When working with young (elementary) students on developing research skills, I’ve found it useful to narrow the process down to three steps:
Read and think
Write what you’ve learned
Show what you know
The proliferation of digital tools in today’s world allows for the integration of technology at every step in this process. Naturally, students are going to access web-based resources for the “read and think” stage, and creating a digital product such as a podcast or a video or even a digital poster to “show what you know” is engaging and becoming easier to accomplish. But what about the “write what you’ve learned” stage?
Padlet for Collaborative Note-Taking
Padlet is a free web 2.0 tool that allows users to post text, links, files, and images on a “wall” that resides on the web. It is a tool that students could use in the research process to record resources they’ve discovered and their thinking around the information. Students working in collaborative research groups can share resources and ideas on the same Padlet wall creating a digital, collaborative research “notebook”.
View the Padlet tutorial video below to see what a shared student research “wall” could look like, and to learn how to set up your own collaborative Padlet wall.
Padlet Tutorial Video
A research project in an elementary classroom achieves many different academic objectives such as locating information (digital and print), evaluating text for relevance to the project, reading/thinking critically, summarizing informational passages, differentiating between main ideas and details, writing (note-taking as well as all steps of the writing process), synthesizing information into a new product, and refining communication/collaboration skills. Students will be covering standards in multiple academic content areas within the context of a research assignment (i.e. Science, Social Studies, ELAR, Technology Applications, etc.).
A group research assignment that incorporates Padlet as a collaborative notebook could include these steps:
- Introduce the topic to be researched. This could be a topic from your standards or curriculum, or it could be a brainstorm session of student self-selected topics.
- Assign student groups, or allow students to choose their own groups based on common interests.
- Begin the “read and think” stage. Have students explore a variety of resources related to their research topic. This is a great point to involve your campus librarian if possible.
- Create Padlet walls (see screencast tutorial above for help) for each student group. Give students the links to their group wall, and show them how to add posts. This is the “write what you learned” stage.
- Monitor Padlet wall content to determine if students need guidance or redirection. Give groups feedback on their progress.
- After students have had enough time to research and record, have student groups use the information from their Padlet wall to “show what you know”. They can create a product of their choice (written report, blog post, podcast, video, book, poster, etc.) to showcase their learning.
- You could have a research showcase event where student groups present their products to an audience (parents, another class, administrators, etc.)!
Give Padlet a try. Your students will love it, and so will you!