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A lot of schools book library instruction whenever there is a science research project assigned. I have noticed a growing trend throughout my three years that background science researchhas not been communicated thoroughly to students and then they become confused and frustrated when they arrive at the library to gather research.
Controlled vocabulary plays a big part. Topics definitely play a part. I do think that the biggest disconnect is the students and teachers do not understand that the library research process as it pertains to science. In order to search for resources, we need to know the exact term of either the scientific method or process. Does that make sense? English students can usually dive right into finding information for their topics (controlled vocabulary usually just helps in further filtering). Even with databases being simpler for English students to use, they usually are already resistant to using databases even as they are finding out how to broaden/narrow their topic based on the information they find. On the other hand, most science students cannot even find the information they need before we start talking about applying filters. Science is usually trickier to research and has become the area where I see the most research frustration.
For example, I'll never forget one tour, when the kids were divided into groups to look for books their topic when one kid came to the desk to express his frustrations to me. He walked right up and yelled, "There are NO BOOKS HERE ON WHY BAKING SODA MAKES COOKIES RISE!!" I went through the research interview process and then had to figure out where would this information be located. The first was just locating its background (type of salt) its proper scientific name: Sodium bicarbonate and then looking in our chemistry non-fiction section in the salt books and (we did have a book on sodium bicarbonate) I also doubled searched in the cooking section to see if I could get anything there and landed upon a few things. After this process, the student exclaimed (much calmer--yet still agitated), "Why couldn't they have just wrote the answer to my question in this book?"
I hate when the library gets a bad rap because research seems time consuming and grueling work. I’ve taken steps over the years to continually revise my lesson plans to communicate to teachers and students that while science may require extra steps, it is possible to find information.
I’m trying something different this year.
My handy-dandy lesson plans.
I will be highlighting databases as needed. I usually rely heavily on Gale Science in Context since most kids can browse by topics and it helps for easier searching instruction. I will probably review in detail to make sure they understand how helpful it is to know beforehand the science behind their question. The important objective is to communicate the background science work that needs to be done on their research question. I will have a science dictionary and encyclopedia handy for students who need to browse through for correct scientific names.
Let me know if you teach middle school or high school science library instruction? What works for you---do you notice any trends with students learning how to research? Hit me up on Twitter
It's beginning of a brand new year! For the library, our school tours exponentially start increasing as students are now in the midst of writing research papers. I've been to a few workshops on librarians talking about why Google is still easier for students to use for research and other librarians countering that with helping kids develop good research topics. I'm always continually assessing how I do library instruction in hopes to help students do well on their papers.
I have a high school arriving in a few days and the teacher wants students to learn how to find research. They apparently are creating their own research topics and she gave me some topics that were done in past classes.
I find that the biggest barrier for research instruction is students understanding why subscription databases are useful. Usually they topics are too narrow or too broad and it makes researching extremely difficult. I usually get an hour for library instruction, but since it's usually a once a year visit, I have to amend instruction learning objectives.
Here is an outline one of a general research lesson plans. I use to have really detailed lesson plans, but the more that I do library instruction, I am comfortable with a general outline. Everyone has a different style. As long as you can communicate the material effectively to your students. I have a variety of items in my toolkit and it depends if I want to ease the students or need to jump right in.
Students all receive a database worksheet, which most teachers use to collect for attendance/points. I usually have them write the embedded link featured below: http://padlet.com/grpl/highschool while I go through different links featured on the page.
I alternate between the ICT tools Padlet and Blendspace. I have had teachers in the past ask for the links again to share with their classes. Use whatever tools work for you, but if you do not see students regularly sometimes I make personal connections with teachers by having easy resources for them to show and utilize with their students.
I did not want to make it really wordy because I would talk about the topic I came up with and how that helped me focus on a few databases to see what results. From there I would hit them with controlled vocabulary vs natural language (in a less boring way) and talk about how synonyms can help in keyword searching. I love library instruction and I'm excited to see how this lesson plays out.
I ended up not being the one to present this lesson. I caught a terrible 48 hour virus that dehydrated me severely and I have been out of work for the past couple of days. My fellow librarian ended up using my lesson plan to teach the class.