Embedded Librarianship: A High School Case Study

Embedded Librarianship: A High School Case Study

Buffy J. Hamilton (Creekview High School, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-308-9.ch021
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This case study chronicles the learning experiences of 10th grade Honors Literature/Composition students who participated in a 2009-10 learning initiative, Media 21, at Creekview High School. This program, spearheaded by school librarian Buffy Hamilton and English teacher Susan Lester, provided students a learning environment facilitated by both Hamilton and Lester in which Hamilton was “embedded” as an instructor. Media 21, rooted in connectivism, inquiry, and participatory literacy, emphasized students creating their own research “dashboards” and portals, the creation of personal learning networks to help students engage in their learning experiences, and to evaluate a diverse offering of information sources more critically.
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Background And Literature Review

In 1989 the American Library Association defined information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2009). While these fundamental skills are still at the heart of information literacy instruction, the nature of that information and the strategies for evaluating it are rapidly changing; the Read/Write Web and Web 2.0 technologies are disrupting many traditional, long-held concepts of authority. We are now in what Michael Jensen calls the “era of information abundance,” as a result of this abundance, Jensen asserts, “…we are witnessing a radical shift in how we establish authority, significance, and even scholarly validity” (Jensen, 2007, p. B6).

Social networking and social media are responsible for these shifts in which any author may be valued as an “expert” in the production of scholarly knowledge. What does this mean to librarians and our interpretation of “information literacy?” Laura Cohen says, “We can no longer be content to train students to understand the difference between peer-reviewed journals and popular magazines, to appreciate the value of books, newspapers and reference sources, and to understand how to evaluate garden variety Web sites” (Cohen, 2007).

The debate over what counts as authoritative information parallels similar arguments about what counts as literacy and reading. Literacy is no longer confined to traditional print materials as we now recognize multiple formats. In their American Educational Research Association paper, “Towards a Transformative Pedagogy for School Libraries 2.0,” Asselin and Dorion maintain, “Within multiliteracies, ‘new literacies’ refers to new forms of texts—or post-typographic (digital) forms—and new ways of using text to shape new ways of thinking such as wikis, mash-ups, zines and scenario planning but may include media literacy and digital literacy…” (Asselin & Doiron, 2008). Henry Jenkins defines new media literacies as “…social skills developed through collaboration and networking. These skills build on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills, and critical analysis skills taught in the classroom” (Jenkins, 2006, p. 4).

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