Given the century we live in and the shift to the CCSS we must introduce our students to web based learning tools. Preparing the new generations for college and career readiness absolutely requires us to ensure our children are competent and comfortable in the use of a variety of digital tools. I enjoy thinking that, just as I never even remotely imagined the technology we have now; neither my first graders of I imagine what they will have access to when they are my age. I do know that making them comfortable and flexible with technology now will improve their chances of success tomorrow. A great proportion of students have access to electronic devices, but use them mainly for entertainment (games, movies, reading and educational programs). I want to expand their horizons and show them how to gain knowledge from the web, just as they learn from books, lectures and conversations. My school has a high incidence of socioeconomically disadvantaged students and of English learners. One fundamental factor in closing the achievement gap is to give them access to technology at school and to target them specifically so that they can be as comfortable as the rest of the student population when working online. This will be critical with the new assessments. For these reasons, I started planning some lessons that included online resources.
My class had used books to gain information and write reports. For this lesson I wanted them to get the information from a website. This lesson can be done with any topic or appropriate website. Since it was close to Thanksgiving, I chose turkeys.
I told them that they would learn about a topic online, just as they would have to do in high school and college, and write a report or informational paragraph about it. I explained that just like in books, they would be able to go back and re-read, that they would be able to highlight important parts and that they would have to pay attention to both the content and the process of using the computer to do research. Telling them this led to some very eager and engaged students!
I projected the website onto our Promethean board and began by scrolling to show them what the site looked like. I compared this to glancing at pages in a book like they do in the library before they choose a book, or in their anthologies. We read and re-read the first paragraph and I asked them what they thought was important information in it. I try to find many opportunities to ask them questions about texts they are reading or listening to (RI.11) to give them additional practice, and get them used to the idea that they need to focus on the information and be accountable for listening attentively. I highlighted it after they had shown me evidence from the text (which is important within CCSS). We repeated this until their attention lagged. You can see a clip of the process in the resource section.
I copied the highlighted parts on chart paper. As I was doing this I asked some students to do it as well; this is a group that will soon be ready to take on such a project independently. You can hear them tell me what they had found useful in the video in the resource section. When we had all the notes, we read them together. Then they completed a graphic organizer (see resource section for examples and to see how students can make their own).
I told the class that they should use the graphic organizer to write an informational paragraph telling what they had learned about the turkey. They had had previous lessons on writing informational paragraphs using a graphic organizer: Not quite together and It's a process (Days 1,2,3,4 and 5), so I had them work by themselves.
My primary instructional goal was for students to learn that they could find factual information on line and that they could learn from websites just as they learn from books. Therefore, I did a quick informal assessment in the form of "ticket out the door" as we went to recess.
I don't make my students take everything to a final draft. In this case, parent conferences were approaching, and I wanted to have a recent and attractive product, so the children spent about 30 minutes next day, copying a final draft (I had made the editing changes, this time without conferencing) and making a turkey pattern.