In an age inundated with information, the ability to discern reliable, credible, and relevant sources is a critical skill. By learning how to navigate libraries, online databases, and various media platforms, students cultivate the capacity to distinguish accurate information from biased or erroneous content. These skills empower them to conduct thorough research, formulate well-informed arguments, and contribute meaningfully to academic discourse. Moreover, understanding the principles of source evaluation equips students to be discerning consumers of information in their personal and professional lives. Essentially, the lessons on finding sources lay the foundation for intellectual growth, responsible citizenship, and lifelong learning.
You can access the lesson plan through the tabs above. It takes about 45 minutes on average to conduct the lesson. Preparation includes reviewing the lesson plan and gathering materials such as printouts. If you would like any assistance in preparing for your library instruction, please feel free to schedule a consultation with John, Connor, or Kathleen by following the link in the column to the right.
A printable version of this lesson plan is available here.
Lesson Name & Topic:
Keywords & Search Statements
Individually and then in small groups of 3, students will brainstorm keywords related to their research topics or questions. They will then practice putting those keywords together in search strings, after an exercise introducing them to Boolean AND/OR/NOT
Students will brainstorm alternate search terms based on their initial research topics.
30-45-minute class session
Introduction (1 min): Introduce lesson topic
Students will first spend 5 minutes completing the first side of the Keywords & Search Statements worksheet. After their initial brainstorm, they will pass their worksheet to the student on their right, who will spend 3 minutes trying to add to the list of keywords. After 3 minutes, the students will again pass the worksheets to their right and spend another 3 minutes trying to build on the lists. The worksheets will then be passed back to the original owner.
Part 2: Creating Search Strings (or Statements, or Queries) with Boolean Operators (14 minutes total)
Whole-class activity: “Human Boolean” (5 minutes)
Let’s practice the Boolean search operator OR:
Explain: OR broadens a search by adding more options -- in math terms, it’s the union of sets. A handy way rhyme to remember the difference between AND and OR: “Or means More”
Now, let’s practice the Boolean search operator AND:
Explain: AND narrows a search, by intersecting sets: we started with a large set, all college students, and NARROWED down by adding in a condition, brown hair
Explain: NOT also narrows a search, by exclusion of sets: we started with a large set, all college students, and NARROWED down by removing the set of everyone wearing glasses
Now let’s practice a complicated search query combining AND, OR, and NOT:
Explain: Boolean terms can be combined in various ways to control how a search tool treats your terms -- but it’s best to get a feel for how simple queries work first.
Consult with a librarian about assignment design, ideas for information literacy activities, Canvas materials, and other ways to teach your students information research skills.