Monday, May 9, 2011

What's going on in 4th grade?

Fourth graders continue to practice important information literacy skills during library classes that help them locate information more efficiently whether they are searching for books in a library catalog, articles in a database for a homework assignment, or websites in a search engine just for fun.

Unlike the days of hunting high and low to find enough information for your needs, today we all face the opposite challenge: too much information is out there and at times it threatens to overwhelm us!

Two of the most important skills students need to acquire are efficient search techniques and the ability to evaluate the quality of the content they retrieve.

We have been focusing on the former skill during library classes as students have practiced using search engines to locate answers to specific questions (such as the most popular dog breeds in Seattle or the top tourist destinations in the United States). They have also searched the library catalog for books that might interest a classmate, following a brief interview about his/her reading tastes.

These exercises have shown how challenging such relatively basic tasks can be for students of this age. One challenge is spelling! Another is being able to search in a flexible way. If your first search doesn't work (and is spelled correctly!), what other keywords could you try before deciding that the database has "nothing" about your topic or that there just aren't any good websites out there? We've focused on brainstorming a variety of related keywords to help make this type of flexible thinking a habit.

Take a look at my past blog posts on the topic of research to find out more!

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