It's Homecoming Week, and today, students might be wearing their favorite Crazy Hat. Before class starts, I post the location--Library--on the classroom door. As students enter the library, I greet them while I'm wearing my favorite crazy hat, and hand each student the "Some Answers on Sources" sheet. "Some Answers on Sources" was created to respond to a few Frequently Asked Questions that came up after class yesterday, or that were addressed in one section of Grade 10/Sophomore English 2, but not another.
As always, the Daily Holiday not only builds on the sense of community I try to establish in my classroom, but also ties to school spirit and community with Homecoming activities.
For the first fifteen minutes of class, I turn the course over to our school librarian. As a lecture, with visual aids (the library website on a wide-screen TV) she takes the students through where and how to use the research databases (Persuasive Paper Step 2.2-Database Access) to which we have access: "Facts on File", "CQ Researcher", etc. She has compiled a handout of this information and provided it to the students (see below). As the expert on the resources we have, the librarian can provide the quickest access for students. By modeling where to go, she shows the students how to use each site, how to narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; and students are exposed to multiple sources on their subject (W.9-10.7). Turning the class over to the librarian provides me a chance to look over the topics students have selected, and identify the ones who still need help narrowing their focus.
Both this mini-lecture model and "Some Answers on Sources" are provided to give students the best places to support evidence to develop claims/counterclaims, as the databases all have vetted information.
For the rest of the period, students have free access to the library stacks and computers. As they locate potential databases, evaluate the information therein, and begin citing the sources, I circulate the room, checking they came prepared with index cards, answering questions, and discussing potential issues and conflicts with their topics. During this time, the librarian is also available to assist. The primary objectives is to: gather print and digital sources that may provide relevant information for their claims and begin to assess the usefulness of each source (W.9-10.8). The “grade” on this assignment will come from the source cards they turn in the end of the time in library, but between now and then, students will gauge the usefulness of a variety of sources. Especially if I see them using Wikipedia, Google, or starting a source card before they had time to read the source, as I will be asking them to explain the validity of the source.
In which I offer some thoughts on how students approach the problem of their research, and how they apply their topic to both the parameters of the project and to something about which they care. An example of student source cards can be seen in today's lesson image.
As class winds down, I approach each table with a group or cluster of students; remind them we will meet in the library again tomorrow; and ask they save their work, pick up any trash, and push in their chairs. The only homework I assign is to remember the above tomorrow, as well.
Students always have questions. And half of a period (after the mini-lecture on database access and use) is nowhere nearly enough time for me to assist each individual student with his or her needs, and check they have appropriate and "research-able" topics. Given the shortened period the final day this week (for Homecoming festivities) and extra half-hour will not hurt the students. For the students who have completed their source cards, I will also be providing a self-evaluation. Not only will students be asked to reflect on their successes and struggles about their research, but it will provide me with feedback on the manner in which I presented the citation information.