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Instructional Strategy

At the completion of this section, you should be able to:

Begin by viewing the class presentation in Vimeo. Then, read each of the sections of this page.

Explore each of the following topics on this page:

Learning Experiences

TeacherI want to experience the concepts we've been exploring through reading.
I need to be able to actually "do it," not just answer questions on an exam.
I need practice to apply these skills I'm learning.

Although students may not express these ideas in writing, most learners want more from a presentation, workshop or course than readings and tests. They expect to be able to perform, create, and apply course knowledge and skills. Rather than thinking in terms of class periods or lessons, consider how you can address outcomes through meaningful sets of learning experiences.

try itTry It! Identify Learning Experiences
What's taught in different settings (i.e., presentations, workshops, courses)? How is the content interwoven?
How will students explore course content, actively apply this content, practice new learning, and share their understandings?

Lessons are used by the teacher as a guide to facilitate learning. Sometimes a lesson can be taught in a single class session or period. In other cases, a lesson might take a series of days or weeks to complete. A lesson or lesson series should be based on a single topic, theme, or scenario. In addition, it should be focused on a set of related academic standards that will be introduced, reinforced, or mastered with the lesson. Outlines, storyboards, timelines, and other materials are part of the lesson. They serve as a guide to help the teacher facilitate learning.

Many educators use Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction in their lesson planning process:

  1. Gain the attention of the learner
  2. Inform learner of objectives
  3. Stimulate recall of prior knowledge
  4. Present stimuli with distinctive features
  5. Guide learning
  6. Elicit performance
  7. Provide feedback
  8. Assess performance
  9. Enhance retention and learning transfer

try itTry It!
In Developing Linear Tutorials, Dennis Myers and Annette Lamb (1990, 192-193) described each of these nine events of instruction within the context of designing a tutorial.
Think about a lesson you want to develop. How will you incorporate the nine events of instruction?

The key to effective assignments is matching the presentation of information and activities with specific objectives. Teaching materials might include short presentations that provide a springboard into an inquiry activity, lists of reflective questions for use in student conferencing, and mini-lessons containing examples and short demonstrations.

Activity Example: Your bibliography must include sources from at least four different formats (i.e., books, journal articles, blogs, government website, video, interview, podcast). For each of format, explain how it differs from other formats and why the information is valuable.

Activity Example: Select a topic of interest in the area of mental illness. Conduct a search using two different medical or psychology databases. Describe each database. Compare and contrast the results. Use specific examples from your search. Identify the database that you think worked best for your topic.

Before you enter the classroom, be sure that you're well-prepared. Consider the following elements:

Consider a thematic approach that incorporates topics and content of interest to the particular audience.

try itTry It!
Read Cloak & Dagger: Improving Digital Literacy & Security with Spy-Themed Programming.
Think about the age and interest of your audience. What types of themes, examples, and topics would be of interest to this audience?

When you think of building learning experiences, lessons, or class plans, consider four elements on this page. In each category we'll explore an information literacy example as well as a health-related example for comparison.

  1. Motivation
  2. Information Exploration
  3. Student Involvement
  4. Closure/Transfer


Begin with a springboard activity or other type of hook to gain learner's attention.

Gross and Latham (2011, 183) suggest considering ways

"to incorporate the high level of natural motivation that students experience in their self-generated information seeking into instructional experiences, especially in instances in which skills cannot be incorporated into specific assignments, such as in student orientations or "one shot" instruction. Improvements in personal information seeking are likely to further information seeking in the academic context as well and may be a better attention getter (and keeper) in some instructional contexts."

Gross and Latham (2011, 184) stress that

"unless students come to understand that information literacy represents an objective skill set that is definable, achievable, and that can improve their experience in seeking information, there will be little reason for them to seek to develop or improve these skills."

Ask yourself: How will I gain and maintain student interest throughout the experience?

Some people use the INTRO approach when starting a lesson:

Authentic learning stresses meaningfulness. Students need to care about what they're doing. They need "buy in" for a lesson to become engaging. Consider ways to connect your class to the "real world" from the beginning of the lesson.

Key Elements


Activity Ideas

The Right Foot. It's essential that the first experience a student has with a topic be accurate. Students are most likely to remember their first encounter more than subsequent experiences, so be sure to provide a concise, correct demonstration or explanation before looking at common errors or problems. Conduct a short demonstration or overview of the topic and do a quick check of understanding.

Example: Demonstrate the five finger rule for determining whether a book is at their reading level.
: Use clear illustrations such as the Brain. Use Wikimedia Commons: Medical illustrations. Ask students to examine the image, copy labels, and check neighbor's work.

brainstormingRound Robin Brainstorming. The process of recording many ideas related to a particular problem or idea is called brainstorming. All thoughts are listed no matter how strange they may seem. When all ideas have been exhausted, then the list is organized and evaluated. Although often done in groups, brainstorming can also be done individually. Use brainstorming as a way to identify misconceptions and bias.

try itTry It! Round Robin Practice
Complete a round robin brainstorming activity.
Brainstorm resources that could be used to research a history topic.
Or, brainstorm risk factors, signs, or symptoms of suicide risk.

try itTry It! Identify Motivation
What do you do now?
What element will you add during the first five minutes of your class?
Provide a content-specific example.

Information Exploration

Help students construct knowledge, learn concepts, and build skills by providing organized access to course content.

Ask yourself: How will students learn the concepts detailed in the learning outcomes?

Key Element 1: Content Structure

What will I teach and in what order? Begin with your learning objectives.

Many instructors use PowerPoint as a tool for creating presentations. This approach is effective if boring bullet points and endless paragraphs of text are avoided. Instead, use just a few words to convey the main ideas. Incorporate graphics, audio, video and other ways to display information. Also, embed activities.

Example: Examine the Scopus Database presentation. Notice the techniques that are used to display information.

Rather than teaching from a textbook or giving a PowerPoint presentation, help students explore cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains related to the learning outcomes.

Example: Rather than using "classic" historical figures for biography searches, use people that will attract the attention of students such as popular musicians, celebrities, or sports figures.
: Use different images of the heart than are seen in the textbook: Heart diagram. To find more options, do a Google Images search using the words heart diagram.


Chunk content. Find natural groupings of information. Cluster, categorized, and organize information. Define key terms.

Example: Use online concept mapping tools like to model how information can be categorized. Software tools like Inspiration and Kidspiration are available in many school libraries.
. Use the SmartArt options in Powerpoint to explore organizational tools.


Appleseeds MagazineUse examples and nonexamples. Use examples to show instances of the concept. Use nonexamples to distinguish things that are not instances of the concept.

Example: Appleseeds magazine is an example of a periodical. A dictionary is NOT an example of a periodical because it is not published at regular intervals.
: A sunburned shoulder is an example of a thermal burn. A lightning burn is NOT an example of a thermal burn because it's an electrical burn.

Sequence content. What's the order of presentation?

Example: Let's follow the "trash or treasure" process for rejecting and selecting information from an article.
: Let's explore techniques to stop bleeding in a conscious patient if there is no risk of spine injury. It's a three step process (1) sit the patient up and lean forward, (2) pinch the nostrils together firmly, (3) tell patient not to sniffle or blow nose.

Show patterns and connections. Identify patterns, connects, and ways to think about content. For instance, mnemonic devices are useful.

Example: Use COPS to check your work before turning it in. C - check capitalization; O - check overall appearance; P - check punctuation; S - check spelling.
: Use a mnemonic such as OPQRST History: Onset, Provocation, Quality, Radiation, Severity, Time.

Weave in human elements. What's essential to remember and what did you learn from experience?

Example: Watch a video of a student enthusiastically talking about their search strategy. Talk about whether the student covered all the bases.
: Use audio recordings of real people and situations.


try itTry It! Identify Content Structure

Think about an example of how you systematically structure course content.

Key Element 2: Content Format

What resources will be use? Use a variety of formats to address learning styles and provide different ways of thinking about course content. Use media to attract rather than distract attention.

Think about all the ways you can help students understand a concept. Let's explore the following formats: text, graphics, audio, motion, multimedia.

Text. In addition to textbooks, guide sheets, and instructional materials, use text from professional and government agencies to provide additional depth and alternative perspectives. Traditional exams don’t provide an opportunity for students to recall content. Instead, they focus on recognizing and identifying answers. Students need to be able to explore, organize, and clarify their thoughts in writing. They need to analyze and synthesize information about patient conditions and accurately relay information to other members of a team. Both oral and written components are essential.

Graphic. Visual representations are useful for overviews and reviews of topics. They also provide spatial information that is difficult to convey in text. Ask students to compare different image, label diagrams, or identify signs or symptoms from photos. A popular new approach is the infographic.
Example: Start with infographics related to your topic. An easy way to find them is to do a search in Google Images for a topic such as copyright infographic or plagiarism infographic.
Example: Ask students to start a project with an infographics such as Public Health Infographics.

Audio. In addition to lectures and discussions, there are other ways to incorporate audio into the classroom. Read Audio Listening Practices: Exploring Experiences with Audio Texts for ideas.

Notice how Sweet Primary Sources incorporates music into an instructional video.

Motion. Whether showing how to use a piece of equipment or describing the steps in a process, motion can be very helpful for learning.

Multimedia. In addition to video, animation and interactive elements can be incorporated into teaching and learning experiences. In libraries, screencasting or screen capture software have become a popular way to provide demonstrations of software, databases, or websites.

try itTry It! Explore Content Formats

What content formats (i.e., text, graphic, audio, motion, interactive) do you use right now?
Think about a couple formats you might try incorporating in the future.

Activity Ideas

Incorporate questioning and opportunities for problem-solving into class materials. Space out activities throughout information exploration. Look for chances to challenge student thinking.

Active Lecture. Also known as “guided lecture,” this approach combines traditional lecture with embedded activities, questions, and opportunities for students to interact. Students develop critical thinking to increase student comprehension. When embedded every 5-8 minutes, student attention is maintained and participants have the opportunity to assimilate information before moving on. 
Example: You might be talking about choosing and refining a topic. Stop every few minutes and ask students to brainstorm topics, discuss a topic idea, or list ideas.
Example: You might be talking about the fact that TB is on the rise.

try itTry It! Active Lecture

How do you keep students engaged during lectures?
Discuss ideas for embedded activities, questions, and discussions. 

Active Demonstration. Involve students in modeling activities and demonstrations. This works well for both analytic and global learners.

Build chronologies/sequences/chains of events. After demonstrating a whole procedure, go back and demonstration step-by-step. Insert a WHY between each step in a procedure. Rather than a list of steps that are memorized, students are asked to focus on the reasons (and the theory behind their actions) for moving from one step to the next. This leads them to think about theoretical underpinnings of the process itself and helps with critical thinking on the test where they are often asked to react to unusual situations and tell the best "next step".

try itTry It! Active Demonstration

Work with a sequence of events related to a demonstration or scenario. Brainstorm the theories that apply. Design a WHY activity that involves students in thinking about "the next step" in a sequence.

Self-Instruction Tutorials. Present step-by-step instruction teaching new concepts in a printed packet, self-instructional PowerPoint presentation or a series of cards. Tutorials are designed to provide new information along with examples and nonexamples of concepts. In addition, practice and feedback is often incorporated into the program. Tutorials work well when introducing new concepts and reviewing difficult ideas, or providing enrichment.

Example: Go to the CLIP Tutorials page for lots of example of information skills tutorials.
: Go to the
YouTube: EMT Skills such as Vital Signs for health-related tutorials.

try itTry It! Self-Instructional Tutorials 
Explore online tutorials. Brainstorm ways these could be incorporated 
into homework or classroom experiences. To find tutorials, do a Google
search for your topic and add the work tutorial such as "respiratory 
system tutorial."

Student Sharing. It's easy to get into the lecture mode and forget other ways to involve students in information exploration. Ask students to learn material that they will teach to others. Explore alternatives to lectures for disseminating information.

Example: Involve students in conducting and analyzing polls for bias. Use the Bias Sampling lesson for ideas.

Jigsaw. Developed by Elliot Arnson, this approach involves learners becoming experts in a topic and sharing their expertise with others. This approach can be used with chapters in a textbook, software packages learned, websites evaluated, etc.


Strategy Menu. Experience an activity called the "Strategy Menu."

Distribute a menu of 5-7 strategies, approaches, interventions or other key concepts. Check off those you're are familiar with.
Each person is given a card with a strategy and description or glossary statement. They should be ready to share this strategy with someone else focusing on key features.
During the first round, participants will pair up with another student and share their strategies. They should take notes on a card, but not copy their peer's card.
During the next round, students share the most recent strategy they learned from their previous partner. They should take notes and be ready for the next round.
Hold as many rounds as you wish. 
Ask students to revisit the strategy list and see what areas they wish to learn more about.

Adapt this technique for another situation.
Example: Print out information about 10 databases. Ask students to share their database with a peer and talk about when you would or would not use it for research. Compare the databases. Switch cards and partners.
Example: Print out information about 10 related drugs. Ask students to share their drug with a peer and talk about when you would or would not use it for an allergic reaction. Compare the drugs. Switch cards and partners.

try itTry It! Student Sharing

What content would work well for a Jigsaw or Strategy Menu activity?
Brainstorm topic ideas.


Student Involvement

Help learners practice with feedback and apply content to solve problems. Design activities where you can observe students in action performing the task, discussing the issues, or answering questions.

Many researchers have noted the disconnect between traditional informational literacy assignments and "real world" information seeking activities. Imposed assignments aren't seen are valuable by students and the experience is rarely transferred to new situations.

Ask yourself: Are students really learning what's being taught? What activities will help students practice?

Some students don't recognize the importance of practice in the learning process. They need to put forth effort to learn. In Focus on Effectiveness, the authors stress the importance of connecting effort and achievement. They recommend reinforcing effort.

Student involvement is more than simply providing students with activities. They also need feedback. Consider some of the following ideas:

Remember that feedback can be provided in many forms.

Key Elements

try itTry It! Design Student Involvement

Select one of the ideas above and share how you might use it in a specific lesson.



Annotated Bibliography. Direct students to create an annotated bibliography to show what they're learning. This can be a simple list of website that were identified through a Google search or an indepth examination of multiple perspectives related to a social issue.

Example. As a small group, create a wiki page reflecting a particular topic.
Example. Use a notetaking tool such as EndNote or RefWorks to share resources.
Example. Create a collaborative bibliography using a tool like CiteULike.

Building Blocks. Use cards to organize ideas and share connections.

Example. Use post-it notes to practice keywords and search operators.
Example. Use large cards to create "fill in the blank" activities.

Buzz Groups. Share with the person next to you. Then share with the person behind or in front of you. Then, share the results of the small group.

Example. Brainstorm ideas for troubleshooting a problem.
Example. Share criteria for evaluation.

Categorize Activities. Ask students to categorize information.

Example. Provide information and ask students: how can we classify these? In groups, have students write on 3 post-its ways to classify. Put things into categories. Add something to each category. Or, put things around the outside. Your job is to go back and classify.
Example. Provide students with stacks of periodicals. Ask them to classify the periodicals into categories.
Example. Write a symptom, situation, on a post it. Others are asked to classify or put in columns

Clariscope. This decision-making tool helps builds consensus. Learn more.

Example. Focus on dilemmas where all options have problems. Each member has post-it notes and writes one thing which could be done. Share the notes. Each person gets 5 votes to apportion which are most important. These that are placed on the post-it notes. Divide into three groups: essential, desirable, rejected (might be good, just unrealistic). Agree on what is “in” and “out”.
Example. Focus on dilemmas related to the use of social technology and issues of privacy.

Compare and Contrast Activities. How is the information from different resources alike and different? Why? Compare and contrast sources and types of information. Identify new pieces of information that can be added to overall understanding. Use a three-column comparison chart to help organize and analyze information on topics where there are two or more perspectives.


  • Compare the process of looking up a word in a print dictionary and an online dictionary.
  • Describe a situation and compare two different courses of action.
  • Describe a situation and compare two different patients.
  • Describe two situations and how your reaction would be different based on the circumstances.

Design Briefs. Ask students to write a brief including a concrete plan and rationale.

Example. Create a diagram showing a procedure and provide a rationale for this approach.
Example. Plan a webpage for a new area of the library website. How would this page be useful?

Distinguish Activities. Many objectives ask students to distinguish between alternatives.

Example. Students need to be able to distinguish fact from opinion. Provide sample website articles and ask students to identify facts and opinions.
. It's important that students can differentiate between different signs and symptoms. For instance, they need to be able to determine a patient's level of pain. Or, distinguish between a breathing assessment for an infant, child, or adult.

Dots the Options. Place options or approaches on large pieces of flip chart paper. Provide each small group with colored dots that represent their group. Ask participants to place dots next to their choices. This is an effective activities after a series of brainstorming sessions where options have been generated.

Order Activities. Many activities have a specific sequence. Practice sequencing.

Example. Work on ordering cards, post-its, objects, or other physical objects to help students practice this skill. Ask students to verbalize WHY they made a particular choice.

Peer Observations. Ask students to become observers.

Example. One person talks through the process. Another person observes and takes notes on what they would do different. Then discuss their experience.

Personification. Ask students to "become" something or someone else.

Example. Assign each student a role in a social technology situation. Assume the character of that role such as sexual predator, shy student, best friend, mean student, etc.. Writing in pairs, create a situation where two people might interact online. How would this person react? Would they share personal information? Would they lie? Would they tell the truth?
. Assign each student a drug. Assume the character of the drug. What characteristics would the drug have? Does it belong to a family, have interaction problems, adverse reactions. Rather than examining one case. Students work in pairs. Compare two real-world situations. How would the results be alike and different? Adapted from Walker (2003)

Priorities, Activities, and Sequencing Strategies (PASS). Ask students to focus on a goal, tasks, and sequence.

Example. This activity involves three steps. First, what is the goal? Put categories on different sheets of paper. Second, what are the major tasks. Put on post-its under each category. Third, select a sequence. Which tasks can only be completed after another task? Which tasks can be done at the same time? Which tasks don’t depend on other tasks? Share the results.
Example. Conduct a PASS using topics such as writing a persuasive essay, preparing for a debate, or creating an informational presentation.
Example. Conduct a PASS using topics such as stabilize patient, transport patient, open airway.

Problem-Based Learning. A problem is presented and students are guided through the process of uncovering information and evidence that can be used to identify a solution. The key is the environment much be structured to include supportive assignments and activities along with a foundation of relevant information.

Example: Create problems for others to solve. Ask students to fold a piece of paper in half. Place the problem information on the outside flap of the paper and the solution inside. Students should check the work of the peers at their table. Then, trade papers with another table.
Example: Information in a problem solving situation might include causes of the problem, symptoms of a patient, or possible interventions. This approach has been shown to increase clinical reasoning skills.
Create problems for others to solve. Ask students to place patient information on one side of the card and the treatment on the other side of the card. Students should check the work of the peers at their table. Then, trade cards with another table.

citeProcess or Flowcharts. Create algorithm visual showing a sequence of events. Focus student attention on discrete events, activities, and sequencing. Create flow charts with yes and no answers related to a topic.

Example: Use flowcharts to help students envision processes and make decisions.
Example: Use the ACLS Algorithms Flowcharts. Ask students to build a flowchart for another task.

Rank and Prioritize Activities. Students often have a hard time identifying the most efficient or effective choice. In many cases, they will be asked for the "best" choice on a test. Provide opportunities for students to evaluate and order choices.

Example. Explore sample test questions focusing on the most efficient or effective choices.

Taking Action Activities. Students must practice making choices and taking action. Then, seeing the consequences. What can we do in this situation?

Example: Set up a scenario with choices of actions and objects related to those actions. Under each piece of equipment place a card detailing what would happen in the "real world" if that choice was made.

Think-Pair-Share. Follow a three step process for reviewing course content.


  • Think. Individuals think about a question or problem posed by the instructor.
  • Pair. Two people share their thoughts and exchange ideas.
  • Share. The pairs share their ideas with a small group or the entire class.

Vocabulary Activities. Many students are overwhelmed with theoretical information because they lack a framework they can use to assimilate information. Rather than a long list of vocabulary, ask students to physically label models, equipment, or situations. Then, a partner will define the element and describe how it fits into the "whole" of a situation. Combining the physical/spatial activity will help some students remember the vocabulary as well as the concepts associated with the vocabulary. Research shows that associating visuals with concepts increases retention.  

Example: Label models, equipment, or situations.
Example: Ask faculty to participate in an example instructional situation. Then have the faculty brainstorm three places in their course where this might apply. It's an easy thing that can be added to a course without much effort.
Example: Ask students to take a card and write a word or phrase; or draws a picture of an item; write vital signs. Trade cards and the peer writes the definition or action on the other side. These become part of a game.

Video Activities. Involve students in creating videos as a way to practice skills and share understandings.

Example. Watch Somewhere over Web 2.0. This student-produced video is a great example of students applying what they know to the creating of something interesting.
Example: Ask students to create a public service announcement sharing their thoughts about copyright awareness. Go to Campaigning for Fair Use for ideas.

Writing Activities. Regardless of the content area, information users must be able to write their findings. Ask students to complete forms, write in a matrix, keep a journal, write a letter, or create other types of real-world documents. For example, the ability to clearly and succinctly present pertinent information regarding patients is a critical skills for the emergency medical provider to possess.

Example: Ask students to keep a journal. For each reading assignment, select some aspect of the chapter and share a real-world example that reflects the student's understanding of the key concepts.

try itTry It! Think-Pair-Share

Think - Design a Think-Pair-Share activity for a classroom.
Pair - Share your thoughts with another person somewhere in the world.
Share - Share with another pair. 

Closure and Transfer

Ask learners to draw conclusions, apply new knowledge and skills, and transfer ideas to new learning situations.

Who cares? How will I use this information in the "real-world"? These are common questions of students of all ages. Learners need to make a connection with authentic applications of new skills.

In From School to Work and from Work to School" Information Environments and Transferring Information literacy Practice, Herring (2011) identified the need for "a greater recognition of the importance of students transferring information literacy practices". The school program Herring studied lacked a "culture of transfer". He noted the need for an atmosphere that encouraged the transfer of knowledge and skills from school to the workplace and back to the school environment.

Ask yourself: How will I conclude and help students transfer learning to new situations?

It's also essential to review content from earlier classes to ensure retention and use. Students need to see how the concepts are related from one class to the next.

Key Elements


Truth Seeking Activity. Explore a situation when you as the instructor have had different experiences than what is being discussed in the textbook or through other standard instructional materials. Share your concerns about the “real world” versus the theory and talk about the purpose of theory. Talk about reconciling inconsistencies. This is a great topic when things “change” in the profession.

Example. Discuss your experiences with information overload. Talk about frustrations and the need for patience in searching for information.
. Talk about the Hands-only CPR and how it was changed thinking about CPR for the general public. Ask students to discussion these changes.

pillsTriggers and Actions. Help students put the current topic within the context of the larger course or information inquiry process by weaving content from various lessons together into an activity.

Example. Provide students with a set of 5-7 action cards. Ask the student to take a card from a pile containing problem-starters such as a topic to narrow, evidence to verify, or a citation to create. Ask students to match it to one of the cards in their hand that contains a course of action. The moderator then checks the answer. If the student has chosen the best course of action, they keep the trigger card. If not, they place it in the discard pile. The goal is to collect a certain number of triggers.
. Provide students with a set of 5-7 action cards. Ask the student to take a card from a pile containing triggers such as signs and symptoms, unsafe situations, key words. Ask students to match it to one of the cards in their hand. The moderator then checks the answer. If the student has chosen the best course of action, they keep the trigger card. If not, they place it in the discard pile. The goal is to collect a certain number of triggers.

What's in the Box. Review all of the instruments learned up to this point in the course. They helps students distinguish when each might be used.

Example. Provide each group with a closed bag containing important tools. Each student reaches in the bag and pulls out a tool. Their job is to name it, describe its use, provide 3 specific examples of when it might be used and why it's in the bag.

Error Handling. It's important that a student's first experiences is with the correct procedure. However, once students have developed expertise, they are ready to look for patterns of errors and identify the "incorrect" methods.

Example. Write a sequence of events on post-its or cards. Reorder the elements. Talk about what happens when things get out of order.

Engaging Examples. Provide students with a list of categories. Randomly select a category. Students must write down a single clear example that belongs to that category on a card. Each person reads their example aloud. Everyone places the cards on the table. On the count of three, point to your favorite example. You can’t point to your own. As a group discuss those examples that were selected.

Vocabulary Game. Ask students to recall names, definitions, and uses for items.

Example. Post photos and/or instruments, equipment, tools around the room. Move around adding a word, definition, or situation where it might be used to each item. Move to whatever item is available at the time. Then, go back around as a group and analyze the information as a group.
Example. Use the Library Lingo handout from George A. Smathers Libraries at University of Florida.

Still Wonder. Near the end of class, ask students to write a question he or she still wonders about on a card. Everyone places cards into a basket. Individuals take cards. In groups, they try to address all the questions. If your group can’t answer the question, ask the instructor. At the end, ask if anyone still has questions… this should help decrease the number of questions

Big Picture Scenario. Consider a scenario that small groups follow through the entire course. They continue to come back to their research problem and needs.

Example. Think about different categories for information need.
. Think about different categories: a water disaster, a wind disaster, a fire disaster, a campus violence disaster.

Stop GoOut the Door Activity. Post the learning outcome for the day. Before leaving class, ask students to take a card and circle: Stop, Go, Proceed with Caution. Ask students to put a stop (I’m totally confused), go (I’m ready to move on), or proceed with caution note (I could use some clarification on…) and leave it for you in the basket by the door. Use this information when planning for the next class.

Download the cards as a PDF.

Try It! Select Closure Activities
Go through the suggested closure activities. Select one and adapt it for use in your classroom.

Lesson Planning

Once you understand each element that goes into an effective learning experience, it’s time to put it together into a lesson plan.

A lesson plan may be either an informal or formal set of actions taken by a teacher or a group of teachers to determine what their students are to learn, how the teaching activity will be implemented, and how the acquisition of new skills or knowledge may be demonstrated and evaluated. 

Read the chapter Developing Learning Environments: Planning Effective Lessons (PDF, 1MB) in Building Treehouses for Learning: Technology in Today's Classroom. This chapter is helpful for library media specialists without teaching experience.

Designing a successful learning experience, takes planning.

planningIdentify Audience

Start by discussing the learners in the class.

Identify Outcomes

The teacher and librarians should work together to identify the specific learning outcomes to be addressed in the lesson(s). It's often easier for teachers to start with their content area standards, then work with the media specialist to see how easily the information inquiry standards blend in. The inquiry activities and assessments must be focused on these specific competencies.

Identify Student Performance

Before jumping into discussing activities and resources, it's necessary to decide how students will be evaluated on their performance. Who will be responsible for assessing student performance, providing feedback, and assignment grades?

Identify Resources

Take some time to discuss the wide variety resources available to for the unit. Although students often run to the Internet first, it might make more sense to use electronic databases, books, or video for the activity. How can resources be used to help address individual needs and differences? If students will be reading a novel, could some students listen to a book-on-CD? Are adequate resources available? For example, it might be nice for every teen to develop their own PowerPoint presentation, but this may not be realistic with only 12 laptops available. Consider a paired project, where the end product is a single PowerPoint presentation that is a debate between the two students.

Develop Teaching and Learning Materials

Both teaching and learning materials must be developed to guide the experience. When developing materials it's important to consider the learning styles of students as well as the teaching styles of the educators involved. This is the mostly likely area of conflict for a media specialist and teacher working together. For example, one educator might be accustomed to a "lecture-style" approach while another might be more comfortable with small group activities. Consider how to meet the needs of both students and teachers through an eclectic approach.

Consider critical and creative thinking activities. Ask students to examine causes, application, relationships, effects, limitations, barriers, incentives, effectiveness, efficiency, appeal, or controversy. Keep them thinking by asking them to compare/contrast, analyze, discuss, distinguish, direct, debate, formulate, or create. Ask them to communicate through writing, speaking, visualizing, diagramming, videotaping, moving, demonstrating, or presenting.

Students need quality learning materials such as handouts containing examples, guidelines, models, and other help. The goals and requirements of the project should be clearly stated for the teachers and the students. It's helpful for evaluation if students develop concrete evidence of their work throughout the learning cycle. These might include notebooks, folders, journals, or graphic organizers.

Teachers need quality materials for guiding instruction including lesson plans, schedules, and support materials. These materials should be used at the "teachable moment" rather than as isolated activities that may be meaningless "out of context".

Implement Learning Experience

Both the teacher and librarians have active roles during the inquiry. Although much of their time will be with facilitation, they must also hold student conferences, do process checks, and provide instruction. A good teacher is need to guide student through the false states, disappointments, and mistakes that are part of the learning process. This requires flexibility and time. The challenge is keeping students on track without providing pressure that causes frustration.


Students need an audience for their work. This audience may be peers and teachers, but it should also be students from other schools, experts from the Internet, or parents and community members. The key is demonstrating to students that the value of a successful inquiry goes beyond a grade.


At the conclusion of the project, everyone including the teacher, media specialist, and students need an opportunity to reflect and plan for the future.

try itTry It!
Explore online tools to help with lesson development:
Guided Inquiry - a NetSplore from 2Learn. It takes you through the process of building inquiry activities.
Module Maker from

Lesson Plan Formats

While many instructors create their lessons in a word processing documents, there are many different approaches that can be taken to organization and presentation of the content.

Word Processor

The use of simple headings and subheadings is an easy way to organize a lesson plan. Headings might include title, learning objectives, connection to curriculum/standards, teaching procedure, resources, evaluation.

Some teachers like to use tables in their planning. Columns may contain the objective, activities, time, and resources.


Visual planning is another approach. Rather than a word processor, use a series of visuals to describe the lesson. Concept mapping tools can be used to create a series of snapshots of activities. Some people use PowerPoint (with the speaker notes) as a way to organize. Others use prepackage storyboarding tools.

Learning Materials

boardThink of learning materials as the lesson from the student's point of view.

These materials may include handouts, anticipation guides, concept maps, checklists, rubrics, and other resources to facilitate learning. Many teachers are designing these materials into a web-based environment such as a simulation, activity web page, or WebQuest.

Check out the Raccoon Babies Big 6 resource. Also, check out some other online activities such as Revolutionary ViewpointsWho Dunnit? and Henry Hikes to Fitchburg.

Check out the Library of Congress activities for integrating primary source documents and other resources into the classroom.

Go to How to Do Research from KY Virtual Library and A+ Research and Writing from IPL. They provide tutorials on research skills.

The key to effective learning materials is that they must be effective, efficient, and appealing to students. They should be written in the language of students and aimed at students. As such, they should be written at the reading level of students. They should contain text, visuals, and other elements that will assist the diverse group of learners succeed. They should include analogies, scenarios, and examples that are motivating and interesting.

Learning materials should use techniques that stimulate creative and critical thinking. They may contain reflective questions or ideas for organizing thinking. The key is providing the scaffolding that students need to be successful in the learning experience.

WebQuests contain some of the best examples of teaching and learning materials. Most WebQuests start with student pages and link to a teacher page. You don't need to create a WebQuest to use this approach. The same categories can incorporated into a self-running PowerPoint presentation or even a sheet of paper. The key is to focus on a student-centered lesson that includes an introduction, task, process, resources, product, evaluation, and conclusion.

Adapting Existing Materials

Finding time to design technology and information-rich learning experiences for students is one of the greatest challenges facing both PK-12 teachers and university faculty. Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) research showed that although many teachers feel like they’ve moved from the survival to the mastery levels in terms of technology integration skills, it takes time and experience for them to move to the next steps of impact and innovation (Sandholtz, J.H., Ringstaff, C. & Dwyer, D.C., 1990).

Time is often given as the primary barrier to innovation. In their 1998 article, Blood, Sweat, and TEARS: 50 Years of Technology Implementation Obstacles Leggett and Persichitte identified the TEARS of time, expertise, access, resources, and support as the major barriers to technology implementation.

The Art of Adaptation

old techTeachers don't have time to develop all of their materials from scratch. It's essential that they learn the "art of adapting." Adapting involves taking an existing resources and revising it to fit particular needs.

The art of adaptation begins by asking whether teachers are making the best use of the existing resources both in their building and online. Resources include hardware and software, but also support personnel and other educators. For instance rather than everyone developing independent units on each habitat, could all the fourth grade teachers share their favorite aspects of their lessons on a collaborative website. Rather than keeping the digital cameras locked in the cabinet special events, could they be used daily as part of an ongoing science project?

As you explore potential lessons and activities, apply what you know from past teaching experience. As you look at a potential activity or resource, consider the content, process, product, and evaluation components. Also, think about the reading, communicating, and thinking that’s required of students. How will this help address specific standards and individual needs of learners? How will technology enhance the project?

childEach teacher must identify their best approach to designing instructional materials. While some teachers prefer to create materials from scratch, others would rather modify existing materials. Some teachers like to work alone, while others enjoy collaborating.

Start with an interesting idea or a project you think might work in your situation. Then, modify, expand, or enhance it. Be sure you cite the original work if you publish your project on their web.

Browse through the Big 6 website. They have lots of great ideas. Can you think of a way to adapt one of their ideas to a different topic?

Existing Instructional Materials

In this section you'll find lots of instructional materials that can be adapted.

General Sources for Lessons

Subject-Area Lessons

Information Skills Curriculum

try itTry It!
Explore AASL's Standards for the 21st-Century Learner Lesson Plan Database.
Think about how these lessons could be adapted.
This website provides great tools and templates for building lesson plans.

Digital Citizenship K-12

The 21st century learner needs more than traditional information search skills to be safe, and successful. Today's student need to understand online safety, privacy issues, and more.

The following resources are good starting point for lessons related to digital citizenship:

Digital Citizenship. Ask students to think about their role as a digital citizen. What are their rights and responsibilities?

Connected Culture. Ask students to think about their online connections and interactions. What are the positive and negative aspects of online social interaction?

Media and advertising. Ask students to explore the persuasive messages they see everyday. How do they impact consumer and lifestyle choices? Where do media fit as an information source? How do marketers define what's "cool" and compare this to the things you, your friends, and your family values.

Design an activity that combines mathematics with advertising. What's the best deal? Why are they trying to sell me a particular product in a particular way? When companies advertise special buying deals such as low interest rates and free shipping are these really good deals? Why or why not? Design examples.

Stereotyping, Hate Propaganda, and Harmful Media Messages. Your students need to be able to define and provide examples of stereotyping in the media. How do stereotypes impact individuals and society? How does the way popular culture and conditions in our society influence our perceptions of groups of people?

Privacy. As students explore information, it's important for them to understand the importance of online privacy.

Misconceptions. We live in a global society however most of our information about the world comes from mainstream Western sources. Sensational news stories related to natural disasters, war, and protests can fuel misconceptions about people living in developing countries. How do different news organizations differ in their representation of world events? Why is it important to explore multiple sources of information? How does political reporting and media ownership impact news reporting? How do "sound bites" and news commentators impact public opinion?

Safety. From protecting privacy and responsible use of social networks to eliminating cyberbullying, there are many online resources to help teach young people about Internet safety.

Teaching and Learning Materials on the Web

While some of the following materials take an integrated approach to information literacies, some focus on isolated skills. When possible, information literacy should be connected with content-area standards. How can you adapt these materials to fit this need?

Explore the lessons at ReadWriteThink's Inquiry/Research.

Inquiry-rich Lessons, Activities, and Units

Information and Media Literacy Topics

Lesson Projects, Series, and Search Tools

Research Modules

Information Skills Activities and Tutorials

Interactive Creation Tools


Forte, A. & Bruckman, A. (2010). Writing, citing, and participatory media: wikis as learning environments in the high school classroom. International Journal of Learning and Media, 1(4), 23-44.

Gross, Melissa & Latham, Don (2011). Experiences with and perceptions of information: a phenonmenographic study of first-year college students. Library Quarterly, 81(2), 161-186.

Herring, James E. (June 2011). From School to Work and from Work to School" Information Environments and Transferring Information literacy Practice. Information Research, 16(2). Available:

Huvila, I. (2010). Where does the information come from? Information source use patterns in WikipediaInformation Research 15(3), 433. Available:

Jennings, Eric (2008). Using Wikipedia to teach information literacy. College & Undergraduate Libraries, 15(4), 432-437.

Lahlafi, A. E., Rushton, D. and Stretton, E. (2012). Active and reflective learning initiatives to improve web searching skills of business students. Journal of information literacy, 6(1), 35-49.

Lambert, N.M., & McCombs, B.L. (1998) (Eds.). How students learn. American Psychological Association.

Learner-Centered Psychological Principles: A Framework for School Reform & Redesign. American Psychnoloical Association's Board of Educational Affairs. APA. November 1997.

Limberg, L., Alexandersson, M., Lantz-Andersson, A. & Folkesson, L. (2008). What matters? Shaping meaningful learning through teaching information literacyLibri, 58(2), 82–91.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollack, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. ASCD.

Sormunen, Eero & Lehtio, Leeni (December 2011). Authoring Wikipedia Articles as an Information Literacy Assignment: Copy-pasting or expressing new understanding in one's own words? Information Research, 16(4). Available:


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