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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Writing Workbooks  >  Elementary School
Books vs. Bytes Exercise
By Alice Knapp

In this exercise, children learn the different ways to do research, using both books and electronic resources.


  • Two groups are drawn randomly -- one Books group and one Bytes group.
  • Each group gets a list with the same twelve questions. They each have a predetermined amount of time to find the answers to the questions.
  • The Books group finds the answers using the catalog computer, telephone (to access reference help or experts in that field), and any materials in the library including reference books, magazines, and maps.
  • The Bytes group will be able to use e-mail, the CD ROM programs, and the Internet.
  • The Books group writes their answers, citing their sources in the formats provided. The Bytes group must type their citations.
  • Spelling, grammar, content, and completeness of the written answer are considered. Each question is worth ten points; partial credit will be given.
  • The groups are NOT allowed to trade answers with one another.
  • There is a supervisor assigned to each group who is allowed to answer questions about the locations of sources, but are not allowed to actually locate the sources for the students.
  • Sportsmanship is important! Students should be encouraged to be good sports to both their teammates and to the other team.

Sample Questions:

(proposed by members of the Tower, Knapp, and Zafren families; October 18, 1998)

  • What is the complete text of "The Star Spangled Banner"?
  • What is the text of Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby?
  • What are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet?
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Which way (clockwise or counter-clockwise) does the water drain in the northern and southern hemispheres--and why?
  • How far did New Bedford whalers have to travel to go whaling in Alaska?
  • What were the names of the hurricanes during the 1991 hurricane season?
  • What was the closing Dow Jones average on October 1, 1998?
  • Which amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote?
  • Which countries fought in the Falkland Islands war, and who were the opposing generals?
  • What were the words spoken by the chief U.S. scientist at the first test of an atom bomb?
  • What were the names of the six wives of Henry the Eighth, and what happened to each of them?
  • What is the last line in the play "Macbeth?"
  • What is the height of Cologne Cathedral, and how many steps are there in the stairs to the tower?

Bibliography Information (Background for the Books vs. Bytes exercise):

Bibliography: a list of sources where you have found your information. These sources are arranged alphabetically by the first word of the entry. A bibliography is placed at the end of your paper.

1. If the source is a book:

Author (last name, first name). Title. City: Publisher, copyright date. Page numbers used.

2. If the source is an encyclopedia:

Author (if there is one, the name may be found at the end of the article) (last name, first name). "Title of Entry." Encyclopedia Name. Edition date. Volume number, page numbers used.

3. If the source is a magazine:

Author (if there is one) (last name, first name). "Title of Article." Magazine Name. Date of magazine, page numbers used.

4. If the source a CD-ROM Encyclopedia:

Author (Last name, First name). "Article Title." Title of Print Version. Edition (if given). Title of Electronic Work. CD-ROM. Information supplier.

Other CD-ROMs:

Author/Editor (Last, First). Title of Print Version (if applicable). Edition (if given). Place of publication: Publisher, date. Title of Electronic Work. CD-ROM. Information Supplier.

5. If the source is a Web site:

Author/Editor. Title. Date last updated (if given). Online. Information supplier. Available: (address). Access date (day month year).

About the Author: Alice Knapp is a librarian at Anchorage Chugach Optional Elementary.

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