In 2016 we moved away from a curriculum focused heavily on content to a more skills based approach in Y9. With greater emphasis placed on developing independent learners throughout their school career from Y9 to Y13, I put a proposal to my line manager, Deputy Head Academic, to plan a short research skills course for all our Y9 students, led by the professional librarians. The aim was to teach them information and digital literacy skills to support the enquiry-based projects they would be undertaking throughout the year. This was also intended to lay the foundations for the research skills needed for the HPQ (Higher Project Qualification), EPQ (Extended Project Qualifitcation) and Extended Essay of the International Baccalaureate, higher up the school. The lessons are taught in groups of around 15 – 16 students and and are very interactive.
These skills are essential for life beyond the classroom and projects and coursework. It is crucial for the whole of society to be digitally and media literate. Universities and schools are important drivers in developing students’ digital capabilities. The JISC Digital Capabilities Model is very instructive in this area and includes 6 elements: 1. ICT proficiency, 2. Digital communication, collaboration and participation 3. Digital learning and development 4. Information, data and media literacies 5. Digital creation, problem solving and innovation 6. Digital identity and wellbeing.
The JCS Conference 2019 – Digital Literacy in Schools: building capabilities provided librarians and teachers with a wealth of information and discussion on this subject and you can explore the presentations here.
Lesson 1 (Discovery and search skills) – 55 minutes
- Learn how to use the library catalogue – look for and find a book in the library
- Interactive ‘Research Race’ in teams
- Exploring aspects of the AccessIT catalogue (Reading lists, reservations, loan history etc)
- Accessing our e-book platform – Browns Books for Students VLeBooks
Lesson 2 (Evaluation) – 55 minutes
- Evaluating information – thinking critically.
- Authentic and fake websites: Looking at information on websites. (Disclaimer, About Us, FAQS, Legal, domain names. Using the C.R.A.A.P test to evaluate sources). There are so many models for evaluating sources and although the C.R.A.A.P test isn’t perfect the students do find it memorable and a useful checklist).
- Discussion of newspaper bias/advertorials/Opinion pieces etc
- Card sort game
– pros and cons and characteristics of different sources
- Exploring the e-Library resources
My thanks to the librarians at Middlesex University for sharing this excellent idea. They have developed a wide range of hands-on activities which form useful bases for discussion and group work. All their resources are found here:
We’ve had some interesting discussions about what a parody is and the meaning of the word ‘veracity’. It’s interesting to observe that the students are not as proficient at spotting fake websites as they assume they are. We emphasized the need to cross-check information elsewhere and to critically evaluate information not simply go on a gut feeling about a website or source.
Lesson 3 (Academic Honesty and Referencing) – 55 minutes
- What is plagiarism? What is Academic Honesty?
- Referencing your sources
- Discussion of academic honesty and avoiding plagiarism.
- How and why to cite sources.
- Using Word to generate Bibliography and references.
- Showing students that many online resources provide the citation for them to import into the Bibliography.
For this final lesson we have found the Newcastle University Study Skills for 6th Form website very useful – we’ve run the plagiarism quiz and video with our classes and found it very accessible and fun for the younger year groups.
After the research skills course the Y9 students use study periods known as ‘Lab Time’ to research and write 3 mini projects relating to History, Science, Art, English and Geography. There is a large element of choice in these projects so that the students can explore topics that interest them. This is also an opportunity to use the digital resources on our extensive e-Library to research the projects as well as the library printed book stock and magazines and journals.
In Y10 and Y11 all our students undertake the HPQ (Higher Project Qualification) which develops independent study skills further and the librarians support this research with refresher workshops on the e-Library resources and how to find relevant books and articles.
We are working on greater analysis of the impact of this course but we have noticed a marked increase in searches undertaken on the library online catalogue and book reservations placed online. We will also be looking at the quality of Bibliographies and the referencing of the projects. We modify the course each year to keep it up to date and respond to feedback from the students.
FOSIL Darryl Toerien, Head of Library at Oakham has done a huge amount of work on inquiry learning and I would like to adopt the ideas in the FOSIL model over the coming years. See the Framework of Skills for Inquiry Learning.There is much to explore on the FOSIL website including resources licensed under Creative Commons.