In this session I ask my year 7 students to think about how and why they pick one resource over another.
We ‘brainstorm’ the 5 W’s before using them to evaluate a book.
The 5 W’s are, of course,
How we can use these to evaluate resources….
Who is the author? Why would we look for a particular author?
Perhaps we have a favourite author, or we know they are an expert in that subject. Or perhaps they are a Dr or a professor – this may mean we are more able to trust what they write.
What is a really easy one to work out. What is the book/resource about?
If we need to research Insects then knowing what the book about is probably the easiest way to evaluate a resource. If the book/resource is about fishing or aliens, or the Third Reich then we can quickly eliminate them. We probably do this without thinking about it.
When refers to when the book/resource was published.
Is the book old? Does it matter? How up-to-date is it?
The date a book was published is usually found on the back of the Title Page near the copyright symbol.
Just because a book is ‘old’ doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. However if you want to know about the new species of butterfly; or a newly discovered egyptian tomb, then an old book won’t cover that.
Where can we find the answers in the book? Does the book have a contents page or an index? Most good books do – but have a look at a series like the Horrible Histories Series, these contain lots of interesting information; presented in a fun way, but if you are looking for a particular keyword you have to scan the whole book as they don’t have an index.
Another useful thing to look for is a Bibliography; or ‘Further Reading’; or ‘More resources’ etc. These can be found at the back of the book – near the index and can provide us with more useful resources – or where to go next.
Why should we use a particular book over another?
Does it have pictures? Are these drawings (and subject to an artistic impression) or photographs (more realistic)? On the other hand drawings and diagrams may be more clearly labelled. It’s all about the reason why we are looking for them in the first place.
Another ‘why’ would be what I call the ‘Goldilocks’ question. This relates to the size of the text – is it too big? Too small? Or just right?
It is the Goldilocks question because we each need to find the best fit for ourselves. Perhaps the writing is too big, with not enough information or detail perhaps too ‘babyish’ or easy? Perhaps the writing is so small that we cannot read it – if so – there is no point struggling – we need to find something better and more suited to our needs.
So evaluating resources is about thinking about why we are looking for; why we need that information and finding the best resource to help us.
Who, What, When, Where and Why are easy questions that can help us find the best resource.