Saturday, February 11, 2012

Awesome Day, Awesome Keyword Worksheet

We have recently redesigned our keyword search sheets and have found that we are getting better results from the kids than we were before.  It is fascinating how the whole design process works.  We will be having Grant Wiggins come in and teach us about backward design and can possibly make it even more successful, but I have been delighted in the response to this new worksheet.  

Our history teachers are amazingly collaborative and give up time to us to have the kids do the worksheets and have them as homework in order to get a better research question as a result.  Too often students would start with a broad topic and the keyword worksheet would give them lots of keywords, but they weren't relevant or weren't specific in a way that helped them to derive a narrow research question.  

So, we thought about what our intention was: to have the worksheet funnel them down to a narrowed topic that would then bring them to create a narrowed research question.  We hand out the a double sided worksheet to the kids the night before with instructions to fill it out on the topic of censorship on the front.  We will go over that topic as a class.  

They are to find keywords relating to who, what, where, when and why (causes and outcomes) and then come up with a narrowed question.  As they read their encyclopedia article on censorship (whatever kind they choose), they will begin to narrow down the type of censorship they are looking for, say, book censorship

  • Who:  Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Joseph Stalin, Native American Indians 
  • What: book censorship,textbook censorship, government censorship
  • Where: High School
  • When: 3rd century BC to present
  • Why: Teens are given fewer choices to read; subject matter may not reflect the reality of a historical event, based on the perceived feelings of the governing community (Native Americans, for example)
  • Narrowed Topic: 

    Is our history education being adversely affected by textbook censorship?

I watched a girl go from doing a paper on Jerusalem, to doing research on how Islam, Christianity and Judaism portrayed Jerusalem in their sacred texts and what that could mean. 

It was working!

Then came the moment that they had to find primary sources, and secondary sources.  We had told them all where to go.  They had their keyword worksheets.  But would they use them?

Some did.  Most promptly forgot them and had to be reminded repeatedly to get them out and look at them. Sigh.

It's a process.

However, I did have an awesome librarian moment. I taught a freshman boy how to search the Hathi Digital Trust, how to search within his text and find relevant pages and how to use the google site:edu command. About 5 minutes later, he was helping his neighbor find info and taught his neighbor how to use the Hathi Digital Trust and the site:edu command and said, "I learned everything I know from her." Meaning me and searching techniques! 


I was so proud of him.  Another kid in the class turned around and said, "Hey, you better apply to be a library proctor."

Jam, our library guide dog in training, checking a book out to a student.
Yes.  He better.  He's on our list of awesome kids.