Now that students were familiar with using keywords to search for information the Internet, it was time for them to begin conducting research on a topic. We are studying landforms, so students were to select a famous landform to research. I’d created a graphic organizer (GO) with categories where they would write the required information. Categorizing the information helped students organize their writing for later. I kept the required information at a minimum for this first research project. I wanted them to use keywords to find the information, so I included a place for this on the GO. In addition to the required information, students were able to add any information they found interesting.
I used a document camera to display the GO. I modeled writing keywords I would use to conduct the search. After navigating to a website from the resulting search, I read the text aloud until I found the information I needed. I emphasized writing a fragment on the GO about the location of a famous landform instead of the entire sentence. I told students copying word-for-word is plagiarizing, so we just want to take short notes that we would use later to write sentences in our own words. I modeled the same for finding information for the remaining categories. Finally, I wrote two interesting facts.
Each student received a graphic organizer and an iPad. I circulated to assist as students worked. On the GO, they wrote the keywords they would need to begin their search for a famous landform. Most students knew to use keywords famous landforms. If they did not know, another student helped them. They looked at pictures of the various landforms and selected one. Then they conducted a search for their chosen landform. They read and took notes. Some students started to copy the entire sentence, so I reminded them to take short notes. Just like the keyword lesson, students needed to be able to ascertain what parts of the sentence were most important.
I assessed students via a rubric. I was looking for effective use of search keywords, sorting notes into relevant categories, and note-taking. Most students were able to use effective keywords to search and sort notes into categories. Taking brief notes was a challenge for some students because they are so accustomed to writing in complete sentences. As a result of the assessment, I decided to do to a small group mini-lesson on taking brief notes and explaining plagiarism.
To close the lesson, I had students share out what it meant to take brief notes. They would continue researching over the next three days, so I wanted to be sure they fully understood the concept. It is frustrating for students to write full sentences, then have to erase after a reminder to take notes only.