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The BigSix

Information Problem-Solving: The BigSix Skills Approach to Library & Information Skills Instruction
by Michael B. Eisenberg and Robert E. Berkowitz
Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1990

The BigSix is a framework for research. I have adapted Eisenberg and Berkowitz's work for elementary and middle school students. I have also framed the skills in terms of questions students ask themselves as they progress through their process. These questions may or may not be used in a linear fashion depending on the students' needs.

These are the six questions I use with elementary students. I have included the original Big Six designation for each question.

Question 1 - Task Definition

What is my question? Is it a fat question? (A fat question for study is one that isn't answered by a simple "yes" or "no" or a name, date, and/or place. Students will normally have more than one question for their inquiry. Questions are developed after students have had the opportunity to browse resources and record what they already know about a topic.)

Question 2 - Information Seeking Strategies

What resources can I use to find information? (Paper and electronic resources as well as experts should all be considered.)

Question 3 - Location and Access

In this resource, how do I find information? (This requires students to use indexes, tables of contents, electronic organizing tools, glossaries, timelines, maps, charts and to develop keywords that will assist them in locating information on their topic.)

Question 4 - Use of Information

How will I use the information I find? (For most inquiry projects, this means keeping a research log or journal, making notes on cards or other graphic organizers, recording bibliographic information, and references to useful visuals.)

Question 5 - Synthesis

What can I make to show what I have learned? (This refers to the product, presentation, format for sharing findings.)

Question 6 - Evaluation

How will I know I did my job well? (Rubrics developed by the class and/or small group before the process begins and revised halfway through the process are recommended. It is also important for rubrics and self-evaluations to address both the process and the product.)

These questions are hanging prominently in the Gale School Library and in some of our classrooms. Students or teams of researchers are invited to place post-it notes on the poster to chart their progress. Sometimes students revise their inquiry and return to Question #1 to begin again.

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