Information literacy: theory
article is adapted from a seminar delivered at International Reading
Association World Congress 13.7.2000, Auckland
information literate is to be able to find, read, analyse, interpret
and apply information with critical discrimination to build and
integral to the process, and I believe that the experienced
curriculum no longer sustains the traditional academic distinctions
between reading skills, comprehension skills, critical and creative
thinking skills, metacognition, study skills, information skills
and ICT skills.
literacy is a living literacy, a literacy needed for even basic
operation in ‘wired’ societies today.
absolutely no evidence that it is caught, and overwhelming
evidence that it must be taught, not in libraries, but
in the context of the experienced curriculum.
three key dimensions:
literacy - the ability to understand, analyse, synthesise,
‘think with’ and apply information.
literacy - the ability to use technologies to retrieve, process,
produce and communicate information.
literacy - the ability to find and retrieve information from
any source or resource, and to know when self-help ends and the
help of qualified teacher-librarians or librarians must be sought.
(‘Library’ is interpreted as ‘virtual’ library, stored information,
rather than a physical room. Increasingly it means being able
to use sophisticated search techniques to navigate the Internet).
literacy is more, much more than being able to identify parts
of a book or perform on banal PAT tests.
a desperate need for a broader model of information literacy covering
all literacies and all learning, not just ‘projects’. Project
or ‘inquiry’ learning is adequately catered for by my 6-stage
Action learning model which has been around since 1984 (the USA
Big Six was published in 1988).
The new simple
3-part model integrates information literacy learning into ALL
learning, not just projects/ inquiry or ‘library’ skills. It relates
to ICT-based learning just as well as it does to print-based learning.
It will be released next year when the trademarking process is
completed. Keep looking at the new School Quarterly website for
The 3 cornerstones
of the new model are:
• ANALYSIS • STRUCTURE
The ten pedagogical
strategies were listed in Term 1 Good Teacher. Check the
new website www.TheSchoolQuarterly.com, click on the new
INFORMATION LITERACY ARCHIVE and find my recent information
literacy article under ‘Definitions and Discussions’.
the 10 strategies and make links from the pedagogy to the classroom
learning practice. Tick which were used. For example, does what
Mere is doing relate to making links to curiosity, or negotiating
goals or criteria? Copy it. Send it to Good Teacher. Prizes
for the first 10 correct answers received!
sequence doesn’t cover all the strategies, obviously, but it does
show that you don’t have to go anywhere near parts of a book to
teach information literacy!
My name is
Mere. I am 12, nearly 13. My teacher, Mrs Jones, is seriously
old and quite strict, but she’s fun. She’s a really good teacher
because she always tells us why she thinks what we are learning
is important, and interesting, and she shows us the best way to
learn it. She is bats about learning and knowledge and as blind
as... , so we all laughed when she said that we were going to
enrol in the LEARNZ online ‘Let’s go BATS’ programme in Term 4.
us to contribute our work to the listserver, and she wants it
to be work we are really really proud of, so she reckons we need
to sharpen up some of our information literacy skills. She made
us go back to our evaluations. YUK! But we had to agree with her
that we needed more practice in SURFING (Scanning and skim reading
text) and SLURPING (Reading in depth for understanding). We also
needed more practice putting things into categories so these are
going to be our 3 information strategy goals. Last term we used
books but this time we’re using the LEARNZ web material.
said that way back the 80s when Noah was building his ark, she
was doing integrated projects, but young teachers these days were
carrying on like it’s something new, so we’re going to show them
how we integrated our English, Social Studies, Technology, Science
and Art goals! She put up a list of all the things we were going
to achieve - in what she calls "Curriculumspeak" and
translated them into "Kidspeak" for us.
She got us
interested by guessing why vampire bats were called that, and
then she told us a whole lot of really fascinating bat facts from
websites and books she’d looked at. She talked really fast and
made us take short notes as fast as we could go.. then we shared,
in pairs and then fours, all the info we’d note.
the projector that links to the computer and showed us the map
she’d drawn on Inspiration with the categories:
WHAT are they? What do they look like, species, etc?
WHERE are they? Overseas? NZ?
WHEN they fly...? Their wings, how they navigate, make sounds,
HOW they live, etc? What they eat, what eats them, how they
copies of her rough map for each of us and we cut out our notes
and stuck them under the categories where they fitted.
the hard bit. She put us into teams of four. I was with Pete and
Greg and Joan. We were given half an hour, just HALF AN HOUR,
to surf all the information on the LEARNZ Bats site! She said
to go like bats out of hell! We did!
was to improve on her map and to sort out some really good categories
for the next stage. We then had half an hour to draw our categories
on the screen using Inspiration. We fought a bit but it came out
OK. We had to show her and she thought it was good. She suggested
we add ‘Echolocation’ to the flying category because it was an
important part of our science learning, and one of the most fascinating
things about bats, she thought.
bit was our independent work. For homework we had to develop questions
related to each of the categories. We already knew what sort
of information was on the site, so this wasn’t too hard. The next
day we shared our questions and made a master list for our team
and then had to check with Mrs Jones. She said some were too big
and ‘woolly wafter’ (her favourite expression), and she helped
us to break them up into smaller questions.
We then had
to do our work plan. We had two weeks to ‘interview’
all the information on the site to answer our questions by
writing information on buttons behind on the Inspiration map.
The boys wanted to play on Inspiration, but she wouldn’t let us
till we had most of it on paper. So we had to work out who was
researching what questions, and when, and how we’d check that
the information they’d got was correct. She’s really fussy about
this, so we thought we’d probably use the Britannica site, and
maybe also Encarta and the World Book.
out that there were site links on the LEARNZ site. We thought
they’d probably be the best bats sites. We decided that we’d have
enough info without using search engines this time.
made us add a midway checkpoint for seeing her, but otherwise
she thought our plan was realistic (another favourite word) and
us some help at our midway point, but liked what we’d done, so
we finished the draft and she authorised Stage 3.
the fun bit. We expanded our Inspiration map and stuck on buttons
with the info related to our questions. We had a lunchtime ‘show-and-tell’
where different teachers came to see what we’d done. Awesome!
Most of them hadn’t used Inspiration and they thought we were
teams are finished, and we’re doing Stage 4. We’ve all read the
biography written by Ananda the Takahe on the ‘Tarks in the Park’
part of the LEARNZ website, so now we’re all doing our own bat
autobiographies. We can choose a bat name that starts with B.
We’re each doing our own but have a ‘writing buddy’ to check structure,
spelling, grammar, etc, and put it through the ‘readaloud’ test.
It can be a tragedy, like if your bat gets eaten by a predator,
or a love story if your bat meets another bat and raises Minor
to use Kidpix and invite the year 2s to a presentation, so we
also have to think about making it really clear and concise, and
drawing pictures which will explain the story.
has this thing about "how do you know you KNOW?"
For Stage 5 we’re going to do all the activities on the LEARNZ
site as a test. It sounds horrible, but I find that once we’ve
done the work, I quite enjoy testing myself. She doesn’t make
a fuss if you don’t know. You just go back and check it out again.
So you can
see why I enjoy her class - but, boy, is it ever hard work!