April 12

Information Credibility – Research for Public Speaking

It is public speaking time at the OJCS, which means most grades are engaged in doing research for their speeches.  The following is a lesson for our grade 7s and 8s (although it can be used across most grades) that explains how we determine if the sources we want to use for our research are credible.  Going through numerous examples will help us understand who is publishing what kinds of content online and why.

So the key things we need to pay attention to when we are searching for information online:

  • Just because something is online, it doesn’t mean that it’s true or reliable.  Which means that when you are doing research for your public speaking and ANY OTHER PROJECT, that the websites you use for your research must be quality ones.
  • Where, Who, What, When
  • WHERE is the content published?  What type of website are you finding this information on?  This can determine what the angle or bias might be.
  • What is the purpose of the website where I am finding this information?
  • WHO – look for the author of the source you are reading from.  Try to find out a bit about the author to ensure they are an expert.
  • WHAT is the point of view of this site?  Is this information balanced or biased?
  • Always follow the RULE OF THREE – use three sources of information for whatever topic you are researching.
  • WHEN was this information published online?

How can I find out if my author is an expert on the topic?

Let’s imagine that I am doing my project on the benefits of social media on mental health.  Which type of experts would be the most knowledgeable on this topic?  For each student that will depend on what your topic is.  In my case, it would definitely be psychologists, social workers, and social scientists.

Let’s explore how I would go about determining the credibility of the following sources;

The first Google Link that comes up in my search is an article titled 13 Positive Effects of Social Media.  What do we notice right away about this site and the author of this article?  Are they psychology experts?  What is the purpose of this site?

This is the second article that comes up.  It is called 7 Positive Effects of Social Media.  What can we learn about this site and this author?

Here is the third article listed Social Media Use Can Be Positive For Mental Health and Well-Being.  Who published this?  Is the author an expert?

Next one: Pros and Cons of Social Media.

And finally, this one is a .org, which means it is a non-profit organization.  Does that mean it is always the best choice?  Let’s find out a bit more about this by looking at the author of 5 Reasons You Don’t Need to Worry About Kids And Social Media.  Now for public speaking purposes, maybe the opinion of a parent is perfectly fine.  But were you doing this project for a social science research project, this author wouldn’t cut it.

Now let’s compare a few YouTube Links!

Positive Benefits of Social Media 

Is Social Media Good For You?

NOTE: it was REALLY challenging to find expert content on YouTube!  I had to filter through many many videos.

Today’s Exercise:

You are going to spend the rest of the period finding three credible and reliable sources that you can use for your public speaking project.  Make sure you copy and paste the links so you don’t lose them!

February 15

Crocodile Storytime

Today We Read:

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

and

Imagine You Are A Crocodile by Karen Wallace and Mike Bostock

Crocodile Activity – Fill in the Facts Sheet

We just learned many new things about crocodiles from the book Imagine You Are A Crocodile.  Teachers can print this facts sheet for their whole class and students can fill in the facts sheet by writing or drawing some of the things they’ve learned about crocodiles.  If you would like to share them with me, send them to b.ruel@theojcs.ca and I will post them on this page!

If you have any trouble viewing this facts sheet, just email me and I can send you the document!

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October 8

Taking Great Notes For Research

A Grade 4 Workshop

To have a great research project, students need to know where to find quality, credible information, and they need to learn how to take great notes during the research portion of their work.  This was the subject of our two grade 4 workshops today.

After learning about the importance of finding credible and reliable sources to work from, they learned how to put their notes in their own words.  They also learned about the importance of never, ever copy and pasting information.

Their assignment was to take some great notes on the bug of their choice.  They had a lot of fun with it and were very focused on the task!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the slides presentation from the workshop.

I had a lot of fun running this workshop and hope our students take away some very valuable skills.

January 5

Digital Citizenship Workshop – Facts vs. Opinions

Today we listen to the story;

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex

Afterwards we will complete a short assignment to make sure we understand the difference.  Understanding the difference between facts and opinions is another way we can be great digital citizens.  There is so much information online presented as a fact when it is actually just an opinion.  And in this book we learn how important it is to listen respectfully to the opinions of others even if we don’t agree with them.  This is especially true online when we make comments on each other’s blogs and social media.

 

December 14

Reaching Students Through Nearpod

As a part of my professional development this year, I had the goal of using Nearpod to create lessons that could reach students that I could not see in person.  I wanted to start by creating lessons that would cover essential research skills and then move them on to working on digital citizenship and media literacy.  To that end I created four lessons to date that work to engage students and allow them to practice new skills along the way.

Research Skills

The first one that I created was Using Keywords.  The goal here was to teach students how internet search works, how to search effectively using concise keywords, and to give students a chance to try it out for themselves.  They also learned how generate keywords for much larger search questions.  And finally, I present them with many kid-friendly research sources.  This workshop can be used from grades 4-8 but is specifically for our 4-6s.

The second lesson I created is called In-Text Citations and Bibliographies and was designed specifically for middle school.  Upon entering middle school, citations and bibliographies take on a new level of importance.  This lesson explains to students how critical citations and bibliographies are in avoiding plagiarism.  It demonstrates through a tutorial how to use the citation and bibliography creation tool in Google Docs and it also allows students the opportunity to practice these skills with built-in assignments.

Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy

This lesson on cyberbullying was designed for our 4-6s.  It is a quick lesson on what cyberbullying is and the different forms it takes, how to stop bullies who are bothering you, and how to be an upstander.  This lesson is based more on discussion and collaborative boards than assignments.

And finally, the lesson that I am most proud of and the one that is the culmination of years of running my library workshops is my Nearpod lesson on Information Credibility.  This covers a broad range of topics and is meant to give students a comprehensive knowledge of different forms of misinformation.  It includes several built-in assignments and is a much longer lesson that could cover two periods or more.

It is my hope that these lesson become a valuable resource to our teachers and can be used year after year.  It is also my hope that they can be used in other schools to facilitate teaching these key skills.  I am looking to solicit feedback from any teacher who uses these lesson with their classes.  Please post your feedback in the comments here or send me an email b.ruel@theojcs.ca

 

October 19

Ontario Cities Research Workshop With Grade 3

You are going to be starting a project on cities in Ontario.

Let’s start by looking at a non-fiction book and learning how to use them for our research.

What is non-fiction?

Table of Contents?

Index?

Now how can we search for information about our city on Google.  Let’s open up our internet browsers and find out.  We can get very specific with our keywords to find key information for our research project.  For example, if we want to answer the question what is the population of Ottawa Ontario, what could my keywords be?  What about if my questions is; what are Ottawa’s famous landmarks?  

It is really important to remember that we never need to type a long question into Google.  All you need are keywords!  Keywords help us to find the best possible sites on our topic.

What search engines can we use if we want really kid-friendly information?

https://www.kiddle.co/  – Is by far the best one in my humble opinion.

Now your project involves making a short newscast about your city.  Let’s take a minute to look at some great examples of kid-friendly news videos.

Elements of a news report…

  • Welcome everyone and introduce yourself.
  • Make sure your story contains The 5 Ws!  
  • Fill your newscast with important and interesting information.  Example, lots of key facts, interesting facts.
  • You can use video clips and photos as props to help your newscast be more visually interesting.
  • Present your ‘story’ with lots of energy and enthusiasm.
  • You can include commentary and interviews with others in your presentation.  For example, if someone has visited your city, you could include an interview with them where you find out what their favourite tourist destination in that city was, their restaurant recommendations, etc…
  • Kid-friendly news sites;

https://www.cbc.ca/kidsnews/

https://www.dogonews.com/

https://teachingkidsnews.com/

 

June 1

Research Skills Continued – Taking Great Notes

How to Take Great Notes for Our Research Project

You are going to watch a video that takes you step by step through the process of taking notes for research.

Use Your Own Words When You Take Notes

One key thing to remember however, is to never copy word for word from a website or book.

During our first research workshop I use the example of a research project I am doing on tigers.  So if this is what the website says:

The short notes on my page might look like this;

-Tigers have an orange coat with dark stripes
-Tigers weigh about 450 pounds
-It has claws as long as house keys
-It is the largest cat in the world

Notice how I didn’t just copy each sentence exactly as it was?  When you copy things exactly, that is called PLAGIARISM and it is a no-no.  We need to try to avoid copying word for word as much as we can.  The only exception is copying down a FACT.  Something that is a fact never changes.  So if it says a tiger weighs 450 pounds, that is what I need to copy down in my notes.  I can’t invent a new number!!

Putting it Together

Once you have a page of notes about your subject, you can start putting your information together in proper sentences and paragraphs without any fear of plagiarism because you wrote little notes in your own words.  Here is what some sentences based on my notes would look like.  Notice how it looks nothing like the paragraph I found online.

Tigers are the biggest cat in the world weighing in at 450 pounds.  They are orange with black stripes.  They also have claws as long as house keys.

Have fun researching your projects.  I can’t wait to read them!

May 27

Grade 2 Research Skills Live Lesson May 27th

When you are given a topic (or subject) for a research paper, what’s the first place you look for information?  How do you search?

HU if you have an answer!

Even though Google is really good at understanding what you are looking for when you type in or ask a long question, lots of websites you will search are not so good at dealing with a long sentence and too many words.  Google and other sites do not need you type a long question in order to get the most specific information for your project.  They just match the most important words in your search with the websites that best match those words.  So the key to finding the information that will be really specific to what you are looking for is keywords.  This is easy to remember, just think THE KEY IS KEYWORDS!

Keywords are the most important words in your search.  Here is an example.  I am doing a project on Tigers and I need to know how much they weigh.  Instead of typing in the question; how much do tigers weigh?  I can just type in the keywords.

How much do tigers weigh?  — KEYWORDS: Tigers Weight

Here is another example.

How many teeth does an adult tiger have?  — KEYWORDS: Tigers teeth

I get my results like magic!!

What if I just want a page of information all about Tigers?  I would type in a very easy easy keyword:  just TIGERS or TIGER FACTS.

We are all going to open up a new tab next to this meeting and try this out for ourselves using the following questions.  Try and figure out how to run your search with just TWO important keywords per question.

Example 1: My dog is digging in the backyard.  Why is it doing this?

Example 2: My friend just cheated at chess.  What are the rules?

Example 3: Who is the author of the Amulet graphic novel series?

Now sometimes to get the best keywords we need to change a word around.  For the next example, does anyone know what the word is for how much money someone makes in a year?

Example 4: How much money does Justin Trudeau make  per year?

If your essential question for your research project is a bit longer, you will need extra keywords in your search.  Here is an example of an essential question that my daughter came up with for her Genius Hour project.  In order to get great results, she will need more than two keywords.

Example 5: How do professional photographers take such great portraits?

Her Keywords: tips for portrait photography OR professional photography tricks for portraits

Remember, sometimes it will take more than one try and sometimes it will take lots of searches with many different keywords to get the best results.  The good thing is, you can try as many times as you need to until you find exactly what you are looking for!

Kid-Friendly Search Engines

We want to find information that is written for kids to use, not big long complicated websites that we struggle to understand.  That is why there are some really excellent kid-friendly search engines that will get us the best results for our project.

Keeping Track of Your Sources

As you go, keep a list of the websites and books you use.  This information could be the last page of your project.  That page is called a BIBLIOGRAPHY.  It lets your teacher know where you found your information.  As you get older you will need to do this in a proper, structured way.  But in earlier grades, keeping a simple list of books and websites you use is enough.  If the webpage address is very long, it might be hard to type out, which is why we can use copy and paste to copy the URL (the address.)

Here is how you do it;

  • Double click on the webpage URL  in the address bar.
  • Click ‘copy’
  • On your bibliography page click ‘paste’

Done!!

Now you have some basic research skill techniques that will make doing any research project easier!

 

 

 

 

 

February 3

Exploring Non-Fiction With Grade 1

Grade 1 visited the library on Friday for a workshop on exploring non-fiction.  We started off by discussing what some of the differences are between fiction and non-fiction, and grade 1 were already ahead of the game there and understood it quite well.  Non-fiction is a book that focuses on real events and real information.  It is a book we use to learn about something in most cases.

We moved on to talking about some unique parts found in most non-fiction books…

  • The table of contents
  • The glossary
  • The index

I showed them some examples of how we could utilize these parts of the book.

I gave the students a comprehensive walking tour of the non-fiction section of the library.  After that, we played a scavenger hunt game.  Students were given a slip of paper with a subject and a Dewey Decimal number on it.  They were tasked with using what they had learned to locate it.

We all had a lot of fun and grade 1 may now be even more proficient at searching non-fiction than the rest of the school!