How do you get a fifth grader to “Break Up With Their Phone”, to use the title of a popular book by Catherine Price? (1) I feel you should not have them break up with their phone. Instead, teachers should help students find a balance in their digital lives between academics and leisure time. For example, many students who are given a research assignment will simply use Wikipedia to plagiarize the information needed to complete their assignment. Students are not going to the public libraries as did their counterparts in the past. Students of the past would study and read for hours to produce a well investigated paper. What could have led to this decline?
Speaking for the students of my school, this decrease in library usage can be attributed to a number of reasons. One reason is the denial of public library resources for reasons such as the delinquency of unpaid fines for public library books checked out, not returning books, or parents’ unwillingness to take their child to the public library to do the research Not having the use of the public library is not the only obstacle New Haven Public Schools students have to overcome. The books in my classroom can provide an excellent start to a research paper. However, there are not enough books for my students to complete a research assignment where the guidelines state that at least three references are required. Lack of resources coupled with lack of library courses have made students lose interest in submitting an academically researched paper. Students need to be retaught how to research by using a very resourceful tool at their fingers. Their cell phone could be the revamp that their academic lives need.
The seminar has helped me to establish a balance between my students using the internet as a research tool for school projects and their social media digital lives. If the internet is used for research, it can be a great resource that a student easily has access to at school and home. My objective is to prepare the students to use this tool to help them with research. First, students will need direct instruction on how to select a non-fiction topic to research and inform their target audience. Next, I want to establish guidelines to decipher the difference from an educational journal and a non-credible source. Once the differences have been established, then I plan to teach students how to reference, including how to create a bibliography of their referencing material. Many students who research on the internet will reference their source as the website “http:” address. Many students do not realize that what they are reading is a digital copy of a hard copy. This article can be referenced but it will take more work to find out the needed information in order to give proper credit for the research they are using to complete their school assignments.
A bigger problem than the referencing is finding websites that are suitable for fifth-grade students. When my students have to reference, they are working on a non-fiction writing piece. Many websites that they find are not written in “kid-friendly” fifth grade language. I will create a listing of grade level appropriate websites for research and teach students how to find credible websites and material independently. These objectives will help the students to use their digital resources to benefit them academically. Ultimately, the digital life of a fifth grader would come full circle.
My unit topic will be a guide to researching on the internet using credible sources and properly citing the source in a nonfiction writing piece. My students need guidance on how to choose a non-fiction topic and how to research their topic on the internet using a source of credible information. The main curriculum standard for fifth grade is to research a nonfiction topic using three references. Ideally, hard copy books and magazines would be a first source. Yet, some topics do not have enough information or a large variety of books to choose from in the school library and/or the classroom library. Furthermore, many students do not have the opportunity to go to the public library with their parents to research additional information and check out books. With their digital lives via cell phones, all students have access to a digital library. Students need explicit instruction on how to locate educational journals and/or credible sources of information. Once students have located reliable sources on their digital library, students need guidance on how to reference the source in their papers.
As a classroom teacher in New Haven, we are expected to provide material for our students to complete the assigned performance task. The “NHPS ELA Curriculum, Grades Three to Five Reading Unit and Task Outline” for Unit Three requires students to read high interest informational and literary nonfiction closely. (2) Students can use the internet to do research. My students need more remedial training to help them complete “unit three performance task”. My students need help on selecting credible sources and then citing the sources correctly. My goal is to make my fifth grade students proficient in the use of the digital resources to the point that they can research and write a nonfiction piece of writing proficiently.