Fall: Ancient Civilizations
Research Skills Taught in the Library
The main focus in the Fall is learning how to take notes efficiently, effectively and responsibly. We concentrate on finding important information and paraphrasing it to avoid unintentional plagiarism. Here’s when we start our mantra:
- own words
- own order
- one idea per note
Notes should also not be in complete sentences, and we encourage students to use abbreviations and symbols that make sense to them. We emphasize that putting notes in your own order forces you to change the words. Put the end at the beginning and start over. For example:
- Source: Cleopatra was Ptolemy’s daughter
- Note: Ptolemy = C’s father
Students take notes on lined paper we provide, skipping lines between notes. (Click here to see the Research Form.) Students will cut their notes into strips and organize them into outlines. We are often asked why students don’t use index cards to make the organization part easier. This method allows students to concentrate on effective note taking while conducting research, and gives them the concrete experience of weaving information from various sources for their final product. (In future projects students will organize their notes ahead of time and learn to use index cards for research.)
In sixth grade we introduce the ABCs of Evaluating Web sites. Before you use a site for research, check the Author, potential Bias, and how Current the information is. For author, we show students the site www.crystalinks.com, where a self-professed psychic posts information on Ancient Egypt.
Wikipedia. In sixth grade we do not allow students to use wikipedia for primary research; wikipedia does not recommend itself for that use! Wikipedia can be useful for deciding on a topic, for getting some background knowledge before you start taking notes, for choosing subtopics, and for entertainment. Click here to find out more about wikipedia.