ability. I placed a copy of this reading level legend on each page of the pathfinder that included resources to keep reminding students of this tool.
On the search engine and website pages Schrock’s 5 W’s of website evaluation model (2009) for students was embedded. Directing students to use these criteria before they start searching will reinforce the importance of good search strategies. This can then be supported by the TL when assisting students in their searching.
Role of the TL
Creating this pathfinder helped me to gain a deeper understanding of how a pathfinder is a valuable pedagogical strategy for the TL, to cater for the learning needs of many students at the same time (Hook, 2002, p. 243). Creating pathfinders for specific groups supports curriculum by providing a guide to a selection of quality resources. Pathfinders provide the TL with the opportunity to embed IL skills. By using electronic pathfinders students are developing their literacy and digital literacy skills. The pathfinder enables the TL to provide resource support for the school learning community. The TL can be a leader in introducing searching aids for students that support 21st century learners. These searching skills will be helpful to classroom teachers that may not have the best understanding of effective searching strategies (Valenza, 2004, p. 38).
The pathfinder supports the role of the TL both as a teacher and a librarian. Searching aids such as this pathfinder will enrich the learning process of the school community and embed IL skills for 21st century learning.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2013). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/Overview
Basu. S. (2010). 10 Search engines for kids that help out parents with safe browsing. In MakeUseOf. Retrieved from http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-search-engines-kids-parents-safe-browsing/
Charles Sturt University. (2013). ETL501 Web design basics [ETL501 Resources] [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://interact.csu.edu.au/portal/site/ETL501_201360_W_D/page/edb1d4f0-eb3a-4c4b-80fd-8e0037eb33f1
Diigo Inc. (2013). [Social bookmarking website]. Retrieved from Retrieved from https://www.diigo.com/
Hook, P. (2002). Creating an online tutorial and pathfinder. Law Library Journal, 94(2), 243-265. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/main-menu/Publications/llj
Hughes-Hassell, S., & Mancall, J. C. (2005). Collection Management for Youth: Responding to the Needs of Learners. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com
National Library of Australia. (2013). Trove [National bibliographic database]. Retrieved from http://trove.nla.gov.au/book
NoodleTools Inc. (2013). Choose the best search for your information need. Retrieved from http://www.noodletools.com/debbie/literacies/information/5locate/adviceengine.html
O’Connell, J. [heyjudeonline]. (2011). Knowledge 2.0: Search engines with a twist. In LiveBinders. Retrieved from http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=77617
Schrock, K. (2009). The 5 W’s of web site evaluation. Retrieved from http://kathyschrock.net/abceval/5ws.pdf
Simpson, D. (2013). Readability test tool. Retrieved from http://www.read-able.com/bookmarklet.html
Valenza, J. (2004). Substantive searching: thinking and behaving info-fluently. Learning and Leading with technology, 32(3), 38-43. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/learn/publications/learning-leading