Monday, February 1, 2010

Internet Research Skills

“Basic research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing”

– Wernher von Braun

Recently, we received a request to cover research skills in the classroom. While many lessons offer a research component, there appear to be very few K-12 schools requiring research skills as a core competency. In the 21st century, shouldn’t we require students to be fluent in research methods upon graduation, instead of waiting until college where many students have to scramble to learn these skills (or not) on the fly? Feel free to discuss on our Facebook and Twitter pages. In the meantime, here are some resources for the classroom.

Internet Research Assistant
Subjects: Information Literacy, Research skills
Grade: 9-12

Interested in putting your students to work? In this extended activity, students become Internet Research Assistants to school staff or to other members of the community. Tackling any topic, students must use various search engines, evaluate Web sites and the information they find, and cite their sources. This lesson, written by Janice Kesel of the Waverly Community School District (MI) is aligned to Michigan state standards.

I like that this lesson has real-world applications. Students provide a service to someone in their local community by researching a subject or problem and packaging the data for presentation to their “client,” which is exactly what professional researchers do. This activity could also make for a good community service project.

Wading Through The Web: Teaching Internet Research Strategies
Subjects: Language Arts, Research skills
Grade: 6-8

Just because it’s on the Internet, it must be reliable information, right? In this lesson, students learn to evaluate and cite Internet sites in their quests to become more effective and efficient researchers. What I like about this lesson is that students get hands-on experience conducting Internet research, as well as learning the differences between various types of both traditional and non-traditional research materials. Offered by ReadWriteThink, a project of the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, this peer-reviewed lesson is aligned to NCTE/IRA Content Standards.

Internet Investigations: Unsolved Mysteries
Subjects: Information literacy, Research skills, Language Arts
Grade: 4-5

So, the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot were sailing in the Bermuda Triangle when…..What? You’ve heard this one already? Oh. Well, nevermind. Anyway, in this lesson, students become Internet gumshoes as they uncover what’s fact and what’s fiction in a variety of unsolved mysteries. Students use a variety of print and online resources to research topics and evaluate their sources of information. One of the things that I like about this lesson is that students are required to sift through conflicting information accounts, and use their reasoning skills to form their own opinions as to the veracity of each mystery. This lesson was created by Ruth Sunda at Kyrene de las Brisas Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona.

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