Which is why I dread the approach of my annual research unit.
Teaching kids how to research on the Internet is, in my opinion, one of the hardest things to do, precisely because of our students' belief that the Internet has everything they need (which it does), and that everything is truthful (which it isn't isn't).
In order to overcome these misconceptions, I've made very deliberate attempts over the last few years to create a linear and organized "chunked" procedure for guiding students in grades 4-8 through the research process, and I'll write about each of those "chunks" in the upcoming weeks.
The research unit begins with an overview of understanding Copyright, Fair Use, & Public Domain, since this is the lesson that establishes the precedent that we can't take things from the Internet just because they're there.
If you're confused about the difference among the three terms, you're not alone, so here's primer: Copyright is the law that protects the works of authors, artists, and composers from having their work copied without permission. Fair use allows the use of a limited amount of copyrighted material for educational purposes as long as the user uses only a small part of it and doesn't use the material for profit. Finally, works that are part of the public domain aren't copyrighted and can be used without permission, although credit should be given. (If you'd personally like to learn a little more about these terms, check out this site from the Provo Library site or this one from Copyright Kids.)
What follows is the result of quite a bit of trial and error on my part, as it took me a few years to figure out the subtle differences between these terms AND how I could effectively teach them so my students could discern the difference, too. The best thing I've found? Keep it simple! Don't overload your students with too much information, as they'll inevitably tune you out and do the exact opposite of what you're trying to teach them.
Research Chunk #1
How to Teach Copyright, Fair Use, & Public Domain
- Show students this introductory interactive from Cyberbee. Clarify for and discuss with students any misconceptions they may have about these terms.
- With students in grades 7-8, we play the Copy Quiz Game Show and I sometimes modify the questions. With students in grades 4-6, we do a hands-on activity that effectively drives home the point about taking things that aren't theirs.
- I show this creative commons video from Common Craft to students in grades 7-8, and this one to students in grades 4-6.
- I review this graphic with the students, make it available on my class website, and print out a copy for the students to keep in their research binders.
- Finally, all students take this online quiz to assess what they've learned.
After all of this, the students generally get a pretty good sense that they have to stop and think before they grab something off the Internet. They also tend to become a bit despondent, asking "Well, what CAN I use?" To make it easier on them, I provide two resources:
- My Symbaloo site with a plethora of links to public domain websites for images, video, and audio.
- This helpful, informative guide to searching for licensed images on Google
If you'd still like to sample more of what's out there, I'd recommend the following sites:
- Copyright Confusion - Lesson plans on copyright and fair use for grades 6-8
- Greeley Schools - Perfect for grades 4-6, and provides links to classroom handouts
- Copyright Kids - Not the most easily-navigated site, but a useful reference tool
- Teaching Copyright - This five-lesson curriculum guide for junior high and high school students is thorough and comprehensive, and it take the guess work out of it for you.
- Copyright Flowchart - The end-all and be-all of copyright, creative commons, and fair use.
What works for you in your classroom? Do you have any resources to share when it comes to copyright, fair use, and public domain? Let me know!
Feel free to share my resources with others as well. But also please remember to give me credit, too! It's only fair. :-)
Image created at MemeGenerator