Research Guide

For Lower, Middle and Upper School Students.
(PDF version for ready reference)
 

Goals
 

Step 1: Identify Task, Purpose, Audience and Product

Students will define problems and identify information needs.
 

PK - 3

1.  Rephrase the research assignment: What am I supposed to do?
2.  Ask and answer: What is the final product?
3.  Select a working research topic.
4.  Identify prior knowledge and information needed (e.g. KWL chart).
5.  Ask “I wonder” questions about the research topic.
 

Grades 4 - 6
1. Review the expectations for the research assignment.

2. Determine the final product.

3. Identify prior knowledge.

4. Draft working topic and essential question.
5. Brainstorm and formulate relevant questions.

6. Evaluate questions to determine which can be answered by simple facts, which cannot be answered, and which would lead to an interesting inquiry.
 

Grades 7 – 8
1. Review the expectations and possibilities for the research assignment.
2. Identify the tasks and product.
3. Draft essential question or thesis statement.
4. Evaluate prior knowledge.
5. Generate questions to direct the gathering of information.
 


Step 2: Locate, Access, and Evaluate Information
Students will use strategies to find and use sources relevant to their research question.
 

PK - 3
1. Identify and locate related collections in the library.

2. Distinguish between fiction and nonfiction books; choose only nonfiction.

3. Identify and use text features of nonfiction books (table of contents, index, date, etc.) to find relevant information.

4. Review strategies for making choices appropriate for reading level (e.g. Just Right Fit, accessible text features, etc.) 

5. Find answers to specific questions.

Grades 4 - 6
A. Hardcopy Sources
1. Locate the relevant Dewey area(s) and know what main topics are included there.
2. Choose and use a variety of sources to locate information that will answer question(s).
3. Check publication date and skim for biases in graphics and text.
4. Check text features to decide which resources best help answer questions.
5. Paraphrase and record information on note cards. Cite sources.

B. Online Resources
1. With help develop a search strategy using keywords and subject heading.

Grades 7 – 8
A. Hardcopy, Print, or Online Sources
1. Develop search strategy using subject headings, index terms, and keywords.
2. Use a variety of sources to locate information that will answer question(s).
3. Evaluate sources based on usefulness, currency, accuracy, authority, point of view, and bias.

B. Online Sources
1. Develop search strategy using keywords and subjects headings.
a) Understand hierarchical concepts (narrow terms, broad terms, quotes, etc.)
b) Evaluate sources based on usefulness, currency, accuracy, authority, and point of view.
 

Step 3: Analyze, Understand, Evaluate, and Record Information

Students will read, view, and listen for information presented in any format (e.g. textual, visual, media, digital) in order to gather meaning, draw conclusions, and document.

PK - 3
1. Recognize relevant keywords and concepts.
2. Recognize facts.

3. Interpret information represented in simple text features (illustrations, bold and/or color print, bullets, etc.)

4. Note similarities and differences in information from different sources.

5. Document information using simple sketching or note-taking strategies.

Grades 4 - 6

1. Identify and question conflicting information between sources and seek additional sources to resolve differences.
2. Distinguish between fact and opinion and detect bias.
3. Evaluate facts for accuracy.
4. Refine information that relates specifically to the working topic/essential question.
5. Draw conclusions based on facts and premises.
6. Paraphrase or summarize information.
7.  Record paraphrased information using note-taking strategies.
8.  Cite direct quotes using MLA format or adaptation of MLA.
9.  Demonstrate an understanding of plagiarism by checking notes against sources.

Grades 7 - 8
1. Analyze points of view from multiple sources.

2. Identify and verify facts and expert opinions.

3. Evaluate, paraphrase and summarize information.

4. Use information ethically (fair use, copyright, plagiarism, citation, footnotes, etc.)

5. Refine information to what relates specifically to the working topic and/or essential question.

6. Draw conclusions based on facts and premises.

7. Record paraphrased information using note-taking strategies and/or online tools.

8. Cite direct quotes using MLA format and/or online tools.
9. Avoid plagiarism by checking notes against sources.

Step 4: Organize and Prioritize Information
Students will organize knowledge so that it is useful.

PK - 3
1. Write, draw, or verbalize the main idea and supporting details.

2. Sort, classify and sequence pieces of information that support main ideas (place events along a timeline, sort families of animals, etc.).

Grades 4 - 6
1. Identify facts and details that support main ideas.
2. Sort, classify and sequence information from multiple sources.

3. Choose appropriate order for information (chronological, alphabetical, topical, etc.).

4. Use graphic organizers, outlines, and/or technology tools to arrange information logically so that main ideas are evident.



Grades 7 - 8
1. Sort, classify and sequence information from multiple sources.

2. Use graphic organizers, outlines and/or technology tools to arrange information logically so that main ideas are evident.

3. Choose appropriate order information (chronological, alphabetical, topical, etc.).

4. Write complete citations (footnotes and internal) for all sources.

5. Prepare a bibliography for all sources according to MLA or an adaptation of MLA.

Step 5:  Synthesize, Create, and Revise

Students will draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new understanding(s) in the process of creating and revising their product.

PK - 3

1. Revisit and complete KWL or other graphic organizer using new ideas learned from inquiry experience.

2. Draw conclusions about the main idea.

3. Use new words, sentences, and pictures to express understanding.

4. Communicate new understanding(s) in a variety of ways.

Grades 4 - 6
1. Review ideas held at beginning of inquiry.

2. Draw conclusions about the main idea.

3. Revise the product plan, if necessary.
4. Generate the product according to the assignment or relevant product rubric.

5. Prepare a bibliography for all sources according to MLA or an adaptation of MLA.

6. Confer, share, and respond to feedback by revising the product.



Grades 7 - 8
1. Review ideas held at beginning of inquiry.
2. Analyze and make inferences from data.

3. Draw conclusions based on explicit and implied information.

4. Revise the product plan, if necessary.
5. Provide internal citations (parenthetical references, footnotes, etc.).

6. Generate the product according to the assignment.

7. Confer, share, and respond to feedback by revising the product.

8. Provide internal citations (parenthetical references, footnotes, etc.)

9. Prepare a bibliography for all sources according to MLA or an adaptation of MLA.



Step 6: Reflect, Assess, Evaluate, and Act

Students will evaluate both the research process and the final product which may include both self and peer evaluations. Students will take related action, if appropriate to assignment.



PK - 3
1. Identify rewards and challenges of the assignment.
2. Identify personal strengths and challenges in the research process.
3. Use assessment tools (checklist, rubric, etc.) to evaluate process and product.

4. Reflect on more aspects of this topic to wonder about and investigate (e.g. KWLS – Still want to know).

5. Apply new knowledge and understanding to real-world issues and problems.



Grades 4 - 6
1. Identify rewards and challenges of the assignment.
2. Identify personal strengths and challenges in the research process.
3. Use assessment tools (checklist, rubric, etc.) to evaluate process and product (self and/or peer).

4. Reflect on more aspects of this or related topics that would be interesting to pursue. (e.g. KWLS – Still want to know).

5. Apply new knowledge and understanding to real-world issues and problems.



Grades 7 - 8
1. Identify rewards and challenges of the assignment.
2. Identify strengths and skills that require practice and refinement.

3. Identify additional areas of personal interest for pursuit in the future.

4. Assess how new knowledge and understanding relates to real-world issues and problems.

5. Apply new knowledge and understanding to real-world issues and problems.



ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT

Brookwood School acknowledges the foundational work of members of EISLA (Elementary Independent School Library Association) for elementary and middle schools in developing these standards and benchmarks for research skills. Their 2009 document is an adaptation and abridgement of the American Association of School Librarians’ (AASL) Standards for the 21st Century Learner and the Massachusetts School Library Association’s (MSLA) Massachusetts Recommended PreK-12 Information Literacy Standards.



Special thanks to EISLA authors:

•    Laura Beals D’Elia and Suzanne Levasseur of Fay School

•    Jordana Shaw and Samantha Kane of Nashoba Brooks School

•    Lisa Francine of Fenn School

•    Jennifer Polshek of Shady Hill School

•    Marge Farquharson and Kathy Felcon of Dedham Country Day School
•    Sheila Geraty of Brookwood School
•    Dorothea Black of Park School


 

This document was developed by a curriculum leadership team at Brookwood School.
 Special thanks to: Doug Fodeman, Martha Fox, Sheila Geraty, Sven Holch, Rich Lehrer, Anna Maria Licameli, Barbara Liston