Portfolio of Learning -Part B – From theory to practice: Literacies

Literacies: Pedagogical practice for teacher librarians

Theory of Literacies: 

Literacy is an essential skill, but the definition of literacy and a literate person has changed dramatically in the past few decades.  Previously, the term literacy was categorised as the decoding and composing of print texts.  However, the advent of the information society with its technological advancements, widespread use of personal devices and the pervasiveness of the internet has led to a diversification of format and resulting in the creation of audiovisual, print, digital and multimodal texts (Ferguson, 2019).  This heterogeneity of text types means that teachers, schools and the education system need to adapt their pedagogies and practices that encompass the variety of literacies and text types in the modern world (Templeton, 2021a).  It also means that the definition of literacy needs to be redefined as the ability to interact with, engage and communicate across modalities for personal, social, economic and recreational purposes (ACARA, 2018)

TL Reality

The role of the library and teacher librarian is to support the explicit instruction of multiliteracies and resourcing of multimodal text types in a school as highlighted in ETL401 and ETL504 (ALIA & ASLA, 2004).  Whilst print literacy competency is still an essential attribute, the promotion of information, digital and visual literacies are rapidly emerging as essential 21st century skills.  


Information literacy is the ability of a person to seek, find, access, use and evaluate information successfully for personal, educational and professional purposes (Kaplowitz, 2014; Kong, 2015).  It is essential due to the prevalence of mal-information, disinformation and misinformation.  This means that in order to navigate these perils of modern society, young people need to be adept at seeking, finding and using information.  They also need to be competent at evaluating the difference between gold and dross.     


An intrinsic aspect of teacher librarianship is the implementation and embedding of IL skills across the curriculum (Templeton, 2021b).   This is because TLs are the traditional gatekeepers of information in schools and have the professional capacity to implicitly and explicitly instruct information literacy to the school community (Levitov, 2016).  ETL401 pointed out that inquiry learning or problem based learning is the most effective process at developing information literacy skills because the process is centred upon skill acquisition.  However, IL skills need to be integrated and structured incrementally because competency is based upon cumulative access.  


IL has always been an essential part of TL practice and the virtual study visits highlighted its importance in Victoria University, William Angliss TAFE and University of Newcastle.  These institutions understood their students preferred synchronous sessions and therefore developed an IL framework that allowed this either in person or virtually.  Their approach was the motivation for my placement at ACU library because ACU’s Library learning and teaching sessions uses ability as a differentiation tool because their framework supports self navigation, life long learners and independent inquiry. 


Visual literacy is rapidly becoming an essential skill in a multimodal society because it effectively broadens the parameters of traditional literacy and assists with text deconstruction and analysis, as well as builds competency in language, texts and symbols (Marsh, 2010).  


Picture books (PB) are effective at developing visual literacy because they can positively impact the academic, behavioural, developmental, cognitive development of learners.  This is because PB are polysemic, promote critical thinking, encourage reflection, support constructivist pedagogies and are also excellent tools for class discussion (Marsh, 2010).  Their value is in their ability to encourage readers to construct their own meaning from the imagery which then encourages multiple perspectives and creates opportunities for robust discussion (Marsh, 2010).

Picture books for older readers.
Sophisticated picture books.


I was under the false assumption that PB were for young children because developing readers require the interdependency of images and texts for comprehension.  However, PB can be effectively used in secondary classrooms through literary learning, read alouds and within classroom practice.  This is because post-modern or sophisticated picture books places a higher cognitive load onto the reader and require critical thinking from the reader to decode the contradiction of text and images, or lack of text.


Digital (Multimodal) Literacy is the ability of the user to seek, access, use, integrate and compose digital media for personal, professional, educational and recreational purposes (Lofton, 2016). Technology is constantly evolving and society needs to upskill to stay relevant (Ferguson, 2019).  Unfortunately, the digital divide interferes with this ability to upskill, leading to many students and adults lacking the necessary digital literacy skills required in modern society (Thomas et al., 2018).  This digital divide is no longer presumed to be due to a generational gap, but rather it is a strong demarcation between people who have regular access to digital technologies and those that do not.


An effective method to improve digital literacy in schools is to embed technologies into classroom practice, use explicit instruction to support its implementation and then encourage students to apply their knowledge. It is the intentional use of digital media in pedagogy that then goes on to enhance learning, improve ICT acuity, increase engagement and on a whole, improve learning outcomes.  It is not a lecture on powerpoint!


In ETL402 and INF533 I learned about the various strategies to improve digital literacy in the classroom.  These included the inclusion of digital texts into classroom practice and innovative pedagogical practices. Some examples of these strategies are: 

Digital texts:

  White Australia Policy

The land of the Magic Flute.

YouVersion Bible App

After 6/4

Digital pedagogical strategies.

Flipped classrooms are rapidly increasing in popularity, as are augmented and virtual realities because they utilise digital technologies.  

Book trailers and book bentos (example below) are audiovisual representations of texts and are useful in promoting literary learning and multimodal literacy.  

AR and VR can be effectively used to engage students, for location or inquiry learning, and or for assessment purposes. whereas the article in Magpies Magazine points out how AR can be effectively used in libraries.

Contents of Magpies magazine.

Book Bento Example of – Angela’s Ashes

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Part B – Theory into Practice – Learning.


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2018). Literacy in the Australian curriculum – General capabilities. F-10 Curriculum.

Australian School Library Association & Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Australian professional standards for teacher librarians. ALIA. https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/TLstandards.pdf

Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. (2016). Australia’s digital economy update.  https://apo.org.au/sites/default/files/resource-files/2016/05/apo-nid66202-1210631.pdf

Ferguson, S. (2019). Digital Literacy: A Constantly Evolving Learning Landscape. Alki, 35(2), 12–13. CSU Library 

Kaplowitz, J. (2014). Designing information literacy instruction: the teaching tripod approach. Rowman & Littlefield. Ebook. CSU Library.  

Kong, S. (2014). Developing information literacy and critical thinking skills through domain knowledge learning in digital classrooms: An experience of practicing flipped classroom strategy. Computers & Education. 78, pp.160-173.  DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2014.05.00

Levitov, D. (2016). School libraries, librarians and inquiry learning. Teacher Librarian 43(4), p.28. CSU Library. 

Marsh, D. (2010). The case for picture books in secondary schools. Lianza, 51(4), 27. https://doms.csu.edu.au/csu/file/f7b0a0c2-d0c5-4ba3-8644-6955ea9850b6/1/marsh-d.pdf

Miller, H. (2017). The myth of the digital native generation. E-Learning Inside. https://news.elearninginside.com/myth-digital-native-generation/

Templeton, T. (27 July, 2021a). Digital literacy and the teacher librarian – Part One. Softlink. https://www.softlinkint.com/blog/digital-literacy-and-the-teacher-librarian-part-one/

Templeton, T. (27 July, 2021b). Digital literacy and the teacher librarian – Part Two. Softlink. https://www.softlinkint.com/blog/digital-literacy-and-the-teacher-librarian-part-two/

Thomas, J., Barraket, J., Wilson, C., Cook, K., Louie, Y., Holcombe-James, I., Ewing, S., and MacDonald, T. (2018). Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2018. RMIT University, Melbourne, DOI: https://doi.org/10.25916/5b594e4475a00

Portfolio of Learning -Part B – From theory to practice: Learning

Learning: Pedagogical practice for teacher librarians


Libraries are intrinsically connected with learning because they have consistently preserved and shared the documented histories and cultural knowledge of society (Ryan & Swindells, 2018).  However, my time at ACU Library for my placement showed me that academic libraries differ because being an information repository is secondary to supporting their community in developing critical thinking, knowledge construction and independent inquiry (Higgins, 2017, Ch.1).  


This active assistance that academic and school libraries offer is pertinent because the way people learn has changed significantly.  From ancient times, learning was seen as a transfer of knowledge from one generation to another either through the forms of oral traditions or from written texts.  However, evidence has shown that learning is increased when a learner is able to build new knowledge upon prior learning.  This constructivist approach to learning is appropriate for diverse classrooms because the method and product is dependent on the learner’s histories and perspectives.  Additionally, constructivist pedagogies such as inquiry and literary learning promote the development of a range of ‘soft skills’ such as problem solving, communication, collaborative practice, as well as critical and creative thinking, which is ideal for a knowledge economy.  

  1. Inquiry Learning


Inquiry learning (IL) requires students to ask questions, design investigations, research information, interpret evidence, draw conclusions and communicate their findings in a variety of formats (Dept of ESE, 2021).  As a constructivist pedagogy, IL puts the onus of knowledge construction onto the learner and in the process students learn valuable skills (Garrison & FitzGerald, 2016; Kuhlthau et al., 2015). Therefore it is clearly evident that access to information resources and sufficient information literacy skills to achieve positive learning outcomes is required.  This means that TLs are integral to IL because they are information experts and can explicitly and implicitly embed information literacy skills throughout the inquiry process (ASLA & ALIA, 2004; Levitov, 2016, p.29).  


Unfortunately there is no IL embedded within the Australian Curriculum, however there are elements of IL in Science, Geography and History key learning areas (Lupton, 2014).  But as Lupton (2014) pointed out, whilst these areas address general inquiry skills, they are not consistent between the KLAs and as such, are not a connected framework.   This clearly indicates the importance of TLs in creating and implementing an integrated framework of IL because they are able to see how inquiry is taught across the curriculum and then scaffold the skills appropriately.  


TLs can also support IL through team teaching and collaboration with department leaders.  In 2020 I collaborated with the Year 8 Science and Year 8 English team leaders to help them implement inquiry learning in their respective disciplines.  Both team leaders were concerned about the robustness of student research questions and were concerned if it would sufficiently address the learning outcomes.  So from my prior knowledge as a science teacher and learning in ETL401, I created a reverse’ lotus chart with embedded questions to assist students in creating their inquiry questions for tasks.  The integrated questions increased critical thinking and enabled students to connect to their topic to a deeper level.  It also allowed teachers and students to visualise their learning.  The experiment worked so well that I presented my findings at ASLA’s 2021 School Library conference and the corresponding article was published in ACCESS’s Volume 35, Issue 3, September, 2021 (Check out the contents page!). 

Here is an example of another cross curricular inquiry task that I created for my school:


2. Literary learning


 Literary learning (LL) is the embedding of literature across the curriculum in order to convey subject specific information.  It turns students from codebreakers into participants by using texts for learning and analysing.   This means LL can be effectively used across the curriculum, in all year levels and can be adapted to suit diverse learners because literature based learning allows students to construct their own bank of knowledge from information that is more easily accessible to them.  


From a personal viewpoint, I really engaged with this aspect of Teacher Librarianship.  Liz Dereout was fantastic at explaining the value of Literary Learning and I learned a great deal from ETL402 as the blogs I wrote illustrated.  It was hard to get the mind to shift from  Shifting from ‘Learning to Read’ to ‘Reading to learn’.  However, classroom teachers did come around to using Text sets, Literary Circles, Book Trailers and Book Bento Boxes.  Text sets proved to be the most useful because teachers were more willing to use extracts of text rather than whole books.  Here are some examples of my practice in the interactive below. 

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Part B – Theory into Practice – Literature.


Australian School Library Association & Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Australian professional standards for teacher librarians. ALIA. https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/TLstandards.pdf

Cornett, C. E. (2014). Integrating the literary arts throughout the curriculum. In Creating meaning through literature and the arts: arts integration for Classroom teachers (5th ed., pp. 144-193). USA

Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In J. Turbill, G. Barton & C. Brock (Eds.), Teaching Writing in Today’s Classrooms: Looking back to looking forward (pp. 69-86). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literary Educators’ Association. CSU Library 

Garrison, K., & Fitzgerald, L. (2016). ‘It’s like stickers in your brain’: Using the guided inquiry process to support lifelong learning skills in an Australian school library. In A School Library Built for the Digital Age  45th IASLC Conference.  CSU Library. 

Higgins, S. (2017). Managing academic libraries: Principles and practice [ebook]. Amsterdam. Chandos Publishing. CSU Library. 

Kuhthau, C., Maniotes, L., and Caspari, A. (2015). Guided inquiry: learning in the 21st century. 2nd Edition. Libraries unlimited, USA. 

Levitov, D. (2016). School libraries, librarians and inquiry learning. Teacher Librarian 43 (4), p.28. CSU Library. 

Lupton, M. (2014). Inquiry skills in the Australian Curriculum v6: a bird’s eye view. Access 28 (4) p. 8-29. http://eprints.qut.edu.au/78451/1/Lupton_ACCESS_Nov_2014_2pg.pdf

Maniotes, L. (2019). Guided Inquiry Design: Creating curious inquirers. SYBA Academy workshop. Sydney

Ryan, M., & Swindells, G. (2018). Democratic practice: Libraries and education for citizenship. Portal: Libraries and the Academy 18 (4), pp.623-628. John Hopkins University Press. CSU Library.

Portfolio of Learning -Part B – From theory to practice: Literature.

Literature: Pedagogical practice for teacher librarians

Literature has been the foundation of schooling because stories and storytelling are the most simplistic way society can learn about identity, language and cultural practice (Cornett, 2014; Ross Johnston, 2014; Lombardi, 2020). 

From the ancient peoples to Generation Alpha, literature in the form of stories and storytelling have been used to transfer societal knowledge, to connect individuals to a common history, and to expand vocabulary (Derewianka, 2015).  This is because literature is an artefact of human expression and has the capacity to reflect, criticise and confirm life’s complexities.  Whilst literature can occur in either written or oral formats, the term is generally used to define imaginative works that represent culture and tradition of a society such as storytelling (Lombardi, 2020).  However, not all written works can be considered literature as the essential feature needs to be an idea of interest expressed with an artistic quality or merit (Rexroth, 2020).  There are many benefits to using literature in pedagogical practice and they include; supporting meaning making and knowledge construction, building vocabulary as well as promoting literacy, lifelong learning and increasing critical thinking (Cornett, 2014).  

Storytelling is society’s method of transferring knowledge across generations because it captures how people have tried to understand life’s complexities over time.  This is because literature reflects the author’s perspective of life, and as such captures those societal values for future generations.  Charles Dickens’ stories of Victorian England with its workhouses, harsh conditions and casual cruelty to children, provides the reader a snapshot of historical knowledge of the downsides of the Industrial Revolution.  Whereas, Mem Fox’s “Possum Magic ” refers to traditionally Australian food that would resonate with a young child living in Sydney but lack this same connection to an Argentine.  In this way, each piece of literature is able to connect readers to their common cultural history as well as introduce them to new concepts and experiences.  

Literature has a great capacity to influence vocabulary acquisition, because even though nuances of language can be gained from conversation, a child that has regular access to a variety of genres is able to increase their vocabulary exponentially  (Derewainka, 2015).  A read aloud is an effective method of improving literacy because the reader is able to model pronunciation, tone, inflexion of the text and vocabulary to their audience.  But the greatest benefit comes from the discussion that occurs before, during and after the session (Allington & Gabriel, 2012; Winch & Holliday, 2012, p.120).  This is because discussions have a very strong influence on student learning because it is constructed upon a central concept of a shared reading experience (Fisher & Frey, 2018; Jewett, Wilson & Vanderburg, 2011).  

Additionally, there is also a need to introduce digital literature to students in order for them to develop competency in digital literacy.   Digital literature uses a continuum of technology to convey meaning and the level of computation varies from a scanned book to an interactive hypertext narrative with multimodal features.  This means that TLs need to assist classroom teachers in sourcing appropriate digital and multimedia resources so that they can become multiliterate.

There are several ways of using literature in learning but the ways I have used it most frequently were through literary learning and text sets.

Literary learning is an effective method of embedding literature into learning.  I have previously discussed this so here are a few examples of curriculum linked literature that I have effectively used in my practice as a TL in the past three years.

Text sets are an efficient method of introducing literature based learning into classroom practice.  They have an immense capacity to support literacy development and multi-literacies whilst meeting curriculum learning outcomes.  By giving students specifically curated text extracts from a variety of sources and modalities, students are able to construct knowledge, as well as develop literacy and language in a social context.  Text sets can be effectively used across the curriculum to support the needs of diverse learners.  Unfortunately many teachers are reluctant to use text sets because it is time consuming to find relevant resources.  However, an effective teacher librarian is able to support text sets and literary learning through the provision of carefully curated resources that meet the behavioural, cognitive and developmental needs of their students.  Text sets are an efficient and effective method of addressing curriculum outcomes whilst ensuring students are supported in their learning. 

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Part C – Evaluation of Learning.



Allington, R., & Gabriel, R. (2014). Every child, every day. Educational Leadership, Volume 69 (6). pp.10-15. CSU Library. 

Cornett, C. E. (2014). Integrating the literary arts throughout the curriculum. In Creating meaning through literature and the arts: arts integration for Classroom teachers. (5th ed., pp. 144-193). USA

Derewianka, B. (2015). The contribution of genre theory to literacy education in Australia. In J. Turbill, G. Barton & C. Brock (Eds.), Teaching Writing in Today’s Classrooms: Looking back to looking forward (pp. 69-86). Norwood, Australia: Australian Literary Educators’ Association. https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2620&context=sspapers

Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2018). Raise reading volume through access, choice, discussion, and book talks. Reading Teacher, 72(1), 89-97. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1691

Jewett, P. C., Wilson, J. L. & Vanderburg, M.A. (2011). The unifying power of a whole school read. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(6), 415-424. doi:10.1598/JAAL.54.6.3

Lombardi, E. (31 January, 2020). What literature can teach us. ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-literature-740531

Ross Johnston, R. (2014). Children’s literature in the Australian context. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl & M. Holliday (Eds.), Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed., pp. 557-581). Proquest Ebook Central. CSU Library.

Rexroth, K. (2020, October 30). Literature. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/art/literatu

Winch, G., & Holliday, M. (2014). Chapter 6 – The reader and the text. In G. Winch, R. Ross Johnston, P. March, L. Ljungdahl & M. Holliday (Eds.) Literacy: Reading, writing and children’s literature (5th ed., pp.109-128). Melbourne, Oxford University Press.

Portfolio of Learning – Part C – Evaluation of Practice

Evaluation of Practice

The information revolution with its pervasive presence of personal devices and ubiquitous use of the internet has permanently changed the role teacher librarians (TL) and libraries hold in their communities.  Libraries were seen as information repositories,  with librarians curating the collection from unsuitable resources.  However, the shift in paradigms has led to a surfeit of information, and the 21st century requires more than excellent curation skills from their informational professionals.  Instead, they need access to reliable information, and the necessary skills to seek, find and use information for personal, professional and recreational purposes.   This indicates that as the resident informational professional within a school, the TL is tasked with designing, embedding and implementing programs that promote the development of 21st century skills so that their students can successfully navigate life in the third millennium.   

TLs have a complex role in a school.  Prior to my Masters of Education (Teacher Librarianship), I was under the false impression TLs were ruled by Dewey and the best sellers book list.  I was proved wrong.  Over the past three years I have learned that whilst a TL is dually qualified as an educator and informational professional, their primary focus is student learning.  This is because a qualified TL has the capacity to improve the learning outcomes for all school students through the effective use of good quality literature to teach literacies and learning.  Resource based learning is the foundation of 21st century learning because it is student centred and focuses on how the individual constructs their own new knowledge on prior understanding.  This is why constructivist pedagogies, such as inquiry learning and literary learning are intrinsic to a TLs practice because they both use curriculum based resources to develop essential 21st century skills.    

A TL has the professional capacity to improve student learning outcomes and develop 21st century skills in their school community.  However, their efficacy is based upon their ability to effectively collaborate with their peers to lead innovative pedagogical change horizontally across the curriculum.  This is where the ASLA & ALIA (2004) TL standards prove their value because they are able to frame current and future practice.  The concept map below is a visual representation of how I have organised my practice through the promotion of literature, literacies and learning.  The map also highlights the TL standards that support my practice, as well as indicate the areas that future professional development is required, such as investigating strategies to increase the use of narratives and picture books in pedagogy.  It also points out that in order to successfully implement an effective school wide digital literacy program that builds skills in targeted and incremental stages, I will need to collaborate and evaluate the program with school executives and other middle school leaders.  

The role of a TL in a 21st century school is far more complex because society has changed the way it interacts with information.  This information revolution has made information and digital literacy, as well as critical and creative thinking essential for success in the 21st century.  Therefore, as information professionals, a TL is mandated to ensure that their practice is focused upon developing these skills and the standards offer a framework for that.  Unfortunately there is no mention of patience in the TL standards as I will need plenty of that!!

Concept map of my practice and corresponding TL standards.


Australian School Library Association & Australian Library and Information Association. (2004). Australian professional standards for teacher librarians. ALIA. https://asla.org.au/resources/Documents/Website%20Documents/Policies/TLstandards.pdf

Portfolio of Learning – Part A – Personal Philosophy


A teacher librarian (TL) is a valued member of a school community because they are able to effectively support 21st century learning through the promotion of literature, learning and literacies.  However, in order to do so effectively, a TL should be themselves a lifelong learner, have the capacity to collaborate effectively with their peers, ensure that the collection meets the needs of the community, have a keen interest in emerging technologies and be able to competently lead innovative pedagogies by modelling best practice. Most importantly, a good teacher librarian is a teacher first, because education is at the heart of a teacher librarian’s practice.

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Part B – Theory into Practice – Literacies.