Here is how one educator has incorporated the Big 6 Information Access Skills procedures into a research assignment for her students. In this example, raccoons were the subject.

1. Defining the task. This involves deciding what questions must be answered. Students do this part of the project offline by writing down questions that will direct their search. In the case of raccoons, it might be questions about habitat and eating habits.

2. Framing the information quest. This involves thinking about how information might be obtained about raccoons, both online and offline. For the online search, students should come up with keywords to guide their web queries.

3. Seeking information. This starts by visiting major web search engines, such as Google, AltaVista, and Dogpile. Another major resource will be sites that already have compiled information about a given subject. In the case of raccoons, sites such as The Electronic Zoo ( and eNature ( are good resources. Also, sites staffed by subject-matter experts may be a good resource for specific questions that students are having trouble answering; KidsConnect ( is a good example.

4. Using information. This step in the process recognizes that all information on the web is not equally accurate or valid. Educators should use the guidelines developed by Karen McLachlan on CyberGuides ( or by Website Investigator ( website_investigator.htm) to help assess the credibility of information. For upper-level students, the basic research project can be augmented by having the students themselves rate the value of information on several sites according to the guidelines. In this stage, it is also appropriate to inform students about copyright issues.

5. Synthesizing information. At some point, the information must be compiled into a report, and that report must be presented. If possible, teachers should have students make multimedia presentations.

6. Evaluating the experience. Educators should have students discuss what they learned through the exercise, not just about the subject, but also about conducting and presenting research.