Critical thinking and the “filter bubble”

The recent U.S. elections in the United States have brought to light the need for all of us to be better critical thinkers and fact-check those Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WeChat posts that enter our feeds and fuel our anxieties.

Here are some steps to take when you read something shared by a friend but not supported with reliable evidence:

  • Google it. Or Bing it or Yahoo! it or Baidu it or Naver it or do whatever you do to look up information quickly;
  • Look to see if a reliable news source (a news site that pays its reporters to do real, investigative journalism) has reported on the event in question;
  • If you can verify that the information is true, share it;
  • If you realize that the information is not true or you can’t be sure it’s true, challenge it. Comment on it and send a message to your friend to let them know that they need to question their sources.

Here are two sites that make it their business to verify information that we find online: Attempts to give accurate information about rumors and urban legends on a variety of topics, including war, business, events, toxins, science, military, popular… Monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.

In 2011, Eli Pariser gave a TED Talk on the topic of the “filter bubble” and the ways in which Google, Facebook and other sites tailor what we see depending on our past web-browsing behaviors.  Parents and (pre-)teens (preferably together) can watch his TED talk (see below) and discuss what this type of invisible editing does to our world-view. Pariser warns that we need to balance our “information diet” and not just feed on the “junk food” diet fed to us by those who have decided what’s most “relevant” to us–not necessarily what’s important.

Pariser went on to co-found the good-news sight, Upworthy, and to write the book titled, The Filter Bubble: What the internet is hiding from you.

Do you have a resource that you use (perhaps in your mother tongue) for fact-checking or promoting critical thinking? Please let our librarians know so we can share it with our community. Email us at or

End-of-year Check Out Dates

Reminder –

  • 20 May – all library materials were due
  • 2 June – summer checkout starts (8-10, 12-1, 2-4:00)


Returning students who have cleared their accounts by 1 June are invited to checkout up to 10 books each for summer reading beginning on 2 June. This is the day of the Community Fair.

Elementary students will need a signed permission slip from parents for summer checkout. Permission slips will be sent through homerooms.

World Book Day

Secondary Students Celebrate Books @ the IST Library!

"Harry Potter is NOT Just for Kids" in the Library during homeroom on 3 March

“Harry Potter is NOT Just for Kids” in the Library during homeroom on 3 March

8:10-8:20 am Thursday
“Harry Potter is NOT Just for Kids”A Pecha Kucha presentation (20 slides, 20 seconds each)by Ms. Maggie Kerr, resident Wizard at heart.Please sign up for the Harry Potter Pecha Kucha:Email Mrs. Morgan or stop by the desk and we will get you excused from homeroom on Thursday, 3 March.

Lunch Bunch 1:00 pm on 3 March

Lunch Bunch 1:00 pm on 3 March

Bring a home lunch to Study Room #4 (the Book Club room) and celebrate books! Look at another aspect of drafting: from the artist’s perspective. We will be taking a look at how famous illustrators prepare their works. We will watch a couple of video clips, look at sketch books, and discuss the process.Facilitated by Ms. Atkinson & Mrs. Morgan.

Extension Reading

IST Secondary Librarian Virginia Morgan has prepared three recommended reading lists for the holidays. They have been created for students who would like to extend their learning from the different disciplines they study at IST. These subjects are represented in each list; there is one for grades 6-8, one for 9-10, and the last is for DP students. All recommendations are books that are available in our library.

DP Students: Do you study Geography? Take a look at Longitude: the true story of a lone genius who solved the greatest scientific problem of his time by Dava Sobel.

Wondering why you have to study maths? Find the answer in How Math Can Save Your Life by James D. Stein.

 Please stop by and take a look at this resource.

Keeping Up and Staying Ahead

Yesterday Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. Fang (Library Coordinator and Library Assistant, respectively), accompanied by Neo Zhang (IT Database Manager)  attended a Follett workshop in Beijing . Follett is the company for Destiny, IST’s automated library software. Today we are busy implementing our learning to keep up with the many changes inherent in each updated version.  Mrs. Morgan also gave a presentation about the integration of LibGuides, a curation tool that she uses to support IST teachers and students in their units of inquiry. This software, an industry standard in academic libraries, was new to most of the 50+ librarians in attendance.

LibGuides are subject guides to help students find credible resources. These subject guides are springboards into detailed information that is academic and authoritative. In these guides, librarians recommend specific databases for specific subjects.  Widgets are built into the guides so students can access the databases immediately. Also included are other online sources, eBooks, and books from the IST Library Collections. This week, LibGuides are being used in DP Literature, Grade 8 HEAL and Grade 7 Humanities.

Why should students use them? Other than the fact that librarians spend an immense amount of time creating them…LibGuides should be used because an experienced researcher is directing students in the right direction. The researcher gets help  with “Tuning In” and “Sorting Out,” which are both part of the IST Inquiry Cycle. Students can access information faster, get a background on their topic, and be more successful in their searches

Comic Life Final Product

Below please find one comic recently created by a grade 7 Science student. This comic is an exemplar. The student went beyond our expectations and actually tells a story. This student is an English Language Learner who responded very positively to this technology as you can see in his creation. We will post more soon!

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Wikipedia: It’s Here To Stay

The IST Library & Information Literacy Center teaches information literacy. We want our graduates to demonstrate mastery of tools for accessing information and pursuing inquiry. Therefore, we have committed to teach our students to use Wikipedia effectively. A 2010 study showed that 8 in 10 students turn to Wikipedia for their first source of research (Nagel). University professors often refuse to accept Wikipedia as a valid source because it is “crowd sourced,”  but is actually subject to very rigorous reviews by the editors. Each Wikipedia site has several forms of control designed to cross-check information and mistakes are caught within hours. To learn more about these controls, visit Wikipedia’s page on oversight and control.


Nagel, David.”8 in 10 Students Turn to Wikipedia for Research.” Campus Technology.              23 March 2010.Web.25 April 2015.

Redefining Research. 2015. Web. 25 April 2015.