Applying Big6 Skills,
AASL Standards

and ISTE Standards

to Internet Research

by Janet Murray
Author, Achieving Educational Standards Using the Big6 Linworth Publications. 2008.

Correlate Mike Eisenberg's and Bob Berkowitz' Big6 Skills with the Standards for the 21st-Century Learner developed by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards for Students to organize an introduction to research on the Internet. Also look at national and state curriculum standards compiled by Education World® and the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Task Definition
Concept Mapping
Graphic Organizers
Ask Essential Questions


Information Seeking
3c Subject Directories
Evaluating Web Sites
Web Site Evaluation 


Location and Access
3b Keyword Searching
Search Strategies
Advanced Search Strategies


Use of Information
Extract Information
Analyze Sources
Bibliographic Citations
Identify Point of View


Critical Thinking
Appropriate Product
Classroom Applications


Assessment Rubrics RubiStar

1 Task Definition

1.1 Define the information problem.
1.2 Identify information needed in order to complete the task (to solve the information problem).
AASL Standards
1.1.3 Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.
1.2.1 Display initiative and engagement by posing questions and investigating the answers beyond the collection of superficial facts.
National Educational Technology Standards
3a plan strategies to guide inquiry
4a identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation
4b plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project

Basic Activities: concept mapping
Students often need guidance to refine their inquiry in terms appropriate to the assignment.  They may try to tackle a subject that is too broad or too narrow.  See "Visual Thinking and Learning" for techniques to help students organize their thinking process. Concept maps are a useful visual tool to establish hierarchical relationships.

Basic Activities: graphic organizers
There are many other graphic organizers that will help students visualize their thinking and brainstorming process. Consider using Inspiration® software to facilitate the visualization of ideas. Big6 icons are now a symbol library in Inspiration version 7!

Here's an interactive example of using a graphic organizer to enhance vocabulary and understanding of the relationship between words and their synonyms: The Visual Thesaurus.
 Advanced Activities: ask essential questions
Ask essential questions to "promote deep and enduring understanding."

2. Information Seeking Strategies

2.1 Determine the range of possible sources (brainstorm).
2.2 Evaluate the different possible sources to determine priorities (select the best sources).

AASL Standards
1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.
National Educational Technology Standards
3c evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness for specific tasks.

Basic Activities: subject directories

Students (and even adults) are often frustrated when a search engine retrieves overwhelming amounts of irrelevant information.  Encourage new users to use a subject directory of evaluated resources which organizes information hierarchically.  Some good starting points for educators and students are:
The Internet Public Library has merged with Librarians' Internet Index.
KidsClick! web search for kids by librarians.
Multnomah County Library Homework Center

Compare the results from trying the same search in a variety of subject directories.

Basic Activities: evaluating web sites
Because anyone can publish on the world wide web, it is critically important that students learn to
evaluate web sites for authority, accuracy, relevance, currency, and objectivity. Use How to Recognize an Informational Web Page to guide your evaluation.
Look at the other guides to evaluating web sites on the Widener site.

Advanced Activities: web site evaluation
Experience the interactive exercise evaluating web pages at the U.C. Berkeley Library.

Use the exercises at ICYouSee: A Guide to Critical Thinking About What You See on the Web
with students.

See Kathy Schrock's extensive list of presentations and tools to evaluate web sites: Critical Evaluation of Information.

3. Location and Access

3.1 Locate sources (intellectually and physically).
3.2 Find information within sources.

AASL Standards
1.1.8 Demonstrate mastery of technology tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry.
1.3.2 Seek divergent perspectives during information gathering and assessment.

National Educational Technology Standards
3b locate, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.

Basic Activities: keyword searching
Help students improve their keyword searching skills by using a simple exercise that compares the results of a search using several search engines.

Introduce younger students to search engines designed especially for them:
KidsClick! web search for kids by librarians.

Basic Activities: search strategies
The OSLIS Elementary Page introduces web research skills to younger students.
Use NoodleTools with older students to explore search engine strategies, citation formats.

Advanced Activities: advanced search strategies
Try your earlier search in a metasearch engine (one which searches using the results from several other search engines, e.g. Dogpile); evaluate the results.
Explore advanced features of search engines by reading their help screens or tips for searching. Use Google's Advanced Search to find information on very specific topics.
Use Finding Information on the Internet: A TUTORIAL from UC Berkeley for more guidance on effective searching.

4. Use of Information

4.1 Engage (e.g. read, hear, view, touch) the information in a source.
4.2 Extract relevant information from a source.
AASL Standards
1.1.7 Make sense of information gathered from diverse sources by identifying misconceptions, main and supporting ideas, conflicting information, and point of view or bias.
2.1.1 Apply critical-thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge.
1.3.3 Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information.
National Educational Technology Standards
4c collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
5a advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.

Basic Activities: extract information from a source
"Reading for Information: The Trash'n'Treasure Method of Teaching Notetaking" by Barbara Jansen.
Teach students to distinguish between summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting.

Basic Activities
: accuracy, relevance and comprehensiveness
Analyze the use of statistics in "The Dangers of Bread." What is the relationship between the statistics and the author's conclusions? (See especially #12.)

Basic Activities: bibliographic citations
Make sure students understand correct bibliographical format.  It is as important to correctly cite Internet sources as traditional print sources.  OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University provides current updates to APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association) Style with detailed examples. Students like to use an interactive web tool: the Citation Machine or Citation Maker.

Advanced Activities
: identify point of view
Compare two web sites about scientific research:
JunkScience: "all the junk that's fit to debunk"
Commentary on "JunkScience" from SourceWatch: a project of the Center for Media and Democracy.
Both of these sites feature strongly worded opinions; what do you think?

5. Synthesis

5.1 Organize information from multiple sources
5.2 Present the information

AASL Standards
2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
3.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, use, and assess.
National Educational Technology Standards
2a interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
2b communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Basic Activities: critical thinking
Encourage the development of critical thinking skills in your Internet research projects.  In addition to evaluating web resources, students should be engaged in evaluating their own thinking process and applying the information they gather to authentic challenging tasks.

Strategy List: 35 Dimensions of Critical Thought

Basic Activities: appropriate product
Student presentations should be appropriate to their topics and their audiences.  What will be the most effective format to demonstrate what they have learned? Examine Doug Johnson's "Plagiarism-proofing assignments" for ideas.

Look at NASA's Classroom of the Future Modules for examples of problem-based learning. Adapt Project Based Learning checklists to guide your students.

Well-designed Web Quests encourage collaborative learning, the thoughtful analysis of Web resources, and the creation of original products. See Tom March's description of "What WebQuests (Really) Are".

Advanced Activities: classroom applications
Look at K-12 Strategies & Samples from the Center for Critical Thinking.

6. Evaluation

6.1 Judge the product (effectiveness)
6.2 Judge the information problem-solving process (efficiency).
AASL Standards
3.4.1 Assess the processes by which learning was achieved in order to revise strategies and learn more effectively in the future.
3.4.2 Assess the quality and effectiveness of the learning product.
National Educational Technology Standards
1a apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
5b exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning and productivity.

Basic Activity: assessment rubrics
Select from Kathy Schrock's collection of Assessment and Rubric Information to evaluate student projects, including web pages, research papers, multimedia and group presentations.
See also MidLink Magazine's Rubrics and Evaluation Resources.

Advanced Activity:
Use RubiStar to customize your rubric from a template.

Big6 aligned with Common Core Standards
Big6 aligned with ICT Literacy Standards

For a more detailed explication of Big6 Skills and their application to technology, read Information, Communications, and Technology (ICT) Skills Curriculum Based on the Big6 Skills Approach to Information Problem-Solving by Mike Eisenberg, Doug Johnson , and Bob Berkowitz [PDF] (updated February 2010). For m
ore links see "Online Resources to Support Big6 Information Skills."

Big6 Matrix: Use the Internet with Big6 Skills to Achieve Standards designed by Janet Murray, May, 1999.  Published in the Big6 eNewsletter, Winter, 2000, and Book Report, November/December, 2000.  Presented at the Big6 Conference, August, 2001.

Incorporated ISTE NETS and updated January, 2002. Presented at NECC2002.  Published in Big6 eNewsletter, Spring 2002, Book Report, September/October 2002, and TechTrends, January/February 2003. Incorporated new NETS standards August, 2007; incorporated new AASL Standards, November, 2007. Last updated October, 2015.

Achieving Educational Standards Using the Big6 Linworth Publications. 2008.

"Big6" is trademarked by Michael B. Eisenberg and Robert E. Berkowitz, © 1987.
"Standards for the 21st-Century Learner" are © 2007, American Library Association.
"National Educational Technology Standards for Students, Second Edition" are © 2007, International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Now known as ISTE Standards.