As we begin to implement the Common Core Standards and analyze the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, we know that students must read widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality,increasingly challenging literary and informational texts. Through extensive reading of stories, dramas, poems, and myths from diverse cultures and different time periods, students gain literary and cultural knowledge as well as familiarity with various text structures and elements. By reading texts in history/social studies, science, and other disciplines, students build a foundation of knowledge in these fields that will also give them the background to be better readers in all content areas. Students can only gain this foundation when the curriculum is intentionally and coherently structured to develop rich content knowledge within and across grades. Students also acquire the habits of reading independently and closely, which are essential to their future success.
Here are some of the ways our students are conducting research in the classrooms. My favorite website to use for research these days is Instagrok. You can change the reading level of your searches by sliding the bar at the top of the page, which is helpful and you can build your own Journal to share with students or they can create their own journals of notes.
Another favorite research tool is SC Discus. Students can create workspace projects as they conduct their research. Students using iPads take screen shots of photos and upload photos into their digital stories and into Apps such as Skitch. They also upload their creations into Edmodo to share with others.
Students need folders with graphic organizers available for writing down their thoughts as they conduct their research. Have the key concepts you’d like for them to find outlined in the graphic organizer. Many students have enjoyed using the website Jog the Web for webquests that are already created. They use the laptops to look for the information that the teachers asked for in the graphic organizers. Some excellent graphic organizers are SmartArt in Word and the App Popplet allows you to insert links to videos and photos.
Students using iPads have enjoyed using the App StoryKit to create their own textbooks using photos, their own paintings, recordings of their voices, and typing their findings on each page.