Information literacy is one of the top skills that teacher-librarians can help students to learn and practice. With the advent of the Educational Testing Service Information and Communications Technology (ETS ICT) literacy assessment for college students, it appears that more of the world is beginning to understand what teacher-librarians have always known. Knowing how to evaluate information is one important skill! This column focuses on bogus web sites to use for practice activities and a tutorial site. Hopefully, you will find a new source for web-site evaluation and rethink some of your favorite sites the next time you visit them.
Start by visiting the "Evaluating the Quality of Information" page on the Internet site developed for teaching legal professionals how to do research. This site offers many useful elements, such as tools to help evaluate Internet sites; tools for identifying and verifying the author of the site; a list of sites that alert you to e-mail and web scares, urban legends, and other questionable information; and a number of checklists to use in the information-evaluation process. Although this site is designed for adults, pieces of it can be used successfully with students in grades 6 through 12.
Check out adopting a penguin for a birthday or holiday gift. At the Penguin Warehouse, Inc., [[,|,]] visitors find a list of the top 10 reasons for adopting a penguin--such as "they make great foot warmers"--as well as question-and-answer features on penguin facts, breeds, and required care. You can also view the current stock of penguins available for purchase and shipping, check out books on the animals, and secure food for your newly adopted pet. Because many students will have seen the movie March of the Penguins (2005), this bogus web site is quite useful in helping students to practice information-evaluation skills.
Another animal site that will enthrall students is Dog Island, Here, dogs explore a lovely environment without much human contact and are free from the frustrations and pressures of living in cities. Students can check out career information and visiting-day options and learn more about the daily discoveries of the dogologists who do research on Dog Island. Also, be sure to listen to the new musical CD of songs about Dog Island. Use this one as an introduction to web-site evaluation for middle school students.
Introduce middle school and high school social studies students to the Republic of Molossia at On this site, students find information about the Republic, formed on May 26, 1977, and transplanted to Nevada in 1995. Current news articles; an audio welcome from the President of Molossia; and a variety of information about government, culture, and media can be accessed from the homepage. Have students examine the pictures of the Peace Pole of Molossia for additional information-literacy practice. Be certain to allow time to explore the information found via the media link; the news articles and the video features are true treasures.
What could be a better information-literacy activity than to teach our colleagues and students about the technology behind most people's favorite search engine, Goggle? Visit the PigeonRank technology found at pigeonrank.html. This delightful spoof on the PigeonRank technology used by Goggle makes fun reading and learning for students. Check out the information on the founders of PigeonRank to validate the credentials of the creators. Read the entire page to find the numerous examples of humor and wit. This site works great as a staff development tool.
Learn about the Fisher-Price Airplane, a relic from the 1970s and a rare example of Soviet airline design, at tim/fisher/. Begin by looking at the drawings and dimensions of the plane. Then move through the history of the machine and double check which airlines used the Fisher-Price model. Be sure to look at the section on Braniff Airways; notice the reference to flights to Sesame Street. Finally, have students examine the visuals and write about them.
The British Stick Insect Foundation, www, provides yet another entertaining bogus web site option for study. The site begins with a list of news and events. Links to more about natural history, camouflage, care, feeding, training, breeding, recipes, and a Q & A section are available. Visitors will find it difficult to see the camouflaged stick insects and to tell the difference between male and female insects. The humor found throughout the site will make it engaging for high school science students.
Looking for great-tasting water? Try dehydrated water! Visit the site to learn how this excellent source of refreshment is made and marketed. Read about the job opportunities and worker benefits, request a free sample, learn about franchise options, and read the FAQs and various press releases. Be aware that some items appear to really be available for purchase on the site. Taking students through the FAQs is a great exercise.
Study the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus by exploring treeoctopus/. This cephalopod lives in the rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. With eyesight comparable to humans, the tree octopus can spot predators from quite a distance. A tree octopus also displays its emotions by changing skin color--red for anger, white for fear. Web site visitors will also find links to learn about the mountain walrus, the Manhattan Beach mottled roach, and the red crabs of Christmas Island. Links to well-known environmental organizations are also included. This is another great site to use with secondary science students.
Finally, share information on McWhortle Enterprises with economics teachers. This business web site at introduces would-be investors to the biohazard alert detector developed by McWhortle and used by a number of Fortune 500 companies. The private company began public stock trading in January 2002. Check the press and testimonials links. Round out your tour of the site by clicking on the "Invest Now" option. This will lead you to an explanation of how this bogus web site was developed by the Securities and Exchange Commission along with other government agencies, and how to avoid really being scammed by an Internet site.

This site is a good springboard to help primary students do research. The student option guides youngsters in Grades 3-6 through the research. The goal is to locate four Australian animals, find information, and report back the requested information. The activity helps students learn to gather information, sift through it, and provide only that requested. Thus, students begin to practice the skill of seeking and summarizing specific information.
**Research Process Helper**
A four-step research process is provided for elementary students in a gifted and talented classroom and for middle school students. Students work on the preparation steps, which include using a task definition chart and webbing tools, and accessing information where generic and school-specific information is found. Next, the process provides excellent ideas on processing information and the final step of transferring the information to others. This thoughtfully developed site can serve as a model for many activities crafted jointly between the teacher-librarian and the content-area teacher. hes/research/default.html
**Wrapping Up Research**
Developed by folks in Australia, this site is another excellent resource for teacher-librarians working with Grades 4-8. The teaching activities used as examples are well crafted. Checklists to track student progress are available for downloading as are wall charts on each area of research. While the activities are tied to Victoria's gold rush in Australia, they can easily be customized.
Be sure to check out this site designed to accompany a book on the Internet published by Pam Berger. Here you will find nicely developed activities on web site evaluation, search strategies, integrating the Internet into the curriculum, and even tips on designing a web site for your library.
**Correlated Information Literacy Curriculi**
A number of provinces and states have developed information literacy curricula and have them posted on the Internet. At the risk of sounding prejudiced, I will suggest that you look at the work of a group of teacher-librarians in Indiana. These professionals have correlated the information literacy curriculum to the state content standards for English/ Language Arts, Foreign Language, Math and Science. It is available for download in Word/Excel format for both Windows and Mac. The correlations provide not only ways to integrate information literacy, but also excellent evidence of the important role of teacher-librarians.
**Search Like the Pros**
Provides a concise look at a number of search strategies. This is good site to use as a review for students and fellow teachers. he_pros.html
**From now on**
Jamie McKenzie always provides thought-provoking articles at his site. I suggest either re-reading or finding for the first time five of his writings:
• Beyond IT (Information Technology) which talks about the focus on the technology "stuff" instead of the curriculum and learning.
• The new library in the wired school which talks about the changes we should be making in our libraries as we move into the networked and electronic reference environment. now/jan2000/new library.html
• Grazing the Net where you will find thoughts on helping students learn to think, explore and create their own knowledge. fromnow/text/grazing.html
• Information literacy: A clarification written by Linda Langford. In it she talks about information literacy from a number of perspectives. oct98/clarify.html
• Power Learning. This set of six modules walks you through the steps for creating learning that helps reinforce information literacy concepts.
**Practice with Information Literacy Skills**
I also suggest looking at a number of the following webquests and other activities available online, which provide excellent practice in using information literacy skills:
• Australian WebQuests, includes six well-crafted activities for use in social studies and science classes.
Information literacy skills are a must to complete these. matrix.htm
• Power Searching and Effective Strategies for Utilizing the Internet, includes a set of five activities designed for an online class on searching the Internet. Part or all of these activities will prove useful as you craft options for your students.
• Building a Winning Team: Creating Classroom Expectations, is a masterful activity designed to be used the first day of class. It serves as a springboard for your own introduction to the library. rdg7/teams/intro.html
• Grade 3-4 students gain information literacy skills by completing these webquests, which can easily be adapted for other content. Check out Communities Around the World at IndigenousPeople/communities_around_the_ world.htm
• Rockland County During the Revolutionary War at rockland_county_during_the_revol.htm.
• Survivor: The Galapagos Islands? is a multi-disciplinary webquest designed to help Grade 5 students write a research paper. Again, this model can serve as a starting point for your own activity. survivor.htm
• Prince Edward Island information literacy activities site. You will find a number of teaching ideas and a set of five webquests where information literacy activities are superbly intertwined with curriculum.
• Ad Dissection 101 to find an engaging activity for high school students on advertising. This is information literacy at one of the highest levels.