Monday, May 12, 2014

Earth Day Inspirations, by Stacie Bell, Librarian, Bell Elementary School

Inspired by recent Earth Day discussions in the classroom, I decided to give my 5th Grade students to opportunity to delve into an environmental issue of their choice. The students worked in pairs to do research and create a Keynote of their presentation. This project also gave me a chance to put some library topics in a more real world context.

I have noticed that many of my students will readily copy directly from a text and see no reason to paraphrase, let alone attribute their source. With this project, I began to tackle this issue. I read the students When Marion Copied by Brook Berg and discussed plagiarism with them. Then, as students conducted research with the databases, I required them to take notes on paper. Since it was faster for students to paraphrase rather than copying word for word what they read, most students were successful at this.

Having the iPads, also allowed me to teach students to use the CPS Databases. In the past, only having one student computer limited the amount of digital research students could conduct. To reach the databases, I had students go to The difficulty with this was showing them which slash to use. Students had to navigate to the math symbols page to find the correct slash. I hope in the future to put a link to this site on the iPads’ home screen, but did not have a chance before this lesson. However, I believe it is valuable for students to be able to access this site no matter what device they are on, so typing in the link was valuable.

Using the databases meant that at the bottom of
each article, a source citation was provided. I showed students how to copy this information and paste it in their Keynote so they could begin a bibliography. This reinforced a skill I have been teaching that will be needed now, as well as later in high school and college. I emphasized that this citation was the only thing they were allowed to copy and paste. All text had to be paraphrased and any pictures used must be saved to the iPad’s camera roll.

This project also gave me an opportunity to discuss copyright with my students. As they concluded their fact finding mission, students began to look for pictures to illustrate their slides. I demonstrated to students how to conduct a google image search, then filter using the advanced settings to only display results that were labeled as free to use or share. This was especially important because often, pictures not filtered by a license are blocked from being copied or saved to the camera roll. Students who did not follow this instruction quickly became frustrated that they could not use a photo that came up in their search results.

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