Information Literacy Unit — Activity 1

  • Intro Activity 1 Activity 2 Activity 3 Activity 4 Activity 5 Activity 6 Activity 7

     Activity 1 - Subject Searching


    • You will need to make a research folder. Check with your instructor if you are making a folder in your student computer account or in Google Drive or some other platform.
    • You will need to have two screens open for many of these activities - one with the directions and one with the page you are using to obtain your information.
    • In Chrome, right click on the Chrome symbol at the bottom of the screen and select New Window. You can now place the windows side-by-side, or you can toggle back and forth.

    Activity 1:  Subject Searching

    A subject search, also known as topic search, is used when the researcher does not know any specifics and wants a broad search.  Often the researcher begins with an encyclopedia or topic-oriented database that provides basic information and helps in understanding and identifying the problem.  The researcher must identify a one-word or a two-word phrase to begin the search.

    For this activity, you will be using an online subscription encyclopedia or the GVRL ebook collection, which hosts specialized encyclopedias.

    • The default method of searching for information in an encyclopedia is usually a SUBJECT search.
    • From the list of articles matching your subject search, you will be able to make your choice of the best one.
    • You will learn to read headings and subheadings.
    • You will have the opportunity to learn a little about your topic by identifying portions of the article that are relevant to your search.
    • You will identify printing techniques for "clean" printing or for saving/downloading the article.
    • You will copy/paste the MLA citation to a Word document, Google Doc, etc.


    1. Most databases have a special print key which allows formatting for a clean page of text.  Whenever possible, use the print key for that database.
    2. Most databases also have the option of emailing to you the information for use at home. This is a great way to go paperless.
    3. Most databases allow you to download the article right to your computer.
    4. Many of the databases are now downloading the article right into Google Docs which can be accessed with your student Gmail account.

    You are now ready to begin your activity.

    Be sure you read all the directions in each line before you begin.

    1A:  World Book Online

    1. Either select a topic or research the assigned topic given to you by your teacher.
    2. Identify the subject of your topic and write it on your worksheet in the first box of Activity 2, under SUBJECT.
    3. From your second window, which should be open to the Library Homepage, click the databases button, then locate and open the database called World Book Online.  This is a subscription service.  You can toggle back and forth between your two screens.
    4. Notice how World Book Online offers a number of information services such as news articles, featured videos and related information.
    5. Locate the search box and enter your subject.
    6. Notice how the page is divided into frames: the center frame lists the subjects, the left frame lists how many graphics, maps, audio files, etc. are available, and the right side lists primary sources, actual records that have survived from the past, like letters, photographs, etc.
    7. Choose your subject from the list (if one is provided).
    8. Notice how the article contents are outlined on the left side of the page.
    9. Is there any part of the article that sounds like it could become your topic sentence?
    10. In order to save paper, we will not print, but SAVE the article to a folder.

    1B:  Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL)

    1. Open another window to the Library Homepage, click the ebooks button, then locate and open the Gale Virtual Reference Library (GVRL).  The GVRL is another good place to look for encyclopedia articles. (If you have too many articles, type in your scientist’s name and biography to narrow it down.)
    2. Open up a biographical article from this ebook.  (And yes, they are books on our virtual shelf.  You may read it in book format by clicking on View PDF. However, for this assignment it is easier to use it in HTML format.)
    3. Notice that you can listen to the article and that you have many Tools available to assist you.  Click on each tool to discover what it can do.
    4. For this article, download a HTML article to your research folder. In Chrome, it will automatically go to your download folder.  Move it to your research folder and change the name to Gale e-book, just for this assignment. 

    Don’t forget to copy and paste the MLA citation in your Works Cited. 

    When you are done, you may move on to Activity 2:  Keyword Searching