Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Effective Search Resources - a short list

student at computer from classroomclipart.com
fr. Classroomclipart.com
Doing effective research is a core skill (some would say 'life skill') that students need to learn effectively. And, one of the design considerations for Common Core is to blend research and media skills into the standards overall. (I've noted specific 5th grade Writing standards at the end of the post, below).  The CCSS include 'research' in ELA Language, Writing, and in the "Literacy for History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects" section of the ELA standards. Whew! It's everywhere!

Some primary components of effective research are
  1. using appropriate search terms
  2. looking carefully at the results and evaluating them for efficacy
  3. rephrasing/rewriting/combining the information into the student's own words
  4. appropriate citing of the source (including images, text, video) (We'll circle back to this one specifically in a future post.)
Unfortunately, students do not have an innate ability to do effective search. Many tend to think of any information available on the internet as 'freely available' to reuse/borrow/steal. As teachers, we need to explicitly instruct them in how to accomplish effective search, from thinking of the best terms that will likely give useful results, to thoroughly gauging the credibility of the sources, and then citing those results, appropriately.

Here's a very good set of lesson plans from Google Search Education to practice these search/research skills:
  • Picking the right search terms
  • Understanding search results
  • Narrowing the search for best results
  • Searching for evidence for research tasks
  • Evaluating credibility of the source
All of the modules- broken out as Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced, are valuable. But, if time were an extreme constraint (when is it not?), I'd focus first on "Picking the right search terms," and "Evaluating credibility of the source."

Google's Lesson Plan Map does a very good job laying out the progression, the essential questions, skills to be gained, and the CCSS and NETS standards addressed. Too bad there is no direct links back to the lessons themselves, but still a useful page to ground and focus the effort.

Here are some other very valuable resources:

On credibility, Catlin Tucker's blog post here does an excellent job of helping students walk through the process. The focus is also on Common Core, an added bonus. The "Got Credibility?" form, by itself, is a winner, helping students walk through structured questions about the potential source. Good stuff!

Richard Byrne's FreeTech4Teachers site has a wealth of info about effective search. Here are two links to posts of his I really like:

Google Search and Common Core
Using Images as Research Prompts for Better Google Search Results
10 Google Search Tips all Students can use - a good one page pdf with some excellent search ideas

And...if you still need convincing, here's a recap of (only) the Grade 5 CCSS ELA writing standards:

7.  Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic

8. Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.

9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
a.     Apply grade 5 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or a drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g., how characters interact]”).
b.     Apply grade 5 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point[s]”).

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