Sunday, September 15, 2013

What is Information? Getting High School Freshmen Prepared for Inquiry

Tomorrow I begin a week of presenting an introduction to information to high school freshmen. I will teach the same 45 minute introduction for almost every period of the school day for all of our freshmen English classes. This is exciting! When I did this Introduction to Information unit for the first time last year, I could see lightbulbs going off over heads all day long. I remember the boy who sat down with headphones. I asked him to take the headphones off and he scowled at me. Then he listened. Then his eyes lit up. Then he participated. He told me about the records he's seen that belonged to his grandfather. He stayed after to tell me more about his family. And, I remember the boy who was interested in my old class photo in which students held a "no hunting" sign before them. I explained that I didn't know why the sign said that. The boy told me. He then told me about conversations he had with his neighbor about World War II and hunting. These boys showed how interesting and personal sharing information can be.

In this blog today, I am sharing my outline for my class. I hope that an introduction to the wide-world of information is something that becomes a core part of every American high school curriculum. We will begin each class tomorrow with an assessment of students research skills using "Trails Nine" so that I may better tailor information lessons to suit the needs of students. The last half of class includes the following:

What is information?
Good morning. You are here today to learn about what information is. It seems like a pretty simple thing, right? 

I have worked as an information specialist for my whole career. I have been a public librarian, an archivist, a museum assistant, and cultural heritage consultant. I have worked professionally in museums, libraries, and archives. I have also brought my library skills to my work in town governments a science lab and a law firm.
[Show photos of places I’ve worked]

Did you hear anything besides “library” that got your interest? Did you know that “librarians” might work in places like the ones that I listed and showed?

Just to round out my background for you, I am also a published author and a professional public speaker. I speak about preserving family memories, historical records in communities, and using social media effectively for business.

All of these things that I do are considered part of the “library sciences.” Libraries are all about information – inside and outside of the library building. My job is to help you to find the information that you need, wherever it might be, and to evaluate it to see if it is good information or bad.

Picture your first visit to the library or an early memory of a library. What did you see, smell and hear? Hold onto that memory.
Share my story about the old library in 5th grade – Mrs. Hoffman.

Now think about your library memory. Does anyone want to share an early library memory? [If no response, prompt – What does a library sound like to you? What does a library look like to you? What do you do in a library? – pick a student to answer]

A library offers a sense of place. It should be a safe, neutral place to learn, discover, and work your mind.

What is Information? (i.e. Why is this room called an information Center?)
From Miriam Webster:

1: the communication or reception of knowledge or intelligence
2. a (1) : knowledge obtained from investigation, study, or instruction

My definition of an information resource (what we use here in this room)
Information Resource – A document or other man-made item that communicates knowledge about an event, place, living being or object, or that conveys ideas about any subject.

Can anyone think of a time when they got bad information? Did they know that it was bad right off the bat or did they need to think about it? Did bells go off in your heads “Warning, warning, this information may not be true!” That’s what I want your head to do whenever someone tells you something - whenever you read something.  Evaluate the source and seek the truth through common sense and research.

What information can you get from images? Using your imagination - fiction and nonfiction can mix. Example of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"

Knowledge is power
Election quotes – which are true?
[show video clips of presidential candidates. How do you know what to believe?]

Knowledge comes from what others teach you and what you learn yourself.
Support the Learning Lab!

Elements of Information
Written information – primary versus secondary sources
[show source samples from my personal collection]
Unwritten information – spoken - oral history, shared knowledge versus gossip, propaganda
We can reach out to get that kind of help too by making calls to specialists or by employing social media strategies

Information is a foundation of community and culture
What information is important to you? What if someone twisted the truth. How would you feel? Why is factual information important? (the secret of why I became a high school librarian – to help you learn to decipher infor
What makes you part of certain communities beyond just being there? What makes you a Mannon? What do you give to your high school and take away from it that makes you part of this community?

Tools in the Library for Finding Information
Flip chart – ask students to list the tools that they know
Then, library tour (to stretch our legs!)
Books – fiction versus non fiction versus reference. Not everything from books is available online.
PAC – Public Access Computer
Computer area – for access to Internet and specialized databases
explain difference. Explain search engines.
Express machines, color printer
Games table
Copiers, etc.
Give information handout

You are an important part of this space. During your four years here:
·      You will help mold the info center to be what we want and what we need. What information grounds us and makes us feel like part of a community? – our exhibits and the room itself will reflect that “sense of place”
·      Bring in and emphasize the information that will help us be a strong community
·      Come here to discover, learn, research
·      Come here to share information and ideas – with me, with teachers, with other students

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