Each year I become more and more excited about teaching students to research. Here is my evolution in teaching research skills:
1993-2001: Teach students to read nonfiction and take notes so that they can report learning without plagiarizing. Yawn.
2001-2006: Teach students to read nonfiction online and in print. Scour the internet to identify the best websites for kids to use. Develop webquests. Incorporate Project-based learning so that students display learning in a way that is impossible to plagiarize (i.e. To Tell the Truth and Living Museums). Have no social life while developing and implementing these projects.
2007-present: Help students become informed users of online media, encouraging them to consider the URL and the author (The Endangered Tree Octopus). Require students to confirm questionable facts found online (All About Explorers) with facts in print and through online databases. Help students collaborate and share resources using email, Google docs, and the school intranet site.
My biggest "hurdle" the past few years is getting students to "buy into" the idea that Google searches may not be the best first option in research. In the past, I've had them type "Abraham Lincoln" into Google search boxes to determine the number and quality of listings. How long would it take you to find the sources that are trustworthy and are accessible to a 10-year-old reading level? We then compare that Google search to an online database search. What are the pros and cons of using the SIRS database? That lesson usually makes a strong enough case for students to search print media and online databases first.
Today I came across this little gem while reading a post by Eric Brunsell (if the video is not showing, click here for the link):
While students may not retain all of the content in the video above, a What, So What, Now What activity will allow groups to construct useful cautions when using Google to research. What were the messages in the video? So what does that mean for your research now and in the future? Now what is your next step as a researcher?
I also have decided I will introduce students to Evernote (I debated its use in my previous post). I hope it will further enhance the research unit it two ways: