Sunday, May 10, 2015

Let's Research Like It's 1993

The facts that my school has banned use of the Internet due to PARCC testing and that all electronic devices are dedicated to testing made me really consider whether or not to scrap my planned research assignment.  After days of pondering, I came to a startling realization: my students could do research the way that I did research, by reading books and taking down notes.  In order to keep things simple, I changed the research topic to biographies.

Since the media center is closed down for the majority of the day due to PARCC testing, the media specialist agreed to gather biography books and check them out to me to bring back to my classroom.  I explained the assignment to my students and took in their looks of horror when they found out that Google would not be part of their research journey.  They moaned about having to read an actual book, having to write and hearing me state that I was not interested in their complaints.  As they delved into the project, they appreciated that I attempted to make it somewhat interactive by incorporating Loving Lit's templates.  I even followed the suggested project arrangement, which I am encouraging my students to keep as a model since they will have to complete research papers in high school.

As students completed their research paper at different paces, I dispatched the early finishers to help their classmates.  Since my early finishers tend to be my quieter students, this gave them an opportunity to take on a leadership role.  The students that needed a little extra attention in order to finish the assignment appreciated help from their classmates.

In the end, the students agreed on a few things: 1) technology makes it easier to find information and 2) they're glad that they didn't have to live in a world without the Internet like Ms. Ninja.  It's revelations such as these that make life an adventure deep down inside the trenches.

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