Once the students were given the graphic organizer that we provided, they narrowed down their search to only 2-3 websites. Mrs. Hallett showed the students how to use a new search tool, Sweetsearch, which only searches a defined, safe list of websites. Next, I spent a couple of classes reteaching the students how to take notes. I really wanted to focus on writing the information in their own words, writing phrases rather than complete sentences, looking up unknown words, and organizing the information to match the graphic organizer. This took a lot more time than I initially had planned, but it was worth it. Most of the students were able to write a nice four paragraph essay explaining his/her Floridian. Some students required more editing than others, but overall, it was a success.
Rather than finishing once the essays were complete, Mrs. Hallett introduced the class to thinglinks, so the students could create a visual representation of their work. The first step was for the students to find a Creative Commons image to use as a visual picture for their project. The students really enjoyed finding images, videos, quotes, and other biographical sites to add to their reports. Mrs. Hallett did a spectacular job teaching the importance of citing the images properly. Each item was represented by an icon, or “nubbin” in ThingLink lingo. To ensure consistency across their interactive, visual report, Mrs. Hallett chose the type of nubbin for each type of media content. The students are really proud of the finished products, and will be adding them to their blogs. Please take a look at one of the finished essays below: (you can get a better idea of the thinglink by clicking on the link at the bottom).