So you want to be an explorer….

Explorers of the past didn’t have the Internet to guide them. They used the signs in nature and learned how to read them and use them to their purpose. The North Star was the tool that sailors used to navigate their way across oceans and led escaped slaves to freedom. It is my hope that you will find new ways of gathering information and using it to create something meaningful for you. I hope this will teach you tools that will act as the North Star for you as you learn to navigate the sometimes wondrous and sometimes frightful world of information.

Welcome aboard, sailor.

First Steps

The first step in finding out about something you are passionate about is figuring out what you want to know. Many of us don’t do this. We type a word into google and sit back and take whatever google gives us.

I wonder whether we would do that in a restaurant. Imagine, you go into the restaurant and say “Lunch” and then sit back and see what they bring you. We might not be so very pleased with the results.

Sometimes typing in “cute kitten” and seeing those sweet faces may be enough. However, if you want to know how to take care of a cat or you want to be a vet that is not going to be enough.

Much of the time you want to be in charge of what you learn. You also want to look intelligent when you are telling others about what you know. If this is you the next step is clear.

Information Seeking

Step One

Choose your topic.

Now you probably just thought “Dolphins. I want to learn about dolphins.”

Really? A one word topic?

Now refine that topic (one word).

To do this you will create a question.

What? (I heard you. You know you thought it.)

Why do I have to make a question?
The research question will help you narrow down the topic and help you develop a focus for your research. Here are some examples:

How do dolphins use their environment to find food?

How do dolphins communicate with each other?

How are dolphins different in different parts of the world?
Just how smart are dolphins?

Your turn:

  1. Think of something you have a great interest in.
  2. Make a list of at least 20 things you might like to know about that subject.
  3. Choose one or two to consider.

Now you are ready for the next step!


Celebrate your step. Maybe we should….hey look at that cute kitty on the internet. LOL.

(If you want to know what standards you are applying when doing this lesson look below.)

Massachusetts School Library Association Standards:

1.5 With assistance, list the criteria for a research assignment.

1.7 Use the teacher selected essential question to develop a topic focus, e.g., “why do leaves turn different colors in the fall?”

1.9 As a class, develop a student driven essential question.

1.13 Select a topic from a range of possibilities.

1.14 Use the teacher provided essential question to develop a topic focus, or develop a self-selected essential question.




Author: lyndashoup

School Librarian who loves a good search for information, a good read and teaching young people the joy of information sleuthing. Book Reader. Art Journaler. Paper Folder.

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