After introducing students to some basics of information evaluation, we began our second phase of pre-searching on Monday, October 6. Our learning targets included (based on our district content area standards and the AASL Standards for the 21st Century Learner):
- I can use prior background knowledge as context for new learning.
- I can find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
- I can read widely and fluently to make connections with self, the world, and previous reading.
- I can use my library time wisely to think deeply on my work and stay on task.
We began the conversation by discussing how this next-round of pre-search was going to be a little more strategic and structured since our first phase had given us a topic commitment and now it was time to start “cropping” the big picture to narrow our topic (hat tip to Pegasus Librarian for this wonderful metaphor and to my friend Kristin Fontichiaro for pointing me to it).
We then introduced our structures , steps, and resources for helping us go more deeply into our pre-search to help us read and reflect more intentionally while evaluating our information sources.
We required students to print or create a hard copy of any information sources they were using so that they could highlight and annotate the text. We then took time to discuss strategies for annotating informational text and how annotations help us think more deeply and purposefully about a text. We drew heavily from reading and literacy expert Cris Tovani to create this handy “help” sheet on annotating texts for our students:
We then shared with the students how the text annotations would be the bridge to our modified KWL for pre-search and how this reflective thinking, while time intensive for the present, would be essential and instrumental to building our existing knowledge of the topic so that we could hone in on a more specific focus.
On the backside of the hard copy of this chart was the information source evaluation checklist we had worked with the previous week in our research/inquiry circles. We explained how we would use the CRAAP test and our assessment tool to evaluate the information source. Once students had read and annotated an article, completed a KWL for that article, and completed the information evaluation assessment tool for that article, we asked them to staple that together as a “packet” and then add the information source to their EasyBib working bibliography. We ended with a short EasyBib refresher and pointed students to specific tutorial videos we’ve created for a variety of resources.
We then turned the students loose, and they began immersing themselves in the work. Over the next few days, the primary role for Sarah, Jennifer, and me as instructors was to facilitate; most of our efforts were spent answering 1:1 questions and individual conferencing to help students keep moving forward or adjust their searching. After doing a “temperature check” on Friday, October 10, we realized students needed one more additional day for searching, reading, annotating, and doing their metacognitive work with the KWL and information evaluation tool. This was an opportunity for students to wrap up their work while others took advantage of the extra day to get some additional intensive and extended 1:1 help—most requests were related to search terms and techniques. For these students, the personalized help was beneficial in moving them from a place where they felt stuck to discovering new sources.
The content in these pre-search “packets” will be the fodder for helping us move forward with the next step in narrowing topics: mindmapping. We formally started this process of mindmapping today, and I’ll be writing more about that soon as well as the assessments and self-assessments we’re designing to think about where we are in our learning before moving forward into our next phase of inquiry!
Follow our journey: