I've been working on a simple technique with my students lately to ensure that they are reading what they research.
I read an article today about how 'googling' something has reduced research to a quick task of type-copy-don't read as we trust what the top site that google puts up from the search then hand in or bring to a lesson thinking we have done some effective research. Realistically this is just gathering information BUT it isn't research. In my interpretation of the term research it should involve using the first part of the word... RE.....REad, REadjust, REsemble. Therefore taking it apart and REconnecting.
It got me thinking of my past. Where once people might have used a technique I used at university where I would go to the library and read information from a variety of sources, photocopy it, highlight important sections of text that are relevant to my research question and then write an article to take to a seminar.
So why not get students to do this technique electronically!
SO I DID!
Students started of with a question that I set them.
'Why is a species endangered?'
Firstly I directly students to one website that I told them I TRUSTED.
Students selected a species from it and copied the threats to that species and pasted it into a word document.
Students then gathered further information from at least 2 other sources off the net. I want a culture where students collected from more than one source to help counter the issue of bias. Once again students pasted the information into the word document.
Students now have a collection of information to begin reading.
The more able students picked out specifics mentioned in the text and added them to google to gather more specific information about their species.
The next stage is the crucial one as it is where students really start to READ what they have collected. I told students to highlight reasons with a colour and different reasons with different colours. So students would begin to notice whether their species had threats from more than one source.
The colours would then act as a structural jigsaw. Students would create sub-titles for each colour and then rearrange by grouping the colours together. This could allow students to begin to make a visual evaluation. As more of one colour would indicate a greater threat to a species as writers generally they found talked more about more serious threats to the species. So by looking at the amount of each colour students could rank reasons into different levels of importance.
The next step is crucial. I get students to read each coloured section, which often is repetative as different sources often uncover the same reasons for why the species was endangered. Students produce a written summary for each coloured section and so they end up with a thorough process where they have READ information to answer a question.
I have found that the retention of what students research has gone through the roof! It definitely takes a long time for students to do this technique but they are realising the benefits as they are retaining what they are doing and so learning new things from their reading not just falling into the shallow blank googling technique where students and us don't READ!
Here is a quick guide to how I introduced it to students the powerpoint was made by another teacher in the department that I work in and she is fantastic.
I've also attached two pieces of work from students on what they have produced from it.
One has even highlighted their own text to show how they are working on their literacy and highlighting terms to show they are explaining as that was what the question was asking for.