Team Members:
Tracy Ciancio
Rachel Gugliuzza
Anthony Montoro
Kathleen Gradel
Ann Kempster
Marcy Sweetman

Our Elluminate PPT...
Our Elluminate PPT update is posted to Slideshare...follow this link:

Our "Poster" for the 5/22 Event...
Please go to Slideshare...follow this link:

Our framework for the "Unconference" Breakout on 21st c. Research Skills...

...and our very much in-progress 21st c. Research Skills Wiki, used in the Spring '08 pilot of our district professional development course:


During our UN-conference on 21st c. Research Skills, the following points/discussions were recorded:

1. At SC, we have been tinkering with a professional development course that is focused on efficient research in schools.

2. We noted that students have at least the following challenges with research...Marcy Sweetman from SC highlighted some of these, based on her 11th grade Social Studies students' work.
  • They don't skim for info
  • They don't know their purpose when using the Internet, for school and research purposes.
  • They don't distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information.
  • They don't know keywords and how to search.
  • They don't effectively judge and evaluate sources.

3. Nichols has designed a curriculum mapping database. Sue Allen from Nichols reported that this helps them track both expected skills and assessments. The coolest thing relevant to this discussion today is that they have mapped WITHIN their curriculum students' tech literacy skills. This way, they can sort out where skills are being used and taught, and where there are redundancies. SC has just begun its mapping initiative in ELA this year, but has separately mapped info literacy expectations; however, SC needs to embed info literacy instruction across the grade levels/departments, and has not done this systematically yet (onward to our action planning for the next few years!!!).

4. We also discussed tech literacy assessment, which is inclusive - but not exclusive to - research skills. SC and Nichols both do assessments of students. Nichols samples skills at Elementary, Middle, and High. SC collects assessment data at Elementary and Middle. SC is needing to re-look at its assessment. Nichols recommended a free survey TRAILS, from Kent State, and also a tool from Tech Learning that costs $5 per student.

5. Then we talked about the challenges that interface with research. For example, in the course that SC ran this Spring, we were focused on STUDENT research skills, but - no surprise - faculty who took the course did not have depth to their own research skills, and only the media specialist had functional knowledge and use of the BIG 6 model. A prime example that was made was this: "Google is used as a verb," and using Google is viewed as more than a search tool. Our Nichols representative mentioned a study called "Google Generation...Myth or Otherwise," which provides data on - and validates - this problem.

6. Kathleen Gradel of SC then talked briefly about the spring 21st c. Student Research Skills course that we ran for faculty - which will be offered again this summer - as part of our district's in-house program for professional development that is tied to our salary structure.
  • Core frameworks for focusing on research skills with technology have been part of just media specialists' background, so we were excited to use the BIG 6 framework as a structure.
  • We built into the course functional Web 2.0 tools that would make sense in practical use to address research challenges that our students experience, Grades 5-12. For example, to start the course, we used an (old) web-based tool, Intel Visual Ranking, to list the ways that our group would start a research project, given a sample assignment that we distributed. The tool allowed us to input our thoughts, then quickly analyze, then discuss.
  • Then we built RSS skills and practice, and planned how RSS would be built into our courses. Marcy Sweetman talked about how she is planning on using RSS starting Fall, when she will teach her 11th graders to use RSS as they review perspectives of various media sources, in their "current events" assignments.
  • We built delicious accounts...and were surprised that some participants had created accounts in a prior staff development day, but had never used them since, and needed to re-learn even their logon. We incorporated how tagging and 2.0 tools factor into research.
  • When we first offered the course, we used a "protected" course management system to house links, documents, etc., but have since moved all the stuff to a Wiki, which is now public...and which will be used for the upcoming summer offering of this course.
  • We incorporated into the course Internet source credibility, which none of the course participants had prior knowledge and skill in doing.
  • We tried to "hook" teachers by introducing tools and how THEY could use them...the personal interest as a step to building skill...then integrated into how the tool(s) would make sense in their classrooms.
  • And on and on...

7. And we quickly talked about moving into new tools to "take the place" of other assignments that had been "worn out." For example, Ann Kempster of SC talked about her poetry wiki that she launched this spring. Previously, students would research a poet, and then build and present a PPT. Using the Wiki site enabled her classes to collaborate, since they (a) chose a poet, and then (b) conforming to assignment expectations, did research and posted to their part of the Wiki, so that students from three different classes - for example - contributed to the postings on each poet. While doing it, they not only practiced their research skills, but had to learn how to collaborate from afar and practice online etiquette.