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Lesson Plan

STAR Search: How Do I Find the Book I Need?

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STAR Search: How Do I Find the Book I Need?

Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Minilesson
Estimated Time 30 minutes
Lesson Author

Janie Schomberg

Janie Schomberg

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Instruction & Activities


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • apply basic on-line search strategies.

  • identify the subject for the search, including narrowing or broadening the subject.

  • differentiate among kinds of print library resources.

  • navigate a library using location aids.

  • recognize the parts of a book, e.g., title, copyright date, table of contents, index.

  • increase their understanding of skimming as an essential skill in identifying the appropriateness of a resource.

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Instruction & Activities

  1. Ask students what they would really like to happen when they tell the librarian they need a book on ______ (besides having it located and handed to them!). Continue by asking, "What do you think will really happen?"

  2. Ask a student to role play being the librarian, and the librarian will role play a student.
    Student: I need a book on _____.
    Librarian: (something like) Tell me what strategies you have used to try to find a book on _____ yourself.
    Student: But I don’t know how to do it!
  3. Tell students you have a “real deal” for them—by learning the STAR Search strategies they will learn to find books they need, not only in this library but in others as well. Emphasize that the librarian is always willing to help when you get stuck somewhere along the way!

  4. Explain the STAR Search method.

    1. Ask what the search tool is in your library. (Answer: online catalog)

    2. Let’s find information on the Mexican beaded lizard today.

      1. Perform a subject search on the selected topic—IT’S NOT THERE!

      2. Introduce the Search Ladder as a way to find information on the Mexican beaded lizard within a source on a broader topic. Place Mexican beaded lizard on the bottom rung of the ladder.

      3. What is a bigger subject for which we might search? Guide students to select Lizards.

      4. Perform the search again. There will likely be resources on lizards listed, but go back to the Search Ladder to continue broadening the subject.

      5. Through guided discussion, complete the ladder with reptiles at the top.

      Alternative example: going down the ladder this time (narrowing a topic)
      wind speed
    3. What are the choices for kinds of resources on lizards? The variety of kinds of print, nonprint and electronic resources reflected in the search should be discussed here. Which kind(s) will help you find the information you need?

    4. First, verbally discuss the location aides available in your library—section signs, shelf labels, spine labels, and so on. Ask one student to point out each type and another to model locating a book.

  5. Quickly review the steps and check for understanding by having students explain what happens at each step along the way.

  6. Ask students if they have questions or would like to have any of the steps explained again.

  7. End the lesson by reminding them of the role play. Remind them that the next time they ask for a book, they will be asked what strategies they have already tried themselves. Point out where the large poster is located in the library to remind them of the steps and strategies.

  8. STAR Search means “I think I can.” End the lesson by telling them you KNOW they can!

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  • If STAR Search is introduced and implemented just before a teacher is starting a project requiring these skills and strategies, some of the strategies could be incorporated into the teacher's rubric for the project.

  • A related lesson could be developed addressing when and how it is appropriate to use print, nonprint, and/or electronic resources.

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  • Teacher observation of student participation and understanding during the lesson

  • Teacher observation throughout the year of application of the process to identify the need for reviewing, reinforcing, and reteaching a step or steps throughout the year

  • Anecdotal notes shared with classroom teacher about strengths and areas for improvement observed during the lesson and throughout the year.

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