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Lesson: Determining Relevancy



Description
The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand the practice and value of evaluating information for relevancy to their research question or need as they search for and gather sources.


Learning Outcomes I Suggested Procedure I Assessment for this Lesson


Materials for this Offline and Online lesson:

For Print Resources: * Examples of 5-8 books on a topic relevant to a unit of study OR
  • Prepared search in the library catalog for books and a magazine index for articles relevant to a unit of study.
  • Examples of books that aren't relevant
  • Copies of materials for individual viewing (see Set-Up)
    For Web Resources:
  • Computer with Internet access
  • Copies of materials for individual viewing (see Set-Up)
Time allotment: 90 minutes (two 45 minute sessions, one for print and one for web resources)

Grade Level: Grade 4 - 12

Information Literacy Standard:
1. The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.
2. The student who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently.
Learning Outcomes
Students will learn skills for evaluating information they retrieve from searching book catalogs, article indexes and web search tools.
Students will learn skills for evaluating print and web materials they have collected in order to ascertain if they are useful to answer their research question.
Set-Up
If you would like to distribute copies to all or print resources used in this lesson, make copies of the title page, the table of contents, relevant index pages or preface and pictures or charts of a few books.
OR
If you have a prepared search in the library catalog for books and a magazine index for articles relevant to the unit of study with a listing of results, distribute to all students. If the magazine article index includes abstracts of the articles, include that on the printout as well.

For Web based materials: If an Internet connection is unavailable, distribute copies of the results of a search you have done, showing at least 6 results for websites. It should show at least the title, subtitle, and URL (i.e. website address).
Suggested Procedures
Tell students to evaluate the sources and information they have gathered to ensure that this information helps answer the question students are asking or the topic they are researching.
Tell students they are going to discuss ways to evaluate materials to see if the materials are useful or valuable for their topic or research question.
Begin with Print Materials:
  • Distribute either copies of books or photocopies of title page, etc. (see Set-Up above).
  • Discuss the topic with students. Tell them that they must review the books and decide if the information in them would be useful for an assignment on that topic.
Approach for 6th-12th grades:

  • Break students into groups. Have them assign a recorder for the group. Distribute book and magazine articles. Try to rotate the books among the groups so that each group reviews all of the books.
  • Tell each group they must review each book and decide whether or not it is relevant and useful for their topic/question.
  • After they have reviewed all of the books and the list of magazine articles, they must write down the elements or criteria they used to evaluate the item's relevancy.
  • Tell students that they must ultimately answer this question: "Do the sources and information I have gathered help me to answer my question?"
For Books: Some of the main criteria should include looking for keywords or synonyms in the title, table of contents, preface, index, etc. of the book. ยท
For Articles: Some of the main criteria should include looking for keywords or synonyms in the article title, title of magazine, abstract or summary (if provided), author (if they know something about the author of the article).
For Books and Articles: Publication date and any pictures, illustrations or charts should be considered. At the end of the group exercise, ask the Recorder in each group to report on the books and magazine articles they thought most relevant and why.

Approach for 2-5th-grades:
  • Break students into groups. Have them assign a recorder for the group. Distribute the book and magazine articles. Try to rotate the books among the groups so that each group reviews all of the books.
  • Tell each group that they must review each book and decide whether or not it is relevant and useful for their topic/question.
For Books and Articles: Publication date and any pictures, illustrations or charts should be considered.
Tell students that they should scan the table of contents, title page, headings within chapters of a book or magazine for keywords and their synonyms .If the keywords appear in the table of contents, have students turn to the indicated pages and scan the information for relevancy to their question.
Have students check for pictures, illustrations or charts to see if they give information that relates to their question.
At the end of the group exercise, ask students which books and magazine articles they thought most relevant and why.
Web Sources
Follow the same approach outlined above. The main criteria should include the title, subtitle, description and URL for the website. Also, if students are able to actually view the websites, they should note the keywords and synonyms as well as any images or graphics.
Assessment
As students complete research on their topics, recommend or require that they submit a paragraph with their paper or an annotated bibliography detailing why they chose a source for their assignment.



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Link to UCLA Initiative website
Link to UCLA Initiative website

This page was last updated March 20, 2002
This lesson was created to support the AT&T/UCLA Initiatives for 21st Century Literacies.
Determining Relevancy was created by Stephanie Brasley