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

Research/Information literacy projects with students grades 3-5

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.

In grades 3-5, you might want to have a look at the excellent lesson plan from ReadWriteThink entitled Hints About Print for this important building block of the process. You may also need to plan some time for some lessons in locating information on a web page. Web pages often have built-in features that may be distractions. Help your students learn to see past them!

  • Share informational web pages on a projector or interactive whiteboard (IWB) and have students show which areas have information, which have terms, how to find what comes next, etc.
  • If you are using an IWB, color-code the “good” information with the IWB highlighter tool and the “unnecessary distractions” with a different color. Have students practice this on printed versions, if necessary.
  • The same lesson plans for teaching about print text elements will work for web pages, but do not assume that students will make the transfer on their own.


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, url, etc.) they will work from, but allow them to add others to the list.
  • If you are giving them the list electronically, 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!


Practical tip: share this process as you model other research steps, such as on the frist day of research time! They will forget what source they used.

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