You’ll probably think I have Wikipedia on the brain, but it’s mainly coincidence that these two authors focused on Wikipedia. Or is it? Anyway, our next reading is called What It Means to Ban Wikipedia. While the author focuses on Wikipedia in particular, the overall argument is more about the research process and how, in his view, it’s being undermined by teachers focused on the final outcome. It is directed at a higher ed audience, but I think the overall pedagogical ideas are applicable to all grade levels.
One thing we should probably attempt to address is ways in which research is handled in early grades. Elementary teachers often have lessons where students are expected to “find information on…” and then use it in some way (often just filling in worksheets or similar). What is often overlooked is the process of how they are supposed to do that. Also worth considering is the benefit of “looking stuff up” and repeating it. That is NOT a 21st century skill. So how can we meet the needs of younger students while still recognizing their current cognitive development? Your reflection is due by October 22.
As part of your reflection consider a couple CDE standards for social studies – 3rd grade standard 1.2.d and 2.2.b. These can be found on the CDE site and are copied below. Both of these require students to use historical or geographical/cultural (respectively) information in some way. How should students access and use this information? Do we give them pre-selected sources? If so, are we missing opportunities to teach how to find, access and evaluate information? If we let them find their own do we confine them to textbooks and encyclopedias? It will be increasingly common to use the internet for this type of work. Do we ban, allow, encourage Wikipedia? What about other sites? While you do not need to address all these questions in your reflection you should consider them and, perhaps most importantly, what sort of lesson would you design for this (heads up – your final project will be very similar to this). It would be tempting, but not very 21st century, to use a worksheet to “identify the factors…” Also tempting, but not transforming, is to have students make a nice PowerPoint to “describe the history…”
3rd Grade Social Studies
1.2.d – Describe the history, interaction, and contribution of the various peoples and cultures that have lived in or migrated to a community or region.
2.2.b – Identify the factors that make a region unique including cultural diversity, industry and agriculture, and land forms.
In addition, changes to state tests are on the horizon. The 2013-14 school year should see the first online assessments in science and social studies. You can view practice tests on the PearsonAccess site. Click “support” and choose one of the ePAT tests. These are designed to run as they will in a test environment so they will sort of “take over” your computer until you exit. I have not tried them all, but the 7th grade SS test seemed pretty telling of where things are going. How we approach research based projects will likely influence how well students do on these types of tests.