Research Building Blocks: Hints about Print
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Children are naturally curious—they want to know "how" and "why." Teaching research skills can help students find answers for themselves. "Hints about Print," taken from a research skills unit, is a step towards students completing a written research report. Here, students examine abstracts on selected books to determine their relevance and helpfulness. They brainstorm characteristics they would use when looking for a book as a research tool. They then carefully examine an information text, using their brainstormed criteria. Finally, after viewing an online demonstration, students practice evaluating resources.
Hints about Print: This online tool demonstrates the process of evaluating a nonfiction print resource to determine its appropriateness for a research project.
Nonfiction Book Evaluation: Students can use this form as a guide in evaluating resources for a research project.
From Theory to Practice
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)
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
- 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
- 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
- 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).
Before completing this activity, students should have experience with developing a topic and targeting keywords.
- use a variety of graphic organizers to connect important ideas in text to prior knowledge and other reading.
- demonstrate an accurate understanding of information in the text by focusing on the key ideas presented, linking them to previous experience and knowledge.
- interpret concepts or make connections through analysis, evaluation, inference, and/or comparison.
- use text structure to determine the importance information.
- use text aids to locate information in a book.
- use an organizational system to locate information.
- analyze information.
- discriminate between relevant and irrelevant information.
Instruction & Activities
Selecting Print Sources
- Students can learn a great deal about which sources will help them find information by looking carefully at the full anecdotal records at the library search station. Begin this lesson by having them work together to complete the Selecting Sources activity sheet.
- Follow up with a discussion asking why some of the books would be useful, why others would not, and why some might need to be investigated further. Point out how titles can be helpful, though some may not. Annotations (or lack thereof) can be of use, as can be dates of publication.
- After looking at the book abstracts, facilitate a discussion with the students about what makes a book useful. Guide them in their brainstorming and compile a list of characteristics they would use while looking at a book as a research tool.
- The next step is for the whole class to carefully examine an information book. This exercise will help students to ask themselves questions about information sources, enabling them to make informed decisions about materials that could be good sources on research report topics. Have the students create a checklist from their brainstormed list or use an already created evaluation form like the ones provided in step 6 below.
- Begin the examining process by modeling the use of a book review form with an information book you are using with your class. Alternatively, have students go through the demonstration portion of the Hints about Print student interactive. This step will help the students be more prepared to evaluate sources by themselves.
- After modeling the process for the class and/or having the students view the online demonstration, select some sources that they can evaluate in pairs at a learning center, using their checklists and/or a Nonfiction Book Evaluation or a Nonfiction Book Review form. The Evaluation Form is also available online in the "Try It!" portion of the Hints about Print student interactive.
Student Assessment / Reflections
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 Nonfiction Book Evaluation or Nonfiction Book Review 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 print sources.
Thank you so much for posting!
Thank you so much for posting!
Thank you so much for posting!