Research 101 & Google Suite Skills: Choose & Develop Topic

Earlier this month I expressed a concern about the need for research skills. Since then, I began formulating how I would go about teaching middle school students.

Research is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: 

"studious inquiry or examination; especially :  critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation having for its aim the discovery of new facts and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or the practical applications of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws"

Like the importance of the word "librarian",  the word research should be used.  Digital, information and news literacy are a part of research. Those titles are created by educators who have experienced the Internet's information explosion.  For our students, digital is their world, ease of access and information overload is all they have ever known.   Let's teach them how to research, plain and simple in this complicated world of information!

Students would be encouraged to explore their personal passions and choose individualized projects in this course. Google Suite skills are part of this unit because students lose focus on research when trying to figure out how to correctly use apps.  

Preparing for research, knowing how to ask questions and knowing how to use digital tools are an important part of research, this is how I would teach students how to choose and develop a topic using Google Suite tools:

UNIT ONE: Intro/Choose & Develop Research Topic

Students will understand what Information Literacy means and why it is important: how to ask open questions, how to use technology, digital tools and the Internet to perform inquiry-based research.  Students will pick their own topic to research and work on for the semester/year. 

Lesson 1: Students will have a clear understanding of key Vocabulary Terms
Internet, Web Browser, Search Engine, Parse, Search Term, Keyword, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Web Address, URL, Apps, Extensions, 

Lesson 2: Students will think about topics that that they are passionate about, questions they have wondered about, and subjects they are excited to learn about.   Students will create this list in Google Docs.  

  •  WAFFLES (rainbow and black/white)
    • teach what it is and how it can be personalized to increase productivity
  •  DOCS
    • rename your untitled document "your name Research Ideas"
    • change font, color & size of one item in list
    • bullet or number the list
    • center one item
    • right justify one item
    • left justify one item
    • highlight in any color the topics on list you are MOST excited about
    • strike-through the ones you are LEAST excited about
    • add page numbers
    • add a header or footer
    • rename your document "Your Name Research Ideas"
    • create 2 columns - definitely interested in research, kind of interested
    • insert a picture of yourself
    • spell check your Doc
    • make a copy of the Doc and retitle it "Your Name Shared Ideas"
    • share your Doc with teacher and with your class partner
    • find your Doc in your drive
    • find your partner's Doc in your drive
    • create a folder for this project title "Research Project Name"
    • open the untitled items in your Drive
    • delete what is blank
    • rename what you are keeping
    • create folders for the work in your Drive "7 Science" (Grade level Subject)
    • color code your folders
    • explain at end of year all grade 7 work you are keeping should go in to a folder titled "7th Grade" to prepare for 8th grade work
    • delete what you do not need
    • review Gmail main screen
    • create labels for your classes
    • open settings and review all of the options
    • create a signature
    • upload an image
    • select stars
    • change font
    • review compose email feature
    • compose a formal email that you would send to teacher, employer, etc
  •  Open your partner's Shared Idea Doc and use checklist above to proof - DO NOT FIX FOR THEM.  Type comments to note what needs to be fixed. 
  • Compose a formal email to your partner & cc your teacher when you are complete with proofing their idea list
Lesson 3:  Students will turn three of their topic ideas into questions and learn how to do preliminary research. 
  • Students will begin using online reference sources starting with the Britannica Encyclopedia.  Students will understand how to use Britannica, 
    • how to choose keywords (using Google to help find keyword only)
    • how to search for articles and related articles & media
    • how to email and cite articles
    • how to find already vetted information on the Internet through Britannica
    • how to use FIND shortcut to scan for information
  • Students will review how to use the Discover library catalog to search for print and digital sources related to their topics
    • Students will learn to use the Discover extension, app, and mobile app
  • Students will pre-research a few of their topics and read related articles.
  • Students will understand open-ended questions and how research creates more questions
  • Students will choose one topic and in a Google Doc type a list of questions they seek to answer through their research
Collaboration: Students will be meet with teacher in small groups to fine tune or adjust their topic based on this pre-research steps
ASSESSMENT:  Students will create a Google Doc with organized list of open-ended questions and sub-questions they plan to research for their chosen topic (and that they will knowingly add to as research progresses).  Student will name the Doc, file it in the Research folder in their Drive, and share it with the teacher.   Teacher will use this for assessment. Teacher will also monitor students progress and understanding through observation and conversations with students. 


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