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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


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • use an organizational system to locate information.

  • analyze information for a project.

  • determine the accuracy, currency, and reliability of materials from various sources.

  • identify appropriate resources to solve problems or answer questions through research.

  • choose and analyze information sources for individual, academic and functional purposes.

  • discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information.

  • select and organize information from various sources for a specific purpose.

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Instruction & Activities

Selecting Electronic Sources

  1. Tell the students that they are going to be selecting electronic sources to use in their research of their state.

  2. Using Websites that follow your school’s acceptable-use policy, have the students choose one source they think would be beneficial in their research and one source they think would not be beneficial in their research. (An example of a good site to share might be Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids, and a weaker example could be Illinois Fast Facts and Trivia.)

  3. While the students are searching, shadow them to see if they are using any method to choose their sources. Observe to see if students are taking notes or just randomly clicking.

  4. After about ten minutes, have the students discuss what criteria they used in selecting a source or discounting a source.

  5. Using that information, as a class create a checklist to guide their search for an electronic source. You can also use the Electronic Sources Evaluation Form as an example.

  6. Demonstrate the process by modeling the use of the template with a preselected site. This step will help the students be more prepared to evaluate electronic sources by themselves.

  7. Have the students, in pairs or on their own, find another site that they think might be beneficial in their research, and this time evaluate the site, using the given template or the class-created checklist. Recommend that they begin with one of these Children's Search Engines. This exercise will help students to ask themselves questions about electronic sources, which will enable them to make informed decisions about sites that will be good information sources on research report topics.

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Have the students practice searching for information on the Web doing a State Scavenger Hunt. [Note: This hunt is for the state of Illinois, but the Yahoo site mentioned covers all fifty states.]

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As this is only one step in teaching the research process, students need not be graded on the activity. However, peer review of their filled out Electronic Sources Evaluation Form would provide helpful feedback for the students as they seek out other sources for their projects. Teacher observation could best assess how well the students evaluated electronic sources.

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