Encounter the Research Task

Skill 3: Explore the information landscape and identify resources.

You have spent time immersing to build background knowledge on a broad topic. Now you should be able to create an environment to browse, scan, and skim lots of sources to get a sense of what resources are available and which resources might be worth examining further. Your goal is to construct possible research questions from the interesting ideas, pressing problems, and emerging themes you have explored in various sources of information. Your research questions will zero in on a part or aspect of the larger topic that will frame the rest of your research process.Think big!

Skill-builders & Tools
Relax, Read, And Reflect
Strategies required to successfully complete the steps in this process are to  RELAX, READ, AND REFLECT.
  1. RELAX-Slow down and relax. Take your time to explore your thoughts so that they have the opportunity to evolve or develop.-What is interesting as you read?
  2. READ-Read to become informed-What are you finding that you’d like to tell someone else about?
  3. REFLECT- Raise questions-What questions come to mind?

Evaluate Sources

You must be aware of the potential pitfalls of using sources on the Internet.  Anyone can make and post a website.  This means that you must be critical of the information posted and be mindful of the sources that you choose to use. 

Things to consider when viewing a website

  1. look & layout - How is the site organized?
  2. domain - What type of organization is associated with the site?-
  3. relevance - Does the information presented relate to my topic?
  4. authority - Who is the author and are they an expert in the field?
  5. accuracy - Who is the sponsor of the site?  What are the interests of the authors/sponsors?  Can I trust this site?
  6. point of view - Does the author have bias about the subject?  What is the author's background?
  7. currency - How up to date is the information?

Skimming and Scanning

EyeUse the following resources to browse, scan, and skim a variety of sources for interesting ideas before generating questions about the topic:

  • BCPS Databases
  • Web sites
  • Digitized materials from libraries, museums, and archives

If you are unfamiliar with skimming and scanning explore the following Pearson-Interactive Activities:

Guiding Questions

The following questions can serve as a guide as you navigate through resources:

  • What interests me about this idea or topic?
  • Why am I doing this research?
  • How will I find out about this idea or topic?
  • What do I already know or think I know about this topic?
  • What background information would help me get an overview of my topic so that I can ask good questions and learn more about it?
  • What intriguing questions do I have about the topic or idea? Can my questions be answered through investigation?
  • What do I expect to find?
  • What is my plan for research?

king Deep Questions-Levels Of Thinking

Now come up with your own questions. Benjamin Bloom created a scale to show different types of questions based on different levels of thinking called Bloom’s Taxonomy.


  Big Question

Ask Deep Questions is an online resource from the book Inquire: A guide to 21st Century Learning that gives examples of levels of questioning based on Bloom’s scale. The further down in the scale you go the deeper the questions becomes. A summary of the different levels of thinking are listed below.

  1. To remember, ask about facts.
  2. To understand, ask about meaning.
  3. To apply, ask about how to use ideas.
  4. To analyze ask about the parts.
  5. To evaluate, ask about quality.
  6. To create, ask about making something.

Manage Information
Here are three options to manage the background information you are collecting. Remember, note-taking tools were already mentioned in “Skill 3: Build Background Knowledge.” You may choose to use just one or a combination or another tool entirely. Keep in mind that you want a tool that allows you to:

  • Access your notes and resources 24/7 from school and home;
  • Use digital curation tools to add entire web pages or clip just the section(s) you need;
  • Save photos, graphs, Word and PDF documents;
  • and easily add, organize, and search your notes.

Organizational Methods And Tools

Digital Curation Tools are The selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets. Digital curation establishes, maintains and adds value to repositories of digital data for present and future use. Use Web 2.0 tools such as, Livebinder, Pinterest, Scoop.It or Jog the Web, as well as note-taking tools and other social bookmarking tools, to save sources that illuminate a specific idea, concept, or theme.

Stop And Jot
(Approach for taking notes in the inquiry journal)

When you come across a good idea or a question occurs to you, get in the habit of stopping to jot it down in your inquiry journal.  You don’t need to go into great detail at this point.

To use the Stop and Jot approach for writing notes in the inquiry journal

  1. List the sources that you found
  2. Under each source, create two columns in your inquiry journal
  3. On the left side write the page number or website of the source
  4. On the right side write notes that include ideas and questions based on information in each source

This is important for keeping track of where you found the idea so that you can find it again when you want to.  In addition, you will record the source and page number or web location in your inquiry log so that later, you can cite the source that you used

Inquiry Log For Tracking Sources

The Inquiry log, is used to track and document information sources as you explore various resources. This tool used in conjunction with the inquiry journal and inquiry circles will lead to developing a meaningful inquiry question.

With this tool:
Find sources and separate them into two categories:

  • sources that you think are useful or
  • sources that may be useful

Record the following information:

  • the date
  • citation of source
  • thoughts you have as you browse

Pair Share Protocol

Pairing with a partner is an efficient way to help you compose in your journal about area that matter to you.

  • Recall something that caught your attention as you were reading
  • Reflect on your thoughts, ideas, and feelings
  • Compose your thoughts in your journal.
  • In your inquiry circles, converse about the ideas and questions that most interest, intrigue, or disturb you.

Social Networking, Saving, And Sharing
Social networking and sharing websites and applications, such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive or Dropbox, enable users to create, save, and share content or to participate in networking remotely online. Most social networking websites are only accessible at home or on mobile networks.

digital curation tools
inquiry log
Student Resources

Evaluating Sources


Visit 21st Century Information Fluency's webpage Evaluation Wizard
Understanding URLs 
Critical Evaluation Survey : Secondary School Level-Kathy Schrock
Critically Analyzing Information Sources
Ten things to look for when you evaluate an information source.

Skimming and Scanning
Skimming and Scanning
How to Skim and Scan
Pearson-Interactive Activities:

Digital Curation
Live Binder Live Binder Live Binders
Scoop It
Jog the Web

Inquiry Log For Tracking Sources Inquiry Log

Teaching Resources

Skimming and Scanning
Skillswise BBC-Skimming and Scanning Video

Spreeder: This neat tool speed reads text from any online source and makes skimming articles for research a breeze.

Stop and Jot Form
Inquiry Log for Tracking Sources
Pair Share ProtocolL

Digital Curation

Livebinder tutorial

Social Networking

Google Plus


Sharing And Saving


Google Drive

Using Inquiry Circles for Teaching Middle and High School

Do Now:

Using your topic of choice, ask or write a question about your topic from each of the six levels of thinking. Using any resource above from the “Managing Information Section”, note how your thinking deepens after each level.

Do Next: Return to the Skills Menu to get help with other skills for Step 1: Encounter the Task

Encounter the Research Task Jog the Web Google Plus Facebook Twitter Drop Box Google Drive