Research is one of the hardest skills to teach, and, in the past, my efforts have had limited success. This year, I have rethought my approach and have broken the process down into (hopefully) easily digestible steps.
I asked them how many of them had done a research project before, and fewer than half raised their hands. I was expecting this, mostly because of the school's lack of resources for facilitating research (no library and no functional computer lab before this year). I told them that we would be taking it step by step to make the process easier for them.
My students will be creating Google sites about their topic that they chose, so I explained how important it is to make sure that their website is factual and contains accurate information.
After we used Schoology to post our research questions and topics, installed our Diigo toolbars and learned how to bookmark sites, we spent a class period learning how to evaluate sites. I provided them with four sites and gave them a chance to review the sites for about 5 minutes, deciding which ones were real and which ones were fake. This is the page for the activity.
After they had a chance to view the sites, we grouped together and, using the criteria, explored whether each site was real or fake.
- is it a blog?
- can anyone post here?
- is it an educational or government site?
- who is the author?
- can I find this information anywhere else on the web?
Using the criteria list, my students created an acronym to help them remember the criteria for evaluating sites. They came up with one that, to an outsider, might not make a lot of sense, but I know will be helpful to them. The beauty of it is that it was created by them, for them.
Who is the author?
Information somewhere else?
I am excited by their engagement in the lesson and I believe that this activity, and my deliberate attempt to move slowly through the research project will ensure successful websites and a successful research process.
I will keep you posted.....