In the past, a newspaper had the look and feel of a newspaper, and a magazine was physically a magazine sent to print only after going through a specific editorial process. Today, when students access information on their Chromebooks, it all looks pretty much the same, and this makes it difficult for students (and adults) to understand exactly what they are dealing with information-wise. While not exhaustive, here is an infographic that lists various ways to categorize information resources. Do you think students are able to categorize information in each of these ways, and what can we as teachers do to help them?
Below are a few ideas for helping students deal with “container collapse.”
- Directly ask students to describe the information they’re using. What type of information is it? Who created it? What purpose does it serve? A helpful model that some West Hills teachers use to guide this discussion is SOAPSTone. It is important that students are exposed to this practice across the curriculum since information varies some by subject discipline.
- Model SOAPSTone, etc. While asking students to describe information themselves is important, this is not an easy task! Whenever possible, try to model the process through “thinking aloud” as you look at information as a class.
- Don’t be afraid to admit this is difficult! With digital publishing, it is increasingly difficult to make sense of information. Besides losing the physicality of traditional “containers,” there are altogether new forms emerging. Realizing that understanding information is difficult and takes effort is a lesson in itself!