“There’s nothing like a shovel full of dirt to encourage literacy.” Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
We live in a world of technological advancement and abundance of information with the threats of fake news, propaganda, social media misinformation and flash speed information communication, which made the digital tools vulnerable to handle.
We, educators, are responsible for guiding and teaching our students with a specific skill called Information Literacy to handle it and help them to become information literate and lifelong learners.
How many of our students know about how Google, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook work, and in our societies?
According to Business Dictionary, Information Literacy is “Ability to define problems in terms of their information needs and to apply a systematic approach to search, locate, apply, and synthesize the information and evaluate the entire process in terms of Effectiveness and Efficiency”.
According to the American Library Association, “Information Literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and can locate, evaluate, and use the needed information effectively”.
Information literacy is becoming increasingly important, especially in today’s world and one of the important skills of the 21st century and ATL skills. It helps us to sharpen our minds with critical thinking, and it empowers us to make balanced choices about the information we find and use.
In our schools, we do have educators to teach subjects like Math, Science, Language Arts, but we do not have specialized educators to teach Information Literacy skills.
In my experience, I have seen many students struggle with research and data collection. Dormant readers with no interest in reading. Students with less or no knowledge about giving credit or acknowledging other work. Some of these incidents ignited and encouraged me to research, design lessons and activities on information literacy and reading.
Information Literacy in Different Contexts
Everyday Life: In our daily life we use information literacy in many ways without being aware of our skills, for example checking reviews of products in online shopping portals, comparing insurance policies or looking for flats on rent or to own. In addition, through Info literacy, we use our critical thinking and thinking skills when we transact online with an awareness of security measures and in avoiding online and telecom scams and securing against fraudulent transactions. Info literacy helps us to behave ethically and mindfully in social media and online platforms (Coonan et al.).
Education: Information literacy plays a major in all stages of Education. Info literacy can be taught integrated with trans-disciplinary subjects aligned with any school curriculum embedded with critical thinking and knowledge development. Information literacy supports IB students for their Extended Essay, Theory of Knowledge, Internal Assessments, MYP Personal projects, and PYP Exhibitions, etc. using research and referencing skills and learning to adhere with academic honesty policies. Through information literacy, students use their research and think critically to search for universities and courses, gain employability skills and help them in lifelong learning(Coonan et al.).
We also use the information literacy skills in our workspace, taking informed choices relating to health and wellbeing and also helps to be a good citizen. Information literacy is connected with digital literacy, academic literacy and media literacy.
According to infolit.org “Information Literacy relates to information in the forms of print, digital content, data, images and the spoken word”.
Questions that arise for me are:
Who will Teach Information Literacy? The only answer to this question would be our Teachers-Librarians. Teacher-Librarians are information experts who facilitate and disseminate information resources to the teachers and students. According to the Australian School Library Association, “Teacher librarians support and implement the vision of their school communities through advocating and building an effective library and information services and programs that contribute to the development of lifelong learners”.
We Teacher-Librarians play different roles in our schools invisibly as:
Information Services Managers, Information Specialists, Library/Learning Resource Centre Managers, Reading Specialists who Promote Reading for Enjoyment, Book Curators, Media Specialists, Counselors – Bibliotherapy, Budget Holders, and Curriculum Advisers.
What Should We Teach in Information Literacy?
Research Skills and Information Literacy
|Information Literacy Program||Research Process||Information process & how objectives of information literacy skills are put in action.|
|1. Formulation/Analysis of information need||1. Choose a broad topic||Defining|
|2. Get an overview of the topic|
|3. Narrow the topic|
|4. Develop a thesis/purpose statement|
|2. Identification/appraisal of likely sources||5. Formulate questions to guide research||Locating|
|6. Plan for research & production|
|3. Tracing/locating individual resources||7. Find, analyze, evaluate resources||Selecting|
|4. Examining, selecting and rejecting individual resources|
|5. Interrogating/using individual resources||8. Evaluate evidence/take notes/compile bibliography||Organizing|
|6. Recording/storing information|
|7. Interpretation, Analysis, synthesis & evaluation of information||9. Establish conclusions/Organize information in outline||Presenting|
|8. Shape, presentation & communication of information||10. Create and Present final product||Assessing|
|9. Evaluation of the assignment|
Sample Research Program with Lessons that can be designed based on appropriate grades for MYP & DP students.
|Planning a Paper||Selection of Topics, research question; composing a thesis; organizing ideas; mind mapping and using KWL|
|Conducting Research||Assignment requirement, primary & secondary data; locating print & online sources; note-taking & note-making|
|Using the Library||Using library online, databases, finding books, search techniques; reading skills|
|Evaluating Sources||The credibility of source; recognizing bias; evaluating print and web sources; recognizing scholarly articles|
|Avoiding Plagiarism||Understanding plagiarism and copyright; academic Honesty|
|Integrating Sources||Critical reading, critical thinking, annotating & summarizing sources, connecting facts & ideas|
|Paraphrasing, Summarizing & Quoting||When & why to paraphrase or summarize or quote; identifying source; signal phrase|
|Referencing Skills||Use of an appropriate citation style and bibliographies styles; what and why to cite?|
|Questioning Skills||Using higher-order thinking question stems|
Reading and Writing incorporated in MYP & DP by Librarians
|Reading and Writing||Lesson Topic Ideas|
|Academic & Leisure Reading, Critical Analysis and Textual Interrogation. Rhetoric and Persuasive Writing||Reading Strategies: Background knowledge, skimming and scanning, visualization, questioning, analyzing text structure. The strategies will help vocabulary development, dictionary skills, summarizing, and paraphrasing.
Close Reading: Using connections like the text to self, text to text and text to world, inferring, interpretation and annotation.
Elements of Story with subgenres of fiction, literary genres, story maps and intertextual study
Connecting ideas through transitions; an understanding plot as a reader and a writer, understanding themes and concepts; analyzing author’s craft & purpose, using a critical lens.
Transdisciplinary Connections with Fiction and Non-Fiction with GIST
Book talk; reading logs, book reviews for a blog, social media; creating book trailers are some ideas.
|Sample Thinking Routine Activities to use (Ritchhart)||3-2-1 Bridge: A routine for activating prior knowledge and making connections.
CSI: Colour, symbol, image routine: A routine for distilling the essence of ideas nonverbally.
Give One, Get One: A routine for sharing ideas and building explanations.
Peeling the Fruit: Diving deep into the topic and unpacking the different elements.
Compass Points: A routine for examining propositions.
(The above lessons were designed and delivered for the MYP-EAL students during this academic year)
Information Literacy with Digital Citizenship – Common Sense Media: MYP & DP
|Strategic Searching: Searching online|
|Creator’s Rights & Responsibility: Copyrights|
|Private & Personal Information: Online identity|
|Citing Online Sources|
|Identifying Quality Sites & Trustworthy|
|Rework, Reuse, Remix: Creator’s rights|
|Intellectual Property Rights|
|Data Collection & Interpretation|
When to Teach?
We can teach the above lessons during our allotted library lessons/periods. If no library lessons are available, then we can do the following:
- Planned walk-in sessions in collaboration with teachers, especially to teach referencing and research skills.
- Reading and writing literacy lessons can be taught in collaboration with Language Arts teachers during language lessons engaging students with interesting activities.
- Collaborative literacy integration sessions with subject teachers (including observance of important days in the library – World Pie Day, Science Bowl, Authors birthday and other)
According to Dargan in her Learning Hub Blog, 2020 – Literacy or Library Integration is an idea to request teachers to conduct at least one lesson of the unit in the library and guide students to:
- Explore resources about the topic/unit.
- Finding connections between fiction and non-fiction – read, assess and reflect.
- Debate or book talk or book critic or quizzes, etc.
- Short movies/documentaries.
- Guided reading, shared or performance reading, and more.
- Using a variety of texts, including school subscribed databases (Follett Web path, Questiaschool, Jstor), magazines, and other resources subscribed by the school.
Students Learning Outcome:
Questioning skills, prediction, note-taking and making, referencing, making connections, analyzing, critiquing, inferring and teaching reading skills.
This will also help us to develop the collections, improve the circulations and more student engagement.
In one of my History class, students investigated child labor in the world today. They used the below-mentioned library resources to enhance their awareness and understanding of the sub-unit. Students also referred to the following books, including history and historical fiction.
- Child Labor Today: Human Rights Issue by Herumin, Wendy.
- Before Their Time: The World of Child Labor by Parker, David
- Child Labor: Global View by Cathryne L. Schmitz
- The Carpet Boy’s Gift by Shea Pegi Deitz
- Iqbal: A Novel by D’Adamo Francesco
- Climbing in the Dark by Warburton, Nick
Similarly, in Mathematics, students can explore the collections of mathematics, including books like Art of Problem Solving and other fiction related to math.
- Competition Math for Middle School
- Pre Algebra: Solutions Manual
- Infinite Powers: The Story of Calculus, by Steven Strogatz
- Math Art by Stephen Ornes
- Beyond Coincidence: Mystery and Mathematics by Martin Plimmer
- Mathemagic by Rohini Chowdhury
Our libraries should be able to meet the expectations of the students with well-curated resources.
Resources to support you for building your Information Literacy Curriculum:
- Commonsense Media
- Google Digital Citizenship
- News Literacy Project
- SOS for Information Literacy
- American Librarian Association
- School Library Association
– By Saleth Premson, Teacher-Librarian, Stonehill International School, Bangalore
American Library Association. “Information Literacy.” Literacy.ala.org, literacy.ala.org/information-literacy/. Accessed 26 June 2020.
Australian School Library Association. “What Is a Teacher Librarian.” ASLA, asla.org.au/what-is-a-teacher-librarian. Accessed 27 June 2020.
Businessdictionary.com. “Information Literacy.” Businessdictionary, www.businessdictionary.com/definition/information-literacy.html. Accessed 25 June 2020.
Coonan, Emma, et al. “Definition of Information Literacy 2018.” Infolit.org.uk, Apr. 2018, infolit.org.uk/ILdefinitionCILIP2018.pdf. Accessed 26 June 2020.
Information Literacy Definitions. Info lit, infolit.org.uk/. Accessed 27 June 2020.
Madan, Dalbir. “Library, Literacy and Learning.” Library, Literacy and Learning, 14 Dec. 2019, One Up Library, New Delhi. Conference workshop.
Secker, Jane, Dr, and Emma Coonan, Dr. “A New Curriculum for Information Literacy.” civil.pbworks, July 2011, ccfil.pbworks.com/f/ANCIL_final.pdf. Accessed 27 June 2020.
Wooliscroft, Michael. “From Library User Education to Information Literacy.” Otago.ac.NZ July 1997, www.otago.ac.nz/library/pdf/tandlpapers_MJW.pdf. Accessed 27 June 2020.