On Friday, I began teaching lessons on how to conduct good research. This is a yearly event where I spend lots of time with all the middle school students helping them to prepare for writing a paper for the social studies fair. This year, the students do not have to do a full blown social studies fair project, but all students are required to write a paper.They cannot get honors' credit for social studies without writing a research paper. Several years ago, the English department and I decided that we wanted the students to write quality papers for this project. If that was going to happen, then the papers needed to be started in English class.We have really developed a method for teaching research that we are proud of. It is truly collaborative. Since the paper does not have to be as long as in past years (social studies fair had length requirements), we have scaled back the paper to make it more age appropriate.
To make the process more manageable for teachers and students, the sixth graders are selecting a person, the seventh graders are selecting an event in American history and the eighth graders are going to select a topic from Louisiana history or culture. Students will receive grades from both their English teacher and social studies teacher. The high school students are also required to write a paper for honors' credit, but those papers will be completed with the social studies teacher only.
As librarian, I am the go to person to help with the research process. I can teach lessons to classes on where to access quality information, but I can't be there 24/7 in person. However, I can be there 24/7 virtually. I had made a wiki for the social studies fair a few years ago that I was very proud of. It was a one stop shop for the whole process from start to finish that could be used by both middle and high school. For the current year, I realized that I had to revamp the wiki because the teachers and I had revamped the requirements for the paper. I was able to take the old wiki and copy and paste and edit to make it relevant for this year without spending hours. I was thrilled with the outcome. Open here to find the new and improved wiki. On the home page you can find the three different pathfinders that I created for the students in middle school so that they will get a chance to explore all the different resources that we have available for them. The rest of the wiki offers pages for students to get help in selecting a topic, help in finding the databases, help with writing a paper and help with creating citations. With this resource, I know that students can find what they need to get this paper completed. By viewing the statistics available to me in wikispaces, I can see if the students are using the resource. I understand that students don't always want to come to me for help, so the wiki is available to give them assistance whether they need it during the school day or at home.