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Inquiry and INFOhio: Locating Information

Author // INFOhio Staff Monday, 12 March 2018

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.

The dimension of locating information has grown exponentially with the internet and tools that allow easy and constant access. The old adage, "Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper," takes on new meaning with the internet. 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 abilities to recognize needed information, explore relationships, take notes, summarize, and more. In addition, students must be able to organize their information and manage material. Students must also learn the value and need for validating information and being able to go back to the source. The high-quality, digital, instructional content from INFOhio is the perfect place for students to begin locating information, and the tools INFOhio has developed will help students learn the skills like note-taking and validating information that go along with this dimension.

INFOhio Resources on Locating Information

INFOhio Educator Support Resources on Locating Information

  • Success in Six—Learn to Search Effectively: Complete this self-paced, online learning module for educators and earn a free certificate for 3 contact hours. You will improve your own search skills and learn more about different search engines and databases.
  • Educator Guide to ISearch: This guide includes best practices, teaching strategies, and more for using ISearch, 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.

Locating Information in Practice

Some students mistakenly believe that all the information they will ever need is freely available on the internet. They think that typing a question into a general search engine will give them the best results. Help students understand that different search tools retrieve different kinds 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 search tools:
    1. One should be a general web search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo.
      • What kinds of results will they get from the general web search engine like Google?
    2. The second should be a specialized search tool 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 the 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 search tools or "databases" that focus on one type of resource or on one big subject area, like how CAT focuses on the books in your school library. Then show students the Grades 6-8 page or the Grades 9-12 page on the INFOhio website.
    • Can they identify a search tools that focuses on one type of resource or on one subject area?

      If a student gets overwhelmed with too much information on their research topic, they should try a search in one of these search tools.
  4. Introduce students to this KWL Chart in PDF or Google Docs format. (To edit the Google Docs KWL Chart, click File > Make a Copy, and then save it to your Google Drive.) Tell students that whether they use a KWL 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. (For a refresher on the importance of questioning in the dimensions of inquiry, review INFOhio and Inquiry: Questioning.) Put your question in the Research Question box in the KWL 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 search tools 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 special 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 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 search tools?
    • 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 search tools?
    • 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.

What are your strategies for teaching students to locate the right kind of information for their need? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #INFOhioWorks!

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