My last post introduced you to three anchor standards from the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards require students be taught how to research, analyze, and reflect on topics and texts. I want to focus on anchor standard seven which states:
- "Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation."
I think one of the biggest challenges teachers and students face when researching a topic is the simple fact the material is too difficult for students to read. Therefore, students need scaffolding to assist them in understanding the content so the content will stick (to the velcro). So let's look at the tools to help you provide the biggest scaffold.
Aurasma - I absolutely love this app! I love it because I can customize the user experience, which is why it is the tool that can provide the biggest scaffold for a student. To be honest, your options are limitless. For example, let's say I want a student to read an article online but I know it may be a little difficult. So I create a trigger image for students to scan. When scanned, a video will pop up to help the student in some way. It could be a video with directions, a video to help build background, or a video lesson. Once watched, the student can then tap on the video to read the article online.
ThingLink - I typically use ThingLink when students are researching to allow them to curate all of their resources into one easy location. This way they can refer back to the resources throughout the unit. However, piggybacking off of the idea above with Aurasma, I could see how ThingLink would be a great way to house the sites, videos, etc. students would need when doing research. You could even embed a Google document into the ThingLink for students to take notes.
QR Code Reader - I like to use QR codes to send students to specific sites especially for younger students. This diminishes the time factor problem that always arise when allowing students to actually search for their own resources. It also ensures students are reading the appropriate materials at their level.
Pinterest - Have you ever thought about using Pinterest for your class instruction? I have never tried it out myself but this is how I imagine it to work. Create a class Pinterest account. Whenever you are doing research students could pin content to a specific board named for the unit. Every student would have access to the findings which would be super helpful. I would think you could set a timer for pinning. Another way to use Pinterest would be to have students actually do the research within Pinterest. There is such valuable information on Pinterest with a wide range of topics. One last option would be to actually have content already pinned to a board for students to research. This would be especially appropriate for the younger students.
Newsela - This is by far one of my favorite online resources for reading nonfiction articles. What I love about this tool is it can be differentiated for each student. Create a classroom account, add your students, and assign the article. The differentiated part is each article can be read at different Lexile levels. Just assign the appropriate level to the appropriate student at their "just right" level. It is that simple! Other great features include the ability for students to take online quizzes as well as highlighting and note taking feature. This is great for close reading assignments. It looks like there is a Pro option which would allow the teacher to track student progress and results.
National Geographic Young Explorers - My last tool is for the little ones. I love this site! My only wish is that it worked on the iPads. I guess it could if you had a flash enabled app. Anway, this is a great site to use with K-1 students doing research. Remember, even the little ones have shared research projects. Students can listen to and read online magazines; most written about animals.
So now you know six of my favorite tools for exploring content. However, I'm not finished exploring this topic. Next I want to show you a few simple tricks you can use to teach anchor standard 8. So be sure to subscribe by email so you don't miss out!
What are tools you use in the classroom? I'd love to hear more about them.