Halstead, Desa CourseQuest 3
Wondering Out Loud: A Verbal and Visual Demonstration of Technological Necessities
The 300 sixth grade students at our mid-size middle school range in chronological years
of ten through twelve. Most students are from families who have lived in the city for
generations and intend to stay. It is a landlocked city so new construction is approaching
a halt. With no land on which to build new homes, a new or at least a change in
population will not occur. Progress and change of any kind is slow. A low percentage of
parents have a BA or MA degree, although some have degrees form local business
colleges or have attended some college. Parental backing toward academics is difficult to
obtain at times, now sports, that’s a different matter. In other words, education is not a
priority with some families. The socioeconomic level is predominately blue collar.
Transients from nearby Chicago and Gary/Hammond are beginning to make an impact on
the percentage of free and reduced lunches, ISTEP, NWEA, and CTB scores, and the
gradual infiltration of gang activity.
The learners are fifty-two sixth grade students per teaching team (two teachers and
related arts teachers) with twenty-six students per teacher. The ability range varies from
a 200 lexile reading level to a 900 level. The chemistry of students is interactive with
little hostility or aggression toward one another. One group is less motivated and
inattentive at times and often need prodding and reminders. The other group is more
independent and completes most tasks, but is extremely social. The only information
literacy skills they have are general and encyclopedia Internet research, i.e.: Yahoo.com,
and AskJeeves.com. Skills to narrow topic searches are not developed.
Student attitude and interest toward learning new information revolves around
technology, i.e.: the Internet, iPods, Palm Pilots, MP3s, MTV, and digital cable TV.
Encyclopedias, Almanacs, Atlases, Monographs, and Periodicals are “too boring” to
work with. Assignment motivation must somehow incorporate activities, collaboration,
and technology along with information retrieval and research techniques. This is not an
unusual teaching strategy as this is what teachers are implementing more and more, but
now they are applying real-life situations.
Unless the student is given an exact topic to research, valuable research time is wasted
deciding on a topic. Most students are not thrilled and are often apprehensive about
researching because the focus is on the product rather than the process. Classroom
experience has taught me to never assume a student knows the information reviewed or
presented. A quick step-by-step review helps determine a starting point. Kuhlthau’s
Stage 1, Initiation is a logical starting point. Lamb’s Watching or Exploring asks
students to observe their environment and Wondering focuses on brainstorming ideas and
options as their initial research step. InfoZone’s Wondering and Seeking steps purport the
same steps as stated above. Using Kuhlthau’s ISP and teaming with the language, math,
science, social studies, technology, media, and art teachers, students connect curriculum
and information seeking. They may not realize it at the time, but searching for
information, no matter what level, is a lifelong process experience.
Information Inquiry Role
Wondering Out Loud is a collaborative effort to actively involve the student’s cognitive,
social, physical, and environmental needs to examine how things work in the immediate
lives and is of interest to them. The science, language, technology, media, and art
teachers may comprise the teaching team. The topic selection was based on three
components. First of all, technology is driving our world and must therefore be a prime
concern. Secondly, it is a knowledge area of weakness for me that will be strengthened
through development and implementation of this unit. Finally, it is an area where
students have a large interest.
Collaboration will be presented in such a manner so as not to demand, rather suggest that
more standards will be covered through working as a unit rather than in a single subject
area. The standards and lessons of collaborating teachers should be roughly drafted
before approaching any staff members. Teachers tend to be more open-minded if a
visible rather than verbal idea is presented. The activities, exemplified and later tested
will be used to bring teachers on board. Literacy and State Standards can be examined
and considered for coverage as the team further develops activities. The attention
grabber will be something like this, “Do you want to cover more standards and do less
work in the process?”
The project will focus around the Marshall Brain and David Maccauley books listed in
the “Learning Materials” section. They provide topic and subtopic ideas from which the
students may select, build from, or develop ideas from. A few examples are How Cable
Television Works, How Ballpoint Pens Work, How MP3s Work, How Tattoo Tools Work,
or How Computer Viruses Work. Students are not limited to the ideas and information in
these books and may certainly select a topic from any other source as long as it is
approved and substantial information is provided.
Technology and Science
6.1.9 Explain hoe technologies can influence all living things (people, in this case).
Manipulation and Observation
6.2.4 Inspect, disassemble, and reassemble simple mechanical (technical) devices, and describe what the
parts are for. Estimate that the effort of making change in on part of a system is like to have on
the system as a whole.
Research and Technology
6.4.5 Use note-taking skills.
6.4.6 Use organizational features of electronic test (on computers), such as bulletin boards, databases,
keyword searches, and e-mail addresses to locate information.
Standard 1: The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.
Standard 2: The student who is information literate evaluates information critically and completely.
Standard 4: The student who is an independent learner is information literate and pursues information
related to personal interests.
Standard 9: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is
information literate and works effectively in groups to pursue and generate information.
1 Basic operations and concepts
Students demonstrate a sound understanding of the nature of technology systems.
2 Technology research tools
Students use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of
Information Inquiry Model
Teachers are not aware of any particular formal inquiry model, nor are the students…yet.
Using a model is beneficial to both learners and instructors as it keeps the research
focused. Kuhlthau’s Information Search Project or ISP and its six stages provide the best
information search strategy for this project. The six-stage chart is a useful tool for
teachers to use throughout this project. Students must be put at ease in being allowed to
discuss information with fellow students throughout stages of research.
1. The Initiation stage allows vague and uncertain feelings to arise with topic
search. This is the initial instruction stage for the teacher. At this stage, emphasis
must be placed on process rather than product. Ask the students to list five items
they use everyday. Prioritize the list if necessary. Demonstrate on the overhead
or board. Items I use everyday are… computer, hair dryer, cell phone, coffee
maker, and television remote control.
2. The Selection stage is where students think about the outcome of their choice and
have internal questioning like, “Will there be enough information? Will this be
boring? Which topic will the teacher accept and be easy for me?”
3. The Exploration stage finds students exploring their selected topic. Students
must be allowed to switch their topic early on if they fell doubtful or anxious
about not finding adequate or thorough information.
4. Formulation is a critical stage in research and should be addressed. The base
word “form” is to shape or style, which is precisely what students focus on.
Prioritizing information reveals topic focus, or lack thereof. As information
comes together, confidence strengthens.
5. The Information Collection stage is directed research. Students seek and gather
only the information germane to the topic. The more resources recommended, the
more satisfied and relieved the students feel.
6. The Presentation stage is the final research stage before outlines and rough drafts
Carol Kuhlthau’s information search model is unique and useful in that it methodically
instructs the research process while connecting emotional and psychological components
in researching. The first time through anything is an experiment, but the fact that other
research models can be aligned to the model attests to its purpose. The search models
InfoZone and Big 6 share several tasks such as information seeking strategies. The
drawback in using this is the time it takes to discuss and present an inquiry model. As
mentioned earlier, the students have not had formal lessons in research so this is like
starting at ground level. To expedite the inquiry teaching/learning process, the instructor
could run through Kuhlthau’s model briefly; perhaps using the chart and focus on one or
two stages modeling along the way or presenting examples. KidsClick: Worlds of Web
information site is a basic, no-nonsense website assisting in common research reminders
that would provide the students examples if further assistance is needed.
Benefits from using an inquiry model apply to the instructor(s) and students. Students
develop focused research techniques to use in any aspect of life: personal, academic, and
future employment. They are able to brainstorm and discuss with fellow students,
thereby promoting collaboration and working through uncertainty and apprehension with
what they may perceive as a difficult assignment. The teacher’s role is more of a guide to
a group rather than a lecturer. Evaluation of the assignment(s) is less time consuming
with a focused, organized, and continuous flow of material.
Kuhlthau, Carol Collier. “Students and the information Search Process: Zones of
Intervention for Librarians.” Advances in Librarianship. 1994.
http://library.humboldt.edu/ic/general_competency/khulthau.html “At Your Fingertips”
website providing Kuhlthau’s Model of stages of the Information Process. Accessed
Eons ago, while studying for my BS, “multiple intelligences” was the buzz. Because of
the innovative trend, novice and seasoned teachers are accounting for not only the
auditory learner, but of the visual and kinesthetic learner. Now, the current research
identifies eight types of intelligences and acknowledges that students use more than one
type of learning style. They are not “fixed” to any one particular style Gardner suggests.
These activities allow student achievement in verbal-linguistic with the topic search
through text sources. The logical-mathematical learner will do well with the organized
list development, outlining, and Venn diagram. The visual-spatial learner will succeed
with the drawing portion and using Inspiration to create a web that is based upon material
conveyed. Intrapersonal learners will easily list the technology items they use daily and
can expound on the reasons why. Interpersonal learning takes place throughout the
activities, as almost all require small group or partner discussion.
Journaling is used by students to display cognitive development. The research process,
not just product is presented. Activity Sheets are for visual stimulation for journaling.
Information focus and product material is available for evaluation by student and teacher.
Teacher queries keep students on task. If left alone, students’ discussion eventually
wanders to personal conversations. Meandering from group to group serves several
purposes. It keeps the students on task, keeps the focus on the assignment at hand, and
allows the teacher insight to each group’s activity process, so it is more or less an
1. Identify technology items used every day have a value or purpose in their lives.
2. Decide research topic through discussion of information, experience, and through
-Collaboration members are Science Teacher, and Math Teacher
-Model focus is Kuhlthau’s Stage 1, Task Initiation-Prepare for the decision of selecting a
-Marshall Brain book (see learning materials)
Rubric from Discovery School at Kathy Schrock’s Guide for Educators at
http://www.fno.org/libskill.html. It provides and information skills rating scale.
Time: 1 class period.
Springboard: (example items)
Ask students if they wonder about how technology has advanced.
Ask how it affects their every day life.
Ask for examples. Discuss one.
Then ask holding up an old 4 x 4 floppy disk. Know what this is? (See picture above)
Hold up a 3.5 disk. How about this? Know what this is?
Hold up a Flash Card or Memory stick. What about this?
Discuss the internal and external changes of this one item over a few short years.
Present the Marshall Brain How Stuff Works book. Show example pages, particularly
the one about disks.
Explain that they will be researching an item at length that they use daily.
First they must do a mental warm-up activity.
Technology At Home
Directions: Make a list of technology items you use everyday. If you know it has
changed in the last few years put a next to it.
Reminder: Keep in journal for other classes.
Time: 1 class period
Let’s review the Venn diagram and its purpose.
Explain how a Venn is filled in.
Explain the purpose of a Venn.
Venn and Technology
Directions: Use the Technology At Home list from you science class to complete this
activity. Organize your data into three main categories on the Venn diagram. Necessity
is an item you need to use at least once everyday, if not more. Sometime is an item you
use occasionally, once in a while, every few days or so. Want is an item you use every
now and then; you want it just in case you need it.
Answer the following questions after completing your chart.
1. What item(s) do you need the most?
2. Explain why you need it the most.
3. What item(s) do you need the least?
4. Explain why you think this is
5. Do you think you will need these items in the next 5 years? Why?
1. Use research strategy to access, manage, and use research information.
2. Provide in-depth or factual account of information relevant to the topic.
3. Become better acquainted with reference sources by using at least three different
-Collaboration member is the Media Specialist, Math Teacher, Science Teacher and Art
-Model focus is Kuhlthau’s Stage 5, Information Collection which is gathering sources
and focusing on information reviewed in Stage 4, Focus Formulation. Students collect
data that supports their topic selection.
Journaling and class activity worksheets.
Time: 2-3 class periods
Springboard: Memory Jogger
Prior to research, have students think about their topics.
While modeling on the board or overhead, students work on their own memory jogger in
Set up a chart similar to that of the K/ W/ L chart.
K W L
Remind them this is not for a grade, rather a memory jogger.
K-Briefly list what you know about the item?
W-What do you want to know or think you should know about the item?
L-What have you learned or expected to learn?
Present an overhead of Kuhlthau’s Model of the Stages of the Information Process
retrieved from http://library.humboldt.edu/ic/general-competency/kuhlthau.html.
Discuss the stages and purpose.
Focus on stages 4 and 5, but at this point, mostly 5.
Leave overhead on for quick reference.
Discuss information from KCTools at http://www.ala.org/aasTemplate.cfm
Remind students to keep these thoughts in mind while searching.
-Not all information is found on the Internet.
-Encyclopedias, almanacs, specific topic books, etc. are sometimes faster and better to
-Use different keywords while searching, no matter what source is used. For example,
with iPod perhaps “memory” or “recording” device.
-Always check your facts with other sources to validate accuracy.
-Make sure your information is relevant to you topic.
-Consider your audience
-Make sure you are addressing your topic accurately and adequately.
Refer to the Inquiry Process information for further support at
Directions: Using the Venn diagram worksheet from Math class, select two possible
research topic choices.
Before thorough research begins, browse the library and Internet for the two topics to
help make the final topic selection.
Use this worksheet or your journal for quick notes and reference selections.
Use the following questions to help guide you in your final topic selection.
Am I interested in the information?
Would others find the information interesting?
Will the research be useful?
Can others or I benefit from it?
Will I find adequate information about the subject?
Will my library (school, local) have enough research information?
Fact Finding Worksheet
Use the following questions to help focus your research.
Write on this paper or in your journal.
List the source and fact(s) found.
Use at least three sources. Feel free to use more.
Vary your source types, for example, Internet, encyclopedia, almanac, and text.
1. Define your topic. What are looking for?
2. What is it used for?
3. Are there any other uses? If so, what?
4. Does it need a power source? If so, what kind? (electric, batteries, solar)
5. Who would use this?
6. What use would it serve? (job, entertainment, medical, communication)
7. How is it made?
8. What are the major parts?
9. Explain basically how it works.
10. Draw a sketch of your item whole. Draw critical components of the unit. (sort of
tearing down the unit)
Resource #1 Name
Resource #1 Facts
(leave more space between for actual worksheets)
Resource #2 Name
Resource #2 Facts
Resource #3 Name
Resource #3 Facts
Resource #4 Name
Resource #4 Facts
Resource #5 Name
Resource #5 Facts
*If you have additional suggestions to share with the class, journal them or ask directly
for immediate feedback.
Additional Activities and Collaboration Members:
Assist with the “tear down” drawing for item explanation. This can follow the Fact
Finding Worksheet where students draw their item.
Use Fact Finding Worksheet information to create an information web.
Use web from computer class to convert web drawing. Determine if information, when
placed in outline form, has continuity and is connected.
Feedback and Evaluation
Formative evaluation should surpass Summative evaluation, as they do not provide
contextualized feedback. Formative assessment provides teachers necessary information
to evaluate while the learning process is taking place, not after the fact. Indiana’s
programs are in dire need of assessment improvements. Norm-referenced assessments
need to be criterion-referenced assessments if student achievement is to align with state
standards. This would mean a change from multiple-choice assessment to performance
assessment. Portfolio assessments best evaluate student activity. The evaluation
methods used journaling, rubric, and verbal explanation seem to be less threatening
methods for assessment the students. Journaling activities and formative worksheets
demonstrate student understanding, or lack or, along the way. A rubric is designed to
direct student task achievement because the instructor has clarified the criteria in specific
terms. Students can assess their own performance as they progress through the tasks,
much as we are doing in CourseQuest 3.
Evaluation with collaborating teachers can be done as a team looking at all parts that
make the whole or each collaborator evaluating that which they instructed. Evaluation is
based upon a rubric, journal, quiz, or direct questioning. The teachers should establish
procedure and criteria. Members determine a completion or effort grade, percentage
grade, pass/fail or no grade. Process assessment and scoring levels are as follows:
Journal Entries Rubric
Journal Improvement-1 Satisfactory-2 Good-3 Proficient-4
Student Collaborative Activity Sheets Rubric
Activity Improvement-1 Satisfactory-2 Good-3 Proficient-4
Teacher Assessment Rubric
Improvement-1 Satisfactory-2 Good-3 Proficient-4
Product assessment comes at the end of the research journey in the form of an outline,
rough draft, presentation, project, or final paper. Scoring rubrics need to be established
for that material as well.
“Testing Our Children.” Fair Test Examiner (Spring 2000).
“National Standards.” Education Week Online.
“The Value of Formative Assessment.” Fair Test Examiner. (Winter 1999).
NWEA testing is going on at this time, so I was not able to collaborate with a science
teacher; however, since I have taught science, language arts, social studies, and math at
the 6th and 8th grade level, I presented the material to some of my library research
students. I originally wanted the students to work alone, but felt partners and small
groups would promote collaboration and self-direction. The activities took
approximately five working hours. The participating students have varied academic,
reading levels, testing levels, and learning styles. The results were expected.
The Springboard discussion and Technologies At Home lesson took the time allotted in
the plans. The Venn and Technology activity took a little less than a class period. The
directions had to be restated, as students needed the Venn categories to be further
explained. Answering the directed questions to this assignment did not seem to give the
group any difficulty. The Fact Finding Worksheet took 2 class periods.
I found that with a little tweaking, the lessons were organized to meet the needs of the
student’s abilities and learning styles. Some details of the lesson plans had to be
developed further after the first run-through, but they were age appropriate. A need to be
more creative with the Venn and Fact Finding Worksheet emerged as I assisted the
students as they worked. The students seemed to understand the basic premise of the
assignments. I will not say the tasks were fun for the students; however, they seem
interested, even enthusiastic as using technology relates to their everyday needs and
desires. The time allotted for the research portion was extended for this group, but for
each group it will probably vary. By and large, the students worked well together with
the exception of Internet research portion. All group participants wanted to do online
searching rather than encyclopedia, text, and magazine searches. It was interesting to
hear them work it out. A student made me chuckle when she told the group members that
they can do the online work because she was much better at getting facts from
encyclopedias. I reminded the students that even though their friends were in the same
class, will not automatically make them a good project partner.
Two needs for change struck me immediately with using these activities. The reading
level of students and learning materials selected must be considered, such as a lower level
encyclopedia, perhaps elementary reading level needs to be purchased. Along with
reading material, elementary web sites should be provided, but all students are
encouraged to view them. The challenged readers will achieve success in searching and
the higher readers will have fun viewing them.
Resources and References
Resources and References are placed in the section in which they are used to avoid
flipping back and forth to view reference citation.