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

Research/Information literacy projects with students in middle grades

How will you help students to build a good search?
You might want to begin by showing the short video Web Search Strategies in Plain Englishproduced by Common Craft.

Search terms, keywords, relevant vocabulary and related topics can be organized using a mindmapping tool like MindMeister or Drop Mind.

How will your students know whether the web content they find is worthwhile?
Try one of TeachersFirst ‘s reviewed resources to teach website evaluation:

Help students organize the information they gather

  • Tools like Evernote, Simplybox, and iCyte allow students to collect information, images, links, notes and keep them all in one place.
  • Sharing and collaborating with others is another option for group work.

Practical tip: Choose ONE notetaking/collection tool to use throughout the school year for projects, preferably with all teachers on your teaching team (or throughout the school) using the same tool. This will minimize time teaching about a tool and allow more for the actual research topic!

Help students to track their resources.

  • Don’t wait until the research is done before announcing this requirement. Use a mini-lesson at the start of research day 1 to show how to collect sources.
  • Create a Google Doc, Excel spreadsheet, or Word document template for students to list their resources as they use them.
  • Or use the same online tool they are using for their actual research notes to also collect source information as they go.
  • Show (and require) how to keep the “source collector” open in another browser tab as students research.

Practical tip: As you circulate during research days or at a mid-project checkpoint, have students show or “turn in” the url for their source collection. This will avoid unhappy, last minute search for “that web page with the picture on it. I thought I bookmarked it!”

Stress and MODEL the importance of proper citation and a bibliography.
Several reviewed tools make this relatively simple -- assuming students have been collecting their sources!


Consider using a rubric that evaluates both the end product and the research /documentation steps.
Check out Rubrics to the Rescue, including the many ready-made rubrics and rubric makers listed.

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