Creating a Solid Foundation: Research Skills for Sixth Graders
Project Members:
Terri Bridges
Sarah Stonesifer
Elizabeth Melchor

Introduction
The Topic & Standards
Materials and Technology
Implementation and Assignments
Lessons

Introduction

This project focuses on teaching sixth graders research skills. This is a collaborative unit called creating a solid foundation: research skills between the school media librarian and the sixth grade English teachers to teach research skills. Every year at Connelly School of the Holy Child in Montgomery County, MD the sixth grade class is assigned a five page research paper about a community topic of their choice. For most students this is their first research paper.
The school media librarian will meet with each sixth grade class to give three lessons on the skills necessary to do research. These skills are brainstorming to find their topic and search terms, finding\using authoritative internet sources, organizing the information and citation. This is a four week lesson plan. The first two weeks will be spent teaching the three lessons and the last two weeks will be for the students to write their paper. According to the Trust Online: Young Adults' Evaluation of Web Content article mentions that people depend on emotions and routines to find and trust information found on the internet. While this article focuses on older young adults and how they look at internet credibility. These results most likely would be similar for the six grade students because they are on the brink of young adulthood. The skills learned now will help to avoid the issues shown by the young adults in the study. We want the students to look only at the facts on a website and to remove any emotion when looking at a site.(Hargittai et. al 479-481)
These lessons incorporate American Library Standard 21st Century Skills (AASL) for students, NETS for students and Common CORE State Standards Initiative (CORE). Each lesson will be taught using different web 2.0 tools and materials. The tools being used for these lessons will be Noodletools, computers, Inspiration, data projector, data projector screen, chalk board, index cards and markers. Using these tools allow the students to write a reliable, organized and comprehensive research paper. This wiki is divided into six section 1) topics and standards, 2) school setting 3) issues and solutions 4) materials needed 5) implementation and assignments 6) detailed lesson plans. The overall goal of these lessons are to not only help the students complete this assignment but to prepare them for future research projects throughout their academic career.

The Topic & Standards


These lessons are to teach sixth graders the three main research skills needed to write a research paper on community issues. This unit asks students to use english language art and reasoning skills to help find a research topic, decide the validity and reliability of Internet resources, cite sources and organize their information. The creating a solid foundation: research skills unit is based around ten of the AASL standards, two NETS for Students and one CORE standard. Each of the three lessons are designed to meet at least one standard from AASL, NETS for Students and CORE but many of the lessons meet more than one.

AASL Standards


Standard 1: Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.
• 1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
• 1.2.2 Demonstrate confidence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information.
• 1.2.3 Demonstrate creativity by using multiple resources and formats.

This unit focuses on Internet sources and their reliability but the students are not limited to Internet sources. It is up to them to decide ultimately if there are more sources such as books, tv shows, etc to meet their needs. The school media librarian and teachers will direct students to three known and reliable sites to get them started. It will be stressed that these are not the only sites\resources the students can use. In regards to any type of sources that the students pick it is up to them to decide if they meet the credibility standards learned in lesson two.
• 1.2.4 Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information.

The students decide if a resource is accurate or valid. It is up to the students to visit sites that are known to be reliable and to visit more sites to check that source. The lesson on the six criteria teaches them how to evaluate the sites but the overall six criteria lesson can also be used to evaluate any other type of sources the students choose to use.
• 1.3.3 Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information.
• 1.3.1 Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers.

The students must correctly cite all and any sources that they use. The noodletools lesson helps the students accomplish this goal because it provides them a template to put in all their source information to create a bibliography.

Standard 2: Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.
• 2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful
• 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.

The students will use two organizational tools, inspiration and noodletools to create a visible layout of their information to help them decide what information is necessary.

Standard 4: Pursue personal and aesthetic growth.
• 4.4.1 Identify own areas of interest.

It is the responsibility of the students to come up with their own research topic relating to community issues. The brainstorming activity will help the students think of topics of interest to them and ultimately help them pick a topic.


NETS For Students


1. Creativity and Innovation
· 1b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

The overall goal of this assignment is to have the students use the sources that they found to create a paper with their own ideas that bring new insight to their topic.

Common Core State Standards (CORE)

W.6.7 Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.
W.6.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.
W.6.9 Draw evidence from literary or information texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

The students must apply the six criteria to pick at least eight sources and then summarize the information needed on electronic note cards used in noodletools. The students will also complete a five page research paper.

The Setting and Context


This three-lesson plan is to introduce sixth graders to internet research, website reliability, and finally organizing the internet information.
The setting for which this lesson plan was created for is for the incoming sixth graders at Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac, Maryland. Holy Child is an independent college-preparatory Catholic all-girls school, grades sixth through twelve. The 2010-2011 sixth grade for which we modeled the lessons, is comprised of seventeen girls. Seven of the students have documented learning differences. At least four students struggle with weak reading comprehension skills. Because sixth grade is the first year at Holy Child, this is a great opportunity to make sure that everyone on the same level in terms of internet reliability, research, and exploration.
This lesson unit falls into the first trimester sixth grade introduction to the school and activities. The students come in for about 55 minutes at the end of the day during their Elective period. The plan allows for about 45 minutes of material (lesson and student activities), with back-up plans and expansion of activities in case the lesson is not sinking in or the students go through the materials very quickly. This academic year, the introduction included how to use the library catalog, looking for and organizing fiction and non-fiction books, and also a readers’ advisory lesson. This lesson unit will allow the students to explore the possibilities for internet research, within a guided project so that they can compare and contrast the options found while browsing for relevant information.
The needed materials will be laptops or computers for all seventeen students. The McShain Library has a library classroom, the Crivella Room. In the Crivella Room, there is a classroom set-up, including 18 seats, a whiteboard, projector hook-up to a desktop and another desktop at the front of the room. The library has four other desktops in the main room, and fifteen laptops that are in good condition and four laptops that need to be plugged into the wall when in use. While most of the laptops are reliable, there can still be technology issues such as the projector restarting for no known reason, a slow internet connection, the students forgetting their computer password, and the laptops having too many students logged in at once.
This lesson plan unit is structured to be completed in the allotted library class time. This allows for the librarian/media specialist to completely go over the topic with the students, as well as answer any lingering questions while the assignment is being worked on. Completing the assignments under supervision also insures that the basic concepts are repeated throughout the assignments, both by activities and librarian/media specialist.


The Materials and Technology Tools You will Need


Lesson 1:
Computers for all students
Much of the lessons for this project include individual work focused towards the final end project. It is important for the students to individually experience and manipulate each of the tools as part of the educational experience.
Chalk/White Board
Writing community ideas allows for the students to see their thoughts acknowledged as well as learn about the brainstorming process by seeing how others connect ideas with associated keywords.
Data projector & screen
Inspiration is a visual tool and demonstrating how connections, keywords and ideas come together is incredibly important for teaching the students how to operate the tool.
Inspiration License for computers and installation
Inspiration requires that a software license be purchased for each computer on which it is installed. Information about educational licenses can be found on the official website: http://www.inspiration.com/Purchasing-Options
Lesson 2:
Computers for students in groups of three and individually
List of vocabulary words (coverage, objectivity, currency, origin, accuracy, and purpose)
Index Cards
Index cards allow students to share their ideas without the possibility that they could be teased or laughed at for their thoughts. It also allows the instructor to pull together all the answers and quickly plan which suggestions to talk about and share with the class.
Chart paper or Chalk/White Board
Markers
By bringing writing implements for the students, it takes the pressure off of them to come prepared for the additional class.
Lesson 3:
Computers for all students
Data projector & screen
Noodletools student/school login
Noodletools’ school (paid) account is a great tool to have to because it allows for administrator access and also students sharing with teachers. Noodletools is an online tool that lets students organize their bibliography, sources, information - all linked! Information about registration can be found on the official website: http://noodletools.com/tools/subscriptions.php


The Implementation & Assignments

The following unit should be implemented during the first trimester of the school year. We recommend that the lessons be taught in 55 minute class period, this will allow time for students to ask questions and get individual help if needed. The library will also be available for students to use before and after-school if they should need extra support. The unit is designed to last for about 4 weeks and will be developed in collaboration with the English teachers. The lessons will be spread out so as to give student time to truly practice each skill they have learned. There should also be substantial time allocated for independent research time. We recommend two weeks be allocated for independent research time as well as to re-teach the students who are still having difficulty mastering the standard and goals.

Students will be submitting assignments on a regular basis through out the unit. This will ensure students keep on task and do not feel overwhelmed. Finally, it will reinforce good studying habits. For their first assignment students will complete a brainstorming activity and will turn in their brainstorming piece. It will be evaluated using the following criteria.
Brainstorming
CATEGORY
4
3
2
1
Ideas
Ideas were expressed in a clear and organized fashion. It was easy to figure out the relationships between ideas.
Ideas were expressed in a clear manner, but the organization could have been better.
Ideas were somewhat organized, but were not very clear.
The ideas seemed to be a collection of unrelated ideas. It was very difficult to figure out what the relationship was.
Focus On Topic
There is one clear, well-focused topic. There are subtopics and other related ideas.
Main idea is clear but there are only subtopics with no other related ideas.
Main idea is somewhat clear but there is a need for more subtopics.
The main idea is not clear. There is a seemingly random collection of subtopics.

Their second assignment will be to submit a list of their websites they will be using along with an explanation stating the reason these websites are reliable. The following rubric will be used to evaluate the students.
Website Evaluation

CATEGORY
4
3
2
1
Sources
*Used 4 highly relevant sources.
*Used 3 sources.
*Used 2 sources.
Used 1 source.
Explanation
Used all criteria to evaluate websites and their explanations were clear and concise. They presented their finding in a unique fashion.
Used most criteria to evaluate websites and their explanations were clear and concise.
Used some of the criteria to evaluate websites and their explanations were clear but not always concise.
Used few to none criteria to evaluate the website and their explanations were not clear and/or concise.

The third assignment that will be submitted is their bibliography of at least 8 sources created using noodle bibs. This assignment will not be given a grade. The student will simply receive a satisfactory and feedback for submitting the assignment. The fourth assignment is to create a set of at least 8 note cards and an outline for their research paper. This assignment will be worth 10 points and will be evaluated using the following criteria.

Note card rubrics

CATEGORY
4 Advanced
3 Proficient
2 Basic
1 Below Basic
Note Taking
*Notes include facts that directly relate to your research.
*Information is paraphrased or written in your own words.
*Notes contain enough information to help you write a complete research paper.
*Notes include facts that directly relate to your research.
*Notes are written in key words and phrases not sentences.
*Notes contain enough information to help you write a complete research paper.
*Notes include facts that directly relate to your research.
*Most notes are written in key words and phrases.
*Notes contain enough information to help you write a complete research paper.
*Facts sometimes relate to your research.
*Some notes are written in key words and phrases.
*Notes do not contain enough information to help you write a complete report.
Organization
*Note cards are organized so that each topic has several supporting details.
*Note cards are numbered, as they will appear in your paper.
*Each note card has a corresponding source.
*Note cards are organized so that each topic has supporting details.
*Note cards are numbered, as they will appear in your paper.
*Each note card has a corresponding source
*Note cards are organized so that most topics have supporting details
*Note cards are numbered, as they will appear in your paper.
*Each note card has a corresponding source.
*Some note card topics have supporting details
*Note cards are not numbered in a way that makes sense
*Source is missing or not on each card




Throughout the unit both the librarian and the teacher should be evaluating students and providing feedback. It is important to use the data gathered from the previous rubrics to modify your lessons as necessary. Furthermore this data allows you to identify those students that need re-teaching of certain skills. The final assignment will be to submit a 5-page research paper. The assignment will be assessed using the following point scale: print out of inspiration brainstorm (10pts), website evaluation (10pts), notecards (10pts), bibliography (10pts) and research paper (30pts).
Examples of Notecards and Bibliography:

Research Paper

CATEGORY
4
3
2
1
Organization
Information is very organized with well-constructed paragraphs and subheadings.
Information is organized with well-constructed paragraphs.
Information is organized, but paragraphs are not well constructed.
The information is disorganized.
Amount of Information
All topics are discussed with ample coverage
All topics are addressed but the discussion is short.
Some topics not covered or the discussion is weak
Incomplete discussion.
Quality of Information
Information clearly relates to the main topic. It includes several sub topics. They also come from reliable and valid sources
Information clearly relates to the main topic but could give more facts or examples.
They also come from reliable and valid sources
Information does not always relate to the topic. Facts and examples are quite weak. Some sources are reliable and valid.
Information has little or nothing to do with the main topic. Does not have source and/or they are not reliable or valid.
Mechanics
No grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors.
Almost no grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors
A few grammatical spelling, or punctuation errors.
Many grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors.
Paragraph Construction
All paragraphs include introductory sentence, explanations or details, and concluding sentence.
Most paragraphs include introductory sentence, explanations or details, and concluding sentence.
Paragraphs included related information but were typically not constructed well.
Paragraphing structure was not clear and sentences were not typically related within the paragraphs.
The Lessons


1st Lesson Plan
Grade: 6th

AASL Standards: 2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
4.4.1 Identify own areas of interest.
Objective(s): Students will be able to find and identify their research topic using brainstorming strategies.
Materials: computers, chalk board, data projector, data projector screen
Vocabulary: Brainstorming, Community issues
Warm Up: Start the lesson by asking the students what brainstorming is and how it can be used in the research process. Put the word brainstorming on the board and put their thoughts around that word.
Introduction: Introduce them to inspiration as a tool they can use to help gather their thoughts from brainstorming. Then explain how the words picked can be used as possible search terms for their topic.
Guided Practice: As a class students will practice brainstorming and using inspiration. They will be given a word and posting the words they associate with it around the main word.
Independent Practice: Students individually will make their diagram using inspiration by using community issues of their choice.
Closing: Students turn their diagram into the teacher with a short paragraph on which community issue they choose as a research topic. Included in this paragraph needs to be an example of the search terms they will be using.
Here is an example of a student diagram.
2nd Lesson Plan
Grade: 6th
Standards:
ALA Standards: 1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
1.2.2 Demonstrate confidence and self-direction by making independent choices in the selection of resources and information.
1.2.4 Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information.

NETS: W.6.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions
of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.

Common Core Standards: 3c. Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
3b. Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
Objective(s): Students will be able to identify the five criteria used to evaluate websites and will use the criteria to find 3 useful website and 3 websites that are not
reliable.
Materials:
List of vocabulary words (reliability, accuracy, currency, relevance, and objectivity/purpose)
Chart paper
Markers
Question to Ask

Warm Up:
Pose the following questions: Do you think all the information on the internet is accurate? How do you decide what information is true or accurate? Write all the answers
down on chart paper. Tell them you will be asking them to use their self-made criteria in a moment. Make sure to place it where all students can see the chart paper
Introduction:
Begin by displaying a website and ask students to evaluate the site based on their own criteria. Afterwards have students go through the following tutorial
Website Evaluation Link
Once students have gone through the tutorial discuss what they have learned and how it is similar to their self-made criteria. Tell them that from now on we will use the
five criteria to evaluate websites. Make sure to emphasize that some of these criteria have components of their self-made criteria to evaluate their resources. Model how
to evaluate a website and how you would draw the conclusion that this website is reliable using the five criteria. Use the rubric and questions.
Guided Practice:
Before hand, select 6 websites: 3 good websites and 3 bad websites. Have students break up into groups and each take one criteria to evaluate each website. This is a great website that will give you some examples to use: examplesl Students will be given a rubric they can use when evaluating website and questions they should be asking themselves. Use a chart to organize
information. Then each group presents their discoveries.
Independent Practice:
Each student uses their topic they have already developed using the inspiration software and uses the criteria to evaluate each website.
Closing: Students share a website they found reliable in a group of three.

3rd Lesson Plan
Grade: 6th
Standards:
AASL
1.3.1 Respect copyright/intellectual property rights of creators and producers
1.3.3 Follow ethical and legal guidelines in gathering and using information.
2.1.2 Organize knowledge so that it is useful.
2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information.
Objective(s): To have the students understand how to cite a source using Noodletools, and input their research into the online note cards. Understand quotation and paraphrase and that they need to cite both.
Materials: Computers, projector & screen for demonstrating
Vocabulary: Paraphrase, quotation, citation, bibliography
Warm Up: Ask what has been done in the previous two lessons, how they can use the brainstorming, online searching and internet quality guidelines in their own research. Ask how do they let their readers know where their information came from.
Introduction: Introduce a bibliography, how it is a trail for the readers from the paper to what the full listing of background information. Go through the citation basics for books, and websites. Show Noodlebib notecards, the different areas to fill out: Quotation, Paraphrase, and My Idea. Emphasize the difference between Quotation and Paraphrase.
Guided Practice: Bring up an example website and go through the Noodlebib citation process to show how them how fill out the online program. Then, find a text example and show the notecard with quotation and paraphrase. Give examples of where the copyright, author, publishing information can be.
Independent Practice: Hand out the laptops. Remind each student of the 3 good websites used in the previous lesson. Have them go through the process for citing the webpage by themselves and then make-up at least one notecard (either quotation or papaphrase) for each source.
Closing: Ask the students if they have any questions, any closing thoughts that they want to share with their classmates. Go through the steps for researching: brainstorming, internet quality checks, and citing and Noodlebib notecards.
References
Hargittai, Eszter, Fullerton, Lindsay, Menchen-Trevino, Ericka, Thomas, Kristin Y. Trust Online: Young Adults' Evaluation of Web Content. International Journal of Communication 4. (2010): 468-494. Print


Shrock, Kathy. Kathy Shrock Guide for Educator. Discovery Education, 1995. Web. April 24, 2011.