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How the ‘Big6’ can aid in Common Core implementation


With implementation of the Common Core State Standards under way, a method known as the Big6 can help ensure that a curriculum put in place to meet the standards is rich in information, problem-solving, and decision-making, its creators say.

The Big6 is a six-stage model that develops students’ literacy and information skills as they solve problems and make decisions using the resources that are available to them. In essence, say creators Bob Berkowitz and Michael Eisenberg, the Big6 process can help students master the Common Core standards, because the process gives students a way to actually “do” each specified portion of the standards.

“The Common Core State Standards present a challenge for schools and educators to integrate the standards into existing curriculum and into classroom instruction, and [they] present an opportunity for teacher-librarians to be part of the solution, to meet specific standards through information and technology literacy programs, and to raise the status and awareness of the information and technology literacy program,” said Berkowitz.

An educational consultant and retired library media specialist, Berkowitz was speaking during an edWeb.net webinar that focused on helping educators create an instructional program around information and technology skills.

One of the biggest challenges the new standards pose is how they should be organized for instruction. The Common Core State Standards are designed to prepare students for success in college or the workforce, Berkowitz said, and school-level leaders will play a central role in implementing the new standards and in cultivating a shift in mindset from high school completion to college and career readiness for all students.

(Next page: The six stages of the Big6 model—and how they can help with the Common Core)The Big6 system follows six key points:

  1. Task definition: Define the problem and identify the information needed to solve it.
  2. Information-seeking strategies: Determine all possible sources, then select the best source.
  3. Location and access: Locate sources and find information within sources.
  4. Use of information: Engage (i.e., read, hear, view) and extract relevant information.
  5. Synthesis: Organize information from multiple sources and present the result.
  6. Evaluation: Judge the result/effectiveness; judge the process/efficiency.

When educators can structure their responses to the Common Core State Standards requirements using the Big6, they will be able to pass information skills to students, and help them approach and solve problems logically.

“I think it’s time that we stepped up and said that the IT skills curriculum is, in fact, a curriculum,” said Eisenberg, professor and dean emeritus at the Information School at the University of Washington. “The way it’s learned is by integrating it with other curricula. We are key players in seeing that students learn these skills.”

To implement the Big6 with the Common Core, educators should…

  • Identify the Common Core standard they want students to learn.
  • Make the Big6 connection and identify which stage corresponds to the specific Common Core standard.
  • Link that connection to the classroom, subject-area curriculum, and especially to an assignment.
  • Create a lesson or activity to develop the Common Core and Big6 skill that is targeted to curriculum and assignments.

 Follow Managing Editor Laura Devaney on Twitter: @eSN_Laura.

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