Outcome 3

Identify and demonstrate effective use of current and emerging digital tools to locate, analyze, evaluate, and use information resources to support research and learning.

This is something that I don't think I spent a lot of time thinking about in this class, but I have been working on over the past year in my school, and I hope to continue working on it in the future.  Our school librarian has a research skills curriculum that he does with students in grades 4 and 5, but he only focuses on the research databases that the library subscribes to.  While this is great, most people aren't flocking to library databases when they search for information online.  At the same time, while students are searching for information online in their classrooms, there hasn't been a lot of guidance from their teachers (including myself) in conducting online searches.  One of the problems that I'm trying to combat in my school, especially because I hear about how much of a problem it is with the students we send onto middle school, is that students type a question into Google (literally a full-sentence question), click on the first result that pops up, and whatever's on that page becomes gospel.

Utilizing a modified Backward Design process, I'm working with staff on identifying what students need to know and be able to do in several different technology-related domains, including conducting online searches.  This document has what we have established so far in terms of expectations for search literacy and respect for intellectual property.  It's still a work in progress, but my goal is to begin identifying what types of learning activities we can incorporate these expectations into with classroom and other teachers.

Another, independent learning project that I am working on right now is to identify children's literature that helps tell some of these lessons through storytelling and engaging characters.  When it comes to technology, adults have a habit of lecturing and saying "no" to everything and overprotecting students out of the fear of the unknown, and I'd like to change that.  I'm looking for stories (and I've found a few already) that ask questions about the right and wrong ways to use technology, but from the perspective of someone closer to their age, or a fictional character that they can empathize and use their imaginations with.  In addition to teaching lessons about digital citizenship and how to treat others with respect online, I'm hoping to find more books that will talk about finding information online and how we shouldn't believe everything we read.

The good thing about Inquiry-Based Learning is that it seems like a natural place to integrate meaningful lessons about online searches and digital citizenship.  When it comes to conducting research projects that students design themselves, having the skills to find reliable information online is crucial.  Believing everything you see and not knowing what is or isn't appropriate to click on, and even distinguishing advertising from actual content, which can be a challenge for young kids, are enough to completely derail an IBL project.

I still feel as though I don't know enough about what to tech and when to teach it to confidently put together a scope and sequence for how to address these issues with the elementary schoolers I work with.  But I'm hoping that the projects I've outlined above will help me to put those pieces together and be more prepared to deliver effective lessons for students, especially if it happens to be within an Inquiry-Based Learning environment.