Reflection – Supporting Literacy and Online Inquiry in the Classroom

            Supporting Information Literacy and On-line Inquiry—I remember thinking how boring that sounded and that the last thing I wanted to do was learn about researching on the Internet and information literacy? How many kinds of literacy can possibly be? As it turns out I learned that my thinking was quite narrow, and instead of boredom or frustration with yet one more literacy, I added strengths to my teacher “trick bag” and am ready to address my students’ literacy weaknesses. It is exciting!

            The biggest surprise for me is how pertinent, propitious, and painless the “QUEST” or “model of Internet inquiry” (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007) turned out to be. And although my students do research using both traditional and technological means, this semester my seniors will complete a “QUEST” instead of the usual “dry” research paper using an assigned question. I am thrilled to have developed the understanding needed to bring my students’ research into the 21st century. Along with determining my own information literacy weaknesses, I have found that my students know much less than I previously thought and that using the Internet for research is not only appropriate, it is essential. In a school where many of the staff are unaware or literally afraid of technology, a senior project using the Internet, critical questioning; understanding, identifying, and evaluating sources; and the difficult process of synthesis will be appropriate and authentic.

            The knowledge and experience I have gained in this course and preceding courses is already palpable in my classroom reasoning and demeanor. Upon congratulating my students the other day about their intelligence one of them returned the compliment. As I thanked him I realized I had just received a compliment even better than the same from a colleague. Some days I feel like the “old woman in the shoe” and that every student is mine and my responsibility.           I have already begun using my favorite new research strategy which I think is appropriately named “notemaking” and the “CHoMP” strategy (2007, pp. 238-243). The illumination I see in my students’ faces when I explain that they must not “take” others’ words and doing so is no less than stealing. In the future I will continue to utilize the steps and strategies I have learned not only for inquiry but for traditional literacies. Questioning is a vital and life skill. I agree with Hartman (Laureate, 2007) when he says that new literacy questioning is not only growing in sophistication, it is “backwards from book culture.” I will continue to use my new awareness regarding “good” questions to improve my own queries and lessons. Understanding and evaluating resources I feel has been presented by Eagleton & Dobler in reader, user, and teacher-friendly form. I can seriously say that I enjoyed every chapter of Reading the Web and in the future, I plan to return again and again to the book and its strategies and recommendations. I particularly like the many handouts including checklists, flowcharts, assessments, rubrics, scavenger hunts, surveys, journals, and lessons. There are so many useful strategies I find it almost difficult to decide which not to use.

            How will I use this course to develop professionally? I will create a plan to develop new literacy awareness among coworkers and other educators. I want to teach that fluency in 21st century skills is a necessity for students, educators, and society. I strongly believe that our futures depend on it.

Stephanie Dyer

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