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Marjorie challenged us to think about the value of teaching alphabetical =
order at the very beginning of a primary child's library instruction =
(because CD sources, WWW, etc., are not alphabetically arranged).  She =
was responding to Carol, who had said that the first lessons for =
Kindergarten and first grade students were on procedures and =
alphabetical order.

After mulling this over for a couple of days--

1)      Alphabetical order still has value in locating the physical books on =
the shelf.  Easy books are marked alphabetically, and most primary =
students start in the Easy department.  Even the nonfiction books have =
that important Cutter line to keep the 398.2 or 599 shelves in some =
degree of organization.  In my library of 12000 books, alphabetical =
order has utility for a student who wants to find something in =
particular (not satisfied with simplybrowsing).

2)      Alphabetical order still has value for home phone books and print =
indexes.  I certainly don't start with them in first grade, but the kids =
will get there in due time.

3)      As for the nonlinear structure of information in electronic sources:  =
I think the first step for primary students is probably developing =
vocabulary and doing some sorting with real objects.  I know they click =
expertly on icons in the San Diego Zoo CD, but I think they are =
exploring and seeking confirmation of knowledge (no harm in that) rather =
than researching for unknown information.
That's pretty much the stage the kindergarten and first grade students =
exhibit in dealing with print nonfiction, too.  So I don't think the =
structure of information comes into play quite at the beginning.

Most of us, as information professionals, came of age using print =
sources.  Just as it took us awhile to realize that there is an =
advantage to accessing BOTH a keyword search AND a controlled thesaurus =
in our automated catalogs at one time, I suspect that our appreciation =
of branching search strategies will mature over time.

I'd like to hear what others have to say about beginning instruction for =
kindergarten and first grade students.

Holly Wolf, Macedon Elementary     wolfh@vivanet.com

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