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This is Zoinks the Answer Alien:

Every week, he asks my students a new trivia question.  Students must use library resources to answer the question.  I have links to library resources on my website and they can use the library catalog and books as well.  Some of our online resources are Grolier, Kids InfoBits, Word Central, Encyclopedia Britannica, and Fact Monster.  Once the kids find their answer, they write their name, class, answer, and source on a slip of paper and “feed” it to Zoinks.   At the end of the week, I count up answers and choose winners out of a basket (1 winner for every 10 answers) The winners get to choose a book from my book prize box.  

Some trivia questions I have used are: 

  • what do koalas eat?
  • what year was Martin Luther King Jr. born?
  • what is the capital of Iceland?

I came up with Zoinks as a way to encourage students to use the resources offered through the library.  I want them to think of all the great resources we have available as options for research, rather than immediately going to Google.  At the K-5 level, it’s really hard for kids to differentiate between reliable and unreliable websites they find via Google and the results they find are generally not at their reading levels.  Hopefully, the more comfortable the kids are using our other online resources, the more they’ll use them on their own.

Kids can answer the Zoinks question during center time in library class, first thing in the morning, or whenever they have free time and are allowed to come down to the library.  Here is his center set-up on the laptop cart:

**update – 2/19/12**
Zoinks has been around for about 7 weeks now and I have definitely seen an improvement in a research skills!  The kids (2nd-5th) zip right on to my resources page and get where they need to be, find their answers, and cite their source in just a few minutes.

He continues to be a big hit! 

10 Responses to “Zoinks!”

  1. Erin Winder

    Thank you for this idea! The librarian and I work closely together and I’m excited to try this. May I ask how you created Zoinks?

    • Mrs. Lodge

      Hey Erin! Zoinks is an upside down tissue box! I cut an opening for answers with an exacto knife and covered him with aluminum foil. His arms, eyes, and mouth are craft foam. His antenna is a twist tie and his pupils are stick on jewels. The green box on the bottom is a Vera Bradley box for a wristlet-size bag. It just happened to be the perfect size and when I turn Zoinks upside down, I can just open the box to take out all the answers because they fall through the opening of the tissue box into the Vera box. Let me know if any of that isn’t clear!

  2. Anonymous

    Will you please post an example of the form that your students use to answer the question? I’m particularly interested in how they cite their source since you allow 2nd graders to answer questions.

  3. Z.Bayardo

    THANK YOU so much for such a great idea! I plan to incorporate it in my library next year!

  4. Becky

    I love your blog!!! I am a brand new librarian and totally overwhelmed, but I come to your site and am energized and recharged to keep learning! I would love to try this – did you use a resource to come up with the trivia questions? And I also wonder how you have the kiddos cite their source. Thanks!

    • mrslodge

      Thank you! I make up most of the questions randomly or by browsing resources and finding interesting information. I always check that the answer is reasonably easy to find using the resources available (don’t want this activity to be frustrating!). I have also had an exit ticket in the beginning of the year ask “what is something you wish Zoinks would ask?” and then use the kids questions or topics they are interested in. As far as citing the source, in my K-4 school they just write the name of the source – PebbleGo, book title, KidsInfobits, etc.

  5. Zinnia

    I just launched my Zoink’s Question of the Week today and already have a huge participation! GREAT IDEA! THANKS!

  6. Melissa

    This is an excellent idea! I love the response you got and hope it had a lasting effect for many of your students.

    I work in a public Library and have recently enacted Zoinks to great success! I would like to blog about the small tweaks and changes I made to make the project more accessible to a continuously rotating audience, and hope other public Libraries would feel up to a similar project then!

    I would only do so with your permission, however. I would fully credit you with the original idea and link to your blog to ensure the readers would see you work.

    • mrslodge

      Hi Melissa,

      Please feel free! I’d love to hear how you adapted Zoinks for the public library setting!

  7. Shannan Cloud

    I love this idea! I’m a 4th grade reading teacher in an all ipad school– every student from PreK to 12th grade has their own iPad so I’m excited about creating a list of literacy research questions that they can look up in their iPads. I’ll probably have them screen shot their answer and load it into their digital portfolio where I can see answers and then do the drawing for the winner! Thanks for the idea!!!

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