“Students need information skills not just to get through school but also when immersed in their careers and in day-to-day living… I see incoming students whose academic research skills are abysmal. And throughout their lives students will continue to be bombarded by information from a variety of sources so they need to learn information discovery and assessment skills as part of their formal education.” Dawn Talbot, UC San Diego’s Digital Library Program (from A 21st Century Challenge: Preparing ‘Cut and Paste’ Students to be ‘Information Literate’ Citizens)
At Journey we are using Common Sense Media and other resources to help our middle school students extend the digital citizenship skills they learned in 6th grade into cyberspace – by teaching them how to use critical thinking skills to find and use online information. Information and Research Literacy is the focus in 7th grade.
We start with a general overview of online safety and security. The students learn concrete skills that will keep them be safe and secure online, such as managing their online reputations, choosing safe and secure passwords, guarding against identity theft ,and more. Then, because searching for information has changed dramatically since we were young, we look at how to use the Internet as a powerful tool for information and research. The students are introduced to different search options for finding information. They also learn how to make informed choices about which sites to use and how to use search tools and precise keywords to find what they need.
We help the students become critical thinkers about the information they encounter online by helping them learn how to evaluate the credibility and quality of websites. They explore what it means to be a “sticky” site, and they learn how Wikipedia works by editing and authoring an entry. Finally, the students apply their research and information literacy skills in an end-of-the-year project that they present to their classmates. The overall goal of this year is for students to become active, critical thinkers when searching and evaluating online resources.
These links also contain great information for parents:
- Why More Schools Aren’t Teaching Web Literacy and How They Can Start
- Will You Let Your Kids Search with BING? (re: safety settings on search engines)
- Wikipedia Tips for Parents
Links to 3 PDF tip sheets:
- Research and Information Study Guide (PDF)
- Searching Tips for Parents (PDF)
- Evaluation Tips for Parents (PDF)
Photo credit: The Pradhan Studios