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Showcasing Brenda Rutland and "Library Scavenger Hunt"

"My goal is to present library skills in a fun exciting fashion, so the students can learn by doing, instead of listening to boring lectures," explained Brenda Rutland, librarian at Mountain Gap Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama. "One fall, I made up 50 library skills questions and had them typed, laminated, and labeled with big numbers. Every student in the school then spent two days of English class in the library researching and answering those questions." Rutland's library skills' "scavenger hunt" has since become an annual event.

Rutland likes to use the scavenger hunt activity in January because it allows students to start the new year with a fresh approach to library skills, and provides their English teachers with a brand new grade to record.

Students are given answer sheets with 50 blank spaces; they walk around the library finding answers to 50 questions posted on library resources. Although they are not required to answer the questions in numerical order, answers must go in the blank with the corresponding number.

"Classes usually are 18 to 26 in size, so there is plenty of room for everyone to get to all the numbers," Rutland told Education World. " Everyone works alone and travels alone! I have one parent volunteer who helps me keep students moving and helps answer questions, and some teachers like to walk around and help their students as well."

In addition to questions about the library skills all student should possess, Rutland includes research questions that require the use of different reference books, including the Readers Guide, National Geographic Index, Occupational Handbook, telephone book, Internet, science terms dictionary, Guinness Book of World Records, almanac, and more.

"The students really enjoy the activity," reported Rutland. "They are forced to use all kinds of resources they normally never use and, instead of listening to a lecture about how to use those resources, they actually have to use them to get the correct answers."

Rutland changes the research questions from year to year and gives all instructions before the students begin their hunt. Keeping them focused and working alone is a task that dictates close supervision, but according to Rutland, the development of her students' research skills is well worth the time and preparation.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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