Posts Tagged information literacy

Information & Society- what we’ve been doing

When the course was approved last year, I had grand visions of being able to manage and administer a library program without assistance, manage textbook distribution for the whole school, create and teach Info & Society from scratch, and still manage to blog following each lesson reporting on lesson plans and what worked.

Yeah, right!

So, though I’ve been remiss in reporting on our classroom activities so far, I am going to do so in one fell swoop in this post.

1. We started the year making a master list of all sources of information that students could come up with. Students ranked them in terms of reliability/authority.

2. In continuing with the evaluating information theme, students were divided into four groups for their first “ON THE FLIP SIDE” topic, which was global warming. The idea was that students would research the same types of information with the same guidelines, and would present to the class using that information to persuade that: Global warming is a human-made phenomenon OR Global warming is simply part of a natural temperature cycle. Students then voted on which group made the best/most persuasive use of their researched information.

This helped students to see that information and statistics can be selected, used, and manipulated toward a particular agenda. A couple of mistakes I made this round: I did not have students take notes while their classmates presented. It would have worked much better if they had jotted down what it was about each group’s presentation and info that was persuasive so that the discussion afterward would have been more effective.

Docs used:

3. Students set up accounts on iGoogle, Delicious, and set up hosted blogs with WordPress. Students selected “Personal Interest Topics” and gathered RSS feeds on their topic in iGoogle, bookmarked and tagged links in Delicious, and wrote inquiry posts on their topic on WordPress. These items are ongoing, and will hopefully set up the foundation for students taking the initiative to set up and use personal learning networks even after they leave this class.

4. We began a two-week long discussion unit on various topics. All involved subject introduction, article reading and annotation, and discussion either in online format or face to face, Socratic Seminar style.

First topic: Freedom of Information/Access

Intro info:

View more presentations from Stigge
Articles read and annotated before discussion:
Second topic: Hacktivism
Articles used:
Third topic: Privacy
Articles used:
Facebook (CNN)
Socratic style discussion used for this topic.
Upcoming: Information Organization unit, How Search Engines Work, Search Engine Optimization/Content Farming, and then Digital Communications unit.

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Helping students save and organize info on the web- Delicious!

I want to highlight the web tool Delicious today and outline potential uses for students. Delicious is called a social bookmarking service, but has so many potential uses in the classroom. Basically, it allows the saving of bookmarks, only unlike doing so in your browser, you can access your bookmarks on any computer- home, school, laptop, library desktop- wherever! Other features that enhance classroom use:

  • You (students) can ‘tag’ bookmarks with descriptors to facilitate organization and retrieval (by unit of study, by paragraph subtopic in essay writing research, etc)
  • Students can discover new websites and resources by looking at what others have bookmarked with descriptive tags
  • You could have students bookmark webpages that you would like them to read and/or visit throughout the year

To give you an idea, take a look at my Delicious account:

I know, I'm a nerd.

My students in Information & Society have set up accounts with the purpose of gathering information about a Personal Interest Topic that they have chosen. Throughout the semester, they will be adding bookmarks, tagging them for organization, reading and learning more about their topic and reflecting on their learning growth within the topic. Those that are seniors are using Delicious to gather Senior Project information.

Already, a number of them are venturing beyond the assignment requirements and are saving and organizing other links beyond their Personal Interest Topic. THEY ARE CHOOSING TO SAVE, ORGANIZE, PRIORITIZE, AND MANAGE THEIR OWN INFORMATION!! ON THEIR OWN!!

As always, please contact me if you would like me to help you make use of this tool with your students!

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Back in Action- Library and Class

Wow. Four days into the school year, and I already found myself Googling stress management techniques last weekend. The year has started off in a whirlwind week of approximately 2,500 textbook checkouts, 81 library book checkouts, five of my own classes taught, four collaborative lessons taught, Open House night, and lots of coffee.

On the bright side, Information & Society has 26 fantastic students and the library is a bustling place for all other students and teachers!

I’d like to progress this year using this space to highlight some of what we do in Information & Society, what worked/what didn’t, as well as to continue to highlight information/tech/teaching tools that teachers in my building might be interested in incorporating into their lessons.

So, what we have done so far in Information & Society:

1. Taken an informal information opinion survey:

I’m keeping their surveys and they will take it again at the end of the semester to see whether their thoughts change.

2. Gotten students registered on our class wiki:

 

 

 

 

 

3. Attempted to have our first online discussion thread on the wiki and found that it was blocked, even though the tech department had whitelisted our particular page. Wikispaces in general is blocked- but I’m working on them to get that changed! 🙂

So, had a successful, on-the-fly discussion using this prompt: When is it important to be conscious of the quality and type of information that we use and when does it not really matter?

4. The rest of this week we will be selecting personal interest topics, setting up accounts on iGoogle and Delicious, exploring blogs on their personal interest topics and adding to their iGoogle feeds, reading from a chosen book, and attending a pep rally! Whew!

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What is a content farm and why does it matter in my classroom?

Flickr CC Attribution andypowe11

Once upon a time, teachers could feel fairly confident in the research sources their students used in projects and papers. Books from the library were vetted and fact-checked by their publishing houses.

Enter the internet- arguably the most revolutionary thing ever to happen to human information exchange.

What is a content farm? Content farms are basically companies that rapidly piece together low quality content for the sole purpose of ad delivery. A few that you might have heard of are answers.com, eHow, Yahoo’s associated content, and ezinearticles.com. A typical model for these companies is to pay (or not) thousands of people tiny amounts of money for writing volumes of “articles” on the things that people most frequently search for on the web. The credentials or knowledge of the people that write these “articles” generally doesn’t matter- the goal is to produce as much content as possible to garner as much web traffic as possible. The companies then make money off of the ads on the “article” pages. Google is responding to the outcry of its users about the low quality of information that has been creeping up in search results by tweaking their algorithm that delivers results, but it is an ongoing struggle. Read more here, if you are interested. Or here. Or here.

Why does this matter in your classroom? If you ever have students use the internet, this should make you think. We all want our students doing quality work, which means we should be expecting them to use quality information. Teaching our students the skill of being able to evaluate the quality of information that they are looking at is an incredibly important life skill that is all to often overlooked.

So how do we teach them what is quality and what is not? The first step is to require quality. Require students to report where they got the information that they used and don’t give credit if they don’t.

The second step is to check their sources when grading to identify the quality. If it is not quality, don’t accept it. Students will only bypass the easy answer for a more quality one if they are required to. (I would be happy to look over your students’ sources if you aren’t sure what you are looking at.)

The third step is to specifically show them how to identify whether a source is quality or not. There just happens to be someone in this building that would love to work with your students on how to do so! (Pssst- me.) There are many aspects of webpages that help to identify quality, with some articulated in this evaluation sheet:

I’d love to work with you and your students to improve the quality of their work and the information that they use! Send me an email and we can discuss how to implement this skill!

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Teaching This Stuff in Course Format

Flickr Creative Commons Attribution cliff1066

The school board approved my course proposal for an information/library centered course! Provided that enough students enroll for the course to make, I’ll be teaching “Information and Society” starting Fall 2011.

I feel like a first year teacher again, nine years after starting in education: excited to fulfill professional goals, but also a little queasy about creating course content from scratch!

I’m using the Kansas Library Media and Technology Standards as a base, but have a lot of decisions to make in terms of content sequencing and tool use.

I have a few questions for my fellow high school librarians out there: (Please leave comments or shoot me an email!)

1. Which would you address first: specific types of information sources (concrete stuff) or the more theory/discussion based information topics (ethics; equitable access; privacy; etc)? Why?

2. Do you know of anyone that teaches library/information skills as a high school course? I would LOVE to visit with someone who has created a course like this.

3. Do you have ANY materials that you would be willing to share with me? ANYTHING!? (squeezing my stress ball, squeezing my stress ball)

Here is a tentative sequence of topics we’ll address in case you are curious- definitely up for revising:

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