Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Best Possible Source

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Going Paperless...
a pipedream or reality? This fall finds me in the midst of attempting to go mostly paperless in my 7th grade Info Tech class. In particular, I am trying out two free websites which allow students to share documents and take tests.

For Info Tech, we utilize a class blog as a way of posting assignments, activities, and worksheets. If I've created a worksheet, students can download it from the blog and save it on their jumpdrive and samba. When they have completed the assignment (in class), they upload the assignment to, a document sharing website. I download the assignment, make comments, and re-upload for them to review. I verbally give them their grade for the assignment. Viola! Paperless assignments. This works for two reasons - our class is held in the business room and most assignments are done in class. Settings allow the teacher to make the drop visible only to class members. more asking the office to make copies or using up my quota!

In addition to, I have very recently (as in this week), begun using, a free online test and quiz maker. Classmarker allows teachers to make multiple choice, short answer, and essay tests. Teachers register their students and students are able to take the tests right online. Again, privacy settings and controls are set so that students can only see their work and can only take the test once. I will be giving my first online Info Tech test next week! Fingers crossed as this will save a lot of paper in the long run.

Best Possible Source?

The other day I was working in the High School Library when in walked one of the best and brightest of our seventh graders to do some research for a class assignment. I became curious as to what information she needed after watching some of her Googling strategies. She was typing entire questions in Google, such as 'when was Massachusetts founded' and clicking on links in the hit list such as, about. com and wikipedia.

My mantra these past few years with students has been: "Always try to find the Best Possible Source of Information." So, when I walked over to ask her what she was looking for, she knew to expect my "What's the best possible source for these questions?" response. And she knew the answer, of course, would be Grolier (in particular, Grolier's America the Beautiful). But, for some reason she was unable to connect the research query with the information literacy skills she had been taught.

It's true that many students are unwilling to use databases or evaluate websites, taking whatever comes up on the Google hit list as fact. However, I knew with this student it was more of a disconnect than an unwillingness. And, a firm instinct to automatically Google when faced with any research topic.

To me, it seems important to integrate and reinforce information literacy skills across the curriculum. We should be asking our students and ourselves - is this really the best possible source of information? Even for personal research, we should all want quality, accurate, viable information. I try not to hover, but when students come to the library I always challenge them to find the best possible source.

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