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A little help from our academic friends: Five fine portals for instructional fodder

Need a little inspiration for the coming school year?  How about a few fresh strategies for energizing your information literacy instruction and preparing your secondary learners for their academic experience?

A number of portals offer training and instruction for our students as well as a little retooling for us as professionals, all aligned with the ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, which, of course, resonate with our own AASL National School Library Standards.

Here’s a little round-up of the portals designed to support critical information skills.

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1. Project CORA:  I first met CORA, the Community of Online Research Assignments, back in 2016 and immediately considered her a welcome friend.  The open access, collaborative portal facilitates the sharing and adapting of research assignments for librarians who teach. While the primary audience is undergraduate and graduate librarian educators, CORA offers a wealth of reliable and reproducible projects–instruction, handouts, scaffolds, rubrics and more–adaptable for secondary educators, particularly secondary librarians.

Assignments are searchable by Information Literacy Concepts (with connections to ACRL’s six frames and other standards), Discipline, Ability Level, Individual vs. Group project and by keywords.

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A recent instructional example is Sara Davidson Squibb’s Where Should I Search? It Depends!: The Value of Free and Deep Web Resources (aka Google vs. Databases).  The lesson offers the following easily adaptable resources.

CORA’s Teaching Resources tab leads educators to additional portals rich with curriculum and instructional content. (Leading to even more exciting rabbit holes!)

In addition to their submitted content, contributors may share reflections or lessons learned for the benefit of those who move the instruction forward. Users are also invited to tag contributed content.  Comments are encouraged.

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The goal of Project CORA is to create a community of practice around the elements of student inquiry, including finding, retrieving, analyzing, using, integrating, organizing information and communicating new knowledge and the hope is that the portal will grow to include both traditional and innovative new practices.

Here’s a sample of resources under the Information Literacy categories:

Don’t miss the LeaderBoards at the bottom of the home page for a peek at the most popular assignments as well as the most adapted assignments and most commented on assignments.

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2. New Literacies Alliance Lessons is an interdisciplinary leveling platform for information literacy instruction, ensuring all students have been introduced to basic information literacy concepts before they engage with a librarian during an instruction session.  The resources shared are open source, open access, and Creative Commons-licensed.  Focused on metaliteracies, outcomes-based instruction, and inspired by the ACRL Framework, NLA content is peer-reviewed. The NLA team believes in the integration of information literacy skills in the context of an assignment or project and advocates for subject area faculty/librarian partnership in planning.

An interesting feature is the Popular Sequences of instruction in skill groupings, for instance, Research Foundations: Ask the Right Questions + Types of Information + Search Strategies.

Lessons take an average of eight to fifteen minutes for students to complete and usually contain videos, posters, infographics, Check Yourself Quizzes, and interactive elements.

Available lessons include: Citations; Evidence-Based Practice; Scholarly Conversations’ Access Matters, Question Authority; Types of Information; Value of Information; Search Strategies; Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom; Ask the Right Questions; Choosing Information Paths

Here are some of the elements of the lesson, Inform Your Thinking: Episode 1 – Research is a Conversation

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New Literacies Alliance Lessons are offered under Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

3. ACRL Information Literacy Sandbox: ACRL itself offers a lovely sandbox open to all without a login. Create an account if you’d like to contribute resources.  Resources are contributed by librarians and educational partners who share lesson plans, worksheets, presentations, and more.

Begin browsing at the Resources tab to search by Information Literacy Frame, Resource Type, Discipline, Type of Institution, Scope or Licensed Assigned, or search keywords on the top of the page.

One recent example is this Prezi on Authority is Constructed and Contextual using a Star Wars theme, created by University of West Florida librarian, Amanda Ziegler.

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4. 23 Framework Things explores the ACRL Framework through Helene Blowers popular 23 things learning model. While the self-paced program is designed as a refresher for academic librarians who are implementing the Framework at their institutions, there is much of value for K12 information professionals. The 2017 project was developed by the current and former chairs of the Instruction Round Table of the Minnesota Library Association. Each thing offers a prompt with a directive and a big question, readings, activities, resources and the opportunity to reflect and track your progress.

Check out How to Participate and complete the Registration Form if you’d like to dive in officially to earn a certificate of completion.  Though the organizers expect the site will stay active for years, prize eligibility ends on August 31, 2018.

You can also simply test the waters by exploring the various things:

5. PRIMO Database, a resource featuring aggregated instructional resources vetted by the PRIMO Committee of the ACRL Instruction Section, promotes and shares librarian-created instructional materials relating to information literacy in the hopes that publicizing selective, high-quality resources will help librarians to respond to the educational challenges posed by still emerging digital technologies.

On PRIMO you’ll discover tutorials, videos, lesson plans, courses, assessment tools, workshops and much more.  Don’t miss the recently revived Site of the Month feature highlighting outstanding recent database additions.

Highlighted resources for spring were:

May 2018: Basics of APA Style
April 2018: Research Essentials Online
March 2018: Intro Tutorials for Engineers 

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BONUS! And, don’t forget, one truly amazing resource for fabulous librarian-created ideas at all levels and for all user audiences is the LibGuides Community. After a keyword search, more than half a million published guides may be further filtered by type of library, subjects, tags and Guide type.

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You may also be interested in my recent post and poster on Some secret strategies for serious searchers.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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