Magazine article Technology & Learning

Information Literacy

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Information Literacy

Article excerpt

Information Headaches

Thanks to the Web, there's more information available than we know what to do with. Sometimes, however, it's not easy to find exactly what we need. Students in particular need help because they don't always know what's valuable or how to evaluate and choose the best.

Handling Information

There's a process that helps students to develop the skills they need to find, process, and use information effectively. It's called the Big6. These strategies are lifelong learning skills that students can apply in many situations--from problem solving to project-based learning to creating collaborative reports and presentations--in school and later in life.

Big6 Process

The first step is task definition, which defines the problem and identifies the information that's needed. Step two is information seeking strategies; students brainstorm and select sources to research. The third step is location and access; they find information and judge what's important. Step four is use of information; students select relevant materials and extract the key points. The fifth step is synthesis, in which they organize information from the best sources and present it to an audience. The final step is evaluation to judge the process and the product.

Handheld Computers and the Big6

Students today need access to information and the skills to use it well. Portable, affordable palmOne[TM] handhelds offer a way for them to become information literate with the Big6 process. It's a perfect match: the power of Big6 and small computing.

Software Information:

PicoMap and Fling It (GoKnow, Inc.) ThoughtManager (Handshigh Software) Classroom Wizard (Scantron, Inc.) WebPro (palmOne, Inc.) Information about Big6 is at

presidential places

Grade Level: 5-8

Subject Area: Cross-curricular (geography, history, math)

Software: Rand McNally Road Atlas (Handmark[R])

Technology Needed: palmOne handheld with SD slot

Lesson Description: Students plan virtual travel to states with national parks, historic sites, or monuments dedicated to U.S. Presidents to learn about the sites and to measure distances, time, and rate of travel.

Objectives: Students gather information about U.S. Presidents and the national sites that honor them. Students practice calculating distance, time, and rate.

Before the Lesson:

1. Beam the list of presidential sites to your students' handhelds.

2. Display a large map of the United States with state names visible or distribute paper maps.

3. Tell students that the goal is to create a road trip to visit these sites in the least amount of time.


1. Consult the list of presidential sites and the states where they are located.

2. Teams should discuss how to reorder the list to produce the shortest routes.

3. Start up the Road Atlas on your handheld, look at the map, and tap the region where you'll start. Select the state you want to go to first. Pick the first latter of the city's name and scroll to find and highlight the city. Click Show to see the map. Tap a symbol that indicates an attraction or use Find to search for the presidential site. Select Info, read about the site, and click Done.

4. Click on Directions and tap New. The city should be in the Origin list. Select the city where you want to go next from the Destination list. Click on Mileage. Keep a record of the distance and time it takes to travel from the first site to the second.

5. Click on the U.S. map diagram in the lower right hand corner. From the U.S. map, start the same sequence to go to your second location, see the site, and get the distance and time. Continue to all sites.

6. …

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