The fifth graders have been working on a research project in the library. Each fifth grade student selected a topic of their choice to research. Their topics range from pop culture to careers in engineering to endangered animals. Students needed to write three questions that they wanted to find answers to about their topic. We reviewed the available subscription databases to see if any would be an appropriate fit for each students’ topic. After students exhausted the databases, they were encouraged to use a search engine; most chose Google. And here is where most of the problems started.
Before we began this research project, we spent several weeks in the library learning the skills the students will need to complete this project: comparing a variety of search engines, choosing keywords to use in a search, and using Boolean operators to improve search results. What we didn’t learn, and is very difficult to teach, is resilience. Students are finding it difficult to find information on their topic. Sure, they all know how to surf the web, but surfing is not researching. There is something to be said for motivation, but there is something more important to be said for sticking it out and continuing to try even when we hit a wall.