Once again I tried something new in my 8th grade science class. This year for a final assessment I borrowed a research project on Influential Thinkers. Students could choose from Newton to J. Goodall for topics. They then had to do research using both the internet and books. A final typed paper of over 1 page (2-3 hand written) was the expectation. Here were the problems.
1. Half the 3.5'' drives in the library didn't work.
2. Every kid wanted to use Wikipedia, but the district (librarian) doesn't deem it a reliable source.
2A. Even after saying they couldn't use it they still did.
3. The internet was down for one trip to the library (students that had saved on the internet couldn't get their papers).
4. Some students saved to the computer (but to the wrong spot). The next day it wasn't there of course.
The Good Stuff
1. From what I could tell not many students outright plagiarized. I caught a few.
2. Saving to www.mediafire.com (a file hosting site) went fairly well for those who used it.
3. Completion rate of the project was high. About 90% turned something in.
4. The typed papers (and written) were well done for the most part with a few general formatting problems.
I'll definitely do this again next year. It was easy to lay out the expectations. I just need to review the proper format for References or Literature Cited pages.