Dr Ross Todd – inspirational mentor – his legacy lives on

It seems fitting to dedicate this last post to Dr Ross Todd as his influence over teaching and learning at Broughton has extended over many years through his mentoring of our practice of Guided Inquiry and Evidence Based Practice. (This blog is moving to a new site within our school domain so this will be my last post here but the new address will be published when it is established soon. This site will remain as it stores so many results and examples of Guided Inquiry in practice.)

The two people in the image above have inspired and mentored me over my professional life as a teacher librarian. I met Dr Lyn Hay as a lecturer when completing my teacher librarian Master’s degree and she inspired me, and continues to inspire me, to extend myself and experiment with using technology in my role as a teacher of information literacy across all ages and integrated into curriculum areas.

In 2008 I met Dr Ross Todd when I attended a conference in Sydney and he totally inspired me to encourage student participation and voice in their learning through research-based units of work called “Guided Inquiry”. At that conference another teacher librarian, Lee Fitzgerald, demonstrated a unit of work she had completed using Guided Inquiry the previous year with her senior students at Loretto College. (She also continues to be an inspirational colleague.) One teacher and Year 7 class at Broughton worked with me that year to initiate a Guided Inquiry unit with very positive outcomes both from students being engaged in learning and in their meeting curriculum outcomes in content and information literacy.

During 2009 the Association of Independent schools (AIS) offered grants for teacher librarians to undertake action research into Guided Inquiry as a pedagogical practice. Together with nine other schools in NSW, I took up this challenge. Dr Ross Todd came to Australia and closely mentored us through the process of using Guided Inquiry, and the AIS mentored us in the action research process.
We were all astounded at the results of the research showing how much our students appreciated having a say in choice of topic areas for research within curriculum areas and in how much they learned overall from their research and from sharing learning with their peers. Their engagement in their work was obvious. In 2010 I undertook a second round of action research with AIS. Students excelled, not only in the engaged learning of subject content but also in extending their information literacy skills.

In 2010 I was invited to present my action research findings at another Syba Signs conference in Sydney at which Dr Ross Todd, again, was the Keynote speaker. I took with me two students who gave examples of their work and discussed the research process, inspiring other teacher librarians to use Guided Inquiry to integrate information literacy with content learning through Guided Inquiry research units of work. (This process s now called Guided Inquiry Design (GID.)

Broughton took up this practice of guided research across many classes, from Year 2 to Year 11, until 2019, with the occasional collaborative participation by a few teachers and classes since then. This blog stores many examples of practice in the drop-down menu.

Dr Ross Todd constantly spoke of “Evidence-based practice” (before this became a commonly used term) and promoted the use of action research upon which to base all teaching and learning.

Dr Ross Todd always had time to mentor – either through emails, over a meal or afternoon tea when he came to Sydney. To hear that this inspirational mentor, to all teacher librarians globally, has passed away has left us all devastated.

Please take the time to read about his incredible achievements, always willing to share research, knowledge and expertise.

The Bell – Broughton’s student news journal

The Bell

The Editorial Committee of the College’s online student journal, The Bell, are very pleased to forward the link to the inaugural edition.


The theme of this edition is Communication. The edition explores how we communicate our individual voices as part of a collective and includes a wide range of creative, critical and innovative thinking from students across the breadth of the College.

Please take the time to celebrate the student editorial committee’s work in bringing you this edition. In the words of Masha Petrovic (Year 11), Chief Editor, ‘we hope that our pieces ring true and resonate with you. May they inspire, spark conversation and ignite new ideas as we celebrate the talent of our students, together.’

Mrs C Havenaar
Teacher Librarian


Techie Brekkies for students

This term we decided to start a new venture two or three times per term to support students keen to share and use technology together. Our first, early in September, was an introductory ‘fun time’ in Escape Rooms. We provided a simple ‘Covid Friendly’ breakfast and our event was booked out in two days.

Following this we held another event today when students came prepared to work in Minecraft to imagine and design a new library space. Again breakfast was a very important element.

We saw some amazing designs emerge – a floating library high above the earth with a lift system, a Japanese inspired building, a library with a ‘dungeon’ space deep below the earth for the Teacher Librarians to plot together, and a beautifully organised library full of books surrounding a pool!

This was a great example of how collaboration and teamwork occurs in that vital ‘Third Space’!



Returning to a ‘new normal’

What a year it has been. Library lessons online during lockdown, a ‘temperature station’ in the IRC and finally opening to classes but without browsing for another week or two. Students have not been without books though. An extensive online collection was available as well as a ‘click and collect’ system working automatically from the online catalogue with a ‘surprise pack’ being available for the youngest students.

From this week classes are finally back in the IRC (not just online or in their classrooms) and Ernest is in full swing – advertising the need to sanitise upon entry.

The ever changing role of the Teacher Librarian

Every year I am amazed at the way in which my role somehow changes and morphs around how I am needed in the current teaching and learning situation. The basic role of managing resources both physical and digital remains the same but the scope and vision of my role changes as teaching and learning needs arise that can be met by the school library and teacher librarians.


The American Association of School Librarians has developed “National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries” (AASL Standards) which build on the already adopted AASL Standards Framework for Learners. The teacher librarian plays a vital role in supporting learning within these standards.





Scott Beck, in his recent post on the National Association of Secondary School Principals blog (NASSP) entitled The nonnegotiable role of school librarians, quotes Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner from their 2016 book Most Likely to Succeed about the skills needed in the 21 Century.

        • Critical thinking and problem-solving
        • Collaboration across networks
        • Agility and adaptability
        • Initiative and entrepreneurship
        • Effective oral, written, and multimedia communication
        • Accessing and analyzing information
        • Curiosity and imagination

He goes on to say that:

“School librarians are the resident experts in the development of these skills. Accessing and analyzing information, collaborating across networks, cultivating curiosity and imagination—this is the life blood of an outstanding school library. More importantly, these are the skills that will allow our students to become thoughtful and engaged citizens equipped to navigate a world full of increasingly complex information.”

14 February – Library Lovers’ Day

Never waste a great opportunity for a bit of fun in the library whilst introducing students to books they would otherwise never ‘meet’!

Our five Year 8 classes came during their English periods on 14 February for a session of ‘Speed Dating’ some carefully selected books. There were NonFiction, Biography, Graphic Novels and Fiction books from many genres. The students sat around tables randomly and spent four minutes with a book before rotating to another table for up to four more sessions. The final session was for students to have a ‘Second Date’ – and many took this opportunity to get to know one of their previous dates even better.

Our library mascot, Edward the Emu, was in his element. He has had a very busy week taking part in many activities!

Let’s get them reading!

At BACIRC we are starting the new year with more initiatives than ever to encourage reading right across our P-12 school.
A recent article in The Age newspaper focuses on a school that insists on 20 minutes per day of reading for pleasure by every student. This activity is being followed through research done by Dr Margaret Merga from Edith Cowan University and this article is worth consideration.
‘Sense of urgency’: One school’s bold plan to get teenagers reading
Reading is so critical to the development of vocabulary and in-depth knowledge of the world around us and without actually practicing the skill of sustained reading, it can be lost in a practice of skimming content with no depth of knowledge as a result.

Our library at Broughton is very involved in the Primary section’s reading programme. We also assist with ‘Wide Reading’ and the English faculty in many classes from Years 7-9. Our aim as Teacher Librarians is to assist in the selection of books for individual students and also to inspire a love of reading through lessons containing excerpts of ‘good reads’,  and many literary displays and activities.

Ernest the Emu: “Ernest loves to see students just sitting and reading. If you let him, he will tell you that being read to by proficient readers, and spending 20 mins a day reading independently are vital to developing literacy skills.” (Mrs Havenaar – our new Teacher in the Library)

Ernest can be seen taking part in many lessons throughout the day and even watches Senior Students as they study in our K-12 library.

National Simultaneous Storytime at Broughton

National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country. (https://www.alia.org.au/nss)

Mrs Barnes organised an event in the IRC for Kindergarten and Year 1. It included reading the story three times: once by Mrs Barnes with added ‘Sound Words’, once by Jay Laga’aia  reading online and then again with teachers and two senior students as a ‘sound band’ accompaniment. This was concluded back in the classroom with prepared activities. (A short video of the event is in the ‘Events’ menu above)

Broughton Kids Lit Quiz Team – Second Place in Australian Final

Four of our Year 7 students represented the school in the Australia Finals of the Kids Lit Quiz held at Trinity Grammar school. The team came second out of the eleven teams and we can be very proud of their remarkable achievement. They each received a silver medallion, a selection of books and $50 in cash.

“Last term, we went to the Kids Lit Quiz NSW heat and to our amazement, got second. Part of the reward for this, was an opportunity to compete in the national final, with a chance to represent our country at the world final which was being held in New Zealand. The National Final was held at Trinity Grammar School, in Summer Hill. Though we did not win, we were lucky enough to come in second place!

The competition was very hard. We had to verse 11 teams from all over Australia, who all came 1st in their own heats. It was an amazing experience and we got to meet the famous author Jacqueline Harvey who is best known for her Alice Miranda series.

On behalf of the team we would like to thank Mrs Sheerman and Mrs Koek for their ongoing support and confidence in us throughout this journey. Overall it was an awesome experience and a fantastic day and we hope to return next year and win nationals!” (Payton, Isabelle, Prisha and Hannah)

‘Fake News’ or ‘False News’ and the need for skills to deal with it

Adults have problems deciphering truth from falsehoods as information is twisted and changed to compete with different ideologies and competing voices. How much more do our students need to be skilled in discerning truth from fabricated or twisted information. This is where information literacy skills need to be embedded into all aspects of the curriculum and practice given under guidance. It is the role of the Teacher Librarian to assist in this.

Some good ideas for initial activities to make students aware of how easy it is to believe false news are given in this article in the NY Times: Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning About Fake News by 

This New Yorker Cartoon by  says it all!

Four absolutely necessary skills and five vital ‘soft skills’

A A Juliani published a paper yesterday entitled ‘21st Century Skills Have Always Been “Needed” Skills, But Now We Need Them More Than Ever’. He points out that these vital skills are not the focus of standardised testing yet so many educational decisions lie on the results of these tests.  He points out that : If schools are meant to prepare students for the real world. Then why doesn’t school look more like the real world?”

These are the skills we focus on at Broughton when many of our classes, both Primary and Secondary, take part in units of work using Guided Inquiry.

However, A A Juliani goes on to discuss the work of Seth Godin

Let’s Stop Calling Them Soft Skills“, in which he describes five categories of skills that we all look for in colleagues, employees, and students–yet, don’t seem to value over other content and standardized skills.

The five skills Seth describes (from http://ajjuliani.com/are-we-waiting-too-long-to-give-students-a-choice-in-their-learning/) are:

Self Control — Once you’ve decided that something is important, are you able to persist in doing it, without letting distractions or bad habits get in the way? Doing things for the long run that you might not feel like doing in the short run.

Productivity — Are you skilled with your instrument? Are you able to use your insights and your commitment to actually move things forward? Getting non-vocational tasks done.

Wisdom — Have you learned things that are difficult to glean from a textbook or a manual? Experience is how we become adults.

Perception — Do you have the experience and the practice to see the world clearly? Seeing things before others have to point them out.

Influence — Have you developed the skills needed to persuade others to take action? Charisma is just one form of this skill.

There is plenty of food for thought here as we plan another year of activities and learning experiences for the children in our care. The content is not all we must teach!


Future Skills – How do we teach for these today?

An interesting blog post by @refthinking giving us much to ponder about. I know that the collaborative, differentiated method of learning with Guided Inquiry Design we do at Broughton certainly assists students to develop many aspects of the skills mentioned here. According to educational technology researcher Dr. Ahmed Kharrufa, this list was ‘formed by the World Economic Forum following their Future of Jobs report’.