Week 5: Research

This week, I learned about research models and the research process. I used the 5 Star Research method, which is LWSD’s adapted version of the Big 6. There are five steps:

  1. Plan – What is my topic/subject? What questions do I have? What key words will I search for?
  2. Gather – What databases can I use? What websites are helpful? What print resources are there?
  3. Organize – Take notes on each source. Evaluate each source. Keep track of where I found each resource.
  4. Share – Present my findings (paper, project, electronic presentation, oral presentation) and cite resources.
  5. Evaluate – Did I follow the requirements? Did I answer my research questions from Step 1? Reflect on the process.

I knew I wanted to find resources on integrating technology in elementary literacy instruction. Before reading about the different search engines and trying others out, I would have normally only used Google. This time, I tried and compared the search results from Bing, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Yippy, typing in the same key words in the search bar. It was interesting to see the different ways each search engine organizes the information and to see which ones had less “noise.” I preferred Google and continued my search. I also used ERIC Ebscohost from the SPU library site.

For the gathering phase, it was extremely helpful to have an organized place to keep track of the resources I liked. Within a few minutes of searching, I had too many tabs open on my browser to keep them straight. When conducting research with my students, I will provide a note-taking template for each source. The vast amount of information on the Web can be overwhelming, so though I appreciated exploring other search engines, I’d have my students choose from a limited list (LWSD student portal research databases).

To share my findings, I wrote an annotated bibliography, including a summary of the source and how it could be applied to my classroom. To create the citations, I used the technology tool, Easybib. I would highly recommend using a bibliography creator with students.

When I introduce a research project to my students, I will use the 5 Star Research process. I anticipate students having challenges knowing what words to use as keywords and determining if the source is legitimate and relevant without reading the entire text. Perhaps I will need to model these sub-steps and provide practice.

Teaching Safety Net, research comes up most when the students need background knowledge on a topic. For example, last week my students performed a reader’s theater called “The Pluto Debate.” In the play, characters were planets on trial to determine whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet. My students had no idea how a courtroom functioned nor much about Pluto. We did some research as a class on the solar system, critical attributes of planets, and the roles of people in a courtroom. However, I led the research mostly because I was heavily screening for sources that were written at level the 3rd graders could understand. Next time, I will begin modeling how I decide what words to use in the search bar and how I decide whether or not to click on a source.

Having research skills is critical to being an active member of society, in my opinion. The internet has an amazing wealth of valuable information, but can be useless if the user does not know how to go about researching a topic effectively.

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