How Do I Research?

My sixth graders are going to begin a short research activity to prepare them for a larger research project on wolves the following two weeks. For this short research activity, I wanted them to research about an animal that they would want to have as a pet…but before doing that, I knew I needed them to understand how to research and how to find credible sources.

The best way to do that? I figured the C.R.A.P. Test–an acronym used by many schools to help students figure out if students are finding Current, Reliable websites with legitimate Authors and a useful Point of View. 

I really wanted my kids to get this–it was essential to any research! (Good research, that is!) So I created a short, fun presentation to help them understand how to find credible websites and where to find things like the website URL, title, and article/headline title.

Click to view/download the presentation. It is specific to the 'Adopt a Pet Activity,' but can be easily modified for any research-based project!
Click to view/download the presentation. It is specific to the ‘Adopt a Pet Activity,’ but can be easily modified for any research-based project!

The presentation explained things like keywords and asked students to generate some keywords that might be helpful for this specific project. I also included a screenshot of a sample website on unicorns. The students, first, had to find where the URL, site title, and headline title were. Then they were asked if the unicorn page was a good website or not. (Not!) And then I went through why it wasn’t a good site, the CRAP test, and how they could use this test for their own research! I also included a section on taking notes in our own words to avoid plagiarism, and talked them through this as well.

I really broke everything down and created three separate worksheets for the students, the Adopt a Pet Activity Notes, the CRAP Test Worksheet, and the final Letter to Mom and Dad.

For this project, the students were asked to research an animal of their choice, focusing on the most important information in order to convince parents/guardians that they should buy this pet. The students used the CRAP test to determine two legitimate websites, filled out the CRAP Test Worksheet, took notes on their Adopt a Pet Activity Notes (in their own words!) and when they were finished, they drafted a short letter to their parents/guardians trying to convince them to buy the pet!

I had three main focuses/goals for this project:

  • taking relevant notes in the students’ own words
  • writing informatively
  • writing persuasively


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