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Website Literacy Tonight!

 

The Challenge


On the Internet young readers are expected to identify authors and their purpose, investigate their qualifications, pay attention to their sponsors, avoid the glitzy distraction of web design, recognize bias and salesmanship, and verify contact information in case of questions. They should also be able to effectively use search engines, navigate around the web, and render judgments about the overall relevance and quality of the content. Next, they must know where to skim, what to scan and when to read carefully. Finally they need to synthesize the new knowledge into existing schemas.


Come along for the ride!

 

Utilize the Past, Challenge the Present, Design the Future

 

[

 




"To master the inherent skills is to corner the future of information acquisition"

-Dennis Tierney


Research suggests that students require new comprehension skills and strategies to effectively read and learn from text on the web. Reading online is a complex process that requires knowledge about how search engines work and how information is organized within Web sites—knowledge that many students lack. Internet texts also demand higher levels of inferential reasoning and comprehension monitoring strategies that help readers stay on task. They must use Internet technologies to formulate inquiry questions, search for, navigate, critically evaluate, and synthesize information.

Inquiry projects on the Internet start when students identify essential questions to explore. These questions must be both open-ended and researchable. Their breadth must allow students not simply to ask about surface characteristics but to thoroughly explore the concept. These interrogatives should also correlate well with the time constraints of the unit. Antithetically, their thrust should not be of such short range that they can be responded to in a few sentences.

Mini lessons offering practice in categorizing would ideally begin long before the unit commences. I would start with simple ideas and a lot of scaffolding. Together we would develop a definition for categorizing such as grouping terms, items, and animals etc. because they are alike. To help the students understand this concept we might start by sorting a number of two- and four-legged mammals, as well as those with fur, and feathers. We might also add land animals as well as sea creatures. Offering non-examples also helps clarify the underlying idea. The students would then volunteer examples which would be listed on chart paper to add a visual aspect to that resource. After pairs of learners practice categorizing with labeled pictures, we would next practice classifying these mammals. That would entail creating a characteristic (farm animals, wild animals, salt water and fresh water fish, etc.) and sorting the more generalized species into more specific topic groupings. Finally I would ask the children to pick one specific mammal to do further research on and ask them to begin their project with the one question about the mammal that totally intrigues them. Later I would introduce the labels theme, topic, focus area and central question to denote the narrowing stages through which we worked. These type of exercises will help students narrow down broad themes and formulate them into effective focus questions.





Model, Think Aloud, Give Practice, Scaffold and Offer Feedback



Category Flowcharts


Practice with reducing the super ordinate to the specific

 

e

 



ThemeBasketbal
l
l

TopicLakers

l
l
FocusPlayers

l
l
l
QuestionWhat is the story of Kolbe Bryant's professional career?

ThemePresidents

l
l
TopicAbraham Lincoln

l
l
l
Focus?

l
l
QuestionWhat kind of lives did Lincoln’s children have?



ThemeAnimals

l
l
l
TopicSiberian tigers

l
l
l
FocusExtinction

l
l
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QuestionWhy are Siberian tigers becoming extinct?


ThemeHeroes

l
TopicFirst Responders

l
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FocusFirefighters

l
l
Question"What role did firefighters play on 9/11?"


Exercises

Students decide if the focus question can lead to a practical research project.
Research Question Assessment
  1. What is the history of basketball? Good - has topic and focus.
  2. What was Wilt Chamberlain’s childhood like? Good - has topic and focus.
  3. Who is President Obama? Bad - too big.
  4. How are basketballs made? Good - has topic and focus.
  5. How old is Joe Biden? Bad - too narrow.
  6. What is the story of Joe Biden’s political career? Good - has topic and focus.
  7. -Eagleton & Dobler


The ultimate objective in the digital pursuit of knowledge is to visit relevant websites and match appropriate resources with the research question. Since search engines are the primary mediators of information on the Internet, students must know which ones to use and how to formulate key words or phrases to place in the search box and start the quest. Common problems that students encounter making these formulations are the use of natural language phrases or sentences, the inclusion of unnecessary concepts, as well as misspellings.

 


Students Start Your Engines

 



Use the host:command search in AltaVista. You will produce a long list of pages from the site.
You can pinpoint particular pages by adding specific words or phrases to the query.
Other good search engines for younger students: Ask for Kids (natural language processing), Ask an Expert, Yahooligans, Kids Click (librarian-selected data base). In addition, NoodleTools take broad directions from the user and helps them to focus on what they are trying to achieve.
Meta- search engines (search for other engines) - Webcrawler, Dogpile.
Use words and symbols that remove useless information!
Examples of keyword searches that is too wordy:’ “What is the history of soccer?” “World history of soccer.” “Soccer balls and nets.”
Examples of keyword searches that are too scant: sports (no topic), soccer (no focus).
Examples of keyword searches that lack focus or topic:
Soccer + sports (no focus)
Sports (no topic).
Search engines that are best at entering whole research questions – Ask.com
Best at entering Keywords – Google
Best at browsing categories – Yahoo
Best at searching for other search engines – Webcrawler
Search engines with Spellcheckers – Google, Ask.com
Best at searching just for video – Webcrawler, Yahoo.

-Eagleton & Dobler


Key Word Searching Strategies


Use topic + focus key word in your search engine search box.
For example: Siberian tigers + extinction
or
Lakers + players,
Or
soccer + history,
or
soccer history,
or
soccer teams,
Use:


1. AltaVista

Host:webquest + focus (leaving no space between “host” and “webquest”).
For instance if I was exploring how to evaluate websites I would type in the search box:
host:webquest + "evaluating websites” (focus has quotation marks).

2. Google “Evaluating websites for reliability” is a good keyword phrase.


Understand your results

(1)Virtual Solar System – (2) this National Geographic site lets you learn facts about the palenets, the sun and smaller bodies such as asteroids and comets.
(3) http://www.national geographic.com/solarsystem/
(4) more sites about: Astronomy and space > Solar System

1 Title
2 Description
3 URL
4 Category links

  1. Title of the website can be very useful in determining what the site is about. A click on the title will take the learner to the site.
  2. Description helps the learner decide if the dsite will be useful.
  3. URL this web address can be a clue as to the reliability of the site.
4. Category Links other possible related links to relevant information. A click on any of these will lead the learner to new links or websites.

-Eagleton & Dobler




When you reach your site, quickly scan the landscape
  1. Read the title of the page and the title of the Web site in the margin at the top of the window.
  2. Scan menu choices. Hold your mouse over the navigational or topical menus that often appear down the left frame or across the top of the window, but don't click yet. Get a big picture of the information available within the site.
  3. Make predictions about where each of the major links may lead and anticipate a link's path through multiple levels of a Web site.
  4. Explore interactive features of dynamic images (animated images, or images that change as a viewer holds the mouse over them), pop-up menus, and scroll bars that may reveal additional levels of information contained within the site.
  5. Notice and try out any electronic supports the site has, such as an organizational site map or internal search engine.
  6. Make a judgment about whether to explore the site further. If the site looks worthwhile, decide which areas of the site to explore first.


An important embedded skill is “forward inference” – anticipating where to go next in a non-linear environment.

 



EVALUATION

 



A, B, C's
of
Evaluating Websites

When evaluating a website, consider the following:

Author -
Name? Address? Biographical information? Expert in his/ her field?
Results when you search author's name?

B. Bias or fact –
What is the author's purpose - to inform, persuade or sell something?

C. Check the date of publication as well as other sources to compare and contrast.

D. Delivery address - what does the URL (Web address) say about the producer of the web site, and its purpose? Look at the final syllable in the domain name.

Final domain addresses:

.gov Government agency: www.whitehouse.gov
.net Internet Service Provider: www.whitehouse.net
.edu Higher education - www.lesley.edu. Other educational sites may appear with different domain names: www.whitehouse.gov/kids
.mil Military site- www.navy.mil/
~ ("tilde") Personal site - http://www.members.tripod.com/~DAdams/qkbrdinf.html. Other clues for personal sites include percent signs or thw words "users" or "members."
.org Organization; may be charitable, religious, or a lobbying group -
Country names appear as a two-letter abbreviation in the domain name.

-Eagleton & Dobler


Ideally after reaching a website with many good characteristics, the learner begins by skimming (glancing over the text to determine if the topic meets their needs). If it appears to be useful, he/ she returns to the page and begins scanning quickly to seek certain dates, bold headings, statistics, people, topics or details that that stand out. If this data is present the learner takes a closer look, reading carefully, making notes, paraphrasing ideas, and referencing the location of these ideas.

-Eagleton & Dobler


Exercises

I.

Review and evaluate these sites.

RYT Hospital Dwayne Medical Center

Help Save the Endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

MartinLutherKing.org

The British Stick Insect Foundation

Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie

Britain for Americans

Computer Tan

Save the Rennets

 

Model for a Teacher "Think Aloud"

 

“Britain for Americans” (Britain for Americans, n.d.)  The following is a replication of how I would think aloud to the class as I examined the site.
“Arriving at the site I will skim over the text to determine if the topic meets our needs.. Since we are looking for tourist information about Great Britain the title, “Britain for Americans” tells me this may be a relevant site. Reading the first few lines I can see that this site has information about how the English live. The inter-site links offer additional information on British food, transportation, and geography. It seems as though the author’s purpose is to inform. However, when I read the domain address or URL in the top box, I do not see a “gb” in the domain name. This indicates that the site did not originate in England, even though it states that it was written by the Brits. Hmmm! Scanning quickly to seek bold headings, topics, or details, I also notice the lack of the author’s name, let alone a biography and references.  I cannot find   the date of publication either. 
Let’s begin the exploration by reading the Introduction more carefully. I’ll read aloud as you follow along. The site claims to be written by a Brit for American tourists. Let’s go to the next link, ‘Language.’ Now it’s time to read more carefully. Anybody notice a spelling error?  Correct! “To” should be spelled “too.” Can we find any grammatical errors? Yes, ‘Your Americans have got 100% right,’ is grammatically challenged. These miscues on a website are always a bad sign. We should proceed with caution before buying the ‘information.’ Anybody notice anything else on this page? Thank you. I agree that the supposed English words such as ‘efforf’ and ‘bleadenyanx’ sound anything but English. Later, we can check the Oxford English Dictionary and see if they are listed.
The Geography tab is next.  Let’s take a look. Anyone notice any bias or stereotypes? Yes, ‘The people on these islands are difficult to know’ is a generalization. Is there any other evidence of stereotypes? I agree the French might be amused to hear themselves described as a people who speak foreign languages and eat funny food. And I am sure that the North Sea is to the East rather than the West of Britain. Finally what do you think of the idea of the Viking’s one thousand year old boats being used as apartments for living? Sounds a bit leaky!
Moving to the next section I am surprised to hear that everyone in Scotland eats haggis for breakfast. Everyone also plays the bagpipes. How musically inclined one-hundred percent of these people are. Thanks for that observation. What about the McDonalds not being insulted when referred to as a Campbell?  Unlikely!  These two clans were constantly feuding.  There was  little love lost between them. Although in the interest of non biased reporting, some, if not most,  may have forgiven each other by now.  Let’s leave that one as an open question. Also, I know Scotland is quite large yet I read here that it is a small country.
I think we have found enough evidence to realize this is a very unreliable site, probably launched for someone’s amusement. Before leaving it lets take one more action. Notice the complete UR? Let us start at the right hand side and narrow it down to it domain name, www.brookview.karoo.net. This is called truncating (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007). Then we will ‘Google” this shortened URL and see what other sites may be connected to it.  Aha, just as we thought. Other sites launched by the same domain include ‘The Jackalopes Conspiracy’, ‘The Sellafield Zoo’ and ‘The Stick Insects.’ All of these are notoriously famous as bogus sites.
So how many agree that we cannot accept information as accurate simply because we find it on the Internet? Let’s talk about this further.

 



Students find two pieces of information.


URL backtracking – start at the right end of a URL address and dlete to first forward slash. Here you will find the home page with an abundance of information. Each forward slash you reach peels another layer from the website.
Also see this Power Point demo for evaluating websites.
www.larryblackmer.com/wp-content/internetresearch.ppt

 

Synthesizing is the pulling together of separate ideas to form new understanding. The process requires readers to link concepts from individual or multiple texts.  This enhanced knowledge is further synthesized with their past experiences.  As a result, new perspectives interpretations arise (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).

 
Synthesis is a complex strategy because it involves many reading skills including comprehension, activating prior knowledge, determining and evaluating important ideas, as well as summarizing, and note-taking. Related subsets of skills include knowing how to locate information, when and how to skim, scan, or read carefully, and how to evaluate the chosen resource(s)  (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007). 

 

Treasure or Trash


Summarizing and note taking are information gathering tools that particularly support the synthesizing process. A summary is the selection of the most important parts of a written or spoken piece. This information is transcribed in sentence form.  Note taking is closely related to summarizing because it requires that students recognize and transform relevant information.  However, in this case the learner uses a form of shorthand which will later be embellished with standard English. The purpose of note taking, as well as summarizing, is to help students acquire and integrate knowledge.
Although these processes may seem relatively straightforward for students, in fact they require a great amount of scholarship. In order to make decisions about which points to summarize, or take notes, students must analyze the information in depth. They must also be able to distinguish the pertinent from the non relevant.
The use of the following strategies will help them achieve these objectives. They are first demonstrated by the teacher. This  was accompanied by a think-aloud. The medium was a computer-driven smart board.  A divided screen was utilized. The website page appeared on one-half the screen, while a blank Microsoft Word document occupied the second half.


Note Taking Strategies

No sentences!
Cross out or delete small words: articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.
Cross out or delete repetitions.
Boldface or underline important information.
Outline the frame by dividing the different main ideas with colored font sections.
Jot down a personalized note-to-self when important information is found, citing the source (example: URL, homepage, second paragraph) (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).

Summarizing


The following directions were explained, demonstrated, and embellished.
Open  Microsoft Word and minimize it. Outline the frame by dividing the different main ideas with colored font sections. When important information is found on the Web page, paste it into the Word document (under the appropriate color font) and later paraphrase it (put the notes in your own words).



Summarizing Strategies



Who, Wanted, But, So.

Model by reading a story aloud. Draw four columns on the board, labeled Who, Wanted, But, So. Then write the character’s name under Who, what he or she wanted under Wanted, the problem under But, and its resolution under So. For example, Who: Cinderella, Wanted: to go to the ball, But: her stepfamily would not let her, So: her fairy godmother helped her and she ended up marrying the prince. Then use the answers to write a summary sentence: “Cinderella wanted to go to the ball, but her stepfamily would not let her, so her fairy godmother helped her and she ended up marrying the prince.” Read a second story and have the students complete a chart and write a summary sentence.

GIST

Generating Interaction Between Schemata and Text.
Summarizing Paragraphs for Informational Reading
In groups of four or five, one person is selected as scribe. Each child silently reads the same paragraph. They then agree on the main points. The scribe lists these, and the group uses the list to write one sentence. The teacher clarifies the difference between main points and details.

 

 


Synthesizing



Synthesis Template

Paste into this graphic organizer segments of text relevant to your research question, then record your summary of and reactions to the text.

My research question or focus is:
________________________________________________________________

Copy and paste text or image source here and provide URL for each source.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Summary: The most important points found on my sites are:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Personal Connection: This information connects to my prior knowledge in the following ways:
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My Synthesis: This information changes my thinking in the following ways:

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

-Coiro

 

 


Assessments

 

Guided inquiry is an active process that helps students think creatively. It can extend across many months (Jansen, 2005). Continual formative assessments of the students’ progress are crucial to informing the teacher, the student and shaping the further direction of the unit (Kuhlthau, Maniotes, & Caspari, 2007). The summative evaluation at the end reveals what synthesis of new and prior knowledge has occurred, the goals that were met, and how the learners were able to communicate what they had learned (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). Here, the teacher does not act unilaterally. In guided inquiry, the instruction team, the students and the community of learners all evaluate the product (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). Tests can also be used at this end point to analyze how much specific information the students have mastered.

Students involved in inquiry are learning in a real-life context about content, informational literacy, comprehension, products, and social skills (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).  In addition, products can take the form of presentations, demonstrations, oral renditions, written artifacts, and artistic depictions (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). They can be presented as well in media such as videos, power point, podcasts, and dioramas (Jansen, 2005). Consequently, no one assessment can be used to evaluate all the learning that has taken place during the investigation (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).

Assessments must therefore be diversified.  They may include the perusal of journals, search logs, timelines, flowcharts, conferences, portfolios and reflections (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). The more successful ones are folded into the inquiry process in serial fashion (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).
.
I have found timelines to be a valuable source for providing a running commentary of the student’s interactions with the process. In this venue, the students succinctly express what has personally occurred in the course of the unit.  This tracks their inquiry from start to finish and describes diverse layers of information concerning their experiences. These include which topic they chose, when they chose the topic, how they distilled the topic for focus, how they collected information and when and how they presented their ideas (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). Search logs, where the students list their references, are also good indicators of the depth and breadth of their inquiry (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).
Conferences  can also be effective tools in rendering up close and personal verbal and visual snapshots of what the students are thinking, why they are choosing certain options and how they are feeling about their work at that point in time. Importantly, this last venue separate students’ abilities to write from what they know (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).
.
Portfolios are valuable in so much as they offer a cross sampling of relevant student artifacts.  These represent works in progress and therefore can show evidence of learning across time.
Rubrics are another valuable assessment tool. A rubric is a set of criteria that formulates performance objectives. These matrixes clearly and concisely describe for the teacher and student the actions that the student must demonstrate to show proficiency at specific levels (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).  They therefore inform the student, up front, of certain objectives that must be met for a salutary grade. The most effective rubrics are those where the students have input in developing the criteria (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).

 In closing, assessments have a dual role.  One is to measure the students’ learning against a set of standards and other objective criteria.  These generally occur at the end of the unit and are often styled “evaluations.” The second role of assessing is to alert the teacher and student that intervention may be needed during the course of the inquiry.  This can result in conferences, tutoring, mini lessons or having the lesson tweaked for the advantage of the student.
Self assessments are another advantageous adjunct. These give the student the opportunity to reflect on what and how they are doing throughout the inquiry process. It makes them aware of their abilities, accumulated knowledge, as well as questions and weaknesses.


One constructive example of self assessment is called “Student Learning through Inquiry Measure or SLIM (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007).  These are short, periodic reflections. They ask the student to describe their interest in the topic, what they found easy or difficult during the research portion, and what they have learned about the topic (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). The students are also requested to describe their emotional level regarding the project (Kuhlthau, et al, 2007). Ideally, these questionnaires can be can be placed at the learners’ disposal a few times during the process. In this manner progress can be charted and intervention, if warranted, can be initiated.

.References:


Jansen, B. (2005, October). Meaningful products: Making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Library Media Connection, 24(2), 27–28. Retrieved from the Walden University Library using the Education Research Complete database.

Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

 

Model Unit with Critiques

 

Unit Overview
Complete all sections during the indicated Weeks. This Unit Overview will not be evaluated by your Instructor until Week 7, so feel free to modify as often as needed as you develop your Unit Plan. As you construct your plan, you may delete the instructions inside the brackets [ ].

Grade Level(s):

Fifth Grade

Subject(s):

Language Arts Specifically, the unit is styled “Evaluating Information and Resources on the Web.”

Standard(s) or Outcome(s):

The learning standards are as follows.
New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Grade Level Five
Standard Two
1.  Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.
2. Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning. Therefore, students will demonstrate the ability to access needed information from a variety of resources including electronic data bases.
3. Knowledge of the impacts and limitations of information systems is essential to its effective and ethical use. Consequently, students will demonstrate the ability to evaluate information at its original source.
New York State Language Arts learning Standards
Grade Level Five

Standard One

Students will present information clearly in a variety of oral and written forms such as summaries, paraphrases, brief reports, stories, posters, and charts.
Students will include relevant information and exclude extraneous material.
Standard Three
As listeners and readers, students will locate, analyze, evaluate, synthesize and communicate ideas and information presented by others using a variety of established criteria.

 

Time Allotted:

10 plus hours

Short Description of Unit:

Information is a superabundant resource of the Internet (Eagleton and Dobler, 2007).  Unfortunately its creators can range from the knowledgeable and the responsible to those expounding on undocumented, unfounded, and false ideas (Laureate Education, 2011).  There is a diversity author goals as well. The author’s purpose may extend from informing or persuading, to presenting a subjective opinion, or to displaying objective, verified information (Evaluating Information Found on the Internet, 2012).  
Their perspectives may be diverse and influenced as by background, ambitions, prejudices, affiliations or the dates they submitted the work (Evaluating Information Found on the Internet, 2012).  In addition, the Web provides an unending continuum of data flow which is constantly being updated and edited, sometimes under suspect auspices.  Accordingly, a student’s ability to recognize certain criteria (authorship, site affiliations, currency, references, bias indicators, etc.) will help them assess pertinent information on the Web (Evaluating Information Found on the Internet, 2012).  
The unit I propose will introduce to students the importance and means of forming focus questions for inquiry, locating and questioning the relevance and veracity of data found on the Internet, synthesizing this information into existing schemas and communicating the results to a wide audience.

Customization or Adaptation for Diverse or Special Needs Students:

[Complete by Week 7.]
Support found in group settings, teacher aides, mini lessons, one-on-one conferences, and additional time.

Formative and Summative
Assessment Strategies:

For the first lesson, the assessment will be determined by how closely the students’ performances align themselves with the objectives.  Specifically, I will use informal observations of student participation, peer interactions as well as a review of journal writings.

Student Products:

[Complete by Week 7.]
K-W-L chart information, researchable questions and written reflections.
Written note taking, summaries, a synthesis template and a Power Point presentation.

Materials, Resources, Technology, and Logistics:

[Complete by Week 7. List the materials, resources, and technology tools that students will need to complete this unit. How will you plan and prepare for the needed technology tools, resources, and materials?]
Smart board, overhead, computers, Power Point software, Microsoft Word software, wiki and blog accounts.

Other Considerations:

[Complete by Week 7. You may revise this section as you develop your plan. Fill in “None” if this section is not needed.]
None


Activity: Developing Essential Questions
Complete all sections and submit for your Week 2 Application.

Introducing the Big Idea, Theme, or Hook:

Before commencing the first lesson I displayed on the smart board a fun-filled and informative website that provided links to sites which presented non facts and untruths to fool a gullible public

Learning Objectives:

Lesson Objectives

  • At the conclusion of the lesson the students will have:
  • Distinguished between researchable questions and those that are less credible.
  • Viewed and discussed a video on developing essential questions.
  • Discussed the general reliability of Web sites.
  • Constructed a K-W-L chart filled with prior knowledge and developing questions about web sites.
  • Generated researchable questions from the “What we would like to learn” section of this chart.
  • Implemented group skills such as consensus building, cooperation, and decision making.
  • Applied higher order thinking as they formulated, analyzed, and evaluated researchable questions.
  • Practiced listening and communication skills as they shared insights with classmates.
  • Utilized writing skills as they reflected on what they have learned.

Developing Questions:

Time Frame
Two hours
Part 1
We began the initial lesson with a copy of the “Research Question Scoring Guide”, which helps learners differentiate between good questions from poorly-worded ones (Eagleton, & Dobler, 2007).  The sheet was placed as a transparency on the overhead and as the students responded, they were asked to explain and defend their thinking.  Having gotten a grasp on the nature of their expected questioning, we were ready for the next stage.
Since the first lesson in the unit revolved around “Developing Essential Questions”, I decided to utilize a K-W-L chart in order to generate queries. Before introducing the chart I allowed the students to participate in a whole class discussion about material on the Internet in order to activate prior knowledge.  I also utilized this dialogue as a canvas to measure their background knowledge. This is important if they are to generate acceptable questions. Finally, I harnessed this opportunity to clear up misconceptions.  Before moving on to the K-W-L chart I also showed a three minute video on determining a website’s reliability (Determining Website Credibility, 2011).   The film was humorous, comprehensive and informative.  I used a smart board to relay the computer-generated film.  This allowed the whole class to participate.  Being able to stop the video at appropriate times permitted me to check for comprehension, as well as afforded students the opportunity to pose questions, make comments or jot down notes.
Part 2
We next decided that the theme of the unit could be transposed into a single central question: “How can we be sure that the information we find on the Internet is accurate?”  Our initial task was to create a subset of questions that were related to this topic. The “What we would like to learn” section of the K-W-L chart, with its abundance of question-related subject matter dovetailed nicely with this objective.  For now their task was to formulate questions that related to the topic, were of appropriate range, and were researchable. This particular segment took a lot of clarification, teacher think alouds, and teacher-initiated prompts.  Some of the offerings included “Who can submit material on the Internet?”  “Who checks the information to see that it is reliable?” “How do we know the qualifications of the author” “What is the author’s purpose?” “How can we discover the purpose?”  “What is the author’s point of view?” “How can we find out if the information is accurate?”  “Is the information fact or opinion?” “How can we tell if it is an authentic site?” “Is the material biased or balanced?”
Subsequently, groups of four, after conferring with team members, selected a specific research question related to topic. Later in the unit, they will synthesize all the groups’ findings into a cohesive whole as a response to the central question. 
As a final step, in order to summarize and review what we have learned I asked the class to write a two hundred word reflection on what they had learned as well as any questions they may have in connection with the material.

Grouping of Students:

Groups of four, as well as whole class.

Customization or Adaptation for Diverse or Special Needs Students:

Offering their input into the selection of questions, scaffolding by team members and mini lessons by the teacher as the need demands.

Student Products:

K-W-L chart information, researchable questions and written reflections.

Activity
Assessment Strategies:

[How will you assess both the content and development of the new literacy skills? How do the student products factor into your formative and summative assessment plans?]
For this lesson, the assessment will be determined by how closely the students’ performances align themselves with the objectives.  Specifically, I will use informal observations of student participation, peer interactions as well as a review of journal writings.
My findings will serve as formative evaluations that will help shape the rest of the unit.

Materials, Resources, Technology, and Logistics:

[List the materials, resources, and technology tools that students will need to complete this activity. How will you plan and prepare for the needed technology tools, resources, and materials?]
For the first lesson, a Research Question Scoring Guide, overhead projectors, smart boards and computer-generated websites were utilized. Technology will continue to play major roles as students investigate websites and create wikis and blogs in future weeks. 

Other Considerations:

[Fill in “None” if this section is not needed.]
None

Reflection:

[How did your initial implementation of your lesson go? What elements did you revise following the implementation of the lesson with students? Why did you make those changes?]
Looking back on the exercise, I learned that, even though it was broken into two parts, this was a lot of material for the children to absorb in one lesson. We could literally have spent a week on developing appropriate questions. In addition, while the video was helpful in developing the attending concepts, more hand-on activities would have been productive.  Next time, I would offer three predetermined websites that relate to cross-curricular subject matter.  Some would be reliable, while others would lack credentials. I would have the students analyze right after the question formulation. This would help the child both to validate the question, as well as to draw additional, first-hand insights into the concept.  It would also allow them to see how educational skills relate to a whole host of different subject matter.

 


Activity: Locating and Evaluating Internet Resources
Complete all sections and submit for your Week 5 Application.

Introducing the Activities:

[Describe how you will introduce the activities to your students.]
At the conclusion of the initial set of lessons concerning the formation of focus questions, I asked the class to write a reflection.  They were to include information they had acquired as well as any questions or problem areas they encountered. To introduce this segment, as well as to activate prior knowledge and clear up misconceptions, we discussed these thoughts in a whole-group setting.

Learning Objectives:

[State the learning objectives for the activities in this section of your plan.]
Lesson Objectives
At the conclusion of the lesson the students will have:

  • Reviewed the concepts relating the research questions including the idea of themes, topics as well as focus areas and questions.
  • Discussed the utility of two search engines.
  • Formatted search engines with applicable key words and phrases.
  • Utilized these concepts in practical terms by locating relevant sites.
  • Evaluated sites by using criteria related to the reliability of Web sites.
  • Practiced social skills as they worked in cooperative groupings.
  • Implemented writing, analyzing, and meta-cognitive abilities as they explained and defended their choices in a written reflection.
  • Applied listening skills as they discussed their findings with classmates.

Searching the Internet and Locating Resources:

[Describe how students will learn to effectively search the Internet for valid and reliable resources. Describe direct instruction (if any) and any student activities. Describe your role during these activities. How much time will you allot for this part of the unit?]
Part 1 (one hour)
In the interest of evaluating Websites for veracity, each group of students chose one of the following questions to research:
“How do we know the qualifications of the author?” “How can we find out if the information is accurate?”  “How can we tell if the information is current?”  “How can we find other sources to compare and contrast the information?” “What do the final slashes in the domain name tell us?”
As part of an explicitly taught minilesson, we reviewed strategies for locating information.  Since the class was already familiar with the narrowing down process of moving from theme to topic to focus to questions, I decided on two locating strategies: utilizing the AltaVista and Google search engines. The following information was posited on a smart board for the students’ consideration.
AltaVista
Host:webquest + focus (leaving no space between “host” and “webquest”).
After discussing this format the class decided on the following specific inclusions to meet their research needs.
Since we are exploring how to evaluate websites and since this is our focus, I would type in the search box: host:webquest + "evaluating websites” (focus has quotation marks).
Next, we considered applicability for those who chose to use Google.
A consensus agreed that “Evaluating websites for reliability” is a good keyword phrase.
As a final step the students were asked to use their search engines to locate three relevant sites.  They were to cut and past the provided URL’s for future consideration.
My role throughout this hour long lesson was to facilitate a class discussion, directly teach a minilesson, and support the students as they searched the Internet.

Evaluating Resources and Information on the Internet:

[Describe how the students will learn to properly evaluate the resources they find for validity and reliability. Describe direct instruction (if any) and any student activities. Describe your role during these activities. How much time will you allot for this part of the unit?]
Part 2 (one hour)
During the interim between the development of the focus questions and this segment of the unit, a short lesson was given concerning a breakdown and explanation of the URL addresses.  This helped the students as they were apprised (via the overhead) of the following evaluative outline.
Evaluative Outline:
When evaluating a website, consider the following:
Author -
Name? Address? Biographical information? Expert in his/ her field?
Results when you search author's name?
B. Bias or fact –
What is the author's purpose - to inform, persuade or sell something?
C. Check the date of publication as well as other sources to compare and contrast.
D. Forwarding address - what does the URL (Web address) say about the producer of the web site, and its purpose? Look at the final syllable in the domain name.
Each of the groups was to consider their focus question and then choose the matching strategy to utilize. At this juncture each member of the group worked independently on the group’s focus question.
Part 3 (45 minutes)
In a whole-class gathering, students discussed their finding.  The learners used the smart board to display individual web sites as they explained its merits and weaknesses.

Grouping of Students:

Four students will work in each group.
Additionally, part of the lesson was devoted to a whole group discussion as well as independent work.

Customization or Adaptation for Diverse or Special Needs Students:

[How will you help students with diverse learning needs in your classroom succeed in this activity?]
Students will work in cooperative groupings where mutual support is encouraged. The teacher, acting as a facilitator will offer guided instruction when appropriate.

Student Products:

[What, if anything, will the students create during this activity?]
The students will list the qualified websites they consider to be of value to their research. They will also defend their choices in a journal piece by alluding to and expanding upon the Evaluative Outline.

Activity Assessment Strategies:

[How will you assess both the content and development of the new literacy skills? How do the student products factor into your formative and summative assessment plans?]
The students will be assessed by informal observations of their individual as well as group participation.  In addition, they will be evaluated on the merits of their website list.  The written exposition (explaining their choices) will also be considered.

Materials, Resources, Technology, and Logistics:

[List the materials, resources, and technology tools that students will need to complete this activity. How will you plan and prepare for the needed technology tools, resources, and materials?]
The technology materials include the overhead, smart board, and the scheduled use of the computer lab.

Other Considerations:

[Fill in “None” if this section is not needed.]
None

Reflection:

[How did your initial implementation of your lesson go? What elements did you revise following the implementation of the lesson with students? Why did you make those changes?]
There was a lot of ground to cover in linking the locating skills with the evaluation of websites.  More ideally this subset of abilities might be more productively taught as separate lessons with more time devoted to each. Given the time constraints I decided to use a teacher-centered approach to narrow down the search engine choices.  Had there been more time, a greater degree of latitude might have been given to the students regarding the transition from focus question to key words or phrases. Having them discover these words would have provided a clearer understanding of the underlying concept.
The evaluation part went well.  Breaking the criteria into single units for each group dovetailed well with the time limits. When it came to the independent evaluations I could have used a few adult volunteers to cover the questions as well as monitor and support the students.
In conclusion, the lesson provided and unveiled some basic concepts related to locating and assessing information on the Internet. That was my goal and the evidence gathered from my assessments showed that it was met.

 

 


Activity: Synthesizing Resources and Communicating Effectively
Complete all sections and submit for your Week 7 Application.

Introducing the Activities:

[Describe how you will introduce this activity to your students.]
We began this segment with a discussion of what we had learned up to this point in the unit.  We then added additional information and questions to the K-W-L Chart. As part of the preceding lesson, each group of learners had selected one of the following focus questions: “How do we know the qualifications of the author?” “How can we find out if the information is accurate?”  “How can we tell if the information is current?”  “How can we find other sources to compare and contrast the information?” “What do the final slashes in the domain name tell us?” Each group was then to select and evaluate three sites in light of their focus question. 
For this lesson, they were to choose one of the validated sites.
They were to use their traditional, as well as Internet literary skills, to identify relevant information on their site. They were then to take notes and summarize their new findings.  Finally, they were to synthesize this new information as well as  their prior understanding into a cohesive, conceptual whole.
 

Learning Objectives:

[State the learning objectives for the activities in this section of your plan.]
Each students will:

  • Activate prior knowledge with a discussion of the unit topic.
  • Complete a K-W-L chart.
  • Use note-taking and summarizing strategies to gather information from a website.
  • Collaborate with team mates on both a consensus summary and a synthesis product.
  • Utilize a template to synthesize new information taken from various sources and past experiences.
  • Communicate the discoveries beyond the classroom walls via a school blog.

Synthesizing Information from Multiple Resources:

[Describe how students will learn to synthesize the information they have found. How will they learn to credit resources properly? Describe direct instruction (if any) and any student activities. Describe your role during these activities. How much time will you allot for this part of the unit?]
Part 1(one hour)
Synthesizing is the pulling together of separate ideas to form new understanding. The process requires readers to link concepts from individual or multiple texts.  This enhanced knowledge is further synthesized with their past experiences.  As a result, new perspectives interpretations arise (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007). 
Synthesis is a complex strategy because it involves many reading skills including comprehension, activating prior knowledge, determining and evaluating important ideas, as well as summarizing, and note-taking. Related subsets of skills include knowing how to locate information, when and how to skim, scan, or read carefully, and how to evaluate the chosen resource(s)  (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007). 
Summarizing and note taking are information gathering tools that particularly support the synthesizing process. A summary is the selection of the most important parts of a written or spoken piece. This information is transcribed in sentence form.  Note taking is closely related to summarizing because it requires that students recognize and transform relevant information.  However, in this case the learner uses a form of shorthand which will later be embellished with standard English. The purpose of note taking, as well as summarizing, is to help students acquire and integrate knowledge.
Although these processes may seem relatively straightforward for students, in fact they require a great amount of scholarship. In order to make decisions about which points to summarize, or take notes, students must analyze the information in depth. They must also be able to distinguish the pertinent from the non relevant.
The use of the following strategies will help them achieve these objectives. They are first demonstrated by the teacher. This  was accompanied by a think-aloud. The medium was a computer-driven smart board.  A divided screen was utilized. The website page appeared on one-half the screen, while a blank Microsoft Word document occupied the second half.
Note Taking Strategies
No sentences!
Cross out or delete small words: articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.
Cross out or delete repetitions.
Boldface or underline important information.
Outline the frame by dividing the different main ideas with colored font sections.
Jot down a personalized note-to-self when important information is found, citing the source (example: URL, homepage, second paragraph) (Eagleton & Dobler, 2007).
Part 2  ( Two one hour segments)
Summarizing
The following directions were explained, demonstrated, and embellished.
Open  Microsoft Word and minimize it. Outline the frame by dividing the different main ideas with colored font sections. When important information is found on the Web page, paste it into the Word document (under the appropriate color font) and later paraphrase it (put the notes in your own words).
After the demonstrations the students utilized individual computer screens to work on their summarizing and note taking. Each team member worked on the same site but lent his/ her own perspective to it. After these initial products were checked by the teacher, the group members utilized their own wiki to collaborate on a collective summary of what they had learned about evaluating a website.
Part 3(one hour)
The following synthesis template was used by all students.
Paste into this graphic organizer segments of text relevant to your research question, then record your summary of and reactions to the text.
My research question or focus is:
________________________________________________________________

Copy and paste text or image source here and provide URL for each source.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Summary: The most important points found on my sites are:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Personal Connection: This information connects to my prior knowledge in the following ways:
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
My Synthesis: This information changes my thinking in the following ways:
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Communicating Effectively in Multiple Modalities:

[Describe how students will communicate the information they have researched. How much choice or flexibility will you allow them in their final products? How will you or they decide what modality to use? How will you ensure they are giving proper credit to their resources? Describe direct instruction (if any) and any student activities. Describe your role during these activities. How much time will you allot for this part of the unit?]
Part 4 (three one hour segments)
At the conclusion of the unit, each group prepared a final, approved version of the synthesis template. Each group presented this product on the smart board for discussion and edification. Later, these were posted on the school blog.

Grouping of Students:

[How will students be organized or grouped for this activity? How (if at all) will this change during the lesson?]
As the lesson progressed the students worked individually, in groups of four and in a whole-class setting.

Customization or Adaptation for Diverse or special needs students:

[How will you help students with diverse learning needs in your classroom succeed in this activity?]
Student groupings lend themselves to team work and mutual support. Teacher aides contributed to everyone’s success as well.  In addition, impromptu minilessons and conferences were used when necessary.

Student Products:

[What, if anything, will the students create during this activity?]
Written  notes, summaries, and a synthesis template

Assessment Strategies:

[How will you assess both the content and development of the new literacy skills? How do the student products factor into your formative and summative assessment plans? ]
Informal assessments of individual contributions during group work, formally scrutinizing written summaries, the synthesis template, and the wiki history.

Materials, Resources, Technology, and Logistics:

[List the materials, resources, and technology tools that students will need to complete this activity. How will you plan and prepare for the needed technology tools, resources, and materials?]
Smart board, individual computers,   as well as wiki and blog accounts.

Other Considerations:

[Fill in “None” if this is not needed.]
None

Reflection:

[How did your initial implementation of your lesson go? What elements did you revise following the implementation of the lesson with students? Why did you make those changes?]
The content of this unit was both comprehensive and challenging. Many students find expressing their ideas in print quite difficult. Nonetheless, each child was expected, during the course of the unit, to accomplish the following: identify main ideas, distill these into focus question, and locate information on the Web. They were then to skim, scan and comprehend the discovered information. Finally, they were then asked to evaluate, summarize and integrate these ideas into a cohesive whole in order to formulate a new synthesis. Looking back, the group structure, where students cooperated and tutored each other was a vital component. The varied assessments were absolutely well-fitted to the format. The collaborative wiki work seemed a weak area. As expected in writing exercises, there were too many wagons and not enough horses. Next time the summarization, as well as synthesis process, should be done independently with adult support. In addition, instead of a few weeks, this unit probably needed a full school year to obtain maximum results.

 

                                           References
Determining Website Credibility. (2011). Retrieved on March 6, 2012 from
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKVL1ehDQB0&feature=related
Eagleton, M. B., & Dobler, E. (2007). Reading the web: Strategies for
Internet inquiry. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Jansen, B. (2005, October). Meaningful products: Making the whole greater
than the sum of the parts. Library Media Connection, 24(2), 27–28.
Retrieved from the Walden University.  Library using the Education
Research Complete database.
Kuhlthau, C. C., Maniotes, L. K., & Caspari, A. K. (2007). Guided inquiry:
              Learning in the 21st century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2011) [Motion picture]. “Essential
Questions in Inquiry  Projects” Baltimore: Armstrong, Sarah.
Research-Rescue-Remedies. (2008) Examples of how using websites as
resources can go awry.  Retrieved on March 6, 2012 from the website
http://research-rescue-
Thornburg, D. (2004). Inquiry: The art of helping students ask good questions (Executive Briefing No. 402). Retrieved from
http://www.tcpdpodcast.org/briefings/inquiry.pdf
Website Reliability Checklist. (n.d). Retrieved on March 13, 2012 from              
http://www.roundrockisd.org/docs/library_www_check.pdf




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