Every Monday night there is this awesome thing called #flipclass chat. Its a gathering of some great minds in education to talk and discuss what's going on in their classrooms. I've been away from the chat for a while now (silly life getting in the way)! I rejoined tonight though and a cool new thing they are doing is "flashblogging" stopping the chat in the middle so that everyone can go to their personal blogs and expound on a topic. AWESOME! Especially since I wanted to start blogging again! Ok so here's tonight's prompt:
Tonight's #FlashBlog topic: What is the role of research in your #flipclass? Has it changed? Would you like it to? What works? What doesn't?
Excuse the potential this post has to be rambling- it is a flashblog after all!
This question can be taken a few different ways so I'm going to think about the shift in the type of information available to students. As a history teacher, research papers and projects often fall to our discipline. This can be great, I believe research projects and papers can really help students to dig deeper into a topic, but for so many its a dreaded activity. They get lost in content curation and miss the fun part of creating an argument, supporting an idea, or simply becoming an expert on something!
One thing that has certainly changed since I was in high school is the research process. Gone are the card catalogs and the index cards of sources. Gone is the microfiche and the periodic indexes- in comes the internet. I'm not complaining, the internet is wonderful, and it has allowed me to access educational research that has transformed my classroom. However, I think we need to rethink how we "teach" research. If students have access to sources all over the world at the click of a button we need to make sure they understand how to curate information. I find they struggle sometimes just to wade through the myriad of sites available. Many don't know how to effectively use search engines. I still see students putting whole questions into the search bar and confused when they aren't finding what they're looking for. I think we need to spend some time helping them with this. We assume they are digital natives, but the reality is they still need our assistance.
I liken this to having a trainer at the gym. I know how to run, I've done it since I was little. I can research exercise and how to use various machines at the gym. I feel like I have a good sense of what the machines are and what I am capable of doing with them. When I get their however, even though I naturally know how to run and move, a trainer (a good one anyway) can turn my arm slightly while using a machine or weight and help me hit a whole new muscle group that I didn't even know existed.
I believe its the same with research, we need to guide them and help them in the research process, not just assume that because they have the technology they realize its power. Let's help them search, gather, save, and curate the information so that they can delve into the topic and really appreciate the process.
I'm going to skip ahead a little bit and say that I think another important part of the research process is the final step- one that many people miss- publishing! This can be anything from sharing with the class, a display in the hallway or posting online, but I think its important for students to take ownership of their research in a public sphere. I think that's for another post though!
I plan on going back and editing this blog post- it was a flash blog after all! What do you find to be an important part of the research process for students?