Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.

3.1.a Effective Research Strategies

Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.

3.1.b Evaluate Information

Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.

3.1.c Curate Information

Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

3.1.d Explore Real-World Issues

Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories, and pursuing answers and solutions.

Exploring research can bring a sense of excitement to students. The quest for information serves as a compelling motivator, similar to a thrilling treasure hunt. As long as there are valuable insights to uncover, students are likely to remain engaged. However, the journey of discovering information can also become exhausting and discouraging, particularly when the required data is elusive or resources are scarce. How can we inspire our young learners to stay enthusiastic about the research process?

As teachers, we strive for our students to remain engaged at all times. In preparing them for the important task of conducting research, students need to plan and use effective research strategies to locate information for their intellectual or creative pursuits (1.3.a). What are effective research strategies to find information?

When starting a new unit of inquiry, I find that tapping into students’ prior knowledge is an effective way to launch our investigation. As we embarked on our social studies unit focusing on the transformations of the earth, we used Jamboard to collectively compile and record our existing knowledge about these changes.

Figure 1:  Jamboard “What do we know about the earth’s changes?”

After reviewing everyone’s responses, students spent the next few minutes recording their own questions.  They thought of these prompts to guide them: What am I wondering about? What do I want to know?  What do I like to learn? 

Next, we learned about note taking strategies. Using what we are learning in the reading unit and understanding how all these learning areas connect, we reviewed these strategies: Skim & Scan and Boxes & Bullets (1.3.a). 

Skim and Scan

Skimming – previewing and reviewing a text quickly to get an overview and determining the most important ideas. When skimming, you read rapidly through the pages to get a bird’s eye view of the reading material (https://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/readingstrategies/skimming_scanning.html).

Scanning – goes hand in hand with skimming.  When scanning a text, you use keywords to help you find the information that you need without reading the entire passage. Whereas skimming gives you a bird’s eye view, scanning means focusing on locating particular information (https://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/readingstrategies/skimming_scanning.html).

Boxes and Bullets

This is a note taking strategy where you write down the main idea or the primary concepts in boxes, while the supporting details or supplementary information are recorded using bullet points (https://www.edrawmax.com/article/boxes-and-bullets-graphic-organizer.html).

As researchers and knowledge constructors, students need to evaluate information based on its accuracy, credibility and relevance (1.3.b). EPIC (www.getepic.com), a key resource for students, serves as a digital library with a collection of over 40,000 books. Students use EPIC to conduct research on a variety of topics. When students find a book, they can quickly consult the table of contents, skim the pages and scan for the information they are looking for. After reading, students can write reviews about the books they read and make recommendations to their friends. 

My class of 4th graders loves exploring books on EPIC during independent reading sessions. EPIC’s “Read to Me” feature is particularly valuable for young readers just starting to read in English, as it allows them to listen to someone reading while following the text. Beyond Read to Me books, students can also delve into videos and audiobooks, accommodating various reading preferences. They have the flexibility to curate their own collection of books, akin to borrowing a personalized stack from the library to enjoy at different times (1.3.c). They can organize their own collections by genres, such as fiction, nonfiction, mystery and graphic novels. They can also create a collection based on their favorite series, such as Ivy + Bean or Explorer Academy. Students can use topics to organize their collections, such as dinosaur books, or books about space.  

Our final reading unit is all about exploring social issues. Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories, and pursuing answers and solutions (1.3.d). We begin this unit by immersing ourselves in many books that address common social issues, such as Fly Away Home, The Invisible Boy and One Green Apple. An essential skill they will cultivate is the ability to develop perspectives that enhance their comprehension. While researching a chosen social issue, they hone this skill by consulting multiple books on the same topic, fostering a broader understanding. They develop critical thinking skills by examining the themes of books, inferring the author’s message and finding evidence in the text to support their thinking.

Figure 2: Social Issues anchor chart

In addition to using EPIC for their research, students also utilize the electronic databases linked to our school library website, such as Research Rocket, World Book Encyclopedia and BrainPop.

2 Digital Citizen 4 Innovative Designer