My Students Are Excited for their Research Project! (Part 2)

Three week Winter Break is a wonderful thing!  During that time I was able to come up with a lesson that my students will understand and be able to do.  I am having them write one paragraph answering a research question; however, they first need to create a glog that answers their question with a bibliography for all sites they use for their research.

First, I decided that I wanted to teach them about big ideas and focusing their research topic from there.  I therefore created this Research Report Topic Question PowerPoint presentation which leads the students from 4 large ideas to creating questions, to choosing a topic, and creating a topic question.

Then, I decided to teach students what are acceptable sites for research.  I don’t allow them to use the normal search sites that they are used to, nor do I allow any wikis.  We went over this and discussed why certain sites are acceptable and others are not.  Some of them of course resisted, but once I explained the reasoning behind these restrictions, they grudgingly agreed.   These are the websites I allowed and disallowed.

Digital Library:  the school district’s online research library
LAUSD Kids Search:  includes pre filtered and validated web searches
•Official Websites
Since they were all pouting and I did not want to lose their buy-in, I quickly switched to what they would be doing with a glog.  A glog is an online multi-media poster.  I created my own free teacher account at that gave me a teacher code.  Then, as my students created their free student accounts, they entered my account to link them to me.  However, I believe that this cool feature is only available to me for one month, so I also created a classroom blog where students will be able to post and display their glogs as well as the paragraphs and bibliographies that they will create for this project.  Check out our progress at
Please feel free to use any of these ideas and let me know how they work out.

My Students Are Excited for their Research Project! (Part 1)

This year I am teaching a self-contained ESL 6th grade class.  My students range from newly arrived to those born here, but unable as of yet to test out of the ESL program.  Those who still have not tested out, are the ones I have in my English class. It is now January and we are in the middle of our Expository lesson.  I started by going through the entire textbook and marking all the pages that had anything to do with the skills we would need; then, I assigned a couple to the class and after much scaffolding asked them to answer a few questions on their own to assess their comprehension…EPIC FAIL!!!!

Therefore, I decided to go back to my old standby for student buy-in, technology. I had my students create an Edmodo account, which is a classroom based social network.  I decided that because bibliographies are so difficult for students, I would give that to them first giving them the opportunity for several practice opportunities throughout the lessons.  I began by giving them these links.

That was too confusing for my students so I wrote the instructions on the board for them.


I left this for them as homework over the break and was soon bombarded by messages that they did not understand.  I then posted this video for them.  (The OSLIS website has changed it’s look since I recorded this so just scroll down for MLA, and the audio is not very good so turn it way up.)

For those teachers in LAUSD, you may also find these links useful as you cannot get into the World Book encyclopedia without an account.

  • School E-mail Login (Have students login before they attempt to open the World Book Encyclopedia if they are working from home.)
  • LAUSD Digital Library (If the other link does not work, they can also access the World Book Online here.

If your students are working at home and do not have Microsoft Office, you can direct them to Open Office, which is free shareware.

I will end this lesson here and post what I did for the rest of the research lesson in my next post.


School’s.Out.for Summer!!!

We did it!  We managed to get to the end of the year.  I don’t think I’ve cried that much at the end of the year since 1994, my first year teaching.  I really felt that this was my last time in a classroom setting…at least in this way.  Oh, have I mentioned that I was RIFed (laid off due to reduction in force) and I have gone in to sign up as a substitute.  I’m actually not as upset about it as one would think I’d be after 18 years in the classroom because I have projects that I want to complete this year.  I would like to get my National Board Certification and I want to start an online charter school through LAUSD.  That should keep me busy, doncha’ think?

I got my teaching credential in the late 90’s through the District Intern Program and I have heard that the National Board Process is very similar to that.  Therefore, I figured if I’ve done it once, no reason I can’t do it again.  Now the only question is for what specialty I should apply.  Although I have a multiple subject credential, that is not how I want to be certified.  I am thinking either Math or ESL.  I loved teaching my beginning ESL class.  It was very challenging and always brought something new.  That is right up my alley!  However, there is a national need for math teachers, so I think that it might be smart for me to get certified in math.  However, if I do choose math, there is still the question of “What level?”   Do I select the middle school level, or the high school level?  Just for the sheer challenge, I would love to select high school, but all of my experience is with middle school.  (sigh)  What to do?

Now, I am absolutely jazzed about starting a charter school!  I want a different model than what is currently out there and LAUSD does not have any online charter schools.  I figure the reason is that it is a difficult process, so me being me, I am looking forward to the challenge.  I plan to do a lot of research this summer and I am confident that as I discuss it more, I will be able to get a board together to do it.  My strength is in realistic curriculum that will work IRL (in real life) but I need a board to help with getting the idea from my head and into the real world, or virtual world.  I can’t wait to get started.

As I start these projects however, it is all bittersweet.  I will definitely miss the classroom.  And I can’t begin to express how much I will miss my students.  I love the interaction I had with them and I really love the rapport that I was always able to create with these middle schoolers.  I am going to miss my monkeys.

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