Help! I lost my library/media specialist! - Embracing Research

Questions to ponder before you start the project:

To help in making teaching decisions, can you specify your goals for the research project?

Stop to articulate to yourself—and possibly for parents—what curriculum content you wish to teach via this project, and what parts of the research process (information literacy skills) students will be learning or reviewing.

What is the time frame you’ve blocked off for the project?

Don’t forget to plan for practical details like midpoint check-ins and more.

What will you ask to spark the research?

Remember that meaningful research begins with questions and that not all questions are created equally!  The idea is to craft assignments and pose questions to nudge students beyond basic facts (which encourage a cut-and-paste mentality) and see something in a different way. 

You might challenge students to take a stand on their topic or to solve a problem.  (e.g. Doug Johnson suggests “What animal would make a good pet for your family?” or “What can we do in our community to decrease the number of abandoned animals? ” instead of “Write a report about an animal.” )  Subtle changes such as these will increase personal engagement in the task, and discourage plagiarism.

For help with questions, check out the “Questioning Techniques and Thinking Skills” page of the Dare to Differentiate wiki, or  Module Maker.


Do your students understand the difference between reading fiction and reading informational texts? 

How much experience do your students have with reading for information? How many lessons will you incorporate to include these information literacy skills before sending them off to research independently? See ideas for teaching this with primary grades or grades 3 and up.


What types of resources are available for your students to read, view, or listen to?  Will you pull these together for them, or will they search for them on their own?

See practical details for suggestions.


How will students share what they have learned? 

Will there be an end product of some kind?  If so, who decides what it will be—you, or the student? Plan ahead for options and individual needs.


How will you assess the work your students do? See some assessment suggestions and resources.

Start Before you Begin Practical Details Assigning
& Assessing
For Primary Students For Grades
3 & Up
For Middle Grades More