After reading The Secret of Literacy by @LearningSpy I really liked the brief he gives learners for project work. It puts in place a few guidelines to help students avoid common pitfalls which lead to sloppy work.
When you send them off to research something, even with extensive discussion on success criteria and expectations so clear that if they were a glass door you could walk into them, you can still get a mixed bag of responses. Therefore clearly express how you want them to research.
Another of the big dangers of independent research which @LearningSpy mentions is the copy and paste tradition which has come about from the use of technology. It’s like copying out of a textbook without even needing to make the effort to look at or write the words to make them appear on the page.
You’re also dealing with the dangers of only using one source; without a variety of sources how can we ascertain the value of our research sources? How can we make them reflect on the issue rather than just replicating the thoughts of others? So, use at least 3 sources.
Behold, a simple solution! Give them a series of instructions to be handed out at the start about how to research and what I expect seemed a great idea. I also wanted to guide them into making sure they:
1) Knew what they were looking for or check if they didn’t.
2) Have some sort of checklist to help them organise themselves and keep focus.
3) Didn’t mistake independent research with looking at Google images.
I know they say a picture paints a thousand words, but until all exams start accepting doodles as answers I’m going to have to insist we research knowledge and meaning rather than just looking at pretty pictures.
After adding my personal requirements for my learners to the list I sent them to the wonderful Technician Team to make them look nice. I know that content is of primary importance, but we’ve got a hugely talented team who can add real production values to our resources, so why not make them special?
The final version looks like this and will be laminated as a permanent addition to my pedagogical arsenal.
Looking forward to seeing if it has an impact…
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE
With huge gratitude to @LearningSpy whose excellent website can be found here http://www.learningspy.co.uk
My review of his book “The Secret of Literacy” can be found here http://wp.me/p5hvJ8-4W