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Dear Allyson
What a great principal - he has it right and has given you heaps of time to prepare.

If I were you I would tell the principal that, as preparation, I had talked to the 
teachers and
between us we had decided that the students needed to know how to search the 
Internet using Google
Advanced Search in order to find the answers to a set of pre-determined questions 
about the
Iditarod. (That gives you a goal with an assessable and measurable outcome.)

Invent a few of these questions so that you can demonstrate how you would use them 
to teach how to
identify keywords from the questions and use these in the appropriate search 
fields.  (I believe we
need to acknowledge that Google is the search engine of choice in homes and so we 
need to teach the
children how to use it effectively.) 

Then I would step them through using Google Advanced using an interactive 
whiteboard  or a computer
connected to a digital projector so that all can see, starting with some familiar 
questions such as
"Where is XYZ school in _____, NJ?"  Or "What is on at the movies in ______?"  The 
purpose of this
part is to identify the best words to put in the search fields. "Will using this 
word in the search
field help us get the information we want?"  Then do a demo with an Iditarod 
question with the class
contributing keywords.  After each contribution, do a search and note the number of 
results and
explain that the key is to get as few  pages to select from as possible. 

Having gathered a group of possible sites, I would then teach the children to 
select one using the
URL details to determine which might be the most authoritative, and then scan the 
menu to see if the
site is likely to answer their question. If the  site appears to have the 
information they want,
teach them to do a quick evaluation of the site for authenticity.  There is a great 
rubric for this
age at although I would adapt 
this to include
"How old is the information?" perhaps instead of "Did I learn something new?"

I would teach them to bookmark the site to return to it, in preparation for the 
next lesson which
would focus on taking notes from the site. (Shows there is continuity and 
connection to the

All that would be done as a whole-class demo although if there was time I'd let 
them have a go as
couples to research a particular question. I am a great believer in collaborative 
learning at this
age,  having couples or small groups assigned one question each so the answers can 
be pulled into
one presentation - better to learn by doing one thing really well than being 
overwhelmed by too much
to do anything well.  

I think the key thing to understand is that information literacy is not the same as 
ICT literacy and
that it is about being able to locate, select, evaluate and use information from 
any source,
whatever its format.  There is a great presentation on Information literacy -the 
most basic of
basics by Mike Eisenberg at 

Good luck - I wish I had had an opportunity like this

Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian

Together we learn from each other 

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