4 Best Places to Find Information Literacy Lesson Plans for Middle School
As a middle school teacher, you’re responsible for helping your students navigate the intricacies of the digital world.
In today’s age of misinformation and fake news, one of the most critical 21st Century skills you need to teach is information literacy.
And while the importance of good information literacy skills is increasing, the number of resources to help you teach those skills is not.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of the four best places to find information literacy lesson plans for middle school:
- The New York Times
- News Literacy Project
- S.O.S. for Information Literacy
- Common Sense Education
These four publishers will help you shape your curriculum and prepare your students navigate the information-saturated world.
Let’s get started!
1. Lesson Ideas from The New York Times
Katherine Schulten and Amanda Christy Brown co-wrote a thorough resource to help you teach information literacy for The New York Times.
In Evaluating Sources in a ‘Post-Truth’ World: Ideas for Teaching and Learning about Fake News, Schulten and Brown flesh out a full lesson idea with real-world examples and a context that will really get your students thinking.
The article has two sections: The Problems and The Possible Solutions. We’ll start with an overview of the first section.
This section of the article starts with ideas on how to get your students thinking about the importance of news and information literacy.
Then, it continues with sub-sections on these topics:
- Different types of unreliable news
- How fake news spreads
- The effects of fake news on democracy
Each of these topics includes real-world examples along with ideas to spark discussion in your classroom.
Additionally, there are links to outside resources and articles that you can use to go more in-depth with each section if you choose.
The Possible Solutions
This section is focused on giving your students the tools they need to spot fake news and false information on the web.
It includes discussion ideas, an activity, a weekly news quiz, and this graphic you could hand out to every student:
Overall, this article is a great place to start when teaching information literacy skills.
With activity ideas, discussion questions, and more, your students will quickly understand the importance of having these skills.
The only downside to this resource is the time it will take you to get organized. While lots of information is there, there’s no downloadable version of the lesson plans or activities.
That means you’ll have to do some work to create presentable materials. Though with such a detailed resource, that work is easier than creating your own lessons from scratch!
However, if you’re looking for something with more structure and less manual work, check out the next option.
2. Checkology from the News Literacy Project
As its name would suggest, The News Literacy Project (NLP) is dedicated to teaching news and information literacy to digital natives.
To help educators teach these skills, NLP created Checkology. This resource is a web-based tool with interactive lessons and videos that teach students to evaluate news and information.
Checkology has two options -- Basic and Premium.
Checkology Basic Access
Checkology Basic Access is a free version that includes a teacher login with a select number of resources to teach news and information literacy.
With this option, you have the ability to present three of the lessons for what NLP calls “one-to-many” lesson delivery. This means you can use the lessons in a lecture-style setting.
In addition to the lessons, you will get standards alignments and tips to blend the lessons into your classroom.
While this doesn’t seem like much, if you are just looking for some introductory content to teach basic information literacy skills, this version could be exactly what you need.
If you want to get into more detail in your classroom, the premium version could be a better fit.
Checkology Premium Access
Checkology Premium Access is a full-fledged curriculum option with access to a ton of extra resources and features, including:
- The full library of lessons
- Student accounts
- In-platform assessments
- Customizable settings
- Live lessons with industry experts
With all of these items inevitably comes a price tag, which is based on a per-student cost.
All in all, Checkology could be exactly what you need to teach news and information literacy.
If you can’t afford a resource but still need information literacy lessons, try one of these other sites!
3. S.O.S. for Information Literacy
S.O.S. for Information Literacy is a website created to help teachers at any grade level teach information literacy skills.
The site is essentially a collection of resources submitted by educators. That means you get lesson ideas straight from your peers — not an unknown publisher.
Because educators constantly add new resources, the site has a ton of lesson plans, activity ideas, and more. Each lesson plan page includes:
- Lesson description
- Goals and objectives
- Materials and sources needed
- Procedure information
- Who created the lesson
In addition, you can find information on educational standards that the lesson maps to -- sometimes down to the state level!
One downside of this website is the fact that it covers all angles of information literacy. The resources aren’t just for a career readiness teacher – there are lessons specifically for earth science, history, and even math.
There is also a “training” section on the site that includes a few tips for searching through the list of lessons. But you’ll still need to vet each lesson once you narrow down your search results.
This means you could spend more time sifting through S.O.S. for Information Literacy than it would take you to create your own lessons from scratch!
If you have time to spare, this resource could be a perfect addition to your information literacy toolkit.
But if you want more structure and less searching, check out the next option!
4. News & Media Literacy Lessons from Common Sense Education
Common Sense Education is a powerhouse for teaching digital citizenship and other 21st century skills.
To teach information literacy, they have an “Educator Toolkit” called News & Media Literacy, which has four sub-sections.
We’ll go into detail about the two sections that are most relevant to your search for information literacy lesson plans: Teach by Topic and Classroom Essentials.
Teach by Topic
The Teach by Topic section helps you quickly find the top lessons related to information literacy.
It gives you a snapshot of each lesson, with information such as:
- Essential question for the lesson
- Prep time
- Time of the lesson
- Student worksheets (when available)
- Videos (when available)
- Family tip sheets
From there, you can choose to go to the full lesson to see all of the information, including lesson objectives, standards alignments, and assessments.
The Classroom Essentials section is a compilation of resources related to information literacy that aren’t full-fledged lessons.
These range from videos to infographics to student handouts. While these resources won’t fill a full class, they can help to supplement your lessons and would work perfectly in a blended classroom.
Overall, Common Sense Education is the most organized option on our list, and as a bonus all of the resources are available for free!
What’s Next for Your Information Literacy Lessons?
You’ve learned about four awesome resources to start teaching information literacy skills to your middle schoolers. But what’s the next step?
Information literacy is just one piece of teaching your students digital literacy as a whole, a crucial skill in today’s world.
So now that you have information literacy lesson plans queued up, take them one step further and build a full digital literacy curriculum!
Teaching information literacy along with these other skills will give your students a leg up both in the short-term and long-term.
Not sure where to start? Read this article on how you can build your digital literacy curriculum today!