Interest piqued, knowledge gained: Using resources for learning

Inspiring an interest and informing students about a topic are essential for deep learning to occur.

Quality resources can be used to both inspire and inform learning. Skills such as digital literacy, information literacy, and critical thinking are needed to make the most of them.

Wall with word LEARNING in capital letters
Classic Learning by Alan Levine. CC0 1.0

"Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire" — W.B. Yeats

Students respond well to having their curiosity sparked, their interest piqued, and their thirst for understanding stimulated ... but not yet satisfied. This can compel students to want to find out more about a topic.

All kinds of resources can be used to inspire learning. Ideally, students will engage with them, individually or in a group, and start to ask questions that then shape their learning inquiry.

Using a range of resources means you can offer students different ways to connect with or respond to information, for example:

  • picture books can inspire thinking in students of all ages — they are quick to engage with and generate curiosity
  • images are powerful — especially if they focus on an emotive subject matter
  • poetry — the power of words can evoke a personal response
  • ephemera — pop culture items across ages or places can be catalysts for curiosity and questions
  • objects and artefacts — can produce a tactile interest, drawing on the senses
  • short videos, or even music videos — brief narratives can draw students into a topic through exploration of characters and themes.

"Learning never exhausts the mind"― Leonardo da Vinci

As they work through an inquiry, students will then need to access, evaluate, and use a range of resources to inform their learning.

Whether students are directed to resources preselected by their teacher or need to do their own research, the quality of information they use will have a strong impact on their learning.

A variety of quality learning resources — which can be used to inspire or inform learning — are accessible through the National Library of New Zealand:

  • Books — use our lending service to borrow from our extensive fiction and non-fiction collection to support students in developing their inquiry and interests.
  • Topic Explorer — helps you find quality, curated resources on a range of topics relevant to the New Zealand curriculum.
  • EPIC — access thousands of electronic resources covering all curriculum learning areas from primary to secondary level, including magazines, newspapers, encyclopaedia, images, and much more.
  • INNZ — a free database service that both describes and gives access to article-level content (electronic and print) from within a huge range of New Zealand magazines, journals, and newspapers since the 1950s.
  • AnyQuestions — a free, online reference service for all New Zealand school students where they can get guidance to refine questions, find quality resources, and build their digital literacy skills.
  • DigitalNZ — the search engine for New Zealand culture, with over 30 million digital items that can be searched and curated into stories.

"Wonder is the beginning of wisdom" — Socrates

When working with a range of resources to inspire wonder or develop knowledge, it's important for students to have the skills to find, use, and make sense of them.


As students work through an inquiry process or plan their research, some simple questions about resources will help them develop their information literacy skills.

  • What information is needed?
  • What information do I already have?
  • What types of information are relevant — fact and/or opinion?
  • How much information is needed?


Students need support and practice in developing essential (or fertile) questions. This will drive them to engage critically with the resources and to create knowledge and deep learning. Teachers and library staff can introduce and model questioning techniques and be ready to guide students where their questions lead them.


Students may be tempted to stop looking for information after finding one relevant resource. They benefit from support and encouragement in looking for different sources of information (including print and digital) and using appropriate search strategies to locate relevant information from a wide variety of sources.


There are a number of ways to help students develop their critical analysis and evaluation skills so that they are able to determine the reliability of a source and the veracity of information presented. Rubrics such as the CRAAP (Currency, Reliability, Authority, Accuracy, Purpose/Point of view) test are useful starting points for teaching students how to evaluate an information source.

Ethical use

In today's world of electronic information, it's very easy to reuse content without appropriate consideration of copyright. Students must learn to be aware of copyright implications and use information ethically to avoid plagiarism or copyright infringement. This reflects good digital citizenship practices.

Ethical use of information includes giving credit to sources you have used in your work. Students need guidance to know how to correctly cite information sources according to the type of resource.

TKI has good copyright guidelines for schools which cover copyright, plagiarism, and quoting other people's work. There are specific guidelines for:

Model key skills in your school community

In addition to providing access to resources, school librarians can help develop the skills of others. School library staff can pass on these skills by modelling them when working alongside teachers and students or by providing direct instruction for students and staff. Consider using these approaches:

  • Access — pull together a range of resources that can be used for inspiration and information. These resources may include things that don't necessarily end up 'in the collection' such as people or borrowed items.
  • Collaboration — when teachers and librarians work together to consider resourcing an inquiry topic or unit of learning, resourcing can be richer and strongly aligned to intended learning outcomes.
  • Curation— go beyond just collating resources. Add value by applying or sharing insights that help to create new knowledge.

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn" ― Benjamin Franklin

You can develop your ability to better inspire and inform learning using resources by taking advantage of all the great Services to Schools' support we offer.

Our website includes content such as:

Learn from us in 2018

Sign up for our professional learning events and online courses in 2018.

Some upcoming learning events near you include Digital resources to support inquiry learning and research held in:

Or sign up for our online learning course — Inquiry learning: The role of resources to inspire and inform (6 August to 14 September).

So get inspired, be informed

And remember:

When you're curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.
— Walt Disney

By Samuel Beyer

Samuel is the Senior Specialist (Online Learning) for Services to Schools.

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