As I near completion of Supporting Information Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom EDUC – 6712, I cannot help thinking about the many ways my teaching ability will be enhanced because of this class. I learned about social bookmarking, how to evaluate web sites, the importance of essential questions and how they can guide student projects, collaboration with other schools using e-pals, the pros and cons of schools filtering the Internet, that there are other search engines my students could use instead of Google, and that information literacy is so important today.
The most striking revelation that the course taught me about the new literacy skills is that students are asked to find information, decipher if it is right or wrong, and synthesize information from many places. This is much more difficult that going to a text and finding "correct" information easily. Alvin Toffler stated that "the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn" (Jukes & Macdonald, 2007). This statement really sums up where education is and where it needs to be headed. The staff at my school is teaching students how to read and write but are we giving students the skills to learn, unlearn, and relearn?
The knowledge and skills I have learned in this course will be incorporated into my curriculum. One way is that I will not allow my students to use Google for Internet searches. They will need to use www.sweetsearch.com or www.boolify.org. I will use diigo to list all the sites we are going to use in the classroom versus having students type in URL’s. I will incorporate the REAL method to test the validity of websites. REAL stands for:
R – Read the URL (what is the extension?)
E – Examine the content (is it a hoax?)
A – Ask about the author/owner (use www.easywhois.com to locate the owner)
L – Links (examine)
By using the REAL method, my students should be able to decipher whether a website is legitimate or a hoax. I will introduce my students to www.computertan.com and will see if they can apply the REAL method and figure out if it is valid or not. Finally, when I assign students projects, such as the Canadian Provinces/Territory wikis, I will have checkpoints for assessment. "Although it is important to be able to evaluate what students have learned at the end of an inquiry unit, even more important for Guided Inquiry is consideration of formative assessment along the way" (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2007). In the past, I would only assess the final project and there were really no way of knowing if my students were getting it or not. If they were started completing the project the wrong way, there was really no way of knowing it unless they asked questions or if I caught it when patrolling the computer lab. This will give me a greater chance to assess skills along the way and evaluate the creativity of the final project presentation.
One profession developmental goal I would like to pursue that builds upon the knowledge from this course and develops my information literacy skills is to increase my student’s awareness that everything that they read on the Internet is not true. I want my students to improve their ability when finding information. Starting day one, we learn and practice Internet skills. First, we will search will without using Google. Next, we use the REAL method for every website. Finally, we will work on synthesizing information. It is an important skill that is not easy to master but if we use work on it from day one there will be tremendous improvement when my students move to seventh grade.
If I were to sum up this course in one word I would say valuable. Its content will play an important part of my teaching practice. It has given me tools to help prepare my students with 21st century skills that they will use throughout their education.
Jukes, I. (2007). 21st century fluency skills: Attributes of a 21st century learner. Retrieved from http://www.committedsardine.com/handouts/twca.pdf
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.