Middle School Observations: Part 3
This is my second follow-up to an original post on my family’s middle school open house adventure and what I gleaned from the experience. In my first follow-up post I talked about how the open house was engaging. And now, my second key observation:
At one point we were learning about the structure and progression of the 6th-grade history curriculum. One of the described research projects specifically involves the use of websites for information gathering. It was during the explanation of this project that one of the history teachers chimed in with a telling statement. She said, “A big part of this project is to instruct and challenge students to evaluate what they are using from the Internet. Where did it come from? Is it the best information to use?” As an educator and a librarian, I can’t tell you how gratifying it was to hear that coming from someone who will be working with my daughters.
I see students struggle with information literacy on a regular basis. Most of those students are tech savvy. They can manipulate technology, multi-task like there is no tomorrow, and surf the web like a professional athlete. But being tech savvy is not the same as being information literate. ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education–borrowing from the Final Report of the ALA Presidential Committee on Information Literacy–defines information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information’.” Finding information is one thing. Having the ability to decide what is the best information to use and using it effectively are altogether different. The earlier and more often we can instruct our students and our children on how to approach, assess, and assimilate the information that they are surrounded by each day, the better equipped they will be to engage their world.
Kudos to the elementary, middle, and high school teachers and parents (and college faculty) who understand this, are in a position to make a difference, and take on the challenge. Soldier on.
Watch for one final posting which will wrap up this series about my observations from a middle school open house.