Thursday, February 7, 2019

Biographies & Databases Tic-Tac-Toe

With the newly genrified biography section (see earlier blog post), it was time to get students into the shelves. . . but for what purpose? Knowing that research and database work was part of the Literacy Studies class, why not combine the two? Thus, Biography/Database Tic-Tac-Toe was born!

Before students actually began work on their tic-tac-toe page, we spent class time talking about how biographies are shelved and how we've modified that with our biography categories. One class period was arranged around a sorting activity where students identified into what category a book should be placed and why.

Intentionally, I chose books about people who could easily fit into more than one of our new biography categories. Does Anne Frank belong in World War II/Holocaust? Authors? Perseverance? Famous Women? What about Sally Ride? Astronaut or American History? The most surprising revelation to come out of the activity was related to a biography of Louis Braille. Only 3 of the 18 student groups placed him in the Perseverance category where the book was shelved. Instead, groups overwhelmingly put him in the Scientists/Inventors groups. Since the point of genrifying the biographies was to make them more accessible to students, I made the switch. If students believe Braille is more recognized as an inventor, then the biography should be relocated.

Next, it was time to introduce the actual assignment. Students first took a look at what was expected of them:
As a check for understanding, students completed a 3-2-1 think-pair-share activity. After reading through the handout, they wrote 3 things: 
  • 3 main ideas about the tic-tac-toe assignment,
  • kinds of things they’ll need to find about the person they’ll be using for this project,
  • 1 question they have.

Next, it was time to explore the biography bookshelves and the databases themselves. This gave students some time to browse the new arrangement of the biography collection, in addition to some time in databases they may not have used previously. Classes broke into two groups, and students had directions to follow as they worked in both groups. 

Finally, it was time to work. Students recorded their work on a handout in Google Classroom, and over the course of several days visited a variety of databases, becoming familiar with its search results and how to find and use provided citations help.

As students finish their work later this month, we'll have a day where they share their learning with a classmate and reflect on their database work. More learning to come!

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