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

Research/Information literacy projects with primary students

Do your students understand the difference between reading fiction and reading informational texts?  How much practice have your students had reading for information?

It is essential that students have some background knowledge of the text features they are likely to encounter in reading non-fiction texts while doing research. 

If you have not already taught a series of mini-lessons about the table of contents, index, sidebars, captions, guide words, diagrams, glossary, comparisons, cross-sections/cutaways, maps, and charts you should consider doing so before asking students to complete research. Knowing the purpose of each of these features or conventions and how they help the reader gives your students a distinct advantage in tackling many informational texts. 

If you teach in the primary grades, Debbie Miller’s excellent book Reading with Meaning (Stenhouse, 2002) has a chapter devoted to this topic and how to make it a part of your Reader’s Workshop.

Will you introduce the idea of giving credit to sources?
If you have students working from a specific list of web sites and books, show students how to turn in a list of their sources along with their project:

  • Give them a simple checklist of all the sources (title,author) they will work from, and have them check off or circle the ones they use.
  • Or give them the same list electronically, and have them highlight the ones they used using the highlighter tool in Word. When their research is done, they can delete the ones not highlighted, and they have a bibliography!

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