Research and Presenting

We are doing research projects in Grade 10 English. Here is how 300% of students approach a research project:

– On the internet, google “google” to find google. (Not kidding. They do this. They google “gogle” too.)
– Type in research subject
– Go to first website, most likely wikipedia
– Open PowerPoint
– Start to copy and paste information into slides

I explained to students that I could probably train a monkey to transfer information from one place to another. It’s a lateral move that requires no thinking and no learning. So with this research project, the goal has been to try to break this pattern and insert some critical thinking and creativity into researching.

Step one: Let them know that (shocker!) not all websites are reliable. I co-teach period one English, and as my co-teacher put it, you don’t want to be getting the information for your research project off some sweat pant clad basement dweller’s blog. (I may or may not be wearing sweats in my basement….but that’s irrelevant). It’s fun to illustrate this point with a few unreliable websites that look pretty legit, such as:
http://www.thedogisland.com/
http://www.dreamweaverstudios.com/moonbeam/moon.htm
http://www.bigredhair.com/boilerplate/

Step two: Teach them some ways to determine if a website is reliable or not.
See: resource cred check

Step three: Get them to answer all the questions on the resource credibility check sheet with the websites they’ve found on their topic.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well they took to checking their websites! A few students even found that their websites were not credible – or as they put it, were “written by sweat pants guy.”

Another step to try to prevent too much brainless copying and pasting is to limit what presentation methods students can use.

Why You Can’t Use PowerPoint

Animoto is great because students really have to pick out their main ideas and say thing succinctly. Prezi is great because it’s similar enough to PowerPoint that students who are afraid of something new feel comfortable using it, but different enough that they can’t mindlessly copy and paste. That’s the hope anyway! I’ll let you know how it goes…..and hopefully we don’t end up with any presentations about dog island.

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