Critical Reflection -501- pathfinder

Critical Reflection

Creating a pathfinder evolved into something far more than merely completing a task. It has been an influential process in which both curriculum resource creation and the notion of the Teacher Librarian’s (TL) role and purpose have been analysed and evaluated.


Topic: Festivals and Celebrations – Stage 3 HSIE celebrations unit

 Group: Year 5   Age:  c. 9 -11years HeckenbergPublic School (HPS)


Context and projected learning outcomes when using the pathfinder

General capabilities (GCs) of the Australian Curriculum

– Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

– Intercultural Understanding

  • Capabilities taught across curriculum areas so students recognise

a) relevance b) interconnectedness (ACARA , 2011) ( ACARA, 2013)

  •  Chosen because a topic of this nature is often attempted during Term 4 with seemingly few core educational purpose outcomes. By contrast, the pathfinder is a means of providing directed learning activities that :
    •  are cross curricular and relevant to students’ interests
    • enhance information literacy skills (ILS)
    • support program learning outcomes

Other choice factors:

  • High English as an Additional Language or Dialect (EAL/D) component of the HPS community (ABS, 2013)
  • Advocating for ICT benefits for the whole community (Mansfield, 2011)


How did I go about the search process?

  • Choice: website or wiki?
    • less difficult to manage/ create –quick, no advertisements, protected  environment, easily accessed and updated (Brisco, 2007)
    • Technical aspects – Providing  students the  best tools possible for searching                        – library link on every page

– links needed to be reliable

– Making pathfinder attractive and engaging – wow factor


  •   Educational quality/ relevancy-
    • Web2.0 tools and social networking to share information

(Hauser, J., 2009)

  • Constructivist learning involving acting, reflecting, formulating, predicting, choosing and creating as information seekers (Kuhlthau, C., 2004).
  • Even though can be an excellent search engine, it was not particularly suitable for this topic (some links inappropriate for Year 5 and obvious US bias)
  • chosen instead after investigating several. While I was hesitant about its google connection, other features (navigation, currency, coverage, objectivity and accuracy) were suitable (Beck, S. 2009). Students : reflective skills leading to well-founded choices needed ( Kuiper, Volman & Terwel, 2008)


How the pathfinder will enhance student’s use of ILS (Using Herring’s PLUS model)

  • Identifying existing knowledge and then determining what information they are searching for. (Herring, 2004) (Shrock, 2009)
  • select/ reject information or resources- using star reading key, and using ILS hints throughout
  • As an extra research resource and support for classroom teachers so that students learn in context.
  • recording/writing/presenting skills-what purpose in researching unless students can transfer skills to effectively communicate information gained (Valenza, 2013)
  • Rather than trawling through vast amounts of information, students need specific website evaluation and research skills teaching.
    • eg. navigation skills, to be discerning and to make informed choices about quality sites and information.  (Boswell,2013)
    • Suggesting alternatives – databases, other search tools, moving beyond single search mode ( Valenza, 2009)
    • Anxiety should diminish when clear purposes are given, as in the What are we going to learn? page.
    •  Even if navigating the Web is apparent, students need to learn analysing and evaluating skills  (Seasholes, 1:30, 2013)
    • Guided enquiry support so that deep understanding and knowledge develops which eventually leads to independent learning (Kuhlthau and Todd, 2007, cited in O’Connell, 2010,  p 60)


Process -implications for the TL?

As an information specialist leader

  • provide leadership, not as an expert necessarily, but as one who can model best practice using Web2.0 tools and point the way to quality resources –as an information sherpa empowering others (Luca , 2010)
  • embed GCs in learning area content (Toner, 2011), supporting, classroom teachers and encouraging other staff about pathfinder possibilities

As a curriculum support person

  • identifying information needs
  • creating a range of pathfinder proformas
  • work together with other staff to teach ILS
  • differentiate learning through…
    • provision of an array of resources that meet a wide range of reading levels (Lamb &  Johnson, 2006-2012 cited in heyjudeonline, 2012)
    • provision of audio and visual resources
    • extending students who may require  moving beyond the confines of the pathfinder
    • including websites that may be outside usual exposure or interest range
    • using star reading key so that all  are encouraged to be effective searcher

As a resource designer

  • concise yet accurate instructions for students to access and navigate efficiently, keeping sites clean and uncluttered. eg tagging and colour choice (noting  WCAG 2.0  guidelines)
  • thorough pre-investigation (appropriateness, functionality) of recommended websites ( Kuntz, 2004)
  • Initially I created a different pathfinder, but used it as a prototype for this one. Similarly, encourage students to go beyond first drafts of presentations.
  • I hope to incorporate more tools like RSS feeds and other widgets as I develop other pathfinders, becoming more confident.
  • eventually incorporate a social bookmarking element, whereby students/ community can connect with each other.  ( Lamb & Johnson 2006-2012)


The complex process of designing an effective and efficient pathfinder has a raft of benefits for the core purpose of school education. There is enormous potential for further developing this process for teaching and learning, but also for adding value to the learning community in which it operates.

























Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2013) 2011 Census Quick Stats: Heckenberg, NSW. Retrieved September 16, 2013 from


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2011) The Australian curriculum, general capabilities. Retrieved September 25, 2013 from


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2013) Intercultural Understanding Learning Continuum: Recognising culture and developing respect. (pdf) Retrieved October 8, 2013 from


Beck, Susan. (2009)The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: or, Why It’s a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources. .Retrieved August 24, 2013 from


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Brisco, S. (2007). Which wiki is right for you?  A close look at the top three software choices. School Library Journal, 53(5), 78-79.Retrieved October 10, 2013 from CSU Library


Hauser, J. (February, 2007). Media specialists can learn web 2.0 tools to make schools more cool. Computers in Libraries27(2), 6-8. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from CSU Library


Herring, J. (2004) Outline of the PLUS model. Retrieved October 12, 2013 from


Heyjudeonline (21/06/2012) Pathfinders 2.0 [electronic media] Retrieved October 13, 2013 from


Kuiper, E., Volman, M. and Terwel, J. (2008) Students’ use of Web literacy skills and strategies: searching, reading and evaluating Web informationInformation Research, 13(3). Retrieved September 30 2013 from


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

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Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Learning as a process. In Seeking meaning: a process approach to library and information services (2nd ed.) (pp. 13-27).  Retrieved August 2013 from


Lamb, A., & Johnson, L. (2006-2011). Pathfinders: Pathfinders creation and collectionsElectronic Materials for Children and Young Adults. Retrieved September 18, 2013 from


Luca, J (2010, January 10) Seth Godin on libraries- take heed. Retrieved September 25, 2013 from


Mansfield university (October 18, 2011) School library leadership: leading libraries into the future. Retrieved September 24, 2013 from



O’Connell, J. (2010) School library 2.0.  Retrieved October 6, 2013 from CSU library



Shrock, K. (2009) The 5 Ws of web site evaluation. Retrieved August 2, 2013 from



Valenza, J. (Sept 21 2009) 14 ways K-12 Librarians can teach social media. Retrieved September 15, 2013 from


Valenza, J. (2013) Information literacy skillsValenza’s guided inquiry in information literacy (Elementary education) Retrieved August 09, 2013 from



Valenza, J. (2013) Spartan Guides: Library:Libguides: Research tools: The research/ inquiry process: What is a research project? Retrieved October 11, 2013 from



W3C  ( 1994-2012) Web accessibility initiative: WCAG 2 at a glance: WCAG overview. Retrieved October   2013, from














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