Them: But this website is good and bad.

Me: Then write that down.

Them: But it only has some of what I need.

Me: That’s okay. The purpose of this exercise is to notice 
things like that.

The most difficult concept of the lesson was attempting to convince students that they had the power to decide the value of a website for themselves. After all, there are many gray areas when it comes to web evaluation, and they had been thinking in black and white. It’s possible for a website to have some, but not all, of the information that a student needs. How do we guide them from the black and white world of “right” and “wrong” so that they can tread the more prevalent gray waters?

There does not seem to be an easy solution. Perhaps part of the answer lies in beginning instruction in evaluation of resources at a younger age. This is not to say that it needs to be done with web sites. Simply pointing out to students that one book or article may not have all the information they need, or may not have the type of information they want could be a lesson that later translates to web evaluation.

In the end, teaching to the gray areas will create more discriminating users of information, which is one of the primary goals of information literacy instruction.

Kara Fribley is a graduate student at the University of Michigan specializing in School Library Media and author of Find the Right Words With Thesauruses (Cherry Lake, 2012). She has also written for School Library Monthly. She resides in Ann Arbor, MI, with her husband.


Emily Johnson

As a school librarian, entering the world of education is a daunting prospect. I want to play an active role in the education system, but school libraries are understaffed, under-utilized, and school librarians are constantly asked to prove their worth as educators. Particularly daunting is the prospect of proving our worth through pre-designed summative assessments that measure only a tiny fraction of a student’s learning. However, demonstrating student growth through the use of effective assessment techniques is a crucial step towards substantiating our relevance.

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