Teaching the Teachers: Partnerships in Information Literacy
sCIL Open House, January 17 2003
Presenters: Stephanie Davis-Kahl and Lisa Payne (University of California, Irvine)

Stephanie Davis-Kahl and Lisa Payne gave a lively and informative session on the creation, development and administration of an Information Literacy program for high school teachers. The Compton Teachers Information Literacy Institute (CTILI) was created as a result of an ongoing outreach program at UCI, the Center for Educational Partnerships (CFEP), and the Compton Unified School District (CUSD). CFEP’s goal is to increase academic success in younger students and Compton has very low numbers of students continuing on to college, particularly the University of California schools. Stephanie and Lisa’s proposal, to work with high school teachers once a month throughout the school year to build information literacy (IL) and life-long learning skills, was created at a Summit Meeting of CFEP and CUSD.

Fall 2002, 25 teachers from the four Compton high schools signed up for the first Institute. A wide range of disciplines and professional and computer experiences were represented. The 9 2-hour sessions take place during a regularly scheduled professional development time allotted by the school district. Basic concepts, web research, intelligence theories, integration of IL into assignments, classroom examples of IL, resources and help for teachers and students, are explored through presentations, outside reading, discussion, and exercises. The final session include a participant evaluation.

The teachers especially responded to the opportunity to discuss issues with colleagues and actively work on classroom assignments. Participants liked the research assignment exercise which required the creation of a student assignment focused on specific stated learning outcomes. They took their completed in-class exercise with them to implement in their classes. The sharing of ideas, such as the discussion on the use of the internet for research, was valued by participants. They wanted more time on the computers, less theory and more practical experience and greater communication between the monthly sessions. The latter is a problem since the school district does not provide email for teachers. They also did not want to commute to Compton High School and wanted "free stuff."

Teachers wanted to learn how to subscribe to databases, have access to libraries and museums for their students, and write a bibliography. They wanted more information on academic journals and California standards and how to work the standards in to the curriculum.

Problems encountered varied from actually getting in to a locked classroom and getting computers hooked up to the internet to the varied professional and computer skill levels of the teachers. Attendance was a problem with teachers having to come from 4 schools and a mix of voluntary and required participants. Requiring everyone to get a public library card, necessary for database access, did not get 100% compliance.

Although future funding is uncertain, participant feedback is being used in the planning of an Institute next year. Changes might include more and shorter Institutes and targeting specific teacher audiences such as Honor or AVID (a national program with the goal of getting underserved populations into higher education) teachers, to have teacher IL sessions in the fall, student IL sessions in the spring, and maybe having one-day Institutes at UCI. Bringing in the student point of view, involving the school librarian and having a greater focus on teacher research skills are also important Improvements to the sessions would include having a greater focus on application and resources, having a clear alignment with state standards and incorporating more hands-on activities.

Besides the reality check provided by working with the day-to-day problems experienced at the high school and reported by the teachers, the librarians learned a lot about some specific programs on the UCI campus and the intricacies of funding. Having a librarian with teaching experience (Lisa) made it easier to forge connections.

Follow-up questions in both sessions centered on attendees (who and why) and the money (will it be funded again). The handout included a bibliography and examples of assignments.


Submitted by Rosemary McGill, CSU Fullerton rmcgill@fullerton.edu