Essential Question: How do you know information is true?


At the heart of all knowledge and the ability to understand it, is truth. Truth speaks to believability. Truth questions source and credibility. Truth often relies on data analysis and truth can be founded in faith.

This essential question is NOT about technology, but rather it is a question that gets to the core of knowledge.

At an early childhood level, this discussion may result in discussion about adult figures of authority and telling the truth. Later on, in elementary school, this may develop into the first look at collecting evidence within a scientific context, or in discussions about reliable and unreliable digital and text sources. As students get older, this discussion will include online resources, bias, citing sources, data analysis and web queries, religion and faith. For all of these and more, technological tools will be needed/learned but as a tool when appropriate, but not as an end in itself.

Importantly, throughout all of this learning is the habit of conversation on bias. Students need to understand that all knowledge is founded on perspective, motivation, and experience.

As with the other questions, the literacy involving technology is only a part of a higher-order thinking requirement for all 21st century learners.

Enduring Understandings

  • Bias influences and shapes information and interpretation of truth.
  • Truth can be determined or accepted in many ways:
    • How does the scientific method help us determine fact? [Science, Social Studies, Math]
    • What makes an expert source authoritative and what factors determine the "level" of expertise? [English, Social Studies, Science, PE/Health, Art]
    • How do faith and trust contribute to our acceptance of ideas as truth? [Social Studies, English, Science, Art]
    • How does previous personal experience shape understanding and belief in new knowledge? [PE/Heath, Science, Math, Social Studies, English, Art]

Learning in practice:

Enduring understanding: How does the scientific method help us determine fact?

Depending on grade level, the scientific method may involve a fair amount of data analysis. Rubrics will be included in this document to assess data analysis skills as well as effective communication of that information.

At this stage, teachers can develop the unit with the end in mind. What do they want students to be able to show at the end that would demonstrate their understanding of the content-specific essential question? The authentic assessment piece would be designed with that end in mind. And the necessary technology skills to accomplish that end would become clear at this point. Technology is brought in, only if it supports the data analysis or experimental method required for this assessment.

If the teacher did not feel comfortable teaching these technology skills then the technology coordinator should brought in to team teach or help. This person also may have even been brought in earlier, at the planning stage.

The example above highlights the very different approach that this embedded curriculum will take. In the past, attempts to integrate technology led to the creation of documents that detailed specific skills and the precise age or grade level at which a student would learn that skill. Also, past models focused on specific software titles like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. These curricula focused on dividing up the IT skills and assigning them to different departments for accomplishment and responsibility.

Occasionally, these skills were/are taught in isolated IT-specific classes - buoyed by a belief that skills learned in this class would be replicated and demonstrated throughout a students' school career. Instead, these students mostly required re-teaching of skills not being able to recall them in real-course context.

Each of the authors of this document have been involved in the creation of these sorts of integrated IT curricula. And each of us has seen them become dust-collecting, dead-weight in our respective schools. People do not use technology this way, so it has not been successful to integrate it into the curriculum that way.

Instead, people use technology as a tool to accomplish tasks. They use it as a tool to research information and to acquire knowledge

They use it when they need it.

It is embedded in their lives. And when a task arises that people need to accomplish, they learn the technology skills that the task requires to get the job done.

This is how technology is used and learned in the real world. It is this model that we are using to foster student technology learning, as well as teacher technology professional development. As tasks become more rich in technology use, so too will the requirements for learning, teaching and assessment.