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Title: All about Animals: Research Using Britannica Online
Grade Level: Fourth Grade
Required Resources: Resources for this lesson include Promethean board, laptops for each student, Iowa AEA Online cards with username and passwords, and graphic organizers.
Overview: In their class, the fourth grade students are learning all about animals. The classroom teacher would like the students to research an animal and then write an informative paragraph using information they learned from their research. The teacher librarian will show the students how to use an online resource sponsored by the school district, Britannica Online, and assist students with their research notes and then organizing those notes onto a graphic organizer which will aid them in writing their informative paragraph. The teacher librarian will also discuss plagiarism with students, and begin to explain how to cite sources. This online encyclopedia will be a continued research throughout their time at Taylor Elementary school. Projected Time Frame: Students’ library lessons are generally twenty minutes. If I were actually working in this school with the teacher I would say it would take three lessons. With the limited time for the practicum, the sixty minutes of instruction and assistance by the teacher librarian will be spent in one day. The students will have approximately one week to complete their informative paragraph for the classroom teacher.
Content Area Standards: Language Arts: Summarize non-fiction text. Use text features to get information (section headings, captions, maps, graphs, tables, diagrams, index). Use a dictionary or context clues to find meanings of words. Create a published piece of writing by using the 5 stages of the writing process. Write for different purposes. Write a paragraph using correct grammar, capitalization
and punctuation throughout. Identify and summarize important facts. Science: Summarize and share the evidence from scientific investigations. Technology: Use a word processor to write a paragraph using correct grammar, capitalization and punctuation throughout. Use technology tools to gather, organize, graph, and interpret data. Use an online dictionary and thesaurus. Cite the sources I used to research. Library: Use a dictionary, encyclopedia, or atlas to answer questions, asking for help when needed. Use computer resources to find information. Understand the importance of accurate information, with adult help. Take notes and summarize from a reference or nonfiction source or computer resource.
Information Literacy: Use prior knowledge to determine the need for information (1.1.2). Develop and use successful strategies for locating information (1.1.4/1.1.5). Determine accuracy, relevance, and comprehensiveness (1.1.5). Select information relevant to the problem or question at hand (1.1.5/1.1.7). Derive meaning from information presented in a variety of formats (1.1. 6/1.1.7). Organize information for practical application (2.1.2/4.1.6). Integrate new information into current knowledge (2.1.1/2.1.3/2.1.6). Use technology effectively to organize, present and document research findings (2.1.4/3.1.4). Respect intellectual property rights and understands the need for documenting sources (3.1.6). Use technology and resources responsibly (3.1.6). Work independently and in groups to pursue information to solve problems (1.1.9/2.1.5/3.1.2). Apply critical thinking skills when reading, viewing, and listening (4.1.2). The AASL national standards are in the parenthesis.
Cooperative Teaching Plan: The classroom teacher will introduce the writing assignment and explain to students what they are supposed to research. The classroom teacher will also teach students how to organize their paragraphs using the school endorsed “Write Tools.” He will teach them about the purpose of writer’s and that they are either to inform, to persuade, or entertain. The students’ purpose for writing their paragraph will be to inform. The classroom teacher will grade the products using a 1, 2, 3 grading scale where a 1 means the paragraph did not meet expectations, a 2 means they are working towards expectations, and a 3 means they met
expectations. The teacher librarian will teach the students how to find the facts for their informative paragraph using Britannica Online. She will give an overview of how to use the online encyclopedia and its many features. She will also review with students what it means to plagiarize and how to cite their source within their paragraph. In order to record their research and organize their paragraph, the teacher librarian will also create two graphic organizers for students to use.
Collaborative Unit Study: In planning for this lesson, there were many things I had to take into consideration. The first thing for a librarian to take into account is the audience he or she is serving. I must consider the age (fourth graders are usually ten and eleven) and what is appropriate for their level of understanding. I must also understand the demographics of the students I am teaching. In this classroom there are 23 students where twelve identify themselves as African-American, nine identify themselves as Caucasian, and two identify themselves as Hispanic. I must also ensure that my students have equitable access to technology. If the students are at home, I cannot guarantee they will have access to resources, but if I work with them during library instruction, I know that all students will have access to the technology they need to complete their research. Many of the students in this classroom are also classified as needing special education services and to insure learning of all, I needed to differentiate my instruction. Both auditory and visual learning styles were addressed in that students were able to listen and watch as I gave directions about using the online tool. Students who prefer hands on or tactile learning were able to use the computer as their tool and also have teacher-guided assistance when they had questions as they were completing their research. The students were also given two graphic organizers to help classify and organize their notes. The first allowed them to simply write down their findings in a note taking fashion, and the second helps group their ideas into sentence and paragraph forms. I also believe this project encourages the engagement of the students because they are given the freedom to choose the animal over which they would like to report. Neither the teacher nor the teacher librarian is telling them what they have to choose, and because of this students are allowed to access their own interests and apply it to their assignment.
End Product: The end product of this collaboration is an informative paragraph where students have used technology and research to inform their reader about an animal. The students must
have one in-text citation that shows both teachers where in Britannica the students got their information. This activity serves as the base for future research and citation assignments.
Assessment Overview: I will assess the students in several ways. First, I will informally assess how they pay attention during the lesson. If their attention is elsewhere, they will have a harder time following directions when they are to work on their own. Second will be how well they follow directions in terms of what they do to search and how well they complete their graphic organizer. If these were my actual students I would also assess their skills the next time we did a research project. Instead of me giving them detailed instructions, I would have them search on their own to see what they can do with the online encyclopedia. The other assessing will come from the classroom teacher in terms of how well written their paragraph is, how they followed the Write Tools, and their citation and paraphrasing.
Assessment Results: Students improved their abilities in several different areas as a result of this assignment. To look at the assessment, one must look back at the SLE’s (Student Learning Expectations). One area of improvement is the students’ technology skills. Students have little access to this outside of school and because they are young, there is a lot of room for improvement. Because of this assignment students were able to learn how to use an online encyclopedia to gather, organize, and interpret data. They also learned how to use an online dictionary that was part of the features of the encyclopedia. The students are now able to use an encyclopedia to answer their questions and find information. Another area is learning about plagiarism and how to cite sources they used to do their research. Students were able to use the name of the article and use quotation marks around text directly cited from their research. They knew not to copy and paste words from the encyclopedia or that would be plagiarizing. Instead they changed the information they found into their own words. Students also learned how to do research and search for information. For their next research project they now have a tool instead of not knowing where to start. Students will now be able to develop and use successful strategies for locating needed information. While searching for their facts, the students improved their information literacy by having to decide which details were relevant to writing their paragraph and which were not. Students also had to use text features of the encyclopedia when doing research. They interpreted section headings, captions, maps, tables,
indexes, and the table of context. Additionally, students progressed in their critically thinking skills while reading viewing, and listening to information. Many students watched the videos associated with their animals and had to copy information they deemed relevant. They had to work independently to gather their data. Neither the classroom teacher nor the teacher librarian answered the required questions on the graphic organizers. This can be very difficult for students unaccustomed to research. Also included on their graphic organizer was a question that asked them if they would want to be that animal. They had to demonstrate higher level thinking to put themselves in the place of that animal and support their statement with the research they gathered. A different area of improvement was how well students could summarize a nonfiction text. If students were to copy word for word, they knew that would be plagiarism so they had to expand upon their vocabulary (and in some cases use a thesaurus) in order to summarize and reword their information when writing their paragraph. Lastly, both note taking and idea organization skills were improved upon. Students had to copy information they deemed relevant onto the correct part of their graphic organizers. They first had to organize their notes and then had to turn those notes into a web graphic organizer to create the organizational structure of their paragraph.
Evaluation of Library Media Program: Every good teacher should reflect upon his or her lesson in order to improve and grow as an educator. There are several things I would change for future improvement. One is that I would like to play a larger role in the summative assessment of the paragraph. I taught the students how to use the citations and plagiarism, so I should be the one to assess how well they did. I also think I could have done a better job assessing their learning during their research. In the future when teaching this lesson, I will have a spread sheet containing each student’s name on the left side of the paper, then the indicators on the top. This way I can have a checklist of what specifically I am looking for and whether or not they met that expectations. I would also like to break the lesson down into more chunks. I feel as though I gave the students too many directions at once instead of going step by step, check for understanding, and then continue with more steps. For example, I showed the students how to use the online encyclopedia and then told them about the citations. I think in the future these should be two separate lessons. Or at least let them have their time practicing the research after I show them,
then have them stop and go over the citation examples using some of the information they found. Lastly, in the future I would like to know ahead of time which animals they are researching or have the students choose from a list that I knew they would find in the Britannica Online. During research one student had chosen the harrier hawk, which was not found. Normally I would tell a student to find a different source, but because we were focusing on this resource specifically he had to choose hawk instead. If students had a list, then I would know for sure whether or not they would be able to find sufficient information for the assignment. Overall I feel the lesson went well, but it is always important to find ways to improve and change lessons to meet the needs of the students.
Teacher Collaboration: One of the most difficult parts of this lesson was finding the time to collaborate with the classroom teacher. In fact, much of our correspondence was electronic. I think if I were working in the same building the collaboration would have been easier, but with the media positions being part time, I would still be out of the building every other week. I did think the classroom teacher would have more time to meet since he has a student teacher, but at times it was still difficult to get responses to my questions via email and phone calls. When I spoke with my supervisor in regards to this, she said I was lucky to have any time at all to work with him as her collaboration with teachers in her building is usually one or two emails. Despite the difficulty in communication, the classroom teacher was extremely excited to have me come in and do a technology lesson. He said it is very difficult to find the time to look at the district resources in terms of research plus teach his curriculum and was excited to see what the online encyclopedia could do and how it could be of use. He said it was especially important because the district had switched from World Book Online Encyclopedia to Britannica Online, so he also wanted to learn about the new encyclopedia. October 5/6: Initial collaboration via email. I told him my supervisor had recommended I collaborate with him and I asked if he would be interested. I gave him an outline of what I needed to do in terms of a collaborative lesson. He responded the next day with a few ideas and we decided we would get together in two weeks to further discuss what we would like for the students to do. October 20: I used some of my practicum time today to collaborate in person with the classroom teacher. We looked at the Student Learning Expectations (SLE’s) which is what the
school district uses for their standards-based learning objectives. We decided we would focus mostly on language arts since it is one of the district and school goals. He also gave me information about the students’ backgrounds in terms of equitable access to technology based research tools. October31: Collaboration via email to determine date, time, and length of collaborative lesson. We decided on Thursday November 17th at 1:30 for sixty minutes. November 11: Email collaboration. I sent him the graphic organizers I would like to use for the lesson as well as an explanation of both. I also inquired about how exactly he would be introducing the assignment so I knew how much background information they would already have. This also gave me an idea of what I needed to go over more in depth and what I could skim over. I also asked about their previous introductions with plagiarism and citations. His email response was fairly vague, so I called him at school to get a better and more specific idea. During our discussion we decided the students would be required to have one in-text direct citation and that there rest would just be paraphrased so that I should talk about and give examples during the lesson. I know this class had previously had a library class on plagiarism, so I would use that previous knowledge guide my instruction. November 15: In person collaboration today where we detailed what the classroom teacher had already done with the students in terms of the assignment, what he would like me to do, and what he would do in terms of assessment. He also discussed how much he liked the graphic organizers and how this lesson was important because it is the jumping off point for all of their future research and informative writing. He also told me the rest of his timeline for the assignment and how he would grade them. They must turn in their graphic organizers and paragraphs. He will grade the paragraphs on a 1, 2, 3 scale previously mentioned in this paper. November 16: I emailed the classroom teacher an outline of specifically what I would say, do, and cover in the lesson. He said it looked very thorough and liked that I had included some Internet basics the students may not be familiar with (how to click back, scroll, etc). I also confirmed the laptops would be ready for student use and if there were any other things we needed to do before tomorrow’s lesson. November 17: After the lesson did not go as planned, we decided we would have the laptops set up and logged in before the lesson began so we did not have to wait on technology. November 18: After the lesson we discussed how the students did during the lesson and
that it seemed as though they understood the online encyclopedia and how well they had filled out their graphic organizers. He also said he would get in touch with me in terms of how their paragraphs looked. December 1: Today was the last day of our communication and collaboration. The classroom teacher mailed me copies of several of the paragraphs and also a more detailed rubric of how and why he assigned them a score of one, two, or three. There was no discussion of results before the due date of this assignment.
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