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Welcome to the Big6

You can do BIG things with Big6 Skills! Big6 is a six-stage model to help anyone solve problems or make decisions by using information. Some call it information literacy, information communication, or ICT skills, or a process, but we call it the Big6.

Using the Big6 information literacy process, you will identify information research goals, seek, use, and assemble relevant, credible information, then to reflect— is the final product effective and was my process efficient. The Big6 information literacy process is completely transferable to any grade level, subject area, or workplace. Big6, state and national instructional standards, and your curriculum all work together hand-in-hand.



Using the Big6 - How to Get Started in the Classroom

Posted by Mike Eisenberg (mike) on Nov 12 2012
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NOTE: This message was sent to info(at)big6(dot)com. Marie graciously gave permission to share the question and response with everyone.

My name is Marie Willingham and I am currently enrolled at Sam Houston State University in their Library Science Master's program. I am a third grade teacher to 43 amazing creatures of the future. I have simple question for you that might have a more complex answer. From your research with the Information Literacy Project and Big 6, how should a teacher begin teaching information literacy and what are the essentials that a modern day, 21st century student should know?

Thank you for your passion for students and literacy. Thank you for embracing the future. Thank you for giving teachers hope in the "experts" who often seem out of touch with the youth of today.


Marie Willingham



Response from Mike Eisenberg: 

Marie – Thanks so much for emailing and also for giving permission to post your question.

First, in terms of how to begin – “just do it.”  That is, starting right away, we recommend using the Big6 (or Super3 for the very young) terminology when you are talking to students, teaching, or mentoring one-on-one.

For example, I’m sure that every day, you discuss tasks or assignments that you’d like your students to work on.  When you do so—when you introduce or discuss a task—use the label, “Task Definition.”

1 - Let the students know (or remind them)  that this is part of your (and their) secret (or special) weapon (or tool) to success—the Big6.  The Big6 is a guaranteed way to get things done—to do well in school, complete work, and learn.

2 – Tell them that obviously, the Big6 has 6 stages, but we’re going to just focus on the first stage – Task Definition – because if you fully understand the task, you are in a good position to succeed.  If you don’t really understand all that you are supposed to be doing, it’s like being blind-folded. 

3 – Teach a lesson on task definition: have them identify all that they are supposed to do today and tomorrow and this week. Make a list and then a chart:

  • Task
  • Due Date
  • Main “To Do’s”
  • Key to success.
  • Concerns/Problems/Issues
  • Information needed to get the task done

4 - Have them work in 2s or 3s to discuss the tasks and identify key aspects. 

5 – You can also make this into a game. Divide the class into teams. Have the teams take turns as you throw out various tasks (large and small, curricular and personal (e.g., buying a birthday gift for a friend) and have them identify one or more of the aspects noted above.

This is just the beginning, of course.  Later, you will look for an opportunity to introduce the whole process – the 6 stages.  Get them use to seeing the names of the stages –

  1. Task Definition
  2. Information Seeking Strategies
  3. Location & Access
  4. Use of Information
  5. Synthesis
  6. Evaluation

Over the course of the next few weeks, develop a lesson on each of the stages – tied to a real assignment or task.  Remind them of the overall process – how the Big6 process can be their secret or special weapon or tool.  Remind them that when they get stuck in work, to fall back on the Big6.

Use the Big6 terminology continually in your teaching and interactions with students.  For example, if you are helping a student with finding the answers to questions on a worksheet or in a textbook, say that you first are thinking about what information source to use (developing an information seeking strategy) and then doing location and access.  Your modeling and use of the terms in everyday teaching and learning will help the terms to become familiar, even commonplace, for the students.

So, that’s what I recommend first – just start using the Big6 yourself.

Second, it’s time to plan for systematic Big6 instruction.  The ingredients are:

  • -     The Big6 stages and substages.
  • -     Specific skills to emphasize under each of the Big6 stages (identify through your school, district, or state standards).
  • -     Existing assignments for the class.
  • -     Your schedule.

Lay out a plan – or a chart:

Big6 Stage       Standard/Skill         Class Assignment    Date/Day

Our Big6 by the Month program does this for the entire school year. Take a look at our special website for this:

I hope this helps!  Let’s continue the conversation.

Mike Eisenberg

Nov 12, 2012

Last changed: Dec 06 2012 at 8:50 AM

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Evaluating resources By Guest on Nov 26 2012 at 1:30 PM
One important aspect of research that I see as a working teacher librarian is that of evaluating sources. Students need practice in assessing sources for credibility, currency, purpose of source, spelling and grammar, and confirmation of information through multiple sources.
Using Big 6 Information Literacy Program By Guest on Mar 05 2015 at 12:45 AM
sir Mike, thank you for this Big6 Skills with your permission I used the 6 stages to our students in secondary level to enjoy research projects and will enable them to become critical thinker and in some way or another this can help them when they reach university life.

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