2002 Conference Proceedings

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Strategies for Doing Research in a Technology World

Jeremy Palese
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W. Commerce Dr.
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 847-740-0749
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: jpalese@donjohnston.com

According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, research is "a studious and critical inquiry and examination aimed at the discovery and interpretation of new knowledge." Students who struggle with reading and writing need support through the entire research process. They tend to struggle most with those most basic skills of reading and writing necessary for successful discovery and interpretation of research information.

How, then, do you help your struggling students build their background knowledge, select a topic, find and select the appropriate information, organize and connect the information, and write the final report? You have technology tools in the classroom, but how can they be effectively integrated in the research process? This hands-on lab will focus on helping your struggling students become successful by integrating a variety of reading and writing tools throughout all phases of a research project.

Often research starts with a classroom unit. You employ a variety of strategies to activate and build background knowledge before reading and writing. You use semantic mapping to help students examine what they know and what they want to learn (Maria). You provide a variety of rich learning experiences about the topic. Students select an area they find interesting and are motivated to investigate further.

The next phase is to help students plan their research - identify how and where they will find information. Students seek and gather information. They need to read books and information they find on the internet. Students gain knowledge through pictures and information that is illustrated tends to be better remembered (Adams). Talking computer books give students fluent reading models, help develop sight vocabulary and help the student comprehend what they are reading (Lewis & Dooring). Students might tape record lectures or interviews with others. They could tape record their notes when they watch a movie or go on a field trip, then listen to the tape to write their notes with a portable keyboard or talking word processor. They can also take notes as they read magazines and newspaper articles and transfer them to the computer later.

Students who struggle need extra support in the phase of organizing and selecting what is useful. They write notes, using specific vocabulary of the subject. Students competent in writing narratives may struggle with writing reports (Catts & Kahmi). Students who struggle don't say enough about their topic and they don't revise their work (Harris & Graham). Writing a research report requires both of these steps. Listening to their writing helps students recognize word omissions and grammatical errors.

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