Sunday, March 8, 2009

Good Friday

Friday was a very busy and productive day in the library.

I spoke to five classes--all 9th graders--which are my favorites.

Three English classes came in earlier in the week to take the TRAILS information literacy assessment survey. The teacher, Jeanne Woltering, is my peer evluation partner this year and I decided that I was going to work with her classes on information literacy skills. Earlier I had done a couple presentations with them on the new MLA format for citiations which went over quite well.

During 9th-grade orientation last semester, I had requested social studies teachers to have their students do the survey as a pre-test of info lit skills for all incoming students to Redwood. Not enough actually did the survey to provide an adequate base for data comparison. I find that if I don't follow up personally with each class I really don't get the response we need. Since I knew Jeanne, whom I've worked closely with over the years, would follow up I decided to give the survey another attempt.

Since 9th-grade English classes at Redwood are 20-to-1 classes there were a total of fifty students who took the TRAILS-9 survey. Scores ranged from 25% to 88% so we realized a quick follow-up would probablly be useful for the kids. The weakest sections of the test were on the evaluation of information sources and the ethical, legal, and responsible use of information. The sections where the students tended to do better were the sections on topic development; the identification of potential sources; and the developent and use of various search strategies.

The three classes came in on Friday and the plan was to go through the test question by question so we could discuss the questions and help the kids see why the correct answers were correct. As usual in these situations we were able to learn from the first presentation and adapted for the later ones.

The first thing I discovered was that we couldn't go through the entire test in one fifty-minute period and still allow for adequate discussion. For the 2nd and 3rd classes I quickly covered the sections the kids did better on and then spent most of the time on the last two areas mentioned above.

I did not intend this to be a lesson in place of regular library projects which the kids are doing on a regular basis but it turned out to be an excelent teaching and learning experience. It seems that the issues brought up by the evaluation questions were mostly about the notion of bias in information sources. Delving into the questions gave the students the opportunity to explore what constitutes bias and hopefully clarify the ambiguities in some of the questions and answers. The other major area of confusion or general lack of knowledge was copyright--what it is, when it goes into effect and how to prevent violating copyright (including a discussion of fair use in the classroom setting).

I'm looking forward to working with these cclasses againt and bringing this exercise to the other English classes as well.

I'll post more on the results and my work with the other two classes later.

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