Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Co-teaching in the Library: Research in US History

Over the past few days, I have been co-teaching with 4 other teachers: 3 social studies and 1 instructional coach. We also worked with several learning support teachers.

Our goal this semester is to embed a series of research skills into the US history curriculum in bite-size chunks. My role is to teach students how to access a variety of online tools, the instructional coach teaches them how to take the information and process it, and then the social studies teachers have the students combine that information into an end product.

For our first lesson, I taught students how to access our Gale database, Student Resources in Context. Here is my lesson plan. My goal was go focus on inquiry...provide some very basic scaffolding and then let them explore the resource to figure out all of the benefits and options.

I figured out about halfway through the first class that students were very overwhelmed by the sheer number of questions on my scavenger hunt. So my first tweak for the next class period was to highlight a few questions in each section.

In my planning, I thought it was a cool idea to let kids pick a "hot topic" to use to explore the database. Then they would take that knowledge and apply it to a specific search on the Civil War.
Instead, kids couldn't make the connection between the "hot topics" research and "real" research (in their minds). They were so mentally tired from the scavenger hunt that there really was nothing left for the Civil War research their teachers wanted them to conduct.

By the last class period of the day, I figured out that future iterations of this lesson need to focus solely on the Civil War. I need to keep everything very clean and specific. I still like the scavenger hunt idea, but it probably needs to be a little more focused. Give them an overview, and then let them explore.

On Day 2, I moved to World Book Encyclopedia. I used the same essential plan, but modified as described above. It went more smoothly, but I know that the next time we do this, each "chunk" needs to include ONE resource. We also have to limit the topics that are being studied. Students got so frustrated by the lack of information on their very specific topics that they gave up. I know that we have to teach persistence, and that research often leads to dead ends. But we also have to be realistic that we have a short amount of time in which to work.

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