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8 of the Best Research Tools for Inquiry

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Classroom Management, Download, Evaluate, Inquiry, Internet Safety, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 03-01-2017

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8 of the best research tools for inquiry

As an inquiry based school, Anastasis students (and teachers) spend a LOT of time researching. Our students essentially build their own living curriculum as they follow a line of inquiry. Below are my very favorite research tools for students.

Research platforms:

1. Kiddle– This is a kid-friendly, Google Safe powered search engine. What I appreciate about Kiddle is the ease of use for younger learners. Kiddle searches safe sites that were written FOR kids. Kiddle editors hand choose sites that deliver content that is age-appropriate and written in easy to understand language. Best of all, Kiddle’s image and video searches brings about the results you would expect it to for kids. When a student innocently types in “kitten” looking for cute pictures to add to a presentation, they get actual pictures of the feline variety rather than the scantily dressed woman named “Kitten.” So, winning!

The downside to Kiddle: if you have older students doing research on social justice issues, “sex trafficking statistics in America,” they will get an “Oops” message for questionable language. It might not be robust enough as a research tool for jr. high and high school students depending on the issues being explored.

Kiddle- Safe visual search engine for kids

2. Boolify– The best thing about this Google Safe powered search engine is the way it teaches learners how to correctly use a search engine and how to refine their searches. Boolify teaches this skill by asking them to use keywords and Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) in a search to refine results using a drag/drop interface. Students drag elements and follow prompts to learn how to correctly complete a search to get the best possible results.

Boolify- teach students to search smarter

3. Wolfram Alpha– This is not really a search engine, but more of a computational knowledge engine. It is a fantastic tool for comparing information (think people in history, weather in different parts of world, etc), exploring mathematics, units and measures, data/statistical information, science, geography, technology…truly you should just go play with this knowledge computational engine because my description isn’t doing justice to the cool things it does! This is a powerful addition to inquiry. My favorite feature is the ability to compare things side by side. The nature of inquiry often has students exploring relationships between events, people, places, etc., Wolfram makes it really easy to do this!

Using Wolfram Alpha for Inquiry Research

 

4.  Creative Commons– This is a great place to search for images, videos, sounds that are listed under the Creative Commons license that lets learners find content they can share, reuse, and mix into something new. The caution I would add here for kids: Anyone can list content under the Creative Commons license and depending on the search, some questionable material may pop up. This one is best used with supervision! Creative Commons is a great place to start a conversation about licensing and using content created by others.

Creative Commons Search

Resources to help learners work through research independently

5. Michael Friermood who writes The Thinker Builder has a great graphic organizer to help learners work toward independence in their research. You can find it HERE.

Inquiry Research Graphic Organizer from The Thinker Builder

 

6. Create a culture of thinking by giving your learners the tools to help them through a variety of thinking routines. This is an awesome resource when students hit a wall with a “closed” inquiry question (one that is too narrow and has one answer). It is equally useful when students aren’t sure how they can expand their research. These thinking routines will help them “open” questions and think from new vantage points and angles that may set them off down a path of new or expanded inquiry.

Tracy Ann Clark created this fun-to-use, and great resource for helping learners explore these thinking routines…because who doesn’t love a cootie catcher?! Find it HERE.

Visible Thinking Routines Cootie Catcher Tracy Ann Clark

 

7. Anatomy of a Google Search- this PDF helps learners understand the how and why behind a search.

Download the PDF HERE.

Anatomy of a Search- Free PDF Download

8. Google Modifiers cheat sheet- this is a good one to explore with students and then hang on the wall as a reminder!

Download the PDF HERE.

Google Modifier Cheat Sheet for Students

Want to learn more about how we run our inquiry powered k-8 classrooms at Anastasis? Join us for our conference in February! 5Sigma Education Conference

ZuiTube

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Character Education, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, video, Websites | Posted on 11-11-2009

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What it is: KidZui is a site I have written about in the past.  The KidZui network has added some sites to the network that I just learned about.  ZuiTube is a kid friendly You Tube portal.  It is the largest collection of kid friendly videos online.  New videos are added to ZuiTube daily.  All videos are approved by parents and teachers before being posted on ZuiTube.  Students can watch educational videos, funny videos, movies and movie clips, silly songs, and music.  There is also a special section on ZuiTube just for videos related to Thanksgiving.  The Thanksgiving collection includes everything from the Turkey Dance to videos about Native Americans and Pilgrims.

How to integrate ZuiTube into the classroom: ZuiTube videos can be used as an introduction to new teaching (on nearly any subject), to add some humor to the classroom, or to reinforce teaching.  Videos are a wonderful way for students to make connections to new learning.  I have found a video that correlates with nearly every part of our curriculum.  I even found a great Berenstein Bears video for character education…gotta love that!  With all the snow we get in Colorado, there are bound to be some indoor recess days for the kids.  ZuiTube is a safe place to find kid friendly videos that students will enjoy while they are staying dry and warm inside.

Tips: I often have parents asking me what they can do at home to keep their kids safe online.  KidZui is an excellent recommendation, the parent reports are a great way to keep parents involved in their children’s online activities.

Leave a comment and share how you are using ZuiTube in your classroom.

Kido’z

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Internet Safety, Language Arts, Math, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Social Studies, Software, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 02-01-2009

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What it is:   Kido’z is a web browser specifically designed just for kids.  The Kido’z browser is a completely protected environment where kids can surf web sites, watch kid appropriate videos and play games.  Kido’z has an incredibly simple interface that is even appropriate for non readers and writers.  The browser blocks links, scripts and other opportunities for kids to be lead to websites that have not been approved.  Kido’z allows kids to safely explore “an endless amount of games, videos and other content and can enter with one click to the best kids’ sites that can be found.”  Kido’z is a great addition to any pre-k through second grade classroom.  

 

How to integrate Kido’z into the classroom:   Kido’z is a great way to bring the Internet to the classroom computers in the pre-k through second grade classroom.  Students can access the Internet in a completely safe, controlled environment.  The interface of Kido’z is so user friendly that even your non-reader students can use the browser sucessfuly without help.  Many of the video clips, games, and websites that students have access to through Kido’z are educational and offer great learning opportunities.  Kido’z has provided several ways to follow developments through Twitter, their blog, or RSS feed.  You are sure to be introduced to great kids learning sites that you may not have seen before.  

 

Tips:  Before you can download the Kido’z browser, you will have to download Adobe Air.  Be sure to share Kido’z with parents.  The web browser is a great way to keep your students learning at home in a safe environment.  

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Kido’z  in your classroom.