K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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  • Beginning biography research: Encyclopedia research skills will be taught using biographies of famous people. This is one lesson in a collaborative unit taught by both the classroom teacher and the library media coordinator.
  • Reading guides: Groups will develop a Reading Guide for each non-fiction resource book for units in science, social studies, and other curriculum areas. Students will identify useful features each book and where the important information will be found. Reviewing non-fiction features of print resources will familiarize the class with material on reserve for the unit. Overviewing and identifying text features will help students determine how to approach the various formats of text relevant to the topic.
  • Resource recon: Teams of students will search for the answers to questions using various information resources. The questions will be in categories such as: biography, current events, historical events, geography, language. Besides competing for the fastest answer, the students will learn (1) how to use the resource effectively and (2) which resource is best for finding different types of information.

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Learning outcomes

This lesson:

  • exposes students to a variety of reference materials.
  • teaches students to pull key-words from a question (”WHAT am I looking for?”).
  • helps students discern the best resource material(s) to use for a particular problem (”WHERE do I look for the answer?”).

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 hour

Materials/resources

Teachers will need to provide the following resources for student use:

  • several dictionary copies
  • at least two copies of an atlas
  • a set of encyclopedias
  • a copy of the World Alamanac

Other suggested reference materials:

  • a medical encyclopedia
  • a set of Contemporary Authors reference materials

Additional reference materials may be needed, depending on how a teacher adapts the lesson to his/her class.

Technology resources

Internet access is needed. Additionally, online encyclopedias and other reference software would be useful.

Pre-activities

Prior to the lesson, students should know what type of information can be found in various reference materials. For example, students should know that the best place to find a word origin is in the dictionary; however, an atlas is the best resource for locating all of the bodies of water in Africa.

Activities

To put skills to the test, students should be given a challenging set of trivia questions which would require the use of a variety of reference materials. An example of a “Research Frenzy” I have assigned in the past follows. Some of the questions, such as #24 below, will require multiple inquires. Students might have to look up “element” or “atomic number” in the dictionary prior to searching for a Periodic Table.

Sample Research Frenzy Questions:

  1. Which President is pictured on the quarter?
  2. What is a legume?
  3. How do you write the number 200 in Roman numerals?
  4. Who was president following Franklin Roosevelt?
  5. How many sides in a dodecagon?
  6. How many items in a gross?
  7. What is the Internet address for Delta Airlines?
  8. How many eyes did Cyclops have?
  9. What is an APGAR test?
  10. How many books are in the Bible?
  11. What are the two main colors in Haiti’s flag?
  12. What is the former name of Sri Lanka?
  13. How many counties are in North Carolina?
  14. What is the length of a Senator’s term?
  15. What institution’s Web Site has the address http://www.wcu.edu?
  16. Who is the author of Island of the Blue Dolphins?
  17. In terms of area, which continent is the largest?
  18. In what year was the Louisiana Purchase made?
  19. What is the capital of Saudi Arabia?
  20. How often is Halley’s Comet visible from Earth?
  21. Who was the 29th president of the United States?
  22. If a person has D.V.M. after his or her name, what do they do for a living?
  23. What is the name of the largest lake in Africa?
  24. Which element has the atomic number 43?
  25. What name is Samuel L. Clemens better known by?
  26. What does a philatelist collect?
  27. Name an even prime number.
  28. What was Richard Nixon’s middle name?
  29. What is the capital city of Nepal?
  30. Which poet spoke at Bill Clinton’s inauguration?

Answers to Sample Questions:

  1. George Washington
  2. in the bean or pea family
  3. CC
  4. Harry Truman
  5. 12
  6. 144
  7. http://www.delta.com/home/index.jsp
  8. 1
  9. a test for newborns to check for health
  10. 66
  11. red and black
  12. Ceylon
  13. 100
  14. 6 years
  15. Western Carolina University
  16. Scott O’Dell
  17. Asia
  18. 1803
  19. Riyadh
  20. every 76 years
  21. Warren G. Harding
  22. veterinarian
  23. Lake Victoria
  24. technetium (Tc)
  25. Mark Twain
  26. stamps
  27. 2
  28. Milhous
  29. Katmandu
  30. Maya Angelou

Assessment

Grade on completed Assignment. Teacher observation of student success rate.

Supplemental information

  • Rather than re-invent the wheel, there are many sources for coming up with trivia questions such as BrainQuest games, Trivial Pursuit questions, and trivia websites.
  • Also, use questions from your textbooks, such as “Name the publisher of our science textbook.”

Comments

  • This lesson is titled “Research Frenzy” because students need to realize the frustrations sometimes involved in finding answers and information. But the intent is to make the research process fun and even somewhat competitive … “Let’s see how many correct answers you can find in the next hour and a half…”
  • It is important that our students be able to look at a question and know WHAT is being asked and WHERE to find the answer.
  • This assignment is most effective when the teacher adds questions which deal with specific classroom assignments and experiences. For example, if my class is currently reading a novel, I might include a trivia question about the author. Or if we are investigating whale life in science, I might include a research question such as, “What is the average weight of a humpback whale?”

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Information and Technology Skills (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.SI.1 Apply criteria to determine appropriate information resources for specific topics and purposes. 4.SI.1.1 Use various types of resources to gather information (including print and online media). 4.SI.1.2 Use relevant sources of information for an assigned...
      • Grade 5

        • 5.SI.1 Apply criteria to determine appropriate information resources for specific topics and purposes. 5.SI.1.1 Use various types of resources to gather information (including print and online media). 5.SI.1.2 Use relevant sources of information for an assigned...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 4

  • Goal 2: The learner will IDENTIFY and USE criteria for excellence to evaluate information and formats.
    • Objective 2.05: Determine usefulness of information resources.
  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.03: Develop a search strategy which includes the continuous evaluation of the research process and the information gathered.
    • Objective 4.05: Gather information.
    • Objective 4.07: Organize and use information.

Grade 5

  • Goal 1: The learner will EXPLORE sources and formats for reading, listening, and viewing purposes.
    • Objective 1.08: Select and use independently, both within and outside the school, a variety of resources (print, non-print, electronic) and formats (print, graphical, audio, video, multimedia) to extend content of resources used.
  • Goal 2: The learner will IDENTIFY and USE criteria for excellence to evaluate information and formats.
    • Objective 2.05: Determine usefulness of information resources.
  • Goal 4: The learner will EXPLORE and USE research processes to meet information needs.
    • Objective 4.03: Develop a search strategy which includes the continuous evaluation of the research process and the information gathered.