The Information Process
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  • The Heart of Resource-Based Learning
  • A Description of the Information Process
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    Introduction Information Literacy Learning Outcomes Building Plans Building Site What's New



    Organizing Information Stage (by the end of Grade 6)

    This stage of the Information Process requires students to organize the information they have gathered, evaluated and recorded, to answer the questions generated during the planning stage. There should be an emphasis on students' determining whether they have "enough" or "appropriate" information, and on analyzing and combing their data, notes and ideas in order to construct new ideas (during the "creating new information stage" of the process.)

    They will need to ask themselves:

    • Do I have enough information for my purpose/to answer my questions?
    • Do I need to use all the information I recorded? Is some of it irrelevant/unnecessary?
    • How can I best combine information from different sources?

    During the "interacting with information stage," of the Information Process, students were likely encouraged to use "organizers" (see the strategies available in that section above!) In order to help them "keep track" of their notes and sources. Some of these have "built-in" organizational features... for example, a matrix/note-making strategy may include columns for notes, organized under headings (sub-topic/questions) or a web format may include lines for notes as well as space for recording sources. Students may be given a separate "sources" (or bibliography) form where they are expected to record all the sources they used... print, audio-visual, computer software, website URL's, and names and dates for field trips and interviews.

    By the upper elementary grades students may also be using a database for collecting data (words, numbers...) and this, of course, provides an organizational structure for interpreting and combining information at this stage.

    When students record their notes without this type of organizer... they will likely be instructed to write "brief, point-form, factual notes" in a booklet or scribbler (somewhere where they won't be easily lost) or this could be in a word processing file. Then students will need to learn or practise skills for organizing their notes or data. The following strategies are suggested and recommended:

    • Colour coding (marking/checking all notes pertaining to one sub-topic/question with a particular colour)
    • Letter/number coding (marking/checking all notes pertaining to a sub-topic/question with a corresponding letter)
    • Establishing, with assistance, directories of files containing information by sub-topics/questions
    • Creating a file, with assistance, of annotated links to relevant Internet resources, etc.

    (Teachers using the Collections 4 program (Prentice-Hall, Ginn, 1996) in their Language Arts curriculum will find the Learning Strategy: "Skim and Post-It" to be very effective. Some teacher-librarians in Prince Edward Island use and adapt this strategy beyond grade four.)

    Students will also review their information with regard to their guiding questions and the stated requirements of the activity, to determine whether they need more facts or further clarification before they proceed with creating their products. They may need to "reframe" their assignments in light of new information. At this stage of the process, conferencing will provide support as individual students, or groups of students begin to wonder if they have "enough" (or appropriate) information in order to proceed to the creation of a required product (written or other representation), or to synthesize their thoughts into an informed presentation or action. Teachers and teacher-librarians are advised to build in a check-point or conferencing time at this crucial point in the process!

    "Making an outline" has traditionally been a necessary step in the process if a written product is expected. However, the "outline" in this sense (with facts arranged numerically and alphabetically) may be too difficult for many students at this level. It is certainly possible to adapt this strategy to make it useful and enjoyable for elementary students. For example, teachers using the Collections 5 program will find the Strategy Card: Making An Outline, very helpful. Once again, "Post-It"s/sticky notes are used to help students visualize the organization of their information for a product.

    Some information problem-solving activities (including some learning centre or station activities) may be designed with the expectation that students will not proceed beyond this stage in the Information Process. It is important to remember that student learning outcomes for creating and sharing/presenting products cannot be achieved unless students have regular opportunities to do this... they will need to learn and develop the skills and strategies required for processing information within the next stages ("creating new information" and "sharing/presenting" information.)

    To view samples of learning strategies/cognitive organizers for students, click on Learning Strategies. You may wish to download/print these strategies, and adapt them for your students!

    Show Me The Student Learning Outcomes For This Stage

    Show Me The Creating New Information Stage

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