Inquiry is a fundamental building block of teaching and learning that empowers students to follow their sense of wonder into new discoveries and insights about the way the world works.
The empowered learner calls upon information/inquiry skills to connect with what he or she knows, ask intriguing questions about what is not known, investigate the answers, construct new understandings, and communicate to share those understandings with others.
Students need to use the skills of inquiry to learn. Developing these skills must follow a coherent spiral of instruction and practice throughout the years of schooling, Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, to enable all our children to become independent life-long learners.
The Empire State Information Fluency Continuum (ESIFC) was originally developed by the New York City School Library System and published in 2009 to provide a substantive guide for educators and librarians seeking to develop those essential information and inquiry skills for students in kindergarten through grade 12.
The ESIFC has now been reimagined to respond to changes in the information and learning environment and to the increasing diversity in our students. This ESIFC reflects several new aspects that will enable librarians and classroom teachers to integrate the teaching of information fluency skills across the curriculum and across all grade levels as they empower students to develop confidence and agency to pursue their own paths to personal and academic success.
The reimagining of the ESIFC has been guided by the following parameters:
The focus is to provide standards for the Information-Fluent Learner and a clear continuum of skills and strategies that may be taught by the school librarian, whether in collaboration with classroom teachers or in independent lessons as dictated by school environments. A collaborative approach by the librarian and the classroom teacher is by far the most effective way to teach information fluency/inquiry skills and strategies. This continuum is designed to facilitate that collaboration.
The inquiry standard is framed by an inquiry cycle that engenders active learning and the formation of new understandings.
The reimagined ESIFC has added or strengthened skills in several areas:
Multiple literacies, including visual and media literacy
Use of technology for learning, including digital literacy skills
Personalization of learning
Evaluation of multiple perspectives
Digital citizenship and civic responsibility
Design thinking, including innovation and creation
Student voice and agency
The ESIFC includes graphic organizers that may be adopted or adapted for assessment of student learning.
The ESIFC includes a taxonomy of authentic reactions to research, the REACTS Taxonomy, to provide creative alternatives for student research products at six levels of thought.
The ESIFC is informed by and aligned with the new AASL Standards Framework for Learners, the ISTE Standards for Students, New York State Next Generation English Language Arts Learning Standards, New York State P-12 Science Learning Standards, New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework, and The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for State Standards in Social Studies (National Council for the Social Studies).
The Empire State Information Fluency Continuum documents are written and organized to enable educators to start with a broad framework (the Anchor Standards and Indicators) and then move progressively to more specific and detailed views. The following Table of Contents lays out the organization of the whole ESIFC and provides suggestions about the situations in which each section might be most useful.