The Information Pathway
When teaching this concept we use the term Information Pathway rather than Information Process. We have found students can visualize stepping along a pathway with each stepping stone being one of the 6 steps (Define, Locate, Select, Organise, Present & Publish, Evaluate). This is better than teaching about a process – a somewhat abstract term for many children.
The Information Pathway should be used whenever you are giving students a task to do involving researching. If we can educate our students to use the Pathway they will have a support structure when completing all project work. If started in year 3, this will be a wonderful habit by the end of primary school.
All research skills form part of this Information Pathway. We have set this out below.
This first step involves the teacher in discussion with students to ensure they all understand the task that has been given. This needs to be completed thoroughly. Never assume students automatically understand what you want them to do. Use questions such as :
What do you really have to find out? What key words in the task tell you what you must do? What is this task all about? What is the purpose of this task? What do you need to do?
Criteria sheets are a great tool to use for this discussion.
The second step is when the student locates the resources they need to use to complete the task. A lot of support is needed at this stage and during primary school teachers need to provide appropriate resources – books, websites etc.
In our Information Literacy lessons this is when we do lots of skill work with Fiction / Non-Fiction; using contents pages and the index, types of Non-fiction resources – books, websites, encyclopaedias, posters, Video ; and Smart Searching.
In lessons we use the term “Smart Searching” to refer to the process of finding out if a book / website / poster… is suitable for the student to use. It is really an evaluation of resources.
To be a good smart searcher we have to:
1. Know what we are looking for (key words in the task, skim and scan)
2. Use a checklist to help us decide as we skim and scan the resource.
In this step on the pathway the student selects the information he/she needs and writes it down in note form. The main difficulty here is to stop the student copying from the book or copying and pasting directly from the website!
In lessons the skills at this stage include note taking, finding key words and skimming and scanning.
The students must also understand about copyright and plagiarism.
In primary school students need to be provided with retrieval charts / research sheets/ graphic organisers. (In upper grades this could be designed with the teacher).This provides them with a definite structure for their note taking and goes some way in preventing copying.
As teachers we must look carefully at these notes and insist that there are:
Once all the information has been taken in note form, the student then uses these notes to write it down in the required genre -
e.g. information report; exposition; persuasive text. This is best accomplished if the retrieval chart / graphic organiser has been designed to fit this genre back in Step 3.
In lessons this involves drafting the written part of the research project. Students have to decide if they have enough / too much information; how best to put it all together; if it makes sense when read back.
This is a very “messy” step on the pathway where children need support and conferencing with teachers about their work.
This step probably represents the “fun” part for many students. They are publishing their work in some form – Powerpoint, chart, a game, a video – and see the results of their efforts.
In lessons we must address questions such as:
Who am I going to show this project to?
How much time can I spend on my publishing?
How do I know when it is ready to present?
It is beneficial to the student to make your expectations very clear regarding acceptable standard of work and even have an example of a good piece of work if possible. Bibliographies / references are taught at this time.
At this step we are asking students to do some thinking about their learning and evaluating how they feel they completed the task. This metacognition encourages a deeper learning and connects to future learning when we ask them to think about:
What did I learn from doing this project?
Did I achieve what I set out to do?
Did I successfully follow the Information pathway?
Am I happy with my final presentation?
In what area or at what step along the pathway do I need to improve?
What did I do best?
What have I learned for nest time?
The Information Pathway and the Research Skills that need to be taught
||Discussion about the taskIdentifying key wordsReading and understanding a criteria sheet|
||Fiction / Non FictionUsing contents pages & indexesTypes of NF resourcesSmart SearchingSkimming and ScanningKey words|
||Taking notesUsing a retrieval chartFinding relevant facts (trash or treasure)Copyright & plagiarism|
||DraftingDeciding on which facts to useEditingWriting in a prescribed genre|
||Time managementRecognising acceptable standards of workReferences / Bibliographies|