Thursday, July 7, 2011

Six Degrees of Searching

Oh, the Research Paper. An essential requirement, but often I find the purpose - finding, evaluating and synthesizing of sources - to be lost in the process and even product itself. Too often, I assume students can (and will) search effectively among the universe of information available to them. Therefore, I wanted to construct a research paper that mimicked and enhanced search skills while broadening content. Ideally, students focus on what Renzulli (2009) calls "technological skills of inquiry" in order to make effective use of what they find. There are many good reasons to move beyond 'I'll just Google it'... hopefully this project will both necessitate and scaffold that shift.

Paper or Project? Depending on the topic, purpose, and student skill level, the iSearch-style narrative could take the form of a paper, PowerPoint, Voicethread, or other similar form. As long as students can tell a story of their research, the medium is up to you. In addition, consider using a collaborative medium, like Diggo, to create a crowdsourced base of knowledge (and use the annotations as evidence of student writing).

Students should start with a list of proposed search terms and phrases and keep running track of what they actually use as their research progresses. Regardless of the final project medium, the following six ‘degrees’ must be represented in any order (using the listed, or similar, vehicles for information):
1) Filtering Google: Twurdy for reading level
2) Audio: iTunesU, podcasts, NPR ‘Heard on Air’  
3) Visual: Flikr (captioned photos often lead to new sources)
4) Video: YouTube, Vimeo, TeacherTube
5) Crowd-Sourced: Wikipedia, Twitter 
6) Authorities: .gov/.edu/.org/journal (sometimes I will be more specific here)

In a three-part iSearch-style product:
1) relate their purpose of their research and the highlights of what they learned 
2) narrate the process and evaluate the sources using the CARS Checklist [Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, Support]
3) write a metacognitive on the overall process 
Harris, R. (2007, June 15). Evaluating Internet research sources. VirtualSalt. 
Take Away Students increase their awareness of how and why they search through diverse tools, then narrate and analyze the story of their research. This process leads to more critical awareness of their process and an increased quality in their product.

For variations and more formalized versions of the iSearch paper, see Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Renzulli, J.S. (2007). The empire strikes back: Redefining the role of gifted education in the 21st century." Investing in Gifted and Talented Learners: An International Perspective, Selected Papers from the 18th Biennial World Conference, The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. Vancouver: August 3-7, 2009.

No comments:

Post a Comment