You want your students to go online and do some research for some sort of project, essay, story, presentation etc. Time ticks away, students are busy searching and clicking, but are they finding the useful and accurate information they need for their project? All of these above skills can be said to come under the term of information literacy, which tends to fall under a broader umbrella term of digital literacy. This post offers tips and suggestions on how to approach this big topic.
Scroll down to find a handy poster for your classroom too. The topic of researching and filtering information can be broken down in so many ways but I believe the best approach involves:.
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Dan and his colleagues had their students spend a day rotating around different activities to learn more about research skills. Something to think about! Here are three search engines designed for children that look particularly useful:.
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KidzSearch contains additional features like videos and image sections to browse. While not necessarily a bad thing, I prefer the simple interface of Kiddle and KidRex for beginners. This article from Naked Security provides a helpful overview of using child-friendly search engines like Kiddle. For younger children who need to be online but are far too young to be left to their own devices, and for parents and educators that want little ones to easily avoid age-inappropriate content, these search engines are quite a handy tool.
For older children, however, the results in these search engines may be too restrictive to be useful, and will likely only frustrate children to use other means. Another possible starting point for researching with young students is avoiding a search engine altogether. This five-step model might be a useful starting point for your students to consider every time they embark on some research. It can be a worthwhile exercise to add this extra step in between giving a student a task or choice of tasks and sending them off to research.
You could have a class discussion or small group conferences on brainstorming keywords , considering synonyms or alternative phrases , generating questions etc. Mindmapping might help too. It sounds simple but students need to know that the quality of the search terms they put in the Google search box will determine the quality of their results. Med Kharbach has also shared a simple visual with 12 search tips which would be really handy once students master the basics too. The questions help older students learn about choosing keywords, deconstructing questions, and altering keywords.
Entering quality search terms is one thing but knowing what to click on is another. You might like to encourage students to look beyond the first few results. Point out the anatomy of a Google search result and ensure students know what all the components mean.
This could be as part of a whole class discussion, or students could create their own annotations. An important habit to get into is looking at the green URL and specifically the domain. Does the URL look like a well-known site? Is it a forum or opinion site? Is it an educational or government institution? Domains that include. When looking through possible sources, you may want to teach students to open sites in new tabs, leaving their search results in a tab for easy access later e.
Once you click on a link and land on a site, how do you know if it offers the information you need? Teach students how to look for the search box on a webpage or use Control F Command F on Mac to bring up a search box that can scan the page. Ensure students understand that you cannot believe everything you read.
This might involve checking multiple sources. So your students navigated the obstacles of searching and finding information on quality websites. Many students will instinctively want to copy and paste the information they find for their own work. Give students lots of practice writing information in their own words. Younger students can benefit from simply learning how to put information in their own words. Older students could investigate the difference between paraphrasing and summarising.
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This fact sheet from the University of New England might be a useful resource to help with this. There are some free online tools that summarise information for you. For example, students could try writing their own summary and then comparing it to a computer summary. Eric Curts shares a list of 7 summary tools in this blog post. Students also need a lot of practice using quotation marks and citing sources.
The internet can offer a confusing web of information at times. Students need to be shown how to look for the original source of information. For example, if they find information on Wikipedia, they need to cite from the bibliography at the bottom of the Wikipedia article, not Wikipedia itself. Note: I had previously recommended EasyBib as a tool to help with citation. Thank you to reader Jenn who let me know that EasyBib now has advertising and is less easy to use. She found out about CitationGenerator from Chicago Education newsletter.
It looks like a great find to me! There are many apps and online tools to curate, annotate, and bookmark information, however, you could just set up a simple system like a Google Doc or Spreadsheet. Using Wakelet, you build collections of content from around the web. The format and function is simple and clear. Instead, they can focus on the important curation process. Take a look! We know how important it is for students to have solid research skills. But how can you fit teaching research skills into a jam-packed curriculum? The answer may be … mini-lessons!
Try one a day or one a week and by the end of the school year, you might just be amazed at how independent your students are becoming with researching.
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So you can print this out to refer to regularly or share with colleagues. Click here to check out the mini-lessons. Noah was teaching his students about my 5 step process outlined in this post and put together a Google Slides Presentation with elaboration and examples.
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