Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Information literacy

The May 2012 post Google’s Information Literacy Lesson Plans ranks high on Random Thoughts’ stats list. Is there is quite a bit of interest in these practical tools?  I tried to find out by making a personal contact and by posting requests about usage on LM_Net. I was surprised to hear from only a few people.

Several said they are considering using one or some of the 15 lessons.  A high school librarian explained:  I am in the process of systematizing the research process in our district.  I’m meeting with the Elementary, Middle and High School to get a handle on exactly what is being done at each level.  Ideally I’d like to scaffold the process, building each year.  We will be using NoodleTools as our citation making program and that has a note taking component, but we all know there is so much more than that involved.  I would like to involve all the disciplines, and have found that sometimes teachers in disciplines other than English feel intimidated with the research process.  I believe that if we can document a system it should ease their fears, (we’ll train the Teachers as well as the students) . . .  Lessons are more geared towards Middle School but I was wondering if the advanced level could be used as a refresher at the High School level.

It was great to hear from two librarians who use the lessons with my fifth grade students to teach them how to be better Google searchers.   It’s good to start young! Even primary level students prefer Google to many “age appropriate” resources.

A library director uses Picking the Right Search Terms with 6th grade.  Students “race” to find the correct answers and share their search terms with the class. I have selected 10 searches that utilize various skills, and placed them in a presentation on my Google Drive account, and the presentation is projected on the board. The kids, especially the 6th graders find Google alluring and a little mysterious, so they feel like they’re peeking behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.  She also uses Narrowing a Search to Get the Best Results with 9th grade history students.  They’ve had plenty of experiences with finding too many or not relevant results and are eager to learn. It’s discussed in terms of making their desired results “rise to the top” among all the muck. We continue to refine search strategies so they are typing keywords, not full sentences or questions, and then we limit the results in various ways. She also uses some lessons with older students, including some now in college, who rated themselves as better searchers than their peers. She plans to expand more to the high school level said by incorporating lessons in future web evaluation lessons.   These are skills that adults use in their daily lives, and we want it to move from explicit lessons to implicit understanding.

Have you discovered  Google Literacy Lesson Plans?  Are you using any of the 15 lessons?  Share your experiences by commenting on this blog.  Thank you!  

Google Literacy Lesson Plans: Way Beyond Just Google It.  Internet@Schools, Sept/Oct 2012
May 2012 post

A special thanks to: Christina Pommer (Florida); Marianne Kerrigan (New Jersey) and Mary Catherine Coleman (Virginia)


MigrantMother12883Most of us are familiar with Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother photograph.   The symbolic photo correctly titled of Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California is the inspiration for Mary Coin.  (Marissa Silver. Blue Rider Press, NY, 2013.)

 Silver weaves together the a fictionalized story of  Mary Coin (Thompson),  Vera Dare, a photographer modeled after Lange, and Walker Dodge, a contemporary cultural history professor in California. Dodge challenges his students to “see” photos and look beneath the layers.  The fictional characters are connected when Dodge  discovers a copy of the photo after his father’s death.

Silver’s story moves back and forth between the depression era and the present, creating a vivid and somber picture of life for migrant workers.    It is a memorable novel, worth more than 1000 words.

Lange’s photos are accessible through the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.   An overview of the Migrant mother and other photos Lange took at theTent same time has a brief account of Lange’s experience on that day.

Lange’s photography was done for the Farm Security Administration.   Many of her photos, along with others are easily accessible in Depression Era to World War II ~ FSA/OWI ~ Photographs ~ 1935-1945 an American Memory Collection of over 160,000 items and 1600 color photographs.   The Teachers Page has  related  teacher and classroom ready resources.

A Dorothea Lange archive collection is available through the Oakland Museum of California

Learn more about  challenging your students to see photos and other ideas for using primary sources in your classroom:
Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources

Above: Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children.
Mother aged thirty-two. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California


Sometimes there’s no better way to learn about something than to just simply dig in, explore and then share what you learned with others.  I spent a few winter days exploring Noodle Tools new citation and literacy features in order to help others learn about this comprehensive package.   It was a fun and very interesting experience.  It was great discovering how Google Docs and Noodle Tools are integrated into one logical package. A just published Internet@ Schools article,  Noodling around in the New Noodle Tools  will be helpful for media specialists considering an upgrade or acquiring a citation and information literacy tool.


Overwhelmed!    It’s a typical response of first-time use of the Library of Congress American Memory Collections.   Educators want to use primary sources, state standards require their use, and they are a good match for inquiry learning and reading informational text.

But where should a short-of-time educator start?  Starting small using  a single resource that fits with the course content along with a primary source analysis tool is one easy way.

The American Memory Teachers Page has practical Teachers Guides and Analysis Tools that work with all ages of students and in all content areas.  A”generic” teachers guide describes a basic in a 3-step process: Observe, Reflect, Question.   A blank student tool is ready for you to download.

Tools are available for specific primary source formats including printed text, manuscripts, maps, motion pictures, oral histories, photographs, political cartoons, sheet music and sound recordings.

Primary source analysis is valuable in many ways:   1. It helps students  meet a content objective while using an authentic primary resource 2.  Analysis requires students to  apply skills that can be transferred to other situations 3. Analysis doesn’t have to take a lot of time!

Start small; encourage big thinking!

List of primary source collections (or select the tab at the top)

Learn more about primary source analysis.  Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources .

Citing sources is often challenging for students young and also for those not so young.  The challenge is greater with the expanding variety of digital resources.  Noodle Tools’  newest update  provides a solution with a more dynamic and flexible citation tool.  A few of the many new features are citation options for different ages of students  (starter – college), larger fonts for younger students, help in determining what the source is, just in time help visible as you work through each field,  ability to copy/paste a preformatted citation, and citing an online page as it exists on a given day as well as web 2.0 resources like Twitter or blogs. Users can also cite legal documents and other “non-traditional”  formats.  A student who starts a citation thinking the source is a web site but learns its a blog can switch during the process. Citations are also connected closely with source evaluation. The June 25 release is Ipad accessible and integrated with World Cat. Teachers will love the ability to view URLs  in  a citation form to recheck a student’s work.
Learn more! Noodle Tools Blog.

May 2013 update:  Noodling around in the New Noodle Tools, Internet at Schools,  MayJune 2013.

How can appropriate search terms and queries guide targeted searches?  

An intermediate  level instructional activity in Google’s Literacy lessons addresses the guiding question.   Teachers and media specialists who want their students to use primary sources and use Google to find them will love this lesson.   Activities involve identifying unique features of primary sources and  identifying context terms. Students are asked to examine 4 unique primary source documents from the 1960’s Civil Rights movement (letter, map, arrest warrant and house roll call vote) to discover key words and phrases activity.  Another cool part of the activity is visualizing primary source formats. Think map, letter, diary, diagram, certificate, etc.   Next, students apply context term searching to locate those same primary source documents.   Try searching Google using these words:   Roosevelt letter DAR? Did your search bring you to the National archives.   All four primary source documents are included in the lesson resources and can be printed out for ease of use or viewed as a whole class  activity.    The lesson supports inquiry and applying search strategies.   A Google A Day activity concludes the fun.

Picking the Right Search Term: Intermediate Lesson 1

Learn more about teaching information and technology literacy and engaging, critical thinking activities for students in an online course. Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources .

Would you like to see student projects kicked up a notch and move students more towards inquiry based learning? Looking for ideas to share with other educators.   The Library of Congress Teachers Page Build and Deliver professional development section has two activities for inquiry training session.

Understanding the inquiry process
Participants will work in groups to define the inquiry process. The facilitator will lead a discussion on the Stripling Model of Inquiry. After reading an article, participants will reflect on incorporating inquiry into their instructional setting. After reading an article, participants will reflect on incorporating inquiry into their instructional setting (45 minutes)

Primary sources and inquiry
After participating in a model inquiry activity using a primary source, participants independently practice documenting their own inquiry learning while using primary sources. The group will discuss ways to create inquiry activities with primary sources. (2 hours)

These PDF  materials are ready for you to use in a professional development setting. Simply go to http://www.loc.gov/teachers/professionaldevelopment/tpsdirect/pdplanbuilder/ to select an activity. Download  the files, become familiar with the resources, and plan your professional development session.   Everything you need  to lead a staff development session is right there, and free!

Learn more.  The Power of Primary Sources Part 2: Build your own Professional Development

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