This is a report on my new Information Literacy Unit for 4th graders. The link to the unit wiki site is here: http://snapplerealfactsbuster.wikidot.com/ for reference.
My daughter has always been fascinated by those Snapple “Real Facts” under their bottle caps. Not long ago, a few odd-sounding “facts” piqued my interest and I started to verify the validity behind each fact we encountered. It turns out that not all of those facts are entirely true. I have concluded that the good folks at Snapple did not start out to fool their public, but due to the space limitation of the caps, they had to truncate quite a bit of their facts into short sentences and along the way choices of words and syntax often altered the meanings of the facts.
A few weeks ago, I thought, hey, why don’t I use this into an Info. Lit. Unit for my fourth graders? First of all, I have been trying to figure out a way that will make creating wiki documents meaningful to the children. A wiki can be a natural space where they can share their findings with each other and the world, where I can give them instant and continuous comments and pointers, and where they can formulate a solid understanding of how wiki sites are put together and thus are less likely to be simply just believe in whatever they find online.
We started the unit by looking at how wikipedia works and how we could add and change information about our school on wikipedia without submitting any proof of our identities or expertise. And then the students were shown how to create their individual group’s wiki file and record their “research findings” of the randomly assigned caps/facts. We named our wiki “Snapple Real Facts Buster” in the fashion of the very popular Discovery Channel’s “Myth Busters.” We are in the thick of figuring out whether any of the facts is valid and discovering that it is not always that easy to verify a simple factual statement. In a week or two, we will be done with the unit and a final reflection and discussion will be posted on our site. So far, this has been a fun unit to create and it seems that the students have enjoyed the idea behind the unit. It is, however, hard work for 9- and 10-year-olds to have the patience and tenacity to continue working both after 15 minutes of futile searching or seeing one source, regardless of its validity. This is part of the discovery process and hopefully both the success stories and difficulties will prove to be illuminating for both the children and the library teacher.