Wiggling is often the toughest phase for students. They're often uncertain about what they've found and where they're going with a project. According to Webster's dictionary, wiggling involves moving to and fro.
In the wiggling phase, students evaluate content, along with twisting and turning information looking for clues, ideas, and perspectives.
Planning for Exploration
At this point in the process, consider the Multiple Intelligences of your students. Students wiggle with their minds and their bodies. Your interpersonal students will want to talk with others about what they've learned, your visual/spatial students will be ready to draw a picture, and your bodily/kinesthetic students will wander around the classroom thinking about the next step in the project. Unless you plan for these individual differences, this phase can be chaotic.
This planning may take the form of jigsaw discussions that get students talking and moving around the classroom or email communications with students in another school. Students working in small groups on a collaborate project can turn to the each other for support. However students working independently may need the support of friends, family, and teachers. Encourage students to use online support systems such as AllExperts sites or online pen pals and discussion groups.
Using Information Resources
As students begin to use information, they may need support. Reception scaffolds assist learners in dealing with information. They help direct student attention, record ideas, and organize ideas. Go to Reception Scaffolds to learn more about one type of support. What reception scaffolds do you think would be important in inquiry projects?
Some ideas for reception scaffords are listed below:
Anticipation Guide. Sometimes you need a resource that will get students thinking about a lesson. Anticipation guides provide questions to help students think about particular elements of your lesson. These guides might include questions, lists of words, or a presentation outline.
Graphical Guide. Some students learn best through visuals. Graphical organizers such as pictures, diagrams, and concept webs bring what may seem like disjointed elements together. You might provide a diagram of a story's structure or an information web of a topic. Timelines are a popular way to help students visualize historical events.
Project Guide. When faced with writing a term paper or developing a multimedia project, some students are lost without a clear set of expectations. An assignment guide can help a student through the process of designing, creating, presenting, and evaluating a project. This includes clear expectations, specific processes/products, and guidelines for assessment. Project checklists are also often included.
Reading Guide. As students read books or passages, they often get so caught up in the content that they forget to reflect on their reading. Reading guides can help focus learner attention by providing guiding questions related to the characters, setting, or plot of a reading. They may also include vocabulary lists, activities, and comprehension assistance.
Research Guide. When planning for a research project, some students need assistance with narrowing a topic, developing research questions, identifying key words, taking notes, and synthesizing information. You may want to provide research organizers to help students in their project planning. For example, the guide might include a sheet that contains the words Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why to help the student plan a newspaper article. Another project might include an empty chart that will help students in a comparison of political parties.
Study Guide. Students often have difficulty focusing their study efforts. A study guide can help direct student attention to particular aspects of a lesson through lists, formulas, diagrams, and other tools for organizing information.
Thinking Strategy Guide. Some students need help remembering. Try mnemonic devices, reading strategies, or listening protocols. For example, SQ3R is a popular reading technique: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. Like "cheat sheets" , these reminder handouts provide help with things like formulas, special keys on a keyboard, or pronunciations.
Tutorial Guide. Step-by-step instruction is a useful approach for many types of learning. For example, when students are learning a new computer software package, it is helpful to have each procedure listed along with sample screens. Students often follow the steps to create an end product such as a word processed letter.
This type of learning guide is also helpful in areas that involve physical skills such as art, creative movement, science labs, and physical education. For instance, you may include step-by-step instructions for creating a batik in art or doing a folk dance. These types of tutorials are helpful in learning many new concepts. When designing a guide, provide information, examples and nonexamples, followed by opportunities to practice.
Vocabulary Guide. It's helpful to provide students a list of the key words and phrases being used in a lesson. You may provide a list of words and ask students to write definitions. Or, you may want to distribute a completed guide to help students practice or review concepts.
Writing Guide. Logs, diaries, and journals are all tools to help students organize their thoughts and reflect on their experiences. You may wish to provide handouts that provide expectations or structure for these writing activities.
Skimming and Scanning
Skimming is particularly difficult when using online resources. Students seem to be drawn to information that looks familiar rather than concentrating on the questions that need to be answered. It's easy for them to get distracted by cool graphics and unrelated links. Encourage them to stay on task by keeping a graphic organizer nearby. Go to 42eXplore: Skimming and Scanning page for ideas.
Using Online Resources. Use the following tips for reading online materials:
- Skim the page using headings and subheadings as a guide. Look for information directly related to your topic.
- Record only those words, phrases, and pieces of information you need. Plug these into the correct places in your graphic organizer or notes. If you're using a word processor, do not copy! Paraphrase the most relevant information.
- Be sure to cite sources as you use them. Copy the URL and paste it directly into your word processor to avoid errors.
- When you find a good website, remember to use the related links within the page and on special "links" pages. It's like using the bibliography at the end of a good article.
- Don't get "lost" on your search. Keep track of how deep you are searching and be sure to return to the original page for "air" before moving on.
- You may need to bookmark pages and return to them later. Be careful, it's easy to bookmark, then not take the time to return to the site. The same goes for printing. You're better off spending the time to record the information now, rather than rehashing the printouts later.
Regardless of whether you're reading a newspaper, watching a video, or exploring a webpage, you need to carefully evaluate the information you find. Sometimes it's easy. The Weekly World News and National Enquirer aren't the best sources of quality information. Check out the Annals of Improbable Research for more silliness. However when it comes to evaluating web resources, the job becomes more difficult.
Try Evaluation Wizard from the 21st Century Information Fluency project.
Students are often overwhelmed by the volume of information on a topic. Think of ways to overcome information overload through a systematic approach to information evaluation and organization.
Communicating and Collaborating
Once you've cycled through the questioning, searching, and evaluating parts of your project a number of times, you may still have holes in your thinking. Go the Teacher Tap: Ask-an-Expert section to focus your project and answer important questions. Discuss your project with other people who are interested in your topic such as other classes of students or professionals in your area of study.
Develop an activity that helps your students use and evaluate information resources.
Planning for Exploration - consider all students
Using Information Resources - create reception scaffolds
Evaluating Information - create evaluation guidelines
Communicating and Collaborating - involve an expert
Read Information Overload: Threat or Opportunity? by Bernhard Jungwirth and Bertram C. Bruce in Reading Online (Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(5), February 2002).