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Watching asks students to explore and become observers of their environment. According to Webster's dictionary, watching is a state of alert and continuous attention, close observation. A person who is watching is looking for action and change.

The watching phase of information exploration asks students to become more in tune to the world around them from family needs to global concerns.


The world is a fascinating place. However we often get so caught up in our daily routine that we don't look outside and explore the rest of the world. Enjoy viewing, listening, and reading about what's happening in the world around you. Take time to appreciate the information around you. Stop and smell the flowers!

Spend time with nature. Visit a museum. Browse a book or video store. Be sure to listen, read, view, and enjoy.


Begin with observation. Take a couple days to really explore the world around you. Keep a journal of what you see, hear, say, touch, and taste. Describe how you feel physically and emotionally. Consider keeping an electronic journal or using Inspiration to diagram your ideas.

Explore each aspect of your life including your family, community, work, play, and school. Watch the interaction among family members. Observe your friends and their actions. Explore the environment where you live. If aliens were examining you and your community, what would they think?

Reading and Viewing

Increase the time you spend reading for enjoyment. Explore different genres of literature, a new author, or different format. Try an ebook! Go to Literature Ladders for ideas.

Explore sounds and videos. Listen to streaming radio or telvision. Go to Multimedia Seeds for ideas.

Reach out to the world through the newspaper, radio, television, and Internet. Go to News from Teacher Tap for ideas.

What do you see and hear? What are the current issues of interest and concern? What problems need solutions? Which of these issues impact your life directly or indirectly? Consider the future. How will the world around you change over time? How will you change? What will you be doing in 10, 25, 50, or 75 years?


Explore the journal writing pages below. Incorporate some ideas from the journal writing pages in your own writing. Go to 42eXplore: Journaling or Journaling (Metacognitive Journal, Double Entry Journal, Reflective Journal, Dialectical Journal, Journal Activities, Response Journal, Learning Log, Synthesis Journal, Speculation About Effects Journal) for ideas.

If you have Alphasmarts (electronic keyboards) or computers in your library or classroom, consider creating electronic journals. Many people enjoy creating web logs called Blogs for recording their ideas and insight. Go to Blogging from Escrapbooking for ideas.


Share your thoughts with a friend. Ask their ideas and opinions. Make a list of topics of greatest concern. Consider an email or chat project to connect with students in other locations. Go to Collaboration from Teacher Tap for ideas.


Start with a few simple questions. Ask yourself:

Spend some time exploring possibilities. Ask yourself:

As you explore the possibilities, you're likely to experience many emotions. You may wish your instructor would simply tell you what to do. You may be apprehensive of the work to come and uncertain of whether you're making the right choices. Reflect on these feelings and keep them in mind as you assist others in the inquiry process.

Carol Kuhlthau (1994) has found that these kinds of feelings are normal. She notes that it's important that teachers and media specialists acknowledge these frustrations, feelings, and experiences as a normal part of the inquiry process.

try itWatching Checklist
Develop an activity that you can do in your classroom to help students become more "in tune" with the world.
Exploring - stop and enjoy
Observing - watch the world
Reading and Viewing - examine the news
Writing - try some journaling
Discussing - collaborate with others
Contemplating - reflect on your feelings

video clipView Topic Selection (1:16).

In this video, a student selects a topic for an art fair project. Watch the video carefully. In the end, the student feels “stuck” with the topic. How could the teacher have used questioning to make the student more enthusiastic about the project? - Excerpt from “Asking the Right Question”, Pt. 1 of Know It All Series by GPN / Univ. of NB

Use of this video clip complies with the TEACH act and US copyright law. You should be a registered student to view the video.

Key Words

Learn More

Harada, Violet (2002). Personalizing the Information Search Process: A Case Study of Journal Writing with Elementary-Age Students. SLMR, 5.

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