Writing & Library Research Methods Lesson Plan: Using Reference Sources

Lesson objective(s): 

To get information from reference sources at appropriate times

Total estimated time:

50-55 minutes

Additional outcome(s):

Begin to understand how library information is structured

Distinguish between general & subject-specific reference sources

Course work or assignment underway:

Wikipedia assignment

Work and/or reading completed before class:

Some articles, wiki guidelines

Sequence of Classroom Activities:

1)    As a class, build a definition of a reference work (5-10 minutes)

2)    Introduce some reference works—GVRL and print encyclopedias (of course, Wikipedia is one too, but we are spending enough time on it, really). (10 minutes)

3)    Divide students into groups of ~3 and give each of them a subject-specific encyclopedia and access to GVRL (would like to work in a general reference source too, but I am still thinking about finding a practical way to do it).  Assign a few specific questions to each group. (3 minutes)

4)    Have students look up the answer(s) to their question in each work. They should find at least four entries that address their question in one way or another. (15 minutes)

5)    Students write down the research process for each source and how their answers varied. (5 minutes)

6)    Class discussion about appropriate uses for each source. (10 minutes)

Reflection on the lesson’s success or alternative approaches:

This is a little labor intensive as it involves developing the questions ahead of time.

Students will need these skills to find information they might use in the Wikipedia assignment.

Posted in Sources

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