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Lesson Plan

Research Building Blocks: Examining Electronic Sources

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Research Building Blocks: Examining Electronic Sources

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 60 minutes
Lesson Author

Lisa Storm Fink

Lisa Storm Fink

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



Children are naturally curious#151;they want to know "how" and "why." Teaching research skills can help students find answers for themselves. "Examining Electronic Sources," taken from a research skills unit, is a step towards students completing a written report. Students first look at examples of a Website that offers relevant resources, as well as a Website with less useful resources. Then, on their own they identify resources they think would be beneficial in their research and others that would not. As a group, students discuss the criteria they used in selecting or discounting sources. They then create a checklist to guide their future searches. Finally, students find another site they think might be beneficial and evaluate the site using the class-created checklist.

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Examining Electronic Sources: This sheet provides a list of criteria to help students evaluate Internet resources as they conduct research.

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Teaching the process and application of research should be an ongoing part of all school curricula. It is important that research components are taught all through the year, beginning on the first day of school. Dreher et al. explain that "[S]tudents need to learn creative and multifaceted approaches to research and inquiry. The ability to identify good topics, to gather information, and to evaluate, assemble, and interpret findings from among the many general and specialized information sources now available to them is one of the most vital skills that students can acquire" (39). In her article "Rethinking Research," Eileen A. Simmons agrees: "We can't expect students to produce outstanding research papers unless we teach them strategies for gathering information, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating that information through critical thinking." (115)

The myriad electronic sources of information available to students can be a double-edged sword. "To take advantage of the resources that technology offers and to become prepared for the demands that will face them in the future, students need to learn how to use an array of technologies, from computers and computer networks to electronic mail, interactive video, and CD-ROMs" (39). This lesson aims to fill that need by assisting students in analyzing that array of resources.

Further Reading

Dreher, Jean, et al. 2000. Easy Steps to Writing Fantastic Research Reports (Grades 3-6). New York: Scholastic Professional Books.


Simmons, Eileen A. "Rethinking Research." English Journal 89.1 (September 1999): 114-117.

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