6 Information Literacy Lesson Plans that (hopefully) won’t result in glazed over eyes

I recently attended the WVLA Summer 2013 conference and Marshall University Librarian Sabrina Thomas gave an excellent presentation (co-created with Eryn Roles), “To Teach Information Literacy to Students, You Need an Arsenal.”  Sabrina discussed a soon to be launched peer-reviewed Information Literacy Lesson Plan repository/arsenal as well as several (in my opinion, awesome) lessons that she will use in her upcoming classes.  I have created a list of 6 lesson plans that I have used and intend to use in my upcoming InfoLit classes that will (hopefully) engage students and help them put all of this wonderful knowledge to use.  As soon as the “Arsenal” is up and running, I will let everyone know!

1.  The Wikipedia Challenge  

Locate an article relevant to XX research topic.  Evaluate your article according to Wikipedia’s own criteria.  Write 100-150 words discussing the following:  Does the Wikipedia article have any value or serve any purpose for your research?  Why/why not?  Does the article meet Wikipedia’s own evaluation criteria?  Does this article have a history of changes and edits?  Recently?  Extensively?  Who made the changes?  Who is the author & what are their credentials?  What references or additional sources are listed?  What types of websites are linked (Educational? Other?)?

2.  Tell me the first thing about… (Major History Event)

Place students into small groups and give each a brief description & the date of a historical or significant event.  Find the first citations of information regarding this event in the following: Newspaper article, Magazine, Scholarly journal, Book.  Which was the first to print/supply this information?  Which was the last?  Which is the most reliable and authoritative?

3.  Real Life Scenarios

Give each student (or groups) a real life scenario to research (i.e. Buying a car, Opening a bank account, Applying for student loans, etc.) and have them write a “recipe” to successfully complete the task.  Create a list of materials needed as the “ingredients” and list step-by-step instructions to complete the task.

4.  Close your eyes and think of someone you love.  They’ve just been diagnosed with…

Have students find all relevant and accurate consumer medical information, or information in general, concerning a particular disease or condition and compile a list of resources a family would find useful.  This can be open-ended or can have resource criteria (i.e. pamphlet, websites, journals, books, etc.)

5.  Is it legal for my boss to do that?

“Is it legal for you boss to require you to be their friend on Facebook?”  This is just one of a countless number of questions anybody entering the workforce may have when faced with an unknown situation.  Students should give an initial answer and reasoning before research then present an unbiased answer after research.

6.  It’s All About the Meme’s!

Memes.  We see them EVERYWHERE.  We “Like” them; we “Comment” on them; we “Share” them.  Why?  Memes are created to make people think or believe a certain way.  For this lesson give each student a meme and have them discuss whether they would like, comment and or share it and why.  Then have them research the background of the meme.  What is it’s meaning?  Why is it relevant?  What are its societal implications?  This lesson was originated by Sabrina and I can honestly say that I am very excited to use it.

With the suggestion of lesson plans also comes the understanding that not all classes will respond the same to any lesson on any given day.  If you have a class with non-traditional students who may not know what a meme is, then political cartoons can be used in their place.  Most importantly, as students enter the working world, they will have to apply information literacy so presenting them with lessons that make them think outside of the research paper box will help them appropriately use these skills outside of college.

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7 thoughts on “6 Information Literacy Lesson Plans that (hopefully) won’t result in glazed over eyes

  1. Pingback: Information Literacy: The Endless Search for Research | Solve4Why

  2. These are great ideas. Unfortunately, at my institution we are limited to one-shot sessions geared towards specific assignments, so I’m not sure they are viable for us. I’d love to try any of them given the opportunity, especially #2 or #6. Maybe I can get a history class to come in for a workshop and do #2! Do you think faculty members would take kindly to #1, given that they generally forbid the use of Wikipedia on research assignments? I know that the point is to make the students question the validity of it, but a) it might have the opposite effect, and b) faculty might not like the idea of having students focus so much time and energy on a source that they are ultimately not allowed to use.

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    • Jennifer, I also am currently limited by one-shot sessions geared towards specific assignments (soon to be offering a 1 credit IL class) and I try to make them as helpful & fun as possible, but have found that to be a bit hard. I think using #2 as a one shot session for a history class would work wonderfully. I have a pretty open-minded faculty at my institution and I think they would take kindly to #1, but more if it were used to demonstrate the unreliability found in Wikipedia. Since you commented, I will be doing a “One-Shot” list soon 🙂 I like to do interactive portions in my Plagiarism & Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly sessions, but when it comes to learning to use the databases, I usually only have enough time to show students how to properly do an advanced search.

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      • We’ve been piloting new innovative ideas in our one-shots, but they still basically boil down to 45 minutes of “how to use the [catalog, databases, ebooks, etc.]” I’d love to do a flipped classroom type thing, where the students have to get the “how to” stuff out of the way via online tutorial before coming in, giving us more time for fun stuff in the workshop, but so far that has been a no-go. Another problem is getting a computer lab classroom for library instruction. Our library classroom doesn’t have computers for the students, so it’s hard to do anything interactive. Faculty can request a computer lab, but it has to be done well in advance. The few times I’ve been able to get in one I was able to do much more interesting lessons.
        I look forward to reading your one-shot post!

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  3. Not having a computer lab is tough. Our library is actually a computer lab, so I have an advantage there. I am considering testing a flipped class session, but I have to find an instructor who’s on board with me 🙂

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    • I’ve tried a flipped classroom situation where I send the class short (no more than 7 minutes) videos to watch before we meet, to have a discussion in class. Unfortunately, unless there is a strong form of accountability (graded quiz or homework), very few of the students watch the videos, so I’ve given up on that path for the moment. Next I’m going to try short surveys in LibGuides to ask them questions such as, “What is your topic?” and “Of the following, choose the 3 most important factors when evaluating a source?” etc.

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