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Kristina Graves

Library Media Specialist

Schenectady High School Library

Sandra Banghart

Library Media Specialist
Schenectady High School Library

Andrew Yauchler

Tech Integration Specialist
Schenectady High School Library


In the Schenectady City School District, 

we believe and teach the following about 

the research process:

humans are by nature curious beings 

who ask questions, 

seek answers 

and share what matters with others. 


Our role as teachers and school librarians:

develop and refine 

learners’ habits and skills 

in communicating their discoveries 

in an effective, efficient, and ethical process 

that grows and evolves throughout their academic years and beyond.

Priority Benchmark Skills
for Information Fluency and Inquiry
9-12 Brochure 

The Empire State Information Fluency Continuum developed grade level benchmarks which have been altered by a team of librarians and tech integration specialists at Schenectady City School District in Schenectady, NY. 

Chart of Priority Skills 9-12

Grade 9 & 10 Benchmarks


• Identifies key words, concepts, and synonyms, both stated and implied, for topic and uses them to further research

• Develops a schema or mind map to express the big idea and the relationships among supporting ideas and topics of interest

• Develops and refines the topic, problem, or question independently to arrive at a worthy and manageable topic for inquiry


• Refines questions to provide a framework for the inquiry and to fulfill the purpose of the research (e.g., questions to lead to historical context and interpretation; questions to elicit accurate facts about scientific problem or issue)

• Plans inquiry to test hypothesis systematically or gather evidence to validate thesis Investigate Sources

• Uses the organizational features of a book as well as abstracts, tables, charts and first and last chapters to locate main ideas, specific supporting evidence, and a balanced perspective

• Uses advanced searching strategies (Boolean operators, truncation, domain and format filters, analysis of URLs, relational searching) to broaden and narrow searches and locate appropriate resources

• Evaluates the authority of a source by assessing the credentials and reputation of the author, creator or publisher, date of publication, and length or comprehensiveness


Evaluates and selects evidence from multiple sources based on relevance and usefulness to answer research questions, currency, authority, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and point of view

• Evaluates digital information for authority, credibility, accuracy, comprehensiveness, point of view, and bias

• Analyzes the impact of point of view, perspective, and purpose of the information provided by a source Making Sense of Information and Notetaking

• Questions and challenges the text while reading or viewing to ensure comprehension and validation of accuracy and authority during the process of gathering information

• Takes notes using one or more of a variety of notetaking strategies including reflecting on the information (e.g., graphic organizers, two-column notes, concept maps)


• Organizes information independently, deciding the structure based on the relationships among ideas and general patterns discovered

• Draws clear and appropriate conclusions supported by evidence and examples


• Creates a product and presentation to present an argument, claim, point of view, interpretation, or new model most effectively for a specific audience

• Cites all sources used according to standard style formats

• Embeds citations to specific information, visuals, or sound when appropriate


• Records and reflects on individual experience of the inquiry process – the hardest part, best part, important skills learned, insights experienced, emotional highs and lows, etc.

Design Thinking

• Selects and uses resources and technology to investigate identified problems through active experimentation, experience, creation, and engagement

• Engages actively in a design process to use tools, resources, and materials to test the hypothesis or desired result by creating a solution or model, testing the results, modifying the solution/ model when needed, and determining the validity of the hypothesis or the quality of the model


• Shares reading experiences and responses to literature in multiple ways (e.g., face-to-face conversations, technology presentations, posters, creative products)

• Analyzes maps, pictures, charts, graphs, and other information presented visually to determine main ideas, supporting details, point of view, and both explicit and implicit meaning

• Identifies misinformation or biased information by analyzing and evaluating the motivations and creators of the false or misleading information (e.g., profit, political motives, influence, point of view, social bots)

• Retrieves and uses images, sound, and visual media according to ethical and legal standards


• Engages in civic online reasoning by verifying information that is presented as the truth, recognizing the impact of social-media format on information, and actively seeking multiple perspectives

• Curates and shares valuable resources with peers

• Abides by the Acceptable Use Policy in all respects

• Demonstrates netiquette behavior by respecting others; using appropriate language, images and emoticons; thinking before sending or forwarding messages; creating safe screen names; and challenging cyberbullying


• Identifies social media contexts that are of personal interest, determines the content and “rules of engagement” for each, joins or accesses each appropriately (e.g., finding people to follow on Twitter), and uses communication strategies appropriate for each context

• Develops interpersonal skills to build trusting relationships with diverse peers and adults through collaboration and communication [relationship skills]

• Demonstrates respect and empathy for diverse people and perspectives [social awareness]

• Displays self-confidence in forming and sharing own opinion and ideas and questioning ideas that are different from or conflict with own

• Identifies an authentic problem or issue, researches and shares research information to raise awareness of the issue or the changes needed, identifies effective ways to address the issue, and collaborates to advocate or take action to implement those ideas

Grade 11 & 12 Benchmarks


• Gathers context about the time period, people, and issues surrounding the topic by reading laterally across both primary and secondary sources

• Explores problems or questions for which there are multiple answers or no “best” answer Wonder

• Creates questions to lead to basic information and, in addition, to information that is more critical, complex, and diverse in perspectives Investigate Sources

• Uses search-engine organizational features (e.g., algorithm determining order of results, differentiation of sponsored content, beginning text, URL) to locate web-based information to answer research questions

• Seeks information from alternative perspectives by browsing the shelves for related books, identifying people and organizations with opposing views, following links to related articles, and conducting additional searches by using key ideas and terms for alternative perspectives

• Contrasts primary and secondary sources on the topic to determine commonalities and differences in point of view, comprehensiveness, and depth of specific detail Evidence

• Compares information in diverse sources to corroborate accuracy, resolve conflicting evidence, and balance perspectives

• Analyzes degrees of bias (from slightly slanted perspective to heavily slanted propaganda) and the impact of that bias

• Draws meaning from digital text by employing print literacy and inquiry skills, interpreting meaning presented through multimedia, interacting with the text, reading laterally (reading related information across multiple sites), and thinking nonlinearly (using embedded links and multiple sites) Making Sense of Information and Notetaking

• Challenges ideas in text and makes notes of questions to pursue in additional sources

• Reflects on notes (perhaps in a reflection column) by asking questions, recording own opinions, challenging, and noting the importance of the idea for the final product


• Develops a line of argument or claim that incorporates and/or refutes competing interpretations or conflicting evidence with credible evidence

• Builds a conceptual framework by synthesizing ideas gathered from multiple sources

• Develops own opinion, perspective, or claim and supports with evidence and a clear line of reasoning Express

• Drafts the presentation/product to present the line of reasoning and evidence for an argument, claim, point of view, interpretation, or new model most effectively with supporting evidence

• Publishes final product for an authentic audience and real-world application

• Evaluates own product and process throughout the work and uses self-assessment, teacher feedback, and peer feedback to make revisions when necessary


• Identifies own strengths (academic, social, and emotional) and sets goals about specific ways to improve in the future

Design Thinking

• Builds on real-world experiences to broaden perspective and open creative possibilities (e.g., field trips, makerspaces, hack-athons, coding camps, video production centers)

• Publishes or presents the solution/model (to an authentic audience if possible) with evidence or line of reasoning about the expected impact



• Explores real-world genres as well as favorite genres and authors (movie reviews, editorials, consumer reports, game tips and strategies, career information)

• Interprets and evaluates visuals based on content analysis, visual analysis, contextual information, image source, and technical quality

• Uses social media (e.g., Wikipedia, Twitter, YouTube, online blogs) responsibly for the exchange of information and ideas by factchecking the information, avoiding the spread of misinformation, engaging in interactions around fact-based information, and respecting and thoughtfully responding to the ideas of others

• Assesses and revises own products by using the criteria of clarity, accuracy, relevance, sufficiency, logic, depth, and breadth

• Delivers presentations to authentic audiences and peers with self-confidence, clarity, attention to the intended impact on the audience, and an “expert” or “professional” stance


• Demonstrates critical evaluation strategies that are appropriate for various types of sources (e.g., authoritative websites, fringe or fake websites, opinion essays, blogs, tweets, viral videos)

• Demonstrates tolerance for different viewpoints

• Works collaboratively to design, develop, publish, and present multimedia projects that effectively communicate information and ideas about the curriculum to authentic audiences

• Demonstrates respect for copyright, fair use, creative commons, and attribution of information and images and acquires permission from creator when necessary

• Analyzes the consequences and costs of hacking, spamming, consumer fraud, virus setting, intrusion and other unethical uses of information and communication technology and identifies ways for addressing these risks



• Selects print and nonprint materials based on personal interests, knowledge of authors, reading level and aspirations for future growth and career

• Uses information and technology to address personal issues and investigate opportunities for the future, including higher education, career training, vocational training

• Develops a growth mindset [self-management]

• Demonstrates leadership and self-confidence by facilitating collaborative decision making and problem solving based on assessment of the current situation, feedback from others, and consideration of own ethical and social responsibilities [responsible decision-making]

• Displays self-confidence in own ability to take risks in learning, fail, learn from failure, and change approach, conclusions, or opinions based on new or more accurate information

• Takes a leadership role in collaborative groups and completion of group projects by fulfilling own responsibilities effectively while enabling others to contribute their best work as well

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