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Inquiry and INFOhio: Locating Information

Author // INFOhio Staff Thursday, 21 September 2023

Locating Information

At one time the responsibility for teaching students how to locate information rested with the professional school library media specialist. Now Ohio's Learning Standards recognize the enormity of this inquiry dimension and place the responsibility for instruction with every teacher in all disciplines. But it’s broader than just locating the information—it’s teaching the inquiry process.

Students must be able to find and use the best resources available which requires search skills. Beyond finding the information, this dimension also includes the ability to recognize when information is needed, explore relationships, take notes, summarize, and more. Students must be able to organize their information and manage the material. The high quality, digital, instructional resources from INFOhio are the perfect place for students to begin locating information. 

INFOhio Web Tools for Locating Information

INFOhio Educator Support Resources on Locating Information

  • What is Inquiry? This class is included in the 9-12 Digital Content Learning Pathway. Learn more about the inquiry process and the INFOhio tools and resources that support students as they question, discover, learn, and grow. After successfully completing the final quiz, earn a certificate for four contact hours. 
  • ISearch for Teachers: Learn more about ISearch, INFOhio's discovery search interface, in this three-hour class. ISearch lets you search nearly all INFOhio resources, along with the contents of your school library, from a single search box, making it easier for you to find the right print and digital texts and other content for your students. Participants will learn how to use ISearch to find resources for students and how to teach students to use ISearch for their research. Upon successful completion of this class, participants will earn a certificate for three contact hours.

Locating Information in Practice

Some students believe that all the information they will need is freely available on the internet. They think typing a question into a general search engine will give them the best results. Help students understand that different resources retrieve different kind of information and that better search strategies will give them better results.

  1. Ask students if they like that your school is allowed to make rules about what they can and cannot wear to school events.
    • Do they know why your school is allowed to make rules about what they can and cannot wear?
    • Can what a person wears to school have any effect on learning?
  2. Open 2 different resources.
    • One should be a general web search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. What kinds of results will they get from a general web search engine like Google?
    • The second should be a resource that returns premium academic content like ISearch (find your school's ISearch on the INFOhio homepage). ISearch is INFOhio's tool that lets you search nearly all of the INFOhio digital instructional content, along with the contents of your school library, from a single search box.
      • What kinds of results do they think they will get from an academic search tool like ISearch?
      • What do they think they won't find in an academic search tool like ISearch?
  3. Explain to students that there are resources or "databases" that focus on one type of resource or on one big subject area. Then show students the Grades 6-8 page or the Grades 9-12 page on the INFOhio website.
  4. Introduce students to the KWL Finding Chart in PDF or Google Docs format. (To edit the Google Docs KWL Finding Chart, Select  File > Make a Copy, and then save it to your Google Drive.) Tell students that whether they use a KWL Finding Chart or some other graphic organizer, they should keep track of their search strategies so they don't waste time trying the same exact searches in the exact same places over and over again.
  5. As a class, develop a possible research question related to the topic of schools making rules about what students can and cannot wear. Put your question in the Research Question box in the KWL Finding Chart. Then work with students to fill in the "What do I know?" and "What do I want to learn?" boxes. Ask students to take another look at the Grades 6-8 page or the Grades 9-12 page on the INFOhio website and list a few resources that seem promising in the "Where can I find information?" box.
  6. Demonstrate the kinds of results you get when you type your entire research question in the general web search engine's search box. Explain that all search engines, including those specialized search tools, work best when you put only the most important words related to your research question in the search box.
  7. Return to your KWL Finding Chart and brainstorm some good search words and phrases related to your research question. Put those words and phrases in the "Search words and phrases to lead me to the information I need" box. Prompt students to think of synonyms or words and phrases closely related to the research question.
  8. Encourage students to try some of their search words and phrases in the general web search engine, in ISearch, and in another search tool of their choice and make some notes about the kinds of results they get. Remind students to keep track of which search words and phrases they used in which tool.
  9. Ask students to think about and respond to the following questions:
    • Did they find the exact same kinds of results in all 3 resources?
    • If they needed to find 5 reliable resources that would be acceptable for a research paper or presentation on their research question, could they do that in each of those resources?
    • Which search words and phrases gave them the best results?
    • Did they need to add or change any search words or phrases?
    • What are some of the pros and cons of each of the search tools they tried?

We know that children and teens are great at using tech and the internet to play and socialize. Teaching effective strategies for locating information helps children and teens begin to use tech and the internet for learning and working and prepares them for success in college and career.

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About the Author

Posted by: INFOhio Staff

INFOhio is Ohio's PreK-12 digital library. Our vision is "Each Ohio PreK-12 student has equal access to high quality digital resources for a successful education and future." Our mission is "INFOhio transforms student learning by providing equitable access to quality resources and cost-effective instructional and technical support for each student, educator, and parent in Ohio." INFOhio is optimized by the Management Council.

INFOhio Staff
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