Tag Archives: research

Need Support with Information Literacy: IRIS is a Great Place to Start

The research process is so comprehensive that although you know what you want your students to do, they are often at such varying levels of ability and understanding that beginning a research project can be overwhelming for you and for them. Since Information Literacy is such a major part of the 21st century research process, students must have a working understanding of how to put the pieces of the research puzzle together.

Choose from a variety of modules to support your students through each stage of the research process.

IRIS, the Seattle Community Colleges Information, Research, and Instruction Site, provides students with multiple modules to complete on everything from the research process, to analyzing sources.  There are even modules on plagiarism, primary and secondary sources, and how to explore a variety of different print and non-print sources.  IRIS also has quizzes that students can take after they complete the tutorials so that they can assess their understanding of a topic.

There are multiple classroom implications for this site.  First, teachers can differentiate and assign modules as students need them. They can also jigsaw these modules and have students share what they learn with classmates.  Or, students could complete specific modules simultaneously and discuss their impact on the research they are doing.  No matter how students use this site, they will find an easy to navigate, student-friendly resource for understanding the research process.

I read through several of the modules and found that they are appropriate for high school students, and with some support most middle school students can handle these modules.


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Making Sense of Integrating Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects

Helping teachers and administrators understand the meaning of "literacy" is an important first step.

I don’t really understand why there has always been this push back from teachers who think that teaching and reinforcing literacy skills are the responsibilities of the English teacher.  I never took at science, social studies, art, or technical course that did not include reading, writing, speaking, listening, presenting, and communicating with others.

Occasionally, teachers in these courses did as well or better at teaching literacy skills than did my English and Language Arts teachers.  I think one of the biggest barriers is that not all teachers have a true understanding by what is meant by “literacy instruction.”

All students deserve quality literacy instruction. Good teachers include literacy instruction instinctively throughout each lesson regardless of their content.

When I worked as a Curriculum Specialist, one of my greatest joys was mentoring young teachers, observing them, and providing clear, specific feedback on their instruction.  I worked with some outstanding teachers who were just starting their careers.  One thing the strongest and most effective teachers had in common, regardless of their content-area or grade level, was that they intuitively and purposefully created learning opportunities for students in which literacy strategies were embedded throughout each class period, each lesson, and each unit.

So, what does this mean to non-ELA teachers?

I challenge you to take a look at the bullets below no matter the subject you teach and decide which bullets are important for students in your class.

The Common Core State Standards define students who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language as those who have the following attributes:

1.  They demonstrate independence.

  • Comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of types and disciplines without significant scaffolding
  • Construct effective arguments
  • Convey intricate or multifaceted information
  • Independently discern a speaker’s key points
  • Build on others’ ideas
  • Request clarification, articulate their own ideas, ask relevant questions, and become self-directed learners
  • Seek out and use resources to assist them
  • Demonstrate command of the English language
  • Acquire and use a wide range of vocabulary

Image courtesy of Discoveryschool.com

2.  They build strong content knowledge.

  • Establish a base of knowledge across a wide range of subject matter by engaging with works of quality and substance
  • Become proficient in new areas through research and study
  • Read purposefully and listen attentively to gain general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise
  • Refine and share their knowledge through writing and speaking

3.  They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline. 

  • Adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline
  • Set and adjust purpose for reading, writing, speaking, listening and language use as warranted by the task
  • Appreciate nuances – such as how the composition of an audience should affect tone when speaking and how connotations of words affect meaning
  • Understand that different disciplines call for different types of evidence — i.e. documentary evidence in history and experimental evidence in science.

4.  They comprehend as well as critique.

  • Engaged and open-minded
  • Discerning readers and listeners
  • Work diligently to understand precisely what an author or speaker is saying
  • Question an author’s or speaker’s assumptions and premises
  • Assess the veracity of claims and soundness of reasoning

Valuing evidence as well as using technology and digital media strategically and effectively are skills our 21st century students must master to be prepared for college and the workforce.

5.  They value evidence.

  • Cite evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation
  • Use relevant evidence when supporting their own points in writing and speaking
  • Make their reasoning clear to the reader or listener
  • Evaluate others’ use of evidence constructively

6.  They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.

  • Employ technology thoughtfully to enhance reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use
  • Tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently
  • Integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline
  • Are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communications goals

7.  They come to understand other perspectives and cultures. 

  • Appreciate that the 21st century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures with diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together
  • Actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening
  • Able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds
  • Evaluate other points of view critically and constructively

This resource includes research, recommendations, vignettes, and professional development suggestions.

The Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects were built on the premises that reading in the content area is critical to building knowledge and writing is a key means of asserting and defending claims, showing what students know about a subject, and conveying what they have experienced, thought, imagined, or felt.

When I read through the standards, I found that they provide a great reference to guide the classroom teacher in terms of what students should be doing with the content.  The standards provide an opportunity for the teacher to ensure that students are engaging with the content in meaningful ways that will help ensure that they are indeed college or career ready. We know that most college and workforce training programs require informational readings, and to ensure our students are well-prepared for college and the workforce, we ALL owe it to them to teach and support our students’ literacy development.

If you are looking for support as you begin to think about the role literacy plays in your planning, curriculum design, and daily instruction, check out these great resources.

Bringing Literacy Strategies into Content Instruction:  Developed by the Center on Instruction, “this document provides research-based guidance on academic literacy instruction in the content areas, specifically focusing on the effective use of text in content areas.”

Common Core for Social Studies Teachers!:  (Look for Episode 15)  ASCD’s Michael Fisher interviews  Bruce Leader, a 10th grade Global Studies teacher at Starpoint High School in Lockport, NY.  In this interview Bruce Leader discusses integrating the literacy standards for writing and reading from the Common Core into his professional practice.

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New Changes to Delicious are Simply Divine!

When Delicious first introduced “stacks,” I was not completely sold on their functionality.  Then, I took time to really play with the “stacks” function.  And… I love it!  I began to realize all of the potential that this new element of Delicious can have on classroom instruction.

In case you aren’t familiar with this site, Delicious is a free social bookmarking web resource for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks.

Click on this video to see how stacks work!

As 21st century educators, one of our charges is to teach students to be media literate.  We throw around this terms, but one important component of teaching students to be savvy consumers of media is teaching them how to navigate resources on the web.  How do we teach students about how to access reliable, factual information?  Delicious stacks can help in a number of ways.

Students with Little Research Experience:  The teacher can create a stack on a topic the teacher wants the students to research.  The teacher can provide the link to that stack, and students would use only websites in the stack to conduct their research.

Students with some Research Experience:  Students could create a Delicious Stack of every site they use in their research.  This would help students on a number of levels.  First, they could quickly revisit any site where they retrieved information.  Next, teachers or peers could review student resources to check for reliability.  Then, students could use the text option to write a description of what they found on this site.  Their comments could be helpful if they use their stacks to collaborate and share ideas with other classmates.

Savvy Researchers:  As part of a research assignment, one of the components of the rubric could be to create Delicious stack as part of their final product.  This stack along with the text description could help serve the purpose of our notecards of old.  These stacks can also provide teachers with a quick resource to check citations and reliability of information.


For a short read on eight ways to tell if a website is reliable, share this article with students:  Eight Ways to Tell if a Website is Reliable


Follow my Delicious links at:  www.delicious.com/mullinshe


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