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Webbing directs students to locate, search for, and connect ideas and information. According to Webster's dictionary, a web is a woven network. For example, one piece of information may lead to new questions and areas of interest.

Students select those resources that are relevant and organize them into meaningful clusters.

Planning a Search Strategy

Once you have an understanding of your problem or question, you're ready to begin seeking answers. You need to start with a search strategy. Like a spider, you need to create a web of information related to your question. A web is constructed from many directions at once and becomes a woven network of ideas.

Analyze your questions to determine the best approach to information webbing. Ask yourself:

Identifying Key Ideas

Before you begin to search for information, it's helpful to think about the descriptors associated with your topic or questions. You'll need subject headings and key words to use in your search. As you review your notes and examine your brainstorms, think about the who, what, when, where, why, and how's assoicated with your topic. Consider the following areas:

Addressing Individual Differences

Locating and dealing with information can be overwhelming for some students. In some cases, students want to do little work and are happy to copy out of the encyclopedia. Others become overwhelmed when they discover the many books, videos, articles, and websites on their topic. It's essential to consider the individual differences of your students.

There are many ways for students to approach their topic, problem, or question. Design the information and technology environment to address the specific needs of students in the linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal areas. By focusing on specific attributes of technology such as text, sound, still images, and motion images we can assist students in selecting channels of communication that are most effective for accessing resources, synthesizing information, and communicating ideas. For example, the interactivity and immediacy of Internet technologies are useful for particular types of learners and their projects. As we explore the possibilities for technology it's important to examine all the possibilities from traditional resources (i.e., print, projected, display) to CD-ROM materials, multimedia tools, and Internet resources.

Identifying Types of Information

There are many different kinds of information. Resist the urge to go right to the Internet. Sometimes the best source is a dictionary or encyclopedia. Ask youself. Are you looking for fact or opinion? Do you need current information? Are multiple perspectives necessary? Do you need primary or secondary resources? For example, do you want original documents such as diaries, letters, and posters from a historic time period or would you prefer a historical review of these materials?

Students are typically asked to use a variety of information resources in a project.

Treat all forms of communication equally. Consider different channels of communication such as words, pictures, motion images, and sounds.

Public opinion polls are useful in tracing people's views on many important issues. Go to 42eXplore: Polls and Surveys to learn more about the poll and survey sites available online. You can also learn to create your own poll online. Try one at Zoomerang and SurveyMonkey. You can create a short, 50 participant, 10 day quiz for free.

Start by considering the places where you might find the answers to your questions. Who would have the information you need? Would you have to go to this place or talk to this person? Could you communicate through phone, email, or live interview? Could you use materials already published by this group? You might seek out some of the following people and places:

historical site
government agency
natural site
community members
cultural group
news sources
religious organization
political group

Selecting Resource Formats

Once you've identified the type of person or place that would have the information you need, consider the format that this information might take. What form of information do you need? Consider the following areas:

Multiple Forms
Interview Live
Web Pages
Video Conferencing
Audio: CD/tape
Charts, Graphs, Tables
Still Pictures
Realia (real objects)
E-book or E-zine
Reference Materials
Email, Chat, Discussion
Lots More....


Using Starting Points

It's helpful to provide a starting place for students to begin their exploration. Three to five resources provides a nice start for most projects. Select resources with a range of reading levels, interest levels, and a variety of information formats. Choose materials that will provide background information that will set the stage for the project. Consider creating a short web page containing these resources or bookmark them on student computers. Be sure to check these resources each time you teach the class. The information on the pages or the links may have changed.

Librarians call these starting places "pathfinders." Go to Electronic Materials: Pathfinders, Subject Guides & Thematic Resources, 42eXplore, and Teacher Tap: Education Portals and Starting Points for ideas.

Conducting an Internet Search

Rather than trying to discuss all the possible Internet search strategies and search tools on the page, go to Teacher Tap: Search Tools, Teacher Tap: Search Strategies, and eXtreme Searching by Kathy Schrock for ideas.

try itTry the Search Wizard from the 21st Century Information Fluency project.

Webbing Information

Once you begin locating valuable information, think about organizing this information and adding strands to your "web of information." Go back to the graphic organizers discussed in the Wondering section and begin adding strands. Try the Webbing Chart PDF file and the Classifying Chart PDF file.


Create a search strategy. Ask yourself:

try itWebbing Checklist
Develop an activity that helps your students create a search strategy for identifying useful information.
Planning a Search Strategy - analyze your questions
Addressing Individual Differences - consider all learners
Identifying Types of Information - explore types and tools such as Zoomerang for polls.
Selecting Resource Formats - brainstorm possible formats
Using Starting Points - select 3-5 good starting resources
Conducting an Internet Search - develop search guidelines
Contemplating - reflect on progress

video clipView Sorting Information (1:41).

In this video, a student expresses concerns about her project and begins sorting through information. She asks the following questions: What? Where? How to use? How I did? - Excerpt from “Asking the Right Question”, Pt. 1 of Know It All Series by GPN / Univ. of NB

video clipView Visits and Interviews (3:14).

In this video, a student collects information from the library, visits a museum, and interviews a museum curator. - Excerpt from “Asking the Right Question”, Pt. 1 of Know It All Series by GPN / Univ. of NB

video clipView Project Clarity (0:43).

Carol Kuhlthau discusses the formulation phases of a project where students find clarity, their topic is less vague and they become more interested. – Excerpt from interview with Daniel Callison.

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

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Integrating Search Strategies

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