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I have two different groups of students in two different subjects (English
and World History).  Each group is using the online databases and print
resources to find information concerning a term paper thesis that they have

My biggest concern is that regardless of how many resources I share with my
students, they continue to come back to me with this statement:

"I can't find anything in the online databases / literary criticisms about
my thesis."

When I ask them to tell me their thesis, we start to gather information and
ideas.   I begin to show them how to locate the information (in both print
and online sources) and usually we can locate several different things;
however, the students say that they've already seen the information --but
haven't read it---or that they've scanned the material and it doesn't cover
THEIR topic / thesis.  (Many of them are reviewing 38 different lit crits on
one subject and saying, "there's nothing.")

I am concerned about this because to me this indicates that our students
expect "the answers" to be in bold print somewhere on the page.  None of
them can quite figure out that there probably WON'T be a literary criticism
OR a historical review over the exact same topic that they happen to think
is important (i.e., their paper) and that they will need to extract the
information in order to create a "new product."  (The Big 6 process ---but
we're stuck between  step 4 --- use of information and step 5--

I know I'm probably not the only one who is rolling their eyes and walking
into the closet to scream about this what do you do?  Each of
the teachers expects the students to read various sources from both online
databases and print resources.  Each has a rubric that includes specific
things including source reliability, credibility, authority, currency, etc.
Each expects the student to do "more" than regurgitate information...but
none of us are getting them to produce the results we want.

Are these kids the product of the times (instant answers and information
there at the snap of a finger)?  Do we need to start at a younger level to
instill creativity in our students so that they understand how to do
research properly?  Should I really push the Big 6 aspect of steps 4-5-6
now?  I'm seeing this at the freshman and sophomore level now (but it's not
limited to those grades).  Our juniors and seniors have problems with this
concept and I know it's all about critical thinking and asking better
questions, but I also believe it's about teachers requiring more than fill
in the blank answers.

Any ideas, suggestions, approaches?  I think my "good teachers" are about as
frustrated as I am with all of this.  We definitely want more from these
kids (and both of these teachers have told me that when they make THESE
assignments, the students' parents jump into the mix and complain that the
assignments are TOO HARD for their babies.)

Give me a break!  We're college prep!

I'm going over all of this ONE MORE TIME tomorrow morning...any ideas now
would be helpful!  (You can email me via my school email address, if you
want to offer moral support or ideas that can be used immediately.)


~Shonda Brisco
Trinity Valley MS / US Librarian
Fort Worth, Tx (home) (school)

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