Power Up Your Students’ Research Projects! Using Technology to Help Students Conduct, Write and Share Research Projects

This webinar kicks off the 4-week course Power Up Your Students’ Research Projects! led by Judith Zorfass. Participants will learn strategies to transform the traditional research project process and new ideas on how to use technology tools to engage students in the research process. Here is the PowerPoint presentation with the course structure.


- [Voiceover] My name is Tracy Gray, and I'm part of the American Institute for Research, our team working with the Center on Technology and Disability. We are proud to work with FHI 360 on this center. And I am honored to introduce my colleague, Dr. Judith Zorfass, who's going to be giving you an introduction to our new course, Power Up Your Students' Research Projects. And I think you'll find this to be a very exciting opportunity for teachers and practitioners and also professional development coordinators to learn ways to power up students' research projects using technology. So, why don't we move on to the next slide? Just to give you a quick overview, we are going to be presenting these topics as part of our launch for this course. It is available on the CTD Institute website in the learning center. And you're going to be hearing about the different elements. We'd also love for you to just take a moment to give us some information about who you are. Tell us what grade students you work with, what your role is, and what your interest is in this topic. And you can put that in the chat box which you'll find right at the bottom of our screen. I see that Maureen is typing. Thank you, Maureen. And we hope that we'll hear from more of you. And as we go along, if you have any questions that you'd like Judith to answer, please don't be shy. Put that information in the chat box, and we'll get to it as we move along. So, Judith, take it away.

- [Voiceover] Okay, thank you, thank you. Welcome, everyone. I'm delighted to be here with you today. And Maureen has told us that she's a Tech Integration Specialist. Perfect. I hope you'll be finding many technology tools in the course that you could really use in your school. So, let's go on to the objectives. And today, there are three objectives for our session. The first objective is that we're going to learn about the course. And when we talk about Power Up Your Students' Research Projects, we're talking about students who struggle, students with disabilities. The second objective is to explore the content and the technology tools that are identified in this course. So, you'll be learning about some evidence-based practices and how they align with the use of technology tools. And, third, as you learn about today's course, as you learn about the course which is launched today, you could start taking it right after the webinar, set your own goal. What is it that you want out of this course? Is it that you want to learn more about technology? Is it that you want to learn more about good evidence-based practices for doing research? Or you really want to know more about how to help students with disabilities? Okay, let's go on so we can get right started. And I want to just quickly review the agenda. We are going to look at what the three lessons in the course include, and then I'm going to talk a little bit about what's overarching, what's across the lesson. We'll talk about the guiding principles, the three phases of the research process, and each phase aligns to a different lesson, and the consistent format that we'll be using in each lesson. I'm going to give you just a little taste or glimpse of what's in each lesson, and then we'll talk about some additional design features. These are the titles of the three lessons. The first focuses on conducting research. The second is on writing informational summaries. And the third on creating and presenting digital stories. Although there's three lessons, and of course you are free to choose any one in any order, we recommend though that you consider following the sequence of the three lessons, going from one to two to three, since one builds upon the other. Okay, let's go on. So, what are the guiding principles of the research process? I'm going to start on the top-left, that we have three phases, and again the phases go along with the lessons. There's exploration. There's writing the summaries and doing, and creating the digital stories. Every one of these, for every student, we want them to be able to find a motivating research question, something they care about studying within an overarching framework. Every one of the parts of the research involve using varied technology tools. We focus on peer collaboration, and we want students to learn how to use and take advantage of varied information-gathering strategies, of course with technology tools at the forefront. And throughout, the teacher in this course is going to be using evidence-based reading and writing strategies. That's the basis of selecting and using good technology tools. Let's go and look now at what the three phases of the research process include. As I said, there's three phases, and each one aligns to one of the lessons. In phase one, students first become immersed and they build background knowledge. So, for example, in this course, we're talking about the American Revolution as a whole unit that the teacher is doing. And students, by exploring information, just getting kind of wetall over in terms of getting into the topic of the American Revolution. This sets the context to each student to determine what would be their own research question, what would they like to explore even further. That's kind of what motivates an inquiry process. Then, they gather information. They start learning about digital storytelling right upfront because that's what they're going to be doing in phase three. So, it kind of gives them some motivation and lets them know what's coming down the road. And then, the phase always ends, and you'll see this for the other two phases as well, with reflecting on what they did and what they learned. Let's go and look at phase two now. In phase two, students are creating their informational summary. This is an important skill. And perhaps your students are required to do this. I'm wondering, do any of your students struggle with this in terms of writing informational summaries? It's such a key skill. It's part of the common core standards. And it's definitely needed to be college and career ready. So, let us know if your students struggle with this, no matter what grade they're in. Students in phase two are writing their information studies, and they're using e-portfolios to keep their draft available to the teacher, to peers. They hold peer conferences and also teacher conferences. And they start to explore and select the technology tools, the digital storytelling tools that they'll be using in phase three. And, again, they reflect on what they did. In phase three, the shift now is to use those informational summaries to present what was learned. Students create a storyboard. They again hold peer conferences and teacher conferences. They review and finalize their stories based on their informational summaries. They present their digital stories. They assess, self-assessments and peer assessments. And they end the unit by reflecting on what they have learned during that phase of the research process. So, as you can see, one of these builds on another. I'm just wondering, there's a question down at the bottom. Do you divide the research process into phases? Do you break it up for students? If so, do you have three phases, the way I presented this, or more or less? We'd love to know how you are creating your research project process for your students. That was almost And I just wanted to note for a moment that Courtney has said that she's a second grade teacher and she's looking for new ways, I guess, to get her students engaged in writing. And that's great, because that's phase one, that exploration, and you'll see that we use a lot of multimedia games and interactive activities with technology that really helps to motivate students and gives them some background knowledge and taps into their prior knowledge that is basic as a way to start writing, getting involved in prewriting. Okay, and Ashley is saying, "I work for Ash Resource Center." And she's exploring creative ways to engage and empower individuals with disabilities. I've done this kind of a process, Ashley, with many teachers who have students with disabilities. And they do find that not shortcutting that first phase of exploration and getting into the topic before they're expected to select a research question or being assigned a question, but that the motivation is key, especially for those struggling students, and to involve the families as well. Okay, thank you. I'm going to go on now. So, as I said, in each one of the three lessons, we've tried to use a consistent format. And it's like entering a story. It's a little story with three parts. The first part of each lesson is always a team of teachers meeting as a collaborative team to plan that phase of the research project. And in just a moment, you'll be seeing who the teachers are on the collaborative team. The second part of every lesson is the implementation of the plans in the classroom. And you're going to be able as a user to select a day to visit the classroom to see technology-supported instruction in action. And then the third part of every lesson is to follow the team as they meet again to debrief. What worked? What did they learn about instruction in that phase? So, always, every single lesson has these three parts. And you'll always be invited to share your thinking as the teachers plan and also as they debrief. And you have that flexibility of visiting the classroom on the days that you choose. Okay, let's go forward. This is the team. So, as you can see, our team consists of four teachers that all have knowledge to contribute, knowledge to share. Sometimes this is called distributed knowledge. No one person, the knowledge... Not all the knowledge that's needed resides in one person, but it's distributed across these four educators. I'm just wondering, before I introduce our four teachers, if any of you belong to a collaborative team, and if you meet to plan instruction and then debrief regularly. We'd love to hear from any of you to know if this is a familiar way of working in your school or your district. So, we have Maria, the curriculum coordinator. And of course that's important, because the instruction is going to align to standards. We have Jamal, who is our classroom teacher. We have Natalia, who is our IT specialist. And we have our special educator, Julian. And you could see how happy they are to all be working together as part of a collaborative team, to plan and debrief together. So, let's go on and learn a little bit about Mr. Green's class. So, this is a view of his classroom. And you'll see that on the, in the... If you're looking into the classroom, there's always that click to the calendar to see what will be happening in that phase. And you could always look at the project goals as Mr. Green explains them to the students. It's a fifth grade classroom. This is a classroom that includes struggling students and those who have disabilities. Is that like your classroom? The students use tablets and laptops. Is that like your classroom? And they are all engaged in this project on the American Revolution, and every student is going to find his or her question that he or she really wants to explore to learn more about in-depth. Okay, so do any of these characteristics of Mr. Green's classroom overlap with yours? Is the makeup of your class, does that include diverse students? Do you utilize technology? Do you pick an overarching topic in social studies? And what's your grade? Okay. So, let's go and look at a little bit of an overview. I'd like to give you a little overview of each lesson. And I've just selected two items from each lesson. I'm going to show you something from the team meeting where Mr. Green, the teacher, states his challenge. So, every team meeting starts with Mr. Green stating a challenge. What is he concerned about? What kind of help would he like from his colleagues? And the other thing I'm going to show you is the calendar of what happens in that phase. So, let's start with phase one. And this is Mr. Green's challenge. He wants to improve on last year's research project because he relied too heavily on textbooks, maps, and videos. He assigned research question and didn't let kids pick their own, and he limited student choice in the final project with traditional written reports. So, in the time between last year and this year, he has now gotten a lot of new technology tools in the school, and they are available to him. So, he knows that he can move on from this. Would you have a challenge if you were meeting with your collaborative team? If so, we'd love to hear it. Please chat or, again, I'll stop and answer any questions, if you'd like to pose them in the chat.

- [Voiceover] And, also, just to jump in, you can raise your hand up there. You'll see the hand raise at the top of the tool bar. So, if you're reluctant to jump in, you can raise your hand. Go for it, Judith.

- [Voiceover] Great, great, great. Okay, so that's the teacher's challenge, and that sets the stage for the collaborative conversation that would take place. In the lesson, you'll have a chance to follow their conversation, and you'll see resources that they would recommend to each other to use. Okay, let's go on. This is the calendar for phase one. This is what Mr. Green does in the classroom. And as I said before, you are welcome to click on any of those post-it notes and see what it would look like as Mr. Green is teaching. He introduces the project to the students. He gives them time to build their background knowledge as they explore and use different technology tools. They start to build the class wiki page so they could start sharing what they're learning right away. Then, he really guides students to select their research questions. He engages in direct instruction, really guiding them so they know how to pick a question. One-to-one help is available for struggling students. Students take notes. He introduces digital storytelling. And they reflect on what happens. As we said, every phase ends with student reflection. Okay, so that gives you a sense of what lesson one, the conducting research phase of the project, would be. In lesson two, students are writing Informational summaries. What's Mr. Green's challenge? Now, he starts this meeting differently. He says, "My students struggle with writing "informational text." They skip over the prewriting process. They have trouble translating their notes that they've taken earlier in phase one into a first draft. And they definitely need help in revising their work. They tend to do editing instead of really revising their ideas. Once again, you would see the ensuing conversation among the colleagues. Do you have any struggles that you would have the students write? I know that Courtney has said that she's looking to new strategies for writing. In this lesson, I hope you'll be finding some of the strategies that Mr. Green had too with his fifth grade class that would easily be adapted to a second grade. Let's go forward to lesson three. So, lesson two rather, I'm sorry. So, lesson two, conducting research. Again, this is the plan for instruction, and you could select any day. This is going to start out with a progress checking. Where are students? What have they been doing? And he checks their questions. He has some criteria for what makes a good research question. He introduces the writing process, reminds students about their e-portfolios. And you can see that he breaks down the writing process into prewriting, drafting, revising, and editing. There are peer conferences. There are teacher conferences. And then, he allows to really, I would say he encourages them to start thinking about their digital storytelling tools. Now, they have a good working draft of an informational, their informational summary. And this will be the basis for their visual storytelling. So, they want to examine a few different tools that might fit with what their text, what their content is about. Again, he's going to be offering them guidelines about how to even select a tool that will be appropriate for each student. And they end with reflection. Okay, now let's go Okay, so in lesson three, it focuses on creating and presenting those digital stories. And his challenge, Mr. Green's challenge, is that some of his struggling students, he worries about their ability to translate their informational summaries into a digital story. You're going really from one modality to another. You have to think in a visual way. You have to think in an interactive way. And he's worried. Will this be too complex a task for his students, especially those who struggle? So, what kinds of support are they going to need? And, again, he's counting on his team to help him think through how to help students translate text into digital stories and how to provide them with support. Let's go forward. And in lesson three, it starts with a check-in on the tools they selected. They start creating a rubric for what it's going to be like when they have their stories ready and they want to assess them, either self-assessment, peer assessment, or teacher assessment. They start storyboarding, and it's important to have that rubric first so they know what success will be like, what it will look like. That helps guide what the storyboarding is going to be. Some students need one-to-one help. There's peer feedback. Students make their presentations. There's assessments. In the end, congratulations, the unit comes to a close, and students reflect. And in the lessons, you'll be able to see what students said as they reflected. Okay, let's go on. Again, let me just pause one moment. I'm always looking to go on, but any questions at this time? As Tracy reminded, please raise your hand or put it in chat. I've been trying to move quickly through the three lessons, but maybe there are some things that you'd like a little more information about. Okay, if you don't have a question now or a comment, as we keep going on, feel free to post or to raise your hand. So, there are some additional design features I wanted to point out to you. Mr. Green uses three core evidence-based practices, practices that come out of the, that are part of the IES practice guide. Direct instruction, which is especially beneficial to those students who struggle and those with disabilities. He offers some strategies, models, and tools. And he provides ongoing formative evaluation. He's giving feedback along the way to students so he can improve his teaching and students can improve what they're doing as they're learning. Let's take a quick look at some of these. So, here's Mr. Green providing some direct instruction on taking notes. He's using his big interactive whiteboard in the classroom, and he's guiding students to think in this way. Let's see the next one. Let's go on to the next, yeah. So, here, in terms of strategies, models, and tools, he's giving students different prewriting strategies: brainstorming, mind mapping, graphic organizers. I bet you use a lot of these. Notes, outlining, clustering ideas. And for each, he's recommending additional tools that students could be using as part of their brainstorming or their outlining or their clustering. Do any of these tools look familiar to you? Are you using Wordle or Stormboard or any of these at all? And if so, how do they work for your students? Have you found any successes with any of these tools, in terms of prewriting strategies? We'd love to hear from you. Just like the collaborative team helps each other, we can help each other. Okay, he shows more strategies, models, and tools in terms of assessing digital stories. He gives students a rating scale and he has them understand what it would take to create a really effective digital story. Students can use this for their peer assessments and also for their own self-assessment. Okay, let's go on and see what else Mr. Green is doing in the classroom. Here's an example of peer conferences. We've used two students. We're looking at one student's work. The student shows where he got stuck, and this is the feedback that his peer is giving him in helping him go forward. When you're taking the lesson, when you're taking the course and you're in this lesson, you would see some of the changes in the student work based on the feedback. Okay, let's see what else is a guiding principle. Oh, Mr. Green is always giving feedback himself. This is some feedback for Jake on his prewriting. He used Wordle and it was a way for him to see which ideas came forward. And so, he's asking Jake, how does Jake plan to use this cluster that's created in Wordle. And he's reminding him for down the road, don't forget to cite your sources of information because this is a report about content and he wants to make sure that students will be doing that. Let's go forward. Technology integration is key in this, in this lesson. And here's just one example of the kinds of resources that we give. All of these would be fabulous for immersing students in the topic of the American Revolution in phase one, which would set the context for their posing their own question. We've tried all of these, and they're great fun. And I found myself, as I looked at each one of these interactive games and websites, that I had questions that emerged, that motivated me to want to go and get more information. Do any of you use any of these? Okay, if you don't, this will be a good time to try them while you're taking the course. They're all live links, and these are just some of the resources you'll see on every page. We also have resources available within that page that you can always find more information, so you can find something that meets your needs and the needs of your students. A lot of what we have is free. Just wanted to make sure you knew that, too. All right, let's go and see what else. In addition to all the links to games and websites, we also have links to videos, a lot of YouTube videos. So, we know that Mr. Green uses these videos as a way to make his instruction come alive. And because they're always listed in the class wiki, students can always go back and review them at home or at school, so they always have the information available. Okay, let's keep going. As I mentioned, well, at the end of every lesson, there are links to resources, but you could also see on the right-hand side that there was a button at the top-right of every page, and it's kind of small here, but it says, "Resources." And there's always a list of resources again with live links. So, we'd want to make sure that you're not only having access to what's built right into the lesson, each lesson in the course, but you also have a chance to explore further resources to continue to expand your knowledge. So, what are the next steps? Tracy, do you want to talk about the next steps for everyone that's on the call today?

- [Voiceover] Absolutely. And thanks so much, Judith. This is very informative. So, in terms of next steps, we're hoping that you're registered for the course. Again, you can find the course on CTDInstitute.org. Go to the learning center. We invite you to tell your colleagues and your friends to register. Again, it's free. And we hope that you will find it informative. And we also ask you to think about your intentions for taking the course. What are your initial ideas? What are you hoping to find? And, also, to feel free to reach out to us and ask questions. Let us know what you think. Give us your feedback. We're always looking for ways to improve our online courses. And, also, we encourage you to use the embedded tools that you'll find in the module to capture idea, your ideas, and to reflect on what you're learning, and also to share if you find some exciting tool or find ways to really make a difference in the classroom, we'd love to hear from you. And then, last, we'd love for you to participate in the mid-course check-in. This is like office hours. And that will be September 30th, the end of this month, at 3:15 Eastern Time. So, have your comments and questions ready. Bring your colleagues and friends. And we look forward to hearing from you. Judith, any other thoughts?

- [Voiceover] No, we'd love to hear any questions we see right in the chat. Ana-Maria listed the links for the course. We hope you'll be taking the course. Any questions or anything that occurred to you in terms of how this resonates with what you're teaching goals are or the ways in which you use technology or the needs of your students, or the way you do a research project.

- [Voiceover] Everybody seems very shy today, Judith. I think one of the things again that we'd love to emphasize is that these suggestions on ways to engage students in their research projects, these are based on our field test experiences, working with Power Up and working with 15 different school districts around the country. They've also been based on what the evidence tells us on ways to bring technology into the classroom to really engage students, particularly those who are struggling or those with disabilities. So, it looks like we have somebody, Courtney is typing. And Ana-Maria, thanks, Ana-Maria, has put the link to the course in the chat function. Also, you will find other modules that have been developed by the CTD team. You'll find a variety of resources and courses on the website that we believe will be of great interest to you and your colleagues. Oh, thanks, Courtney. Are you going to explain how to do a digital story and use a wiki?

- [Voiceover] Yes, the answer is yes.

- [Voiceover] Go for it.

- [Voiceover] We do some exploration and we also give links. We provide links to great videos that explain even more about how to set up, why do a wiki, what is a wiki, how to set up a wiki. And the same thing about digital storytelling. So, instead of trying to have slide after slide of all that information, we felt it was just better to really find the best videos that can explain that, and we provide those links. So, I hope that you will, when you take the course, you'll really watch those videos because they are chock-full of great information, very step-by-step and very valuable.

- [Voiceover] Great. Any other questions? Well, I think we've come to the end of our allotted time. We look forward to hearing from you. Don't be shy. Don't be a stranger. Let us know what you think. And, as always, I know I speak for Jackie Hess who is the project director for the center. We really love to hear from you, and we're always looking for ways to improve our courses and make them better for the field. So, on behalf of AIR, thank you so much.

- [Voiceover] Yes, Jackie is typing, yes. She's echoing your words. She echoes your words, Tracy.

- [Voiceover] Wonderful. Well, thank you, all. And, Judith, thank you, as always, for a great webinar. And we look forward to seeing you all online.

- [Voiceover] Thank you, Tracy.