iSearch Reseach Project

Pre-Research Activity 1: Using Key Words to Research

  • Review Google Tips and Tricks
  • Students practice using keywords to perform searches using Fetch Handout

Kidblog: Create a new post: What's one new thing you learned today about using keywords when searching?

Pre-Research Activity 2: Evaluating Websites

Activity #1

In partner groups, visit each of the websites below and using the CRAP test sheet on each site to determine their trustworthiness.
  1. Tax Tips
  2. Mankato
  3. WWF Wildlife
  4. Tree Octopus
  5. Toyota
  6. The White House

Kidblog: Create a new post: Why is it important to evaluate websites?

Activity #2
Bogus Website Evaluation - handout
Visit each site below. Choose 2 of the sites and answer the following questions
  1. Google Technology
  2. Google Job Opportunities
  3. History of the Fisher Price Airplane
  4. Burmese Mountain Dog Club

1. What makes this website believable? List 5 characteristics. (Do not list facts; think about the website and its appearance.)
2. What information on the web site or characteristics of the web site make it untrustworthy? List 5 characteristics.

Step 1: Topic

a) Brainstorm a Topic

In this step, you will brainstorm a topic of interest to you. Think about a broad topic that you can ask many questions about in order to have a comprehensive research project.

Start with a broad topic of interest to you, and ask yourself:
  • What are you interested in?
  • Why are you interested in that topic?

If you're having trouble thinking of a topic, complete these questions to spark your thinking:

Resources to Help You Choose a Topic

Comprehensive search engines to begin your search:

Choosing the Right Search Engine for your Need

Once you choose a topic, it's time to get an overview:
  • Once you have some ideas, you have to do some reading on the general topic and get an overview.
  • After doing that, you will be ready to focus your topic into a reasonable size that you can handle for this project.

Use the following Runkle Library Reference Sources & Databases to get an overview of your topic. (You might also use these sources when trying to decide on a topic.)
  • Reference Sources
    • Britannica Online and/or World Book Online
    • Wikipedia
  • Databases
    • Biography in Context (if you're thinking of a person)
    • History in Context (if you're thinking of a history topic)
    • Science in Context (if you're thinking of a science topic)

b) Narrow Down/Decide on Your Topic

As you read about your topics, ask yourself one or more of the following questions to discover the direction that your research should take:
  • Is there a particular event/area of your broad topic that interests you more than other events/areas?
  • Did you learn something that changed your view of the topic?
  • Did you discover something interesting that you are curious about?
  • Did any information surprise you? If yes, why?


Once you've decided on your topic, please complete the following:
  • Keywords
    1. Type your topic and keywords into
    2. Take a screen shot, which saves to your desktop.
    3. Create a new post on Kidblog and upload your Wordle into the post. (New Post > Upload/Insert Media)

  • Topic & Subtopic Brainstorm:
    1. Create a brainstorm with your topic using Google Drawing, Google Mindmeister, or
    2. Include the topic, subtopics, and supporting details.Example below:
    3. Create a new post on Kidblog with your brainstorm. (New Post > Upload/Insert Media)


Step 2: Develop a Research Statement

Now that you have found something about your topic that interests you, create a more focused research statement that will guide how you approach the topic. The research statement will help define your audience and the purpose of your research.

(This will go into your Noodletools Project Dashboard under Research Question)

Research Statement:

I am trying to learn about ...

because I want to find out (who/what/when/where/why/how/whether…) ...

so my audience will understand ....

Step 3: Focusing Questions

Now that you have a solid research statement, it is time to take the next step toward narrowing down your research. By doing this, you will avoid reading books and articles that do not directly relate to your topic.

The next step is to generate smaller questions that you think you will need to ask in order to answer the big research question. The questions that you should start with are: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Every time you approach a source, you should try to answer these questions. All the evidence you collect should answer your focusing questions, which will help you answer your research statement.

Steps 2 & 3 Pre-Search Worksheet:

  • Save a Copy of the Pre-Search Worksheet in Google Docs, change the name to include your section (7A, 7B, 7C), your name and share with Mrs. Murphy on Google (

  • OR

  • Copy and paste the following into Word and Save in Documents

  • OR

  • Kidblog: Create a new post with this information in the body of the post

start copying hereName:Topic:
Research Statement:

I am trying to learn about ...

because I want to find out (who/what/when/where/why/how/whether…) ...

so my audience (the teacher/other students…) ...

will understand ....

Focusing Questions:
What do you want to know about your topic? What interests you? What do you want to find more about?

The Five W’s: Who? Where? What? When? Why? How? (list questions here) (you may have more than 5 questions)
  1. question 1
  2. question 2
  3. question 3
  4. question 4
  5. question 5

Step 4: Plan Your Research, Research Your Topic and Take Notes

a) Pre-Search

Now that you have a set of workable focusing questions, stop and think about what type of sources you will need to conduct your research.

1. Where do you think you will find the information?
  • The Internet? A database? Your school's library? The town library?

2. Do you think you will find sufficient information on the topic written for middle school students?
  • consider length, vocabulary, audience, and visuals.

3. What would the "perfect source" for this topic look like?
  • consider materials, that are focused on your topic area, easy to locate, readable, and well-organized

b) Find and Analyze Your Sources

After you have identified several sources in the library or on the Internet, page through them, look at the index, table of contents, read the jacket cover, look for visuals, and finally, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Are these sources useful?
  2. Do these sources meet my expectations of what I thought I would find?
  3. Can I understand the information and the vocabulary within these sources, or is it too complex?
  4. At first glance, do these sources look like they provide enough information to answer my research questions?
  5. Would it be useful to revise my main research question knowing what I now know?


  • Use Noodletools to Take Notes
  • Use Noodletools to Create a Bibliography

c) Research & Take Notes

Step 5 - Re-state your Research Statement

Did your Research Statement change due to the information you found on your topic (or didn't find)?

Step 6 - Create an Outline or Presentation

Final Project Requirements

All of the elements for the research project are outlined in the following checklist:

At the end of the project you will turn in the following:
  1. Keyword brainstorm (Wordle)
  2. Graphic Organizer (Inspiration or
  3. Pre-Search Worksheet (with topic, research statement & focusing questions)
  4. Website Evaluation Checklist for each of your Internet sources
  5. 5-10 completed notecards in Noodletools (shared with Mrs. M. electronically)
  6. Outline or Presentation
  7. Bibliography
  8. iSearch Reflection