Thursday, January 22, 2015

Collaboration Sharing Research Tools With 8th Grade English

I'm in my 5th year as a library media specialist (LMS) at Lakeside High School. I am so fortunate to have great working relationships with our faculty. Both Misti Bell (also a LMS at Lakeside High) and I are frequently asked to present sessions on research tools and technology. It is exactly what I envisioned when I entered this career field! I hope the school library will always be a place teachers and students come to seek assistance with research and tech tools!

Recently, I had the opportunity to do a full day of sessions to one section of our 8th grade English classes. Mrs. Mari Simmons requested that I share Britannica School and EasyBib as preparation for a small research project on poets that her students will complete using Prezi. I enjoy sharing these tools with all ages, but especially 8th graders because it is their first taste of the research process at the high school level. If we can get them comfortable with this process at the beginning, it will make a huge difference in their journey as life long learners.

I used this opportunity to remind them how to access our library website (Mrs. Misti Bell did a wonderful job building this website using Google tools). I then showed them how to access Britannica School and how to access the articles they need. I demonstrated how they can email documents to themselves and how to create an MLA citation. Most online encyclopedias and databases now have this wonderful feature! It is a much better experience than when I was in high school!

I also shared some tactics for finding credible websites. Britannica School has a feature called "The Web's Best Sites". Their staff have reviewed the websites listed in this area, so it saves students time since the site evaluation has been done! I also encourage them to start with .edu and .gov sites. If they find sites within the .com or .org domains, I remind them to investigate who the author(s) might be and what credentials they hold.

Mrs. Simmons and I then showed them how to use EasyBib to create an MLA citation for a website (outside of Britannica School). After this instruction, they are ready to begin researching their poets. When they are finished finding facts, they will jump into Prezi to begin their presentation.

These students will return in preparation for their major research paper in a few weeks. At that time, I will share databases like EBSCO's Student Research Center. This is also a great time to remind them about the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) to help them find relevant print materials. Even though I have presented this material many times to almost every grade in the building, it is still one of my favorite things to do.

In the next entry, I'll share how I used Twitter in this particular session to show students how to reach out to organizations like Britannica School. It was the first time I had tried using Twitter in this way, and it worked great! Go here for the story!

Are you new to Twitter? Me too! Check out my intro to Twitter article here.

Interested in Common Core collaboration in the school library? Here is one of our first programs with 8th grade back in 2012 that led to many, many more!

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