As you all know, there is an amazing quantity of information available to us at our fingertips. If you are watching a show and want to know from what other program you recognize an actor, you can check IMDB. If you are cooking and want to know how many ounces are in a quart, you can Google it. If you want to know how your cousin’s recent vacation went, you can just read her Facebook status. If you want to know the name of that song playing right now, you can Shazam it.
Similarly, you might be shopping for a new phone for your child. How do you decide which one to buy? You probably do some research. You might ask your friends about the experiences that they have with their current phones. You may ask the guy at the kiosk in the mall or someone working at Best Buy. You may just read reviews on Amazon by other customers. Some may even read Consumer Reports to see what they learned through their own research.
When sorting through all of this research, it is important to consider the sources of the information because we, as consumers, want to make informed decisions. Sometimes the amount of information that we are inundated with can be overwhelming. The information that we get that would be qualified as “just the facts” is often rather small. It is no different for our students when they are researching a topic for a class project or paper. This is why in history classes we teach them about how to evaluate a source. We discuss its origin, purpose, value, and limitation (OPVL).
At the Academy, we have a multi-faceted approach to helping students sort through the vast amount of information and resources. Miss Bowman and Mrs. Haywood start the process in Middle School; Mr. Decker and I reinforce what was learned in MS and add new evaluation criteria as we teach the Upper School students. Mrs. Shumaker provides a strong bridge that allows our students to connect these lessons from grade to grade as well as from subject to subject when classes learn about available databases and books in our library. In fact, all of our Upper School students have completed a Moodle activity, called Academic Integrity and Information Literacy; a significant portion of this online exercise revolves around reliable academic sources.
Information literacy is something that is important here at the Academy in our academic setting, and it is also a skill that our graduates will use throughout their adult lives – even when they are just buying a gift for a loved one.