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Learning How to Search for Answers...Together.

Learning How To Search for Answers... Together

We are a week away from the big day! Today we spent time learning how to search more effectively on the internet. It is funny what you assume students know how to do. Students know how to "surf the web", but when it comes to a focused topic search, that has eluded many of my students.  My students have carefully crafted a question about their topic, but we have been at a standstill as to what to do next. 

As I often do, I spend time reading the work of other teachers and tech leaders when planning my lessons.  In looking at my student's note taking, I realized we needed a week to learn how to cite from sources and how to take more precise notes. I also noticed that students spend a lot time "surfing" the web looking for things that might be useful, but without the focus needed to do that efficiently. I knew I needed a mini-lesson to structure their search methods.  I turned to www.commonsensemedia.org , a wonderful site for parents, students and teachers. If you haven't had a chance to check it out, make sure you make the time to do so. I have used that site many times as a springboard to our classroom lessons. They are teacher tested, well written, and standards based. 

Today we focused on using  key words to search. When I began the lesson, my  students were pretty annoyed with me. "Mrs. Ilko, we know how to search. We are on the web all the time." So as usual, I pushed back. "Really? Me too! Let me share two new search engines and one strategy for 15 minutes, and you tell me if it makes a difference."  So they grudgingly took notes, and then I let them loose. As I walked around I learned two things. First, many students  had to refine their question in order to get more useful key terms. That in and of itself helped focus the research topic. And second, they needed more scaffolding than I realized, and they were much more successful with that structure.  Something to consider as we move forward with the research project. Lesson of the Day, keep checking in with students. Short observations and quick conferences during the lesson tell so much more than an exit slip. 

Tomorrow we will be continuing the research project. Students will also be selecting their blog posts over the next two days to share with you. I look forward to meeting with them one at a time to revise and post the work. We can't wait for your input!

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Comments

dogtrax's picture

Janet

Thanks for sharing this story. It connects to conversations I had been having with some colleagues relating to a research project they were having our students do, and how frustrating they were getting over the ways that our students were searching (even though I did an entire unit on this earlier in the year!). And just yesterday, as I was giving my students a web address to go to, I had to stop the entire class and talk about the difference between an "address bar" and a "search engine" for navigating on a browser (acknowledging that address bars can be used as search engines ...). It reminded me yet again of how explicit we need to be, and how our role as teachers is so vital in helping our students make sense of the information flow.

Kevin