Year 7 Information Literacy Programme: Reading for Bias

Reading for Bias

 

Year 7’s often struggle with Reading for Bias so I spend two sessions on this topic  – starting with a basic session looking at Fact and Opinion, followed by this session on Reading for Bias.

 

 We start this session with a quick look back at the previous lesson on Fact and Opinion- reminding them why the question of “Which is the best college in the Academy” causes such disagreement!

 

I then read them a story called “The Wolf’s Story” by Toby Forward (ISBN:  978 1406301625) 

 

 

This book tells the Wolf’s side of the story or what really happened to little red riding hood.

 

Or does it? 

 

Can YOU trust a wolf?

 

 

 

 

We then answer some critical questions about the story – Is the author / wolf biased? Is it one sided? Are all points of view included? Are bits of the story missing or changed?

 

We decide that we can’t trust this source so we need to read for bias, and look for accounts from the other sides of the story – Little Red, the axe/woodsman; Grandma and Little Red’s Mother (What did she put in that basket?).

 

We have some great discussions about the different versions of the story, and the origins of the story, which as a fairy tale has its’ roots firmly in the oral tradition of storytelling, which can end up being a bit like chinese whispers.

 

I end the session with a short video about Wikipedia and a discussion about how students need to check information found on Wikipedia with other more reliable sources. We then discuss why Wikipedia needs to be ‘read with a questioning mind’, and why we need to check other sources such as Britannica encylopedia. Looking briefly at the editorial process and peer review.

 

Advertisements

Wikipedia – Last Weeks Blackout

On Wednesday last week Wikipedia went on strike and withdrew its English based Wikipedia site.

Why?

Well there’s a bill in the U.S. Senate that if passed would put publishing freedom severely at risk, and could shut down entire sites at the whim of media companies. Fight for the Future created this nifty video to sum it up better than I can.

Since many students often use Wikipedia as their first (and often only (don’t get me started!)) source of information I thought I’d promote some alternatives duing ‘Blackout Wednesday”. These were displayed on the Academy screens.

As they say if you need to know more about how to access any of these databases – then please pop into the MRC and ask one of the team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research and Referencing for all Year 12 Students

During October I ran a series of workshops for all our Year 12 students entitled “Research & Referencing“. This was part of a series of sessions looking at Study Skills in general, from Time Management and Skimming and Scanning (the latter I created an activity for).

My session was in two parts.

Research

Firstly we discussed the students favourite first ports of call – Wikipedia and Google. Many are aware of the downsides, lack of authority, reliability, volume of hits etc, but very few knew about the alternatives, – they do now!

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

I demonstrated the Oliver Homepage (our OPAC system) and showed them a quick search which found both books and (reliable & educational) websites. I also showed our links to our local library service and the British Library, from which they can, for a small fee, get their hands on out of print books that may be really useful for their studies.

I then demonstrated that from the Oliver Homepage they could gain access to the databases that the MRC subscribes to. The key ones for P16 studies being Britannica Encyclopedia; NewsBank and InfoTrac. I gave a brief demonstration for each of these and encouraged them to give them a try as their teachers will be expecting them to use a wider variety of sources than just Google and Wikipedia. The internal links within Britannica to other journal articles and the Webs Best Bits are invaluable on their own and makes a great starting point for research. Plus no-one will ever know if they use the Primary version to get a really simple definition to help them! With all of these you can save, print and email results – which is a great way of checking with your teacher that you are on the right track.

The second part of the session looked at:

Referencing

I installed Plato onto our VLE back in 2008 and use this fabulous resource when teaching reference skills. I showed a few videos to introduce the concept of Plagiarism or cheating, then asked them to discuss/ answer 5 ‘Plagiarism’ questions with a partner before showing a series of clips about common plagiarism mistakes.

Collusion, Copying, Paraphrasing, and incorrect Citation.

The two most contentious of these were collusion, “but our teacher tells us to work together” and paraphrasing “doesn’t everyone do this?” and led to some interesting conversations with students (Great!).

I shared examples of good practice, and then some video clips I put together (with the aid of Plato) to demonstrate how to reference a book, journal and website. Interesting to find out that some weren’t familiar with the word ‘journal’, and that the date of access is required for websites. I advised them that before they started researching online, they create a Word document and put todays date at the top, all they then need to do is paste in any useful URLs to keep a record.

Another look at the 5 ‘plagiarism’ questions showed that some had changed their minds and answers. When going through the answers the question that sparked the biggest debate was about the copyright symbol not being essential for the ‘work’ (photo, article,video etc) to be protected. During one session we also had a discussion about using Creative Commons.

So I sent them off into the big bad wide world of research and information overload, with a reminder that at any point over the next two years they can come back and ask for a reminder “about that newspaper database you showed us….”, or for guidance about references.

I can only hope that this has helped solve the problem of when I have worked with Year 13 groups who complain that they “should have been shown this at the start of Year 12”. Well this year they have been!

Yr 9 BTEC Science

I’m popping into Year 9 BTEC Science lessons this week to advise them how to research more quickly and find the best, most reliable sources of information. Freeing them up to do the things they want to do!

We’ve been looking at the pitfalls of relying on Wikipedia (unreliable, who created the information and having to check the information in more reliable sources).

The inefficiencies of Search Engines like Google – which roughly only searches 3% of the information available on the web – and still brings you a hit list of thousands of articles, that no one has the time or the willpower to read through.

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Screenshot of the Oliver Homepage

Instead I reminded the students about the Oliver Homepage, Searching for keywords to find the best books and websites on our database, and showing them some of the online databases they can use courtesy of the MRC. I gave quick demonstrations of Britannica Online; NewsBank; InfoTrac and Clipbank; plus I pointed out the guides to referencing and bibliographies.

They spent the rest of the lesson researching topics like electromagnetic spectrum and BP Oil Spills and were able to find videos and newspaper articles as well as books and websites. Cool.

Let’s hope they remember the next time they are set some research based work.

Wikipedia and Bias

Here is a very short video I put together about Wikipedia turning 10 earlier this year (2011) and how you have to read for bias.

In many cases no-one knows who puts the information onto Wikipedia as the video says it could be a professor, a mad professor or a mad man.

So if you do choose to start your research by looking at Wikipedia then do remember to check all the information in other reliable sources – like Britannica Encyclopedia – which you can gain access to via the Oliver Homepage – either through the VLE or check out the quick link on this page!