Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Using Blended Learning to Support Student Research

How is Ms. Ball using Noodle Tools and Haiku, our learning management system, to support her students in doing research for their Speeches & Sweets research project? See the image and text below taken from Ms. Ball's Haiku online classroom. 



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The tool for the students to document their research is Noodle Tools. Each student creates a project and a Google Document that is shared to Ms. Ball's Noodle Tools account. Within the project, the students use a step by step process to input the books, web sites, interviews, etc. to create citations for each entry. Once a source is cited, the student then creates digital note cards attached to each bibliographical entry.

The note cards are very structured thus helping the students to be organized and thoughtful in what information they need to input into the card. They must first title the card with very specific information as to what aspect of their research they will record. An example might be a student researching sports injuries where she opens a note card to record the title of "Concussions". 

The student then moves to a section of the card where she can record direct quotations. Another section is where she will paraphrase the information making sure to really process the information to then write notes in her own words. Another organization tool is to "tag" each entry with very specific categories. This will help later in putting the digital note cards into "stacks" by categories and/or by which paragraph they will support in the outline. Noodle Tools also contains an outline area to the right of the project screen. 

Collaboration outside of the classroom (blended learning) is supported by Noodle Tools and Google Documents. Ms. Ball is able to access each student's project to review his/her note cards and to make comments right into them. She can return later to see comments the students made in response as well as revisions that they made. Once the students organize their note cards and draw up their outlines, they then start writing their paper in Google Docs. Ms. Ball will be able to review each student's writing to make comments right into the documents. She also can have students peer edit one another's work thus expanding the collaboration and learning. This communication and learning outside of the classroom is what blended learning is all about. 

A final note is that Ms. Ball is not alone in how she supports her students. All of the other Middle School language arts teachers are following similar procedures to further support our language arts and Information and Communications Literacies (ICL) curricula. See below for a screenshot of what a student's Noodle Tools "Dashboard" might look like. 



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