We all want to make our information literacy sessions with groups memorable. At the CILIPS Autumn Gathering Chris Morrison, the School Librarian at Linlithgow Academy shared his programmes which introduce S1s and S2s to the skills needed for using the library and information sources. These are not ordinary library sessions though - the pupils are challenged to solve murder mysteries and discover the whereabouts of lost historical artefacts such as the Blue Diamond, which went missing in the French Revolution, or Joan of Arc's standard.
The first of these programmes is called Murder at Grim Marsh House. It starts with the class being introduced to the setting of a dark house with a dark reputation separated from everywhere else by a marsh. Listening to the story reminded me of The Woman in Black. There is an award for the best Crime Writer being awarded at the house and this award will send the sales of that author’s book through the roof, so they all really want it. So when the author who has been awarded the award turns up dead at the bottom of the stairs the pupils are challenged to solve the mystery. They must, working through an intranet site created using Dreamweaver, find out:
The Location of the MurderThe Time of the MurderThe Murder WeaponThe Crime SceneThe MotiveThe Suspects Alibi
Each section introduces them to a new concept from what a fiction book is, to using Dewey (codes), the indexes of books and the library catalogue in order to solve the mystery. They work in groups so it is competitive and if they finish before the programme is finished there are extension activities.
This is just an example of one of the programmes that Chris shared with us. His second programme, which builds on the skills learnt during Murder at Grim Marsh House, came about when he was asked by a French teacher to create a programme for their class. That programme involves the class working in teams to race across Paris to catch a jewel thief using metro maps to find the fastest route and using bilingual dictionaries to find out the meaning of various words along the way. His third programme the Jeanne D'Arc Codex has them using google maps and other internet resources and so the programmes keep on building on one another.
We saw through a video the impact of these programmes on the pupils - they really enjoyed the challenge. The fact that Chris has pupils shouting murderer at him around the school makes it safe to say these classes make an impact. Chris is happy to share his programmes and chat to anyone about them. You only need to get in touch. Chris is looking to expand his programmes up the school and to help with the transition to university. To find out in more detail about what Chris does check out Scottish Book Trust’s Learning blog.
I know I was inspired by the talk and am looking at ways Chris’s programme could be adapted to use with primary school classes coming to the public library in Aberdeen. Does anyone else have any examples of how they make information literacy fun at their library? Or any comments?
I heard Chris speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last year and he was really inspirational. It would be great if others could come up with equally fun ideas.
Thanks for the posting Ruth - it was an inspiring session. I find school librarians so inspiring and I greatly admire their work. The urls for the Scottish Book Trust’s Learning blog Crime Scene Investigations at the Library! Part 1http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/learning/2011/11/crime-scene-investigations-at-the-library
Crime Scene Investigations at the Library! Part 2http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/learning/2011/11/part-2-crime-scene-investigations-at-the-library
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