Saturday, May 3, 2014

Students Research Using The Notability App & The "You Wouldn't Want To Be..." Series As Inspiration!

I am always searching for creative research topics that will motivate my students. It isn't as easy as it looks! Finding topics that students are genuinely curious about, that also have sources they can access at their reading and maturity level can be quite difficult. This is what makes the You Wouldn't Want To Be... series great inspiration for student research! Titles include You Wouldn't Want To Be...
      a Pirate Prisoner!
      an American Pioneer!
      a Greek Athlete!
      an Egyptian Mummy!
      on Apollo 13!
      a Civil War Soldier!
      an Aztec Sacrifice!
      a Polar Explorer!
      sick in the 1600th century!

Many elementary students love books about disasters, shark attacks and mummies. The scarier or creepier the better! The fact that these events are true makes them even more irresistible. New Titanic books always fly off the shelf!  The You Wouldn't Want To Be... series appeals to their curiosity about very real scary events of the past! This series is great inspiration for student research. 

I began the lesson by sharing the books from the series and a few excerpts from several of the books. Then I asked my students a question.  Which historical event or period of time would you not want to live through and why?  

To help with our research, I introduced a great digital tool - Notability! This app gives students an easy way to take notes, cut and paste quotes that they want to remember, cut and paste source information for later citations (EasyBib), gather images, and record their thoughts throughout the research process.  It was my first time teaching with this app, so my students and I learned how to use it together. It turned out that there really wasn't much instruction needed because it was so intuitive for my wonderful young digital natives! (PS. Thanks for Chris Myers, digital learning coach, for alerting me that the price of this great tool had been reduced and was currently free!!)

Following a healthy reminder about the pit falls of occasional unwanted information and images during internet searches, a well traveled topic for my young researchers, I let them go. I wanted them to have the freedom to let their curiosity take them to a question that would really interest them. I was amazed at what they chose. They really embraced the topic! Students only had enough time to begin asking their questions and researching their answers. Stay tuned for our final research findings!

 You wouldn't want to be at the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius!

You wouldn't want to be in the bombing of Pearl Harbor!!

You wouldn't want to live through the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic!

You wouldn't want to be imprisoned at Alcatraz!

You wouldn't want to be a World War II Pilot!

You wouldn't want to be a Japanese Kamikaze!