Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rethinking, Revamping and Revisitng Research! - & InstaGrok!

Every so often, every teacher has a lesson that needs a little adjustment. It is just part of the job. Throughout each lesson, each activity, each practice, each discussion, we analyze how well our students are demonstrating understanding and adjust to improve outcomes. This week I found I needed to make some adjustments to help my student researchers in 2nd and 4th grade.  (To read earlier blog posts on the beginning of our research, check out 2nd Graders Find Inspirations for Research From Isabella and Alexander & Information from Kids Infobits!  and  Students Research Using The Notability App & The "You Wouldn't Want To Be..."Series As Inspiration)

For my 2nd grade researchers, I found that I needed an additional resource because Kids Infobits, a wonderful resource for research, was slightly too advanced for my 2nd graders. Kids Infobits gave students a little too much information for them to manage. Once I realized that I needed an additional resource, I decided to have students use This website gave just the right amount of biographical information and in small bite size pieces for my young researchers. Each biography included a summary of the great leader's accomplishments, a short video documentary, a list of quick facts, together with a short synopsis. I was able to help students avoid biographies that might cover mature topics by linking students directly to the "search" page of the site.  There were advertisements on each bio. I typically prefer to avoid ads when I select a tool for my students, but this site was too perfect in every other way, so we endured the Home Depot & Crest Whitening Strips ads. Finally, because all the students were using the same website, teaching them to cite their source was streamlined because much of the citation information would be the same for each student. 


My 4th grade students were just beginning their research projects when I discovered a new educational research tool called InstaGrok, a web and app based search tool that presents the search findings in an interactive concept map. Thanks to Bobbi Capwell, educator from Texas and part of my Twitter PLN for the tip about InstaGrok! After checking out the tool, I knew it would help my students gather facts while also organizing their newly found information. We tried it this week with fantastic results! Students could control the difficulty level of the web sources, it helped students keep track of their sources for citations, and it gave them a journal page to begin writing!

For a quick infomercial on InstaGrok...

This week was a great learning week for Oak Hills students and their library teacher! We all learned about new tools that would help us become better researchers!