Students came in today with a specific idea about their subject and research question, so I distributed the rubric and discussed the project components.
After I took questions, I took the students to two sites: the online databases site that is linked to our school webpage and EasyBib. The students will complete their annotated bibliographies using EasyBib; the annotations can be typed right into the online form. As long as students set up accounts (which they can do with their school e-mail addresses), EasyBib autosaves their work and they can access it from anywhere.
After that, I spent the rest of the time circulating and answering questions. The students have a really hard time evaluating websites for credibility. I repeatedly had to warn them away from blogs and paid essay sites. I showed dozens of students how to suss out who created the webpages they found and how to tell if the person is qualified to write about the topic. This is really tricky sometimes, because the students are so taken in with attractive graphics and layouts. One student even said, "This must be a good source! Who else would write this much and put it on the internet?"
The students caught on to the EasyBib part of the assignment really quickly. The research was the kicker. The funniest thing that happened was when a few of the boys in one class decided to use the "Ask a Librarian" function that we have on our school site. Basically, it's a service that functions like a customer service line on a website. The students chat with the librarian and ask questions. I really think my kids wore out those poor librarians! Apparently, one of the librarians was particularly helpful to one student, so another student tried to dump the librarian he was working with and requested to be connected to the one he thought was better! One librarian suggested that my students share information with each other, because they "were getting a lot of questions about Elizabethan England today."
Yes, they are not the greatest researchers. But they know how to ask for what they want!