5 Essential Literacies for Students: Part 3 Information Literacy

5 Essential Literacies for Students: Part 3 Information Literacy - Our students need to be proficient in 5 Essential Literacies and School Librarians can integrate a Library Literacy component into any class visit. In Part 3 we look at Information Literacy Skills: problem-solving models, search & evaluation strategies, and academic honesty. #NoSweatLibraryIn our complex, information-rich, culturally diverse world, literacy is no longer just knowing how to read and write. Students need to understand and be proficient in these Five Essential Literacies to be successful in our global society:

  1. Reading and Writing (the original literacy)
  2. Content/Disciplinary Literacy (content & thinking specific to a discipline)
  3. Information Literacy (the library curriculum)
  4. Digital Literacy (how and when to use various technologies)
  5. Media Literacy (published works—encompasses all other literacies)

As School Librarians we need to integrate at least one Library Literacy component into every class visit to the library, so I’m addressing each of these literacies in a separate blog post to offer examples/suggestions about how we might do that. Previous blog posts covered Reading Literacy and Content/Disciplinary Literacy, so this post looks at Information Literacy.

DEFINING INFORMATION LITERACY

In its new National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) defines information literacy as “knowing when and why information is needed, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use, and communicate it in an ethical manner.” (p 277) We can embody this definition in our Library Lessons using these 3 Components for Information Literacy:

  • Research Process Models help students plan a project, determine sources of information and select materials, synthesize information, create a unique product, and reflect on product and process.
  • Search and Evaluation Skills help students find, access, and evaluate resources in a variety of formats.
  • Academic Honesty & Note-taking give students an understanding of, and respect for, intellectual property, copyright, and fair use when extracting & using information, creating work products and presenting results.

HOW TO INTEGRATE INFORMATION LITERACY

How School Librarians Can Overcome the Obstacles of Info-Lit Integration - Here's how one School Librarian overcomes the 3 obstacles to integrating information literacy with classroom activities: embedded curriculum, arbitrary library visits, and collaboration ignorance. #NoSweatLibraryWe School Librarians face several obstacles to teaching Information Literacy Components to our students:

  • The Information Literacy curriculum is often embedded into subject curricula, but not identified as taught by the School Librarian.
  • Class library visits are arbitrary and haphazard, making consistency and continuity of lessons difficult.
  • Teachers are ignorant about collaboration with a school librarian or have had negative experiences.

To overcome these obstacles, our Information Literacy lessons need to be short purposeful chunks that provide only what students need for the assignment. Such lessons encourage teachers to collaborate often so we can scaffold the necessary Info-Lit skills for each grade level through the school year. I’ve written previously about my Library Curriculum Matrix, an organization tool I use to plan & track my lessons, so let’s look at some specific strategies we can use for each Information Literacy component.

RESEARCH PROCESS MODELS

I’ve used many Research Process Models, and each has its benefits and flaws, but all can achieve our goal to develop a problem-solving mindset in students. Some models have more steps, some fewer, but all research process models have 4 basic phases:NoSweat Research Process Models Comparison Chart- image

  1. plan
  2. aggregate materials & information
  3. create a product
  4. evaluate outcome.

Download my FREE chart of research process models to choose a model most suited to grade level, subject, and assignment. To make the process clear and understandable, give students an infographic of the model. I use just 2 simple models for 6th graders and scaffold the planning process throughout the school year. During 7th & 8th grades I present more models, so before they leave our campus, students have learned how to use a variety of research processes.

Teachers rarely include planning as part of a research assignment—students have a single topic, gather the same information, and regurgitate the same product. We can change that by showing teachers quick planning strategies to incorporate into a library visit. Simple brainstorming with Post-It® Notes, a Thinking Map Circle©, or a KWL chart stimulates students to think in terms of problem-solving and are quick & easy ways to begin a project.

image of 6 Question Research Topic PlannerUse a graphic organizer to help students formulate questions for research. Questions also help students sift through resources for specific information, and because they require analysis and decision-making, they form that problem-solving mindset. Here are 4 graphic organizers I’ve used to generate questions:

The plan phase of a Research Process Model is followed by the aggregate materials & information phase, and we move seamlessly into that Info-Lit component when presenting resources students can use for their assignment.

SEARCH & EVALUATION SKILLS

We need to teach students 3 different elements of this Info-Lit component: source selection, search strategies, and resource evaluation.

Clipped KWHL chart for Alternative Energy Research unit.

Source selection may be proscribed by the teacher, the grade level, or the assignment. Based on the type of resources students need, we may offer a book-cart of library materials, an online Resource List of Web-based sources, or expand a KWL chart by adding How (as shown at right) to make a KWHL chart listing a variety of resources.

Convince students they will “save time and find better information” by using subscription databases and e-books provided by the state and school district. I use this 2½-minute video from Yavapai College: “What Are Databases and Why You Need Them.” If you really want to convince students, mention that they don’t have to evaluate these sources since they’ve already been approved!

My own Keyword Search Form with search modifiers.

Keyword search form

The most important lesson we can teach students about search strategies is how to generate keywords. For a quick lesson students can write keywords on a Post-It® Note (which can be used as an Exit Ticket!). When we use a graphic organizer—such as the KWHL above—have students highlight or underline important words in their questions. To help students master the basics, download my keyword search form and provide it at library computers to reinforce the importance of keywords.

Pre-HS students don’t need to know the term “Boolean operators, as long as they know how to use them. I include the search modifiers AND-OR-NOT on infographics, in graphic organizers, and as part of my keyword search form.

We can quickly teach students to sift top-level domain extensions when searching the free Web by typing site:gov, site:edu, or site:org into the search field of a search engine.

ABC: A Simple Acronym For Website Evaluation - Website evaluation is a topic with many checklists and acronyms. To keep things quick, easy, and memorable, use this simple 3-letter “ABC” acronym which is enough for evaluating the quality of any resource. #NoSweatLibraryThis is a perfect segue into resource evaluation, a topic with many Internet checklists and acronyms. To keep things quick, easy, and memorable, I use this simple 3-letter “ABC” acronym which I believe is enough for evaluating the quality of any resource:

  • Authority — Who is the source of the information?
  • Bias — Why is this published, for what purpose?
  • Currency — When was this information published or updated?

You may wonder why I don’t have all the criteria other evaluators use:

  • I don’t include validity/usefulness, because it’s implied when students select sources that answer the planning questions for their topic. If a source doesn’t provide answers to any questions, they don’t need to evaluate it; if it does, then they use ABC.
  • I don’t include reliability, because it’s part of Currency and Authority. If the site creator has the proper authority, then we can accept it as reliable.
  • I don’t include accuracy, because that can’t take place until the “create” phase, when students analyze and compare information after it’s been aggregated from sources. If the information isn’t accurate, the source isn’t used.

Part of the aggregate materials & information phase of a research process model is extracting information from chosen sources, and that’s when we discuss Academic Honesty Guidelines & Note-taking Skills with students.

ACADEMIC HONESTY & NOTE-TAKING

It’s important to give students an understanding of, and respect for, intellectual property & fair use so they legally access and ethically use information & media, and properly cite copyrighted text, images, music, and video to avoid plagiarism or piracy when producing their end product. For years I struggled through these lessons, but as soon as I began to use the phrase “academic honesty,” students became more positive toward these lessons—I believe it empowers students to meet high standards and builds their self-esteem.

A previous blog post about how I teach Academic Honesty includes examples and resources, but here’s a quick overview of the 3 conceptual elements of Academic Honesty, organized in the order that best complements the problem-solving mindset we’re trying to implant in students:

  1. The Academic Honesty Bundle at No Sweat Library on Teachers Pay TeachersIntellectual property – creations of the mind that belong to the originator or other designated owner.
    1. Citation
    2. Bibliography
  2. Copyright – legal rights given to owners of creative work so it can’t be used or stolen by others.
    1. Note-taking by quoting/paraphrasing, in-document citation
    2. Note-taking by summarizing
  3.  Fair Uselimited legal use of copyrighted material.
    1. Public domain – works whose intellectual property rights/copyrights are expired, given up, or excluded.
    2. Creative Commons
  4. Plagiarismpresenting someone else’s words, ideas, or creative expressions as one’s own. An ethical (not a legal) issue of academic dishonesty/fraud.

This conceptual separation of Academic Honesty can allow us to incorporate a short lesson on any concept throughout the school year.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Research process models, search and evaluation skills, and academic honesty complete the Library Information Literacy curriculum, but in our modern technological and global world students need more. Technology skills are crucial for future schooling and employment, and students also need to learn how to ethically interact with and evaluate all the media around us, so come back for Parts 4 & 5 of Essential Literacies as I offer ideas for incorporating digital literacy and media literacy into library visits.

This is the third entry in my series of blog posts on the 5 Essential Literacies for Students. I invite readers to offer comments and suggestions about any or all of these literacies.

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Research Process Models

You can find the Research Processes chart & keyword search form on my FREE Librarian Resources page.
 NoSweat Research Process Models Comparison Chart- image

My own Keyword Search Form with search modifiers.

Keyword search form

The 6-Question Research Topic Planner mentioned above can be downloaded free by joining my e-Group mailing list. Click on the invitation below. You can find the Notetaking Worksheet mentioned above at No Sweat Library, my TeachersPayTeachers store.
image of 6 Question Research Topic Planner NoSweat Research Notetaking Worksheet available on my TeachersPayTeachers Store
You can find my 4 Academic Honesty lessons featured in NoSweat Library, my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Join my mailing list to get a brief email about new posts on library lessons & management. You'll also gain access to my exclusive e-Group Library of FREE downloadable resources!

Student Interview Projects with the School Librarian

Student Interview Projects with the School Librarian - Interviews can spice up any student project and give students a new perspective on their content. Here are 2 examples of how School Librarians can collaborate with subject area teachers to give Library Lessons on research & interviewing techniques. #NoSweatLibraryWho doesn’t love hearing stories and insights from interesting people? Interviews can spice up any student project and give students a new perspective on content they are learning. Middle schoolers especially enjoy interview projects and I can tell you they are a very creative bunch.

School Librarians can find several opportunities to integrate student interviews into collaborative lessons. Whether live interviews or mock interviews, the process is the same, and regardless of theme or topic, research and information literacy skills can be taught as students gather background for their interviews.

Let’s look at two popular projects in my middle school, one at the start of the school year and the other at the end.

A 7TH GRADE CROSS-DISCIPLINE PROJECT

During the 1st grading period of the school year, our 7th grade Social Studies students learn about the immigration of various groups into our State. During this same period, 7th grade English Language Arts students write personal narratives, so the teachers and I decided to combine the two assignments into a cross-discipline collaborative unit called “My Heritage—How and Why Am I in This State?

Many students don’t know their own history of how they came to be in their State, so we ask them to interview family members to find out. This project gives students a sense of their own identity (important for middle schoolers) and provides a personal understanding of conceptual factors that have brought people into our State.

KWHL Chart for Alternative Energy Project - ExampleEnglish Language Arts classes visit the Library first for a brainstorming lesson. I begin the Library Lesson with a read aloud: Allen Say’s picture book Grandfather’s Journey, a personal story of how he reconnected with his family background.

We pass out a KWHL worksheet (example from another unit at left) and I guide students in writing down what they Know about themselves and their families. Next I help them generate Want to know questions on the worksheet, which they take home and use to interview their parents—who are Source #1, which allows me to teach a personal interview citation. On a subsequent day in the classroom, ELA teachers model letter form and good letter writing so students can mail questions to family members living elsewhere.

State History Social Studies classes are the second Library visit. I tell students they are learning the history of themselves in the same way they are learning the history of our State. During this Library visit they will gather historical background on our State to answer W questions their parents couldn’t answer and also to create new interview questions.

I start with my Keyword Search Form and review search strategies so students can use various print and online primary and secondary sources related to State History, such as biographies and autobiographies; speeches, letters & diaries; and songs & artwork. I also model note-taking on the back of their KWHL worksheet—students have a tendency to write out everything, so modeling “Does this answer the question on my KWHL sheet?” keeps them focused.

History & Heritage: Student Interview Project With Family Members - School Librarians teach students research skills, interviewing skills, and web design in this exciting project for a middle school State History project. #NoSweatLibraryDuring the next few days students continue to gather information through interviews and research. We don’t expect a family tree from the time of the conquistadors, but every student can learn about the lives of their parents and grandparents. State History teachers help them compare and contrast the historical events they are learning about and the lives of their own family.

For their final product we offer students 3 product options—written, crafted, or oral, and two of them integrate technology:

  • During a library visit I show students how to create a webpage so information can be shared with family members who live far away. Students learn that information displayed on the Web must be well-written and concise, forcing them to thoroughly think through and edit their research results.
  • The crafted choice is a photograph poster of family mementos. For students who choose this option, I show them how to use our digital cameras and check them out, usually over a weekend. When they return I show them how to download and print out the images.
  • 7g students enjoy playacting, so mock interviews or newscasts appeal to them. Students with common events in their background can group together to give “eyewitness” accounts. This helps students discern that historical “truths” often depend on one’s point of view—a valuable lesson as they study State history.

At a final Library visit we watch oral presentations, followed by a walk-around to view webpages on computers and crafted photo posters hung along the bookcases. It’s a great way to begin the school year and satisfies the curricular needs of both English Language Arts and Social Studies.

AN 8TH GRADE SPANISH TELEVISION SHOW

In the spring, our 3rd year Spanish students demonstrate their language skills with a group project en Español: a game show or an Oprah-type entertainment show, which we broadcast into the classroom through our closed-circuit TV channel. Both shows require students to do interviews, a short one for the game show and a more in-depth celebrity-type interview for the entertainment show. For this project we have 2 Library Lesson visits: at the first visit students learn about creating good personal interview questions, and during the second visit students learn how to prepare for the TV broadcast.

Here's How a Student Interview Project Becomes a TV Show - School Librarians can make a student interview project more authentic by putting it "on the air" with this Library Lesson. #NoSweatLibraryThe short interview is a 30-60 second introduction of the game show Players; the show host says “Tell us a little about yourself” and each Player responds with his/her fabricated character’s “bio”: home city/state (it can’t be ours), career or job, something about their family (this can be true or made up), and a favorite hobby, song, or movie.

For the in-depth interview I provide students with books on video & TV interviews and short celebrity biographies. I help them generate open-ended questions that prompt the responder to answer with greater depth and variety than just yes or no. The goal for both interviews is that students show their competence using Español, so we encourage them to be imaginative with their responses and in creating the activity.

The second visit is a Library Lesson about good “on-camera presence.” Students learn to look at the camera while answering questions, how to modulate their voice & pace their talking, to avoid distracting gestures, and about best on-camera colors for clothing. We critique demonstrations, then students break into groups to practice their TV shows, during which I schedule their broadcast times over the next week.

Watching the “on air” TV broadcast in the classroom lends an authenticity to this lesson that excites students. After we did this the first time, word got around the school that “Ms. P has a Television Studio in the Library!” and students from all grades began asking teachers if they could “do TV shows with Ms. P” for their various projects. A School Librarian can be kept pretty busy giving lessons on interviewing and then transmitting TV broadcasts to classrooms!

A RESOURCE FOR INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

Visit Story Corps - Story Corps is dedicated to providing a legacy of real voices that are archived at the Library of Congress. Their website, storycorps.org, has "Great Questions" that anyone can use for effective interviews. #NoSweatLibraryIf you’ve never heard of StoryCorps, you’ll want to check them out. They began in 2003 with a Storybooth in Grand Central Terminal in NYC and they continue to give people a way to share conversations. They have recording sites, mobile story tours around the U.S., and an app on their website, all dedicated to providing a legacy of real voices that are archived at the Library of Congress.

“Our mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

Great Questions” on their website is a wonderful resource that anyone can use to promote more effective and enjoyable interviews. (I receive no compensation for this endorsement.)

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