Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bringing Y2K Babies into the 21st Century

As most school districts are wading further into the pool of Common Core, more and more educational communities and making a push for the advancement of 21st Century Learning Skills.  It's the newest buzzword (and I regret not saying it enough in my recent teacher librarian interview), but in reality it is so lucrative to success in this modern world.  I will turn 27 at the end of June, and I am right at the end of what I'll call the Pre-21st generation.  I grew up with computers, but I still definitely required several years of elementary computer classes, a tech-savvy dad, and a lack of athletic ability to really get to know technology.  Students today were practically tweeting from the womb.  They've been raised in a completely different environment.  To us, technology is a way to find answers and bring new information to our fingertips, something that could have taken days to track down in library card catalogs for the more specific questions.  To them, technology is a way to connect with friends and share pictures.  I see Google as a way to find answers; many of my students see it as the only way to get to a website that they already frequent many times a day.  It is our job as educators to bring these tech-savvy teens to a new level of information literacy rather than simply admiring their technology literacy.

Mike Eisenberg uses his Big6 method to outline a clear method of increasing information literacy among our students.  (You can visit his website here, or check out his very informative video here.)  The Big6 uses the following steps:

1. Task Definition

1.1 Define the information problem
1.2 Identify information needed

2. Information Seeking Strategies

2.1 Determine all possible sources
2.2 Select the best sources

3. Location and Access

3.1 Locate sources (intellectually and physically)
3.2 Find information within sources

4. Use of Information

4.1 Engage (e.g., read, hear, view, touch)
4.2 Extract relevant information

5. Synthesis

5.1 Organize from multiple sources
5.2 Present the information

6. Evaluation

6.1 Judge the product (effectiveness)
6.2 Judge the process (efficiency)

These methods are exactly what teachers, and especially librarians, can use to promote this learning in our classrooms.  Students struggle most with the vastness of everything... well, actually more with the lack of giant neon signs that say "Click here! I have all the answers!"  Having a clearly defined task and strategy with which to acquire information will make the task a much smoother process.  The 3rd step, "Location and Access" is certainly the peek of teacher librarian interaction.  By definition, it is our job to help students locate information, and for these coming generations that seem to enjoy reading less and less, we have to do a lot more to help them find the answer once we've found the source.

This is a very concise way of outlining a lengthy process, and I know I will have my library science students mastering this process, and I will certainly use while collaborating with teachers.