I remember going to the Learning Center when I was in elementary, middle, and high school. I remember the librarians teaching us how to use the card catalog and how to use the index in the back of a book. I remember a sixth grade social studies project, when I had to research Australia and put together a flipbook about the continent, complete with pictures and my original writing. You probably have similar memories from your school days.
Today is different.
I’m reading this book right now for a librarian class called Reference and Instructional Services for Information Literacy Skills in School Libraries. Chapter One quotes Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, as saying, “[these days] we create as much information every two days as was created from the beginning of human history to 2003.” That’s a lot of stuff, and our students need to receive instruction on how to effectively navigate through it all in school and in life.
Enter the D117 Freshman Information Literacy Curriculum. Over the summer, Barb and I, with the help of freshman lead teachers from Global Studies, English I, Physics, and Health, made serious progress on this curriculum. Those teachers included, from ACHS, Lauren Krickl, Jim Hellen, Howard Citron, and Rob Hafer, and from Lakes, Meghan Reilly, Sara Lesinski, Kris Scheidt, and Caroline Gelden.
Here’s a glimpse of what we accomplished:
In District 117, our students are fortunate to have access to approximately 500 Chromebooks and 17 databases at each school. We want them to know about those resources and we want to instruct them on how to use them to solve information problems.
Our freshmen experience at least 10 major research projects throughout the year. Many of our freshman teachers notice the same trends: their students struggle with finding relevant sources, extracting information from those sources, evaluating sources, summarizing and paraphrasing, exhibiting resilience throughout the research process, and more. It’s no wonder, as in addition to libraries full of books, students have the World Wide Web with which to grapple.
We can make a difference with this formalized curriculum and collaborative instruction among disciplines—and we’re going to prove it.
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