I ask students, "How many times have you walked into a room and forgotten what you came in for or wanted to say?"
I add that I just did this at lunch when I was going to ask Mrs. K a question and was interrupted,. By the time it was my turn to talk I had forgotten what I was going to tell her. I kept wishing I had written it down.
I share today's objective - that its the same way when we write a research reports. There is so much information that we read that we can easily get confused or forget what we just read. To prevent this we need to make an organized plan for our writing - this is called a graphic organizer or an outline of our ideas.
Today you are going to learn how to use a graphic organizer to take notes on your research topics to better organize the facts that we collect from books and websites.
I pass out the graphic organizers while students take out their writing folders and I say:
Please take out your thesis statements and their focus questions. Here is my graphic organizer. See where I where I put this information on the thesis and question sections. Now it's your turn. Please write one of your five questions or focus statements in each section.
I now tell students that there is a lot of information on the web that can be confusing. When we search for information if we don't write it in with the right words we may not find the websites we need. To fix this problem there is a simple solution - write the entire questions in the search boxes! I demonstrate how a vague search brings up a variety of websites, but a specific question brings up the information I was looking for.
I also give them a quick lesson on adding a "+ " sign between their research words to help narrow the responding websites.
Students practice with their chosen topics to input research items and a + sign to search for information on the web. They write down websites that give them usable/ readable information and delete those that didn't help them. I have a group of students who didn't have a clue as to what to write in their search boxes. I asked them what question they wanted to ask the computer? I then had them enter their questions rather than research topics to gather information. Did give them the information - only problem was that I also needed to teach them to identify fact sites vs. bloggers or opinions sites.
Off they go! Students now research their topics, adding notes to each section of their graphic organizers.
It may take an additional time allotment or day of research for them to gather enough information for each section of their outline.
I continually circulate and keep my example projected on the board for reference for those who get stuck. I had about 33% of my class demonstrate proficiency with computers/ another 33% who struggled with what to type in the search boxes and what was good and unusable websites, and another 33% who demonstrated poor typing skills, lack of computer command understanding and low search topic understanding. This last group I plan on having parent volunteers help, will email parents to share my concerns and need for their assistance, and offer after school assistance as the project gets more intensive. For now I partnered them with strong "computer" students to build a peer support structure in my classroom.
Some students may be intimidated by the vast amount of research - it is helpful if you can give them some basic sites that offer kid-friendly information to get them started.
I signal time is up for research. This will give us time to come back together to discuss areas of difficulty and areas of success.
I want students to feel successful in their research abilities so we share this to help all students feel they can complete this section independently - some need a little encouragement from me and their peers.
I have students sign up at this time to be peer-helpers so that those who are still struggling can ask them for peers to help when they have computer centers.
To close the lesson I ask, "Why is the ability to research information important in our lives?" I'm looking for students to respond with jobs, knowledge, college, etc. My purpose for asking this is for them to make a personal connection to why they are researching and top value their work through the next weeks. I'm thinking of making a poster of the benefits and uses of computer skills to give them a visual of why they are working so hard and toward what goal they are trying to achieve.