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Ecosystems #4: Print vs Digital Information Sources

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students compare print and digital information sources.  Most of the students are familiar with both print books and digital devices, but the comparison is a good exercise.  It asks them to think critically and objectively about what each kind of source can do for them, giving them perspective and a better framework for selecting information sources.  I developed this lesson for Grade 3, the age at which students may begin to use digital devices for information searching, and I’ve had good success with it.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



To compare print and digital information sources.  (AASL 1.2.2, “Demonstrate confidence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information.”)

Suggested Time:

40-50 minutes

Success Criteria:

Given the categories on which to base their comparison, each student will complete a graphic organizer chart comparing print with a digital information source. 

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

We can find information in many places.  Paper books are only one of those places.  You’ve used paper books recently to find five facts and create a short comic story based on those facts.  However, we can also find information from safe and trustworthy websites.

A website is a place on the World Wide Web that contains information about a person, organization, etc., and that usually consists of many Web pages joined by hyperlinks.

A webpage is a page of words, pictures, etc., that is shown on a website.

Today we will look at one of those websites (which has many webpages) called DK Find Out.

2. Main:

Pass out the student assignments.  Go over the instructions together, making sure that the kids understand their task.   I prefer to do the exercise together, as a group, so that no one gets sidetracked or loses focus.

Remind the students that they have already learned the parts of an information book.  They have also used information books to find facts.  Today they will use a digital source to find facts, then they will compare what it is like to use a print information source vs what it is like to use a digital source.

Project your computer or iPad and, as a class, use DK Find Out to gather five facts.  This will be easy and fun to do.  Here are some of my favorite kid-pleasing “facts.”

  1. Woodpeckers make a very unusual sound.  (Animals and Nature, Birds, Woodpeckers, Audio file)
  2. Drums come in all shapes and sizes.  (Music and Literature, Musical Instruments, Drums)
  3. The most popular car of all time was the VW Beetle.  (Transport, History of Cars, Most Popular Car)
  4. “Ahoy Maties” means “Hello Friends.”  (Talk Like a Pirate Video)
  5. Oil is less dense (lighter) than water, so floats on the top of water.  (Science, Forces and Motion, Floating and Sinking)

Ask the children to record five facts on their assignment sheets.  After you have done this, ask them to think about how print and digital resources are alike or different.  Together, work through the chart on the assignment sheet so that they can carefully compare the two.

3. Conclusion:

Remind the kids that books are great sources of information, but so are electronic sources.  Most of the time they will use both print and electronic sources to find information for school work and personal inquiry.  Both can be helpful for different purposes and at different times.  They must become skilled users of both kinds of information sources.

I like to have kids write in big letters, “Print and digital information sources are both important,” as a wrap-up and finish to this lesson.

  1. Internet connection and access to DK Find Out web site.
  2. Ability to project your computer screen so that the class can gather facts together.
  3. Copies of the Student Assignment (attached).
  4. A few paper books on ecosystems or animals that live in specific habitats.
  5. Devices for the kids to use if you want them to explore DK Find Out on their own after the assignment is complete (optional).

Kids can get very distracted in this lesson.  DK Find Out is so full of amazing audio and video files that the kids just hop around discovering new sights and sounds.  It becomes very difficult to pin them down and get them to complete the assignment, so I have learned to just do the assignment together.  Once the work is done, they can explore DK Find Out on their own.

Recommended books for this lesson:

A handful of Unit of Inquiry books so that they can be used as points of comparison against the digital source.

Key Terms:

Digital Information Sources, Web Sites, Web Pages

Student Handout, Print vs Digital

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