Directions for Instructors
A Living Obituary
Purpose: Writing an obituary requires students to gather information from several sources,
analyze those sources, synthesize their information, and develop a point of view about a
The first portion of this document is intended for use by the instructor only. The final
page contains the assignment you will give to your students. [BRACKETS, CAPS, AND
BOLD TEXT] indicate an element of the assignment that needs to be changed to reflect
your specific class. If you have any questions, or would like help with any aspect of the
assignment, please don‟t hesitate to contact a librarian. We are happy to help!
o In order to complete this assignment, students will need some background on the
difference between primary and secondary sources.
o Consider giving your students some clear boundaries. This is an example of
what one Purchase College professor did:
You will use at least one source from printed, published material. You
should probably use more than two such sources. You may use one or
more online sources – websites, articles that originally appeared on
websites, online „zines, personal web pages, Wikipedia, imdb.com. Here
is the catch: You will use this material critically. Your job is not only to
report on what you have found but also to analyze your material and thus
your subject. For this assignment, you will find the sources as well as
o Consider asking each student or group to create a “database” of sources they
might use to research their obituary subjects, including both primary and
secondary sources (see “database assignment” for more specific guidelines).
o Also consider asking them to “bookmark” helpful resources using social
bookmarking sites like Delicious, Digg, etc. Doing so might allow you to discuss
“tagging” and how one‟s vocabulary can enhance or inhibit a search.
This assignment will help students develop skills necessary to:
Define an information need
Access appropriate information (develop search terms, select appropriate databases or
other research tools, etc.)
Use and/or present information effectively
Comply with intellectual property standards (use citations properly, avoid plagiarism,
Distinguish between primary and secondary sources in a discipline