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I've often found colleagues identify a problem with their students copying text when researching and having little success in summarizing into their own words the text being read. These dilemmas always pique my interest as they are easily resolved with teaching solutions rather than what may at first seem like a learner's problem.
Research is like writing, the more connected a student is to the topic at hand the more relevant information they will find and higher quality presentation they will create. This makes for better learning experience students will receive from the process. Scaffolding young students research will support their success and set productive patterns and honest approaches in their future. They time we can spend teaching young students how to research productively (and enjoy it too) will save much future time and energy regarding issues of plagiarism.
So what is the 'teaching solution' to text-copying problems?
Get your students connected to their research.
How do I get my students connected to their research?
I'm glad you asked. The UOI Research Support worksheet will help guide your students (and maybe yourself) through the process of formulating a question, reading and selecting information (FINDING OUT) and the making of and sorting notes (SORTING OUT).
Before you begin, as is true with anything new, I would provide a short period of time for students to openly explore the topic (chosen or nominated), its boundaries and possibilities. This will make the process richer, quicker.
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I have been trying to find engaging and effective ways to begin our Units of Inquiry at the Tuning In phase to set the stage for maximum interest and involvement for the inquiry ahead.
I have begun using Chatterboxes as a tool for Tuning In. The idea came from Kath Murdoch’s book Classroom Connections: Strategies for Integrated Learning. Although you can do this by hand and have children color it themselves which helps them to create meaning, I made an electronic template to edit according to each current Unit of Inquiry. (See below for the Pages document you are welcome to download and a slide show on how to fold it).
I used to enjoy making and playing with these origami paper puzzle games as a child, so I feel that students these days would enjoy this too. However, unlike my childhood, I am able to ask them to play the Chatterbox in front of the Apple using Photo Booth to record themselves. We then use this as an audio visual snap shot to reflect on as we learn more, to share with parents or to incorporate in to portfolios. Later the same Chatterbox can be used, and again recorded, to check for learning.
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I also noticed two colleagues, John Wolfe and Carla Heard, asking their classes to Tune In by “unpacking” their Central Ideas using what I will call a Word Walk.
Carla uses Bus Stops (a form of round robin) for each student to explain each meaning of the key words, which are color coded, within her class’ Central Idea. Meaning is discussed and displayed in some form.
John (the slideshow shown below) asks groups to discuss and write their combined and agreed meaning on sticky notes to then place around each key word for permanent display and for referral throughout his class’ Unit of Inquiry.
This week, I will be trying a combination of both.
I will ask students to individually respond to the meaning of the key words which are color coded by using sticky notes to place on the display.
From this I will be able to assess their ideas and knowledge for discussion and couple it with their own questions further planning of the Unit of Inquiry ahead.