Information literacy skills are of paramount importance in the 21st Century. Information Literacy is an all encompassing term that includes traditional reading, writing, oral communication, digital literacy, media literacy, digital citizenship and higher order thinking skills. Higher order thinking skills includes critical thinking, and are are necessary for all curriculum areas and learning skills to help students assess sources of information for the reliability, validity to themselves and the subject. These skills are not add-ons, they are perhaps the most important skills our students will need for the future.
The ultimate goal of information literacy is to help learners become critical consumers of information which includes self-direction towards the knowledge that is both personally meaningful, but that also has reliability and validity. However, students are also active producers of information as well. Regardless of how information is shared in the 21st century, Information Literacy skills are valuable to help students contribute to the greater good of the world by posting and sharing meaningful information throughout their lives.
Students do not acquire higher order thinking skills on their own. Teaching is art form that needs to include students as active users of information through technology. While kids show confidence with technology, this does not translate into information literacy skills.
Teaching information literacy skills works best when embedded within other areas of study. This helps to make the skills relevant and applicable across the curriculum, and hopefully translatable to other areas of life.
Therefore, lesson planning that provides meaningful opportunities for students to engage in these important areas will greatly serve our students throughout their school careers and beyond.
The following is a list of 5 criteria for integrating information literacy skills:
1.Classroom Ecology: Critically think about your classroom community, the needs, the best ways to promote student voice. Is information literacy set up to be a natural extension of the learning that takes place in your learning environment?
2. Participation vs Consumption. Consider how the students and learners are going to participate with the curriculum as higher order thinkers. Promoting inter-disciplinary study, and inquiry-based learning will help students to make meaningful connections to what is important to them, and help them to become skilled at participating in information literacy, not merely consuming.
3. Manage distraction. One that cannot be ignored is that many technology tools are linked with other tools including social media tools, other digital learning tools, advertisements, and irrelevant information. How can we manage inevitable distraction for students, when we cannot work alongside them all the time?
4. Promoting Collaboration. In what ways can we use the information to learn together, to collaborate, to share, and to build new knowledges. How can we tailor each situation to our own specific needs?
5. Equity and Accessibility. How are we ensuring that all students have opportunities to develop the very skills that they will need to succeed both in school, and beyond? Equity is also about ensuring that our most disenfranchised students are not missing out on key opportunities to learn basic methods of information literacy.
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