We are officially five days into our multigenre research paper, and overall, I am really pleased with how my summer school “peeps” are coming along with their work!  On Friday, my students actually asked if they could have extra library time because several were really engaged in their work!  As one student said, “I am on a roll, and I don’t want to stop!”  Thankfully, another class had cancelled, so I was able to buy us another hour. 

The most difficult days were “Day 1 and Day 2” on Monday and Tuesday—these were the days they were finding information sources and citing those sources in NoodleTools.  Because we were all over the map in our topics and pre-existing skills on how to use NoodleTools/NoodleBib, it was rather frenetic as I helped 20 students.  The students were very patient, though, and I greatly respected how they persevered in finding meaningful information.

As I floated around and helped students during our 2.5 hour library time on Friday, it was gratifying to see the students really “into” their work and realizing the multigenre paper is not as hard or difficult as some first thought.   They will do final reflections next week, but here are their thoughts on their progress and findings on Day 3:  http://project800s.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/10b-multigenre-research-reflections-mini-essay-june-18-2008/ .  Please note while all students composed their reflections in writing, not all have had a chance to post to the blog at this time.

A few observations from my experiences through the “teacher” lens this week…

  • Having access to books with a more recent copyright date and accessible reading level are extremely important.  Although I have not mandated a book resource due to the extreme diversity of our topics(three database resources are required) for this project, many sought out books or were extremely receptive to my suggestion they try a book (hooray!).   Many teachers assume kids do not want books, but many still do, and we as librarians need to keep buying books that will speak to our students.  So much great nonfiction is available…we need to encourage our students and teachers to remember the value of this resource.
  • While we definitely want to encourage our students to tap into the great information in databases, we also should continue to encourage them to look for QUALITY web resources–in some cases, better information has actually come from websites although most students have found the database articles (reference and periodicals) to be their best sources.
  • The majority of students have been quite positive about NoodleBib;  although most had not used the electronic notecard feature before, the students have been really positive about this feature!
  • Having a media specialist who knows the collection and how to cite all kinds of sources correctly in NoodleTools is essential, particularly if you are dealing with a larger class and students who need support and scaffolding.
  • While allowing students to choose their own topic has made it a little more work for me to support the diverse range of research interests, the kids have been much more engaged and positive.  To see kids focused and engaged in research, especially in the middle of the summer, is a joy!  🙂
  • The biggest two obstacles I have faced on this campus are:
    A.  student work for the most part is not mapping to the normal home directory.  As a result, work is getting saved in all kinds of strange places on local hard drives.  We have discovered saving work to a flash drive, using the same workstation (not always feasible), or emailing work (I recommend gmail) have become “musts.”B.  The ability to download photos or to right click for copy and paste is practically non-existent—the students cannot right click on ANYTHING.  I understand restricting the ability to right click for .exe files, but for pictures files?  This obstacle has been a tremendous thorn in our side!  At my home school, Creekview, students have had the ability (at least, they did as of the end of May), to download photos or to copy and paste text.

I will re-upload the link to the actual research assignment on Monday as I just realized it seems to be down this evening.   While I have done research papers and projects with my night school students in recent years, students were given a menu of topics to choose from; this is the first time I have given students carte blanche and let them choose something meaningful to them.  As I stated earlier, it has been a little more work on my end to do this, but I am so glad now that I did.  I cannot wait to see the final products that we will complete on Wednesday!  🙂

p.s.  the student who complained last week about how this project would make him think…well, it has, and he is now my student who is most positive about the project!  He has had nothing except good things to say the last few days about the project and how much he is enjoying it!  🙂