Helping students become more familiar with different resources is a lesson that reappears again and again in any effective media program. In fact, it is probably woven into more media lessons through practical application than any other topic over the course of a year. Knowing what information is needed and where to find it are life skills that are vital for any 21st century learner. But for many elementary aged students, understanding the different sources and what kinds of information they hold can be confusing.
To help students gain a better grasp on the similarities and differences of information resources such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlas, almanac, and thesaurus I created stations around the media center for exploration of these sources. I adapted this lesson as needed for grades 2-5 and was pleased at how much the students seemed to get out of the hands-on exploration. At each station I had multiple copies or examples of the resource (ie: various encyclopedias at the encyclopedia station, a piece of colored chart paper, small strips of paper and markers). Students were given about 5-10 minutes to explore the resources at their station. Then they were asked to write on the white strip of paper what they noticed about that resource. These were pasted to the chart paper and posted in the Media Center. (With some classes, depending on the availability of the iPads, students used the drawing app to write what they noticed about each resource instead of using the chart paper. We then took a picture of the "digital quilts" we made by placing all of our iPads together in collage form.)
We then broke each resource down for a closer look in lessons that followed and also took a look at other digital resources including the internet and online school library catalog. I have been amazed at how often students have referred back to the resource charts throughout the remainder of the school year. They have even added to the charts as they have discovered more details about each resource.