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The newly reimagined Empire State Information Fluency Continuum

The newly reimagined Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (ESIFC) was introduced at the NYLA-SSL Summer Institute this week. Happily, our friends in New York State are again sharing their fine work.

Dr. Barbara Stripling, Professor Emerita, Syracuse University, and former ALA President, describes the history and goals of the project that builds on an earlier version developed by school librarians in 2009 under the auspices of the Office of Library Services and its former Director, Dr. Stripling. Her blog post shares:

In 2019, SLSA approved re-imagining the ESIFC to adapt to the changing information, education, and technology environments, as well as the increasing diversity in our student populations . . . The re-imagined ESIFC includes increased or new attention to pre-kindergarten, multiple literacies, digital citizenship and civic responsibility, multiple perspectives, personalization of learning, design thinking, student voice and agency, and social and emotional growth. Different sections provide a PK-12 continuum of skills, identification of priority skills for every grade level, and graphic organizer assessments for the priority skills.

The heart of the ESIFC is our students. It is our mission as school librarians and educators to prepare each one of our students to develop the skills and agency to be both critical consumers and creators of information as they navigate and succeed in their academic and personal lives. We invite all educators to collaborate with their school librarians and use the ESIFC to guide the teaching of information skills as an integral aspect of learning in every classroom and at all grade levels.

The Inquiry standard is framed by Dr. Stripling’s Cycle of Inquiry and Learning that engenders active learning and the formation of new understandings.

Barbara Stripling’s Inquiry Model
ESIFC LibGuide

Informed by and aligned with AASL Standards Framework for Learners, the ISTE Standards for Students, and several other New York State and national frameworks, presents:

a clear continuum of skills and strategies that may be taught by the school librarian, whether in collaboration with classroom teachers or in independent lessons as dictated by school environments. A collaborative approach by the librarian and the classroom teacher is by far the most effective way to teach information fluency/inquiry skills and strategies. 

Built around a broad framework using Anchor Standards and Indicators, the reimagined ESIFC includes new focus on:

  • multiple literacies, including visual and media literacy
  • use of technology for learning, including digital literacy skills
  • pre-kindergarten
  • personalization of learning
  • evaluation of multiple perspectives
  • digital citizenship and civic responsibility
  • design thinking, including innovation and creation
  • student voice and agency

The ESIFC includes a rich repository of downloadable graphic organizers to support assessment. Offered as Word documents, these tools are easily adaptable. Among them, you’ll find this 4th Grade tool promoting design thinking. The organizers are also available in Section 6: Assessments by Standards.

I am particularly fond of the REACTS Taxonomy which offers creative options for student inquiry projects at 6 levels of thought, inspired by the classic Stripling and Pitt’s Brainstorms and Blueprints: Teaching Library Research as a Thinking Process.

My New York State friends shared that a highlight among the resources shared at the Summer Institute was Sharon Fox’s (Tuxedo Union Free School District) lesson plan documents, made so easily available in her shared Google Drive folders. The lesson plan template makes use of drop-down menus for the AASL National School Library Standards.

Among Sharon’s resources are:

Sharon’s planning documents offer yellow sections to complete and date and pink sections that offer choices among the AASL Standards in a hierarchical drop-down menu.

One of Sharon Fox’s weekly lesson plan templates

I ask Sharon about what inspired her contribution. She shared:

Initially I created the templates because I was frustrated with the existing plan books. They are designed, without regard for those of us whose schedules and grade levels change. Adding the AASL Standards to my weekly lessons was something I felt strongly about because showing administrators that you are regularly aligning your lessons with national standards is a form of advocacy for both yourself and for your library program. It’s a great way to show how seriously you take your profession as well as how you view your students’ achievements. 

Sunday evenings used to be a frantic flurry of flipping through the standards book and I knew there had to be an easier way. I tinkered with my Excel knowledge and figured out how to create drop-down menus in Google Sheets. 

I was eager to share documents publicly because I realized that if they saved me time and energy, others would feel the same way. While I was initially planning to share it with NYLA/SSL, others encouraged me to share more broadly via social media. I’ve honestly lost count of how many times they’ve been shared through Facebook and Twitter and I’m really excited to help others who have helped support me in my career. 

I heard there was a bit of sharing on social media and applause heard well beyond the walls of the Summer Institute. Sharon confirmed:

I’ve received amazing feedback from the 2019 Leadership Institute participants! I’ve heard from countless librarians what I already knew–there is no good plan book for us that doesn’t require significant adaptation to fit our professional needs. When I demonstrated how the templates work and all of the features I included–for instance, automatic date insertion, the drop-down menus themselves, how to save so they are searchable next year–the participants gasped in excitement. Someone even asked me where I hang my cape! The answer is next to my broom, for the record.

Since I wasn’t onsite for the launch of the IFC, I asked my dear friend, Sara Kelly Johns, co-chair of NYLA’s Educational Leadership Committee, for her take on their value and the librarian response regarding their value.

We have the AASL Learner Standards. They are our vision and an expression of the key competencies students need. We also have the ISTE Standards for Students guiding us on how students learning using technology. The ESIFC has been recognized and used well beyond New York State for years. The reimagined IFC provides the piece of the puzzle that is what we teach. The connection to the content areas presents the IFC as a rich toolkit that provides a curriculum for student skills that is tangible and usable by school libraries whether they are teaching individually or collaboratively.

The graphic organizers that comprise Section 6 Assessments by Standard were received with great acclaim. They facilate the emphasis on our Anchor Standards. When we are working collaboratively we might sometimes give in and not fully acknowledge the skills for which we are responsible.

Barbara emphasized that we cannot teach everything at one. We need to teach a single skill at a time.

One of the most important additions is the focus on student voice and agency. The reimagined Empire State Information Fluency Continuum, with its focus on student voice and agency, truly facilitates students being able to think, create, share and grow globally.

Important links:

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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