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Who Knows The Real Meaning?

In some K-12 schools, information and technology literacy is integrated and threaded throughout the curriculum.  One of my summer responsibilities is to create a rubric  for each grade from K-12, with the hope that students will graduate with a clear understanding of what it means to be "information smart." This change happened as a result of a conversation I had with a librarian at SIBL. She mentioned that she's finding more and more graduating seniors not knowing how to access databases, conduct effective Boolean searches and evaluate Web sites properly. Part of the problem is there's a lot of confusion as to who should teach information literacy. Is it the librarian, media specialist, teacher, or the student-teacher's (fresh out of college) responsible?  Then the question is, "What should they teach?" "Is it a stand alone subject?" No one knows. It's all debated but I have yet to find an updated Information Literacy Rubric for K-12 Curriculum…hence my summer job.

What we do know is that students are skilled at using the Web and are comfortable using technology. They are so adept that some colleges are recruiting them to assist their professors when needed. I'm guilty of that too. 

This post is filled with questions because frankly, my answers may not reflect yours. This week I asked a random selection of students, "What does being information-literate mean to you?" Basically, their answers were what you'd expect. "It means knowing how to evaluate websites." Another said, "Information-smart kids know how to access databases." But one student provided a critical analysis of the question. "What if you're not into technology like me, and you're just into books? Can you still be information literate?" Despite my own love of books, I couldn't lie to him. No he couldn't be information-literate without being technology-literate.

Last question, how do we, as "conveyors of information" put a grade on a student's ability to retrieve and properly assess this information?  We really need a K-12 assessment tool. But let's teach the material first and make sure everyone on board works to make this seamless transition through the grade levels EFFECTIVE. Let's put our turf wars aside and share thoughts and answers on this. 

Helpful sites:
1) The ACRL site has a short list of examples of tests and surveys from a variety of higher education schools
2) From NPEC (National Postsecondary Education Cooperative: How Does Technology Affect Access in Post Secondary Education? What Do We Really Know?  (Courtesy of Distance Education Library Services)
3) Try this Internet literacy scavenger hunt. It's a fun way for middle school students to learn Internet terms.
4) Minneapolis Community & Technical College Professor Thomas Eland's Information Literacy Online tutorial. This site has interactive quizzes and background guidelines for students to practice their skills.

-Amy Bowllan



    Hi, Amy,

    Your rubric is a good idea as a summer project.

    There are a lot of sites and books that can help you. Doug Johnson’s benchmarks in the Mankato district are a good model; they can be found on his website.

    Also, take a look at the K-12 and K-20 issues of AASL’s Knowledge Quest that are available on KQWeb. There’s a lot of material there that will help.

    And, the AASL/AECT Information Literacy standards creates a picture of the kind of student we all want to graduate.

    Hope this helps, Sara Kelly Johns

  2. Thanks Sara!

  3. ALICE YUCHT says:

    Gee, if you click on Professional Resources on the top of this page, and then scroll down to Information Literacy and Technology, you’ll find that the SLJ website has provided links to lots of excellent resources…

  4. LAZYGAL says:

    That’s a laudable goal, but it doesn’t excuse not researching what’s on SLJ’s site or having been to KQW’s and pointing these resources out in your post.

  5. Robert Eiffert says:

    Kim Brosan said:
    “Amy, I would argue that students are not skilled at using the internet, which is a large part of the problem.”

    If the research project is just a retelling of facts, then basic skills will be perfectly acceptable. And there is little incentive to hone finer skills if they aren’t needed. We don’t need racecar driver skills for the information superhighway, if 30 minutes of practice gets you to your destination.

    Then we could also look at the emphasis on location rather than evaluation.

  6. Amy Bowllan says:

    Kim Writes…
    “I’m glad to see the blog, but could your techies please do something about the way it’s viewed? On my MAC the text runs in one long wide line per paragraph making it nearly impossible to read!”

    Has anything changed Kim since this previous query? Let me know.