Never before have we lived in such a connected world. At our fingertips are opportunities to search regions of the globe and get information from the eyes of people who belong to another culture and analyze their take on a topic or event. Too often, we do not consider this opportunity when we do research; however, this exact consideration can greatly enhance and broaden a research topic.
I have seen students researching hunting find issues related to big game hunting (and big business for African community’s economies) and the impact it has had upon indigenous Bushmen. I have seen students researching homework find out that in Finland there is a unique view on homework and have the ability to compare it to Asian searches for the keyword homework and see that the view on homework is greatly different.
When students look for cultural viewpoints, the following considerations are important:
- Have multiple regions been searched?
- Is the information printed from someone who is a resident of the country being researched or are they reporting out from another country?
- Is the researcher using current information?
- Is the information valid and and trustworthy?
I have designed a Cultural Viewpoints rubric to use with students when requiring that they seek resources from outside of our own culture. I hope that your students find that this skill really enhances their research, too!
Over the years, we have implemented many skills into the research process. Our most popular is definitely the annotated bibliography.
When creating an annotated bibliography, students:
take a better look at the content of their resources
take a better look at the quality of their resources
determine where they will use the resource during the research process
How can that not be a great thing?!
We have our rubric broken up into five sections: Summary, Connections, Source Quality and Authority, Citation Style/Formatting, and Writing . Students most often struggle with connections and source quality/authority. Therefore, they are likely to need the most guidance in those areas (although each should be given a certain amount of guidance).
We hope you like our annotated bibliography rubric!
Image courtesy of:
Proimos, Alex. “New York Public Library.” Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons,
7 July 2011. Web. 26 May 2016.
I love the above image because it illustrates how citations are valued within society. It reinforces that it is important that we back up what we say with evidence from research and scholarly experts. When I teach students what constitutes a quality infographic, I show that the connections to the sources allow people to follow up to learn more. Students writing research paper often see citations as an extra task and can miss the importance of citing. Even so, they must be instructed in the craft of giving credit where credit is due.
We have created a Citations Rubric to help students properly cite information within a written paper. The rubric is designed to take students through the formula of aligning in-text citations with the Works Cited page, to consider the variety of sources used within, citation to citation transition, formatting and placement.
We have our freshmen focus upon this rubric to help them identify each element. Some of our teachers use it as a peer edit tool without an assigned grade while others align it to a grade within the course. Whichever way you choose to use it, we hope that you find it useful.
photo courtesy of:
FutureAtlas.com. “Citation Needed.” Flickr. Yahoo, 30 Oct. 2010. Web. 11 May
How many firearms are sold in the U.S.? Which regions sell the most and which sell the least? These are the types of questions students want to look into for their research papers, but incorporating statistics into research is often overlooked. Each topic yields its own possibilities!
So, how can we get students into the habit of considering the addition of statistical information? How can we help them find the statistics and determine what makes one statistic more impressive than another?
The Statistics Rubric is designed for a teacher to use as a requirement during a research project. I like the rubric because students can refer to the guidelines within as they complete the task and do not have to revisit their memory or the slideshow that I make available to them. I would (ideally) suggest using the statistics rubric during 8th and 9th (and possibly 10th) grades in order to have the become proficient at the skill and then move them into the Infographic Rubric during 10th/11th/12th.
photo courtesy of:
Cunningham, Simon. “Statistics.” Flickr. Yahoo, 18 Dec. 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
Most of us prefer to take information in visually.
We also prefer to take in information in tiny bits.
So, we teach students to convey information mainly through written papers and presentation programs, such as Google Slides or PowerPoint. While I absolutely advocate mastering both of those skills, I argue that we must also teach students how to master visual communication skills.
I have posted Allison Burley’s infographic lesson on my blog before. However, at our high school, we have seniors create them for senior research and our freshmen now have an expectation to create an infographic during their career research.
We have created skill-specific research rubrics for students to pinpoint important elements of an infographic (both of which are linked below):
Link here for our infographic rubric
We also have a modified rubric that we use with students who struggle with learning.
Link here for our modified infographic rubric
Feel free to use either one with your students.
image courtesy of:
I Bike Fresno. “2011 Million Mile Challenge Infographic.” Flickr. Yahoo, 2 July
2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
Sarah Strouse and Natasha Lewis are both new to Nazareth High School Library, both bringing a youthful energy and actively infusing exciting learning experiences through contests and collaborations and their new Makerspace. As I saw their Twitter posts stream through during the school year, I could only smile, knowing that my own children and their friends would soon be students served by their library media center. Through this interview, they inspired me (I do not have a Makerspace, yet…. :). They made me feel like a Makerspace was both manageable and worthwhile (I watch that with fads …making sure that I want to buy in …and I do with this one!), and they also provided me with some nostalgia (as I remembered the days when I, too, first discovered Dr. Joyce Valenza’s expertise and was incredibly inspired).
The following is our interview, conducted about their Makerspace:
- Can you describe your Makerspace?
- SS: Right now, our Makerspace is in its infancy and is located in a “slice” of our Library Media Center. It’s a place where students typically huddle in small groups and tinker. My vision for our Makerspace was highly influenced by Joyce Valenza’s blog article, “Library as a Domestic Metaphor.” Rather than act as a “grocery store” where students come, take, and leave, the library is more of a kitchen “where everyone lives and plays and laughs and makes a mess and creates and shares delicious stuff.” I think this is the type of environment we’ve begun to foster and hopefully continue to grow. It’s a place where students can tinker, make, and learn without the confines and pressures of the traditional classroom setting.
- What tools did you select to start your Makerspace with and why?
- SS: We started with very low-tech, low-cost stations like puzzles, adult coloring, and Legos – which we acquired entirely via donations. Now, we’re slowly adding some higher-tech tools. Our previous Librarian, Robin Hughes, who retired last year, got the movement started last spring by purchasing a littleBits kit, and we recently purchased some Makey Makey kits and Google Cardboard devices. We chose tools with the STEAM initiative in mind – any tool that might spark a kid’s creativity whether it be for a project they’re working on for a class, for their own personal interests, or even as an outlet. It’s so nice to see teenagers come in here excited to tinker with Legos or circuit projects INSTEAD OF just mindlessly surfing the net or checking social media on their phones during study hall.
- NL: We are always still accepting donations for different items. We recently had a parent express that they would be willing to donate a K’NEX set, something I think a lot of students would enjoy, since our Legos are very popular.
- Are there additional tools that you wish to acquire for the space/ideas for expansion?
- SS: Oh, I have big plans for the future 🙂 It’s going to take a lot of planning, and it’s not going to happen overnight, but the dream would be to have more of the high-tech kits like Lego Mindstorms, Raspberry Pi’s for computer programming, and other various littleBits kits. I’d also like to have a green screen area that students could use for digital media projects. We’re currently working on acquiring a 3D printer. We’ve even tossed around the idea of eventually starting a library garden!
- What has been the largest hurdle in creating the space?
- SS: Like with anything else, funding is the largest hurdle. We’ve been pretty blessed with administrative support in that regard, though. We also have a student-run Library Advisory Board that runs Java Joint (a coffee shop) in the library. They’ve indicated that they’ll use profits from coffee sales to help purchase some Makerspace stuff, too. Students have also given us some super creative fundraising ideas, and we’re also looking into some grant-writing opportunities for next school year.
- NL: I would add that lack of space is a bit of an issue. We currently are discussing how best to adjust our collection and move around the existing furniture to make a better area more dedicated to these Makerspaces. We are also trying to make our space more welcoming and relaxing by incorporating couches, chairs, tables, and end tables.
- What has been the largest success?
- SS: I don’t even know if I could pinpoint just one tool that students tinker with the most. It varies… one day we’ll have different groups of students throughout the day working on an intricate puzzle that we’ll find completed by the end of the school day, and then the next day, we’ll discover a huge circuit project that kids put together using the littleBits and nothing else gets touched.
- How have your students responded to the space?
- SS: We’ve had some really cute student reactions, especially when we first put out some of the low-tech stuff they were gravitating to primarily as an outlet. Since we put out our Makerspaces, I’ve overheard kids call the library slang words for “cool” that I’ve never even heard of and can’t recall, an indication of just how hip they think we are 🙂 One student even said, “I love the library. I want to live here!” The students have definitely embraced it.
- NL: Our students really love it! They said they really enjoy coming to the library since they can do a variety of things here instead of just checking out a book or using a computer. They like that they can talk to us about books since we try to be well read with books popular with our students.
- How have your teachers responded to the space?
- SS: There is definite interest. I held a Library Open House in February for teachers to come and check out what’s new. I actually had a few teachers sheepishly admit that it was the first time they’d been in the library, so it’s certainly drawing attention. It’s exciting for me though because if I can get teachers and their classes in here for the tech tools, that also develops rapport and opens the door for me help teachers and students with research projects or to spark an interest in reading a new book series as well. The Library of the 21st Century is NOT the library we as educators had while we were in school. The Makerspaces are attracting a whole new crowd of classes and individual students. We’re not just for English classes and book nerds anymore… though we still love the book nerds 😉
- NL: I think a lot of teachers aren’t quite sure where to start. They seem to have an initial “Oh that’s cool” reaction, but their interest seems more engaged when we give them specific ideas of how we can help them utilize these different Makerspaces and other technology supplements in their classroom. One great example is a foreign language teacher who immediately responded to our announcement about Google Cardboard–she asked if we could find some virtual reality tours of castles in Germany! It was so exciting to have someone immediately interested in how to utilize these devices.
- What has been your greatest area of inspiration? For example, have you utilized Pinterest or any other resource to develop the space?
- SS: I was first inspired by a class I took at Kutztown – “Coding in the Classroom” – which introduced me to many of the techie Makerspace tools like circuits and robotics and web-based computer programs like Scratch and Code.org. From there, the inspiration and ideas have come from a variety of places…
- NL: Pinterest is AMAZING!!! I actually did a lot of research on there myself just to become familiar with the Maker movement. Pinterest introduced me to some well known Maker librarians including Diana Rendina. I also started using my Twitter profile to connect with larger establishments and organizations, such as Makerspace.com. I’m getting a lot of ideas for potential Makerspaces and ways to utilize the materials that we already have.
You can follow Sarah on Twitter: @NazHSLibrary
You can follow Natasha on Twitter : @TheLewView
About Sarah and Natasha:
Sarah Strouse: Mrs. Strouse initially received a Bachelor of Arts’ in writing at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) and has since done post-baccalaureate work in Secondary Education and Library Science at ESU and Kutztown University. She taught 9th Grade English at Nazareth Area High School for 8 years before becoming the Library Media Specialist there last fall. Mrs. Strouse is at her happiest from April to October when the New York Yankees are playing and she can wear open-toed shoes. Her favorite books are To Kill a Mockingbird, the Divergent series, and the Throne of Glass series. Perhaps the only thing she loves more than coffee is her family – her 4-year old daughter and husband.
Natasha Lewis: Mrs. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts’ degree and a Master’s in Education, both received at Cedar Crest College. Prior to working in the Nazareth Area High School Library, she held several long term substitute positions at local high school and middle schools as well as taught American literature in an asynchronous online setting. She enjoys spending time with her family, working out, knitting/crocheting, drinking A LOT of coffee, and cooking (hence the need for workouts!). Some of her favorite books include the Harry Potter series, The Martian, Ready Player One, Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and the Lunar Chronicles.