Because it's such a time-consuming yet very important process, I like to take it slooooowwwly with the kids.
All too often there's just not enough time to go through the painstaking process of teaching our students the logical, organized, and linear method of properly conducting the research process. I think we've all assumed at one time or another--and I've been guilty of this myself!-- that our students know enough about Googling things to figure it out for themselves, or we've (sort of) addressed the issues--plagiarism, citing, etc.--as they arose.
I cannot stress enough the need to allow you and your class time to properly follow the necessary steps of the research process. I myself like to "chunk" the process into manageable steps: understanding copyright, fair use, and public domain; citing sources; evaluating websites; keyword searching; and avoiding plagiarism (to be addressed in a future post).
Today, I'd like to address keyword searching. Obviously, with the Common Core State Standards stressing critical-thinking skills, reasoning, and evidence collection skills, it makes sense to teach the research process instead of simply assigning a research project. Our students are going to be expected, as mandated by the CCSS, to "gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources" (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.8).
Keyword searching, then, is important for gathering "relevant information." And frankly, it saves a lot of time when done correctly, and that's usually how I sell it to my students--who resent having to do research in the first place, anyway!
I also like to use the Internet to my advantage: there are others before me who've created some amazing lessons to teach students how to conduct a proper keyword search, so why reinvent the wheel?
Research Chunk #4
Effective Keyword Searching
- When my colleagues ask me for online resources related to the research process, I always direct them to this incredibly helpful video from the Teaching Channel: "Improving Research Skills with Effective Keywords." The teacher in the video, Olga Ramos, uses some fun and interesting scaffolding strategies with her students to help them identify and use precise vocabulary to improve Internet searches. You could certainly adapt these ideas for use in your classroom.
- If I'm teaching keyword searching to students in grades 4-5, I like to borrow the ideas found at the Common Sense Media website. This is a simple introductory lesson that shows strategies to increase the accuracy of keyword searches. As a cooperative learning activity--or homework--assign this activity from ReadWriteThink.
- For students in grades 6-8, I use this lesson plan from the New York Times Learning Network, specifically the Warm-Up and Activity. If time permits, and depending on skill level, I like to accomplish the final activity described, creating a page "for a class guide, in booklet or wiki form, on how to use Internet search engines effectively for research, to be made available to the school community to help other students." The students enjoy the creativity aspect of it as well the authoritative aspect of it.
- Of course, it's always beneficial to go right to the source, so I've been exploring the lesson plans found at the Google Search Education site and developed by Google Certified Teachers and the Search Education team. Lessons are categorized as basic, intermediate, and advanced, so they can be tailored to the abilities of your different classes. Keep in mind, however, that these lessons are Google-specific, so if you're using Bing or Yahoo!, then this site may not be for you.
For fun and daily practice, I LOVE this site, A Google a Day. Google provides the question, and you provide the answer, applying your newly-developed keyword search techniques! You could make this a competition for your students, and they'd love it. It's pretty addictive!
If you're interested in having your students complete research modules on their own, then read this. Finally, they can Google like a boss with this handy cheat sheet.
This is what I do in the classroom. What have you tried that works? Please share your ideas and suggestions. I'm always ready to try something new!
Image via Pixabay