Tired of receiving work from your students with incorrect information from questionable sources and unreliable websites? Tired of seeing kids hit the first link on their Google search as the extent of their research, or using Wikipedia as their only source for information? Have no fear, because Information Fluency skills are the answer.
You can teach students to use a framework that guides them through vetting information and determining its accuracy before using it in their projects. That framework is—you guessed it—Information Fluency. When you systematically go through these steps with your students, they will learn how to craft solid cases on their own.
Using Information Fluency Skills in Class
We are bombarded with information every second of our lives. We assess the information and, in a split second, determine how it will affect us and our decisions. Having Information Fluency skills slows down the process so we can dissect each and every aspect and learn how to do it better.
Information Fluency goes hand-in-hand with Solution Fluency, the framework for project-based Learning.
Before you begin a project which involves information gathering or research, post the steps of Information fluency prominently in your classroom. The components of Information fluency are: Ask, Acquire, Analyze, Apply, and Assess.
Being the first, this stage involves the planting of seed ideas; brainstorming; and making initial inquiry into the nature of the driving question. What will we tackle? Where do we begin? What’s important to you? Often the push forward is helped by determining an individual’s or group’s collective values. Listing these values might be a great place to start. For examples: community improvement, peer well-being,
Acquire: Accessing information is no longer as easy as going to a card catalog and getting a book or other paper-based resource. This stage involves accessing and collecting informational materials from the most appropriate digital and non-digital sources.
And … go! We are set forth on an exploration and search, gathering clues, whatever they may be, however relevant to our driving question, little or big. It’s about bringing items to the table to discuss so that we can explore the aspects of the question. We are simply getting to know this main question—getting clues to its personality, its quirks, its difficulties, its advantages. What is this driving question and why should we care?
Analyze: With all the raw data collected, the next step is to navigate through the information to authenticate, organize, and arrange it all. This stage also involves ascertaining whether information is true or not, and distinguishing the good from the bad.
We examine what’s on the table. We are now determining sources and their validity. It’s like “picking up” and scrutinizing the information like paleontologists piecing together strange bones. “How does this information fit?” “Is it true?” Here’s a great chart for quickly analyzing the information.
The puzzle is coming together. Step back. What does our product look like? Step in close. Does everything fit properly? We are constructing our masterpiece with the information that we have painstakingly inspected. We unveil the final piece and let it live on its own.
Assess: The final stage is about thoroughly and critically revisiting both the product and the process. This involves open and lively discussions about how the problem-solving journey could have been made more efficient, and how the solution created could be applied to challenges of a similar nature.
The process does not end at the great reveal. We must then reflect on our learning and our process. What broke down? What went well? What will we change? Was our product in line with addressing the driving question? Rate how well it did. Do we then go back to the drawing board?
You can see how students can then use Information Fluency skills on their own while doing research for a particular problem. It doesn’t matter if it’s high-tech, low-tech, or no-tech research. With so much bad information in the media and the internet, Information Fluency skills are paramount to creating well-informed and reliable citizens.