Third grade has just finished their unit on researching and non-fiction writing. This project always culminates wiht the Grade 3 wax museum where students dress up as their famous person and answer questions asked to them by parents and fellow students. Think of it as Madame Tussauds come to life.
The tech piece of this unit has developed nicely over the last two years to include a grade 3 wikispace page with web links to over 50 famous people, links to kid friendly search engines, and online portfolios (click on student image to see their work) where students upload all their work for display. From the poster and posterboard work that was being produced 2 years ago, we have come a long way baby.
However what I feel is probably one of the most important tech lessons I give to 3rd graders (or any grade for that matter) is the lesson I do around reading on the web. Let’s face it, the way we read the web is far different from the way we read books. This is hardly a newsflash but it is something that I do feel gets overlooked in elementary schools and schools as a whole for that matter. Here is how I structure my lesson around reading on the web.
- We talk about non-fiction text features found on web pages. This is a piggy back lesson on the teachers have done before I roll in. We talk about Headings, Bold text, sub-headings, captions, glossaries, the index, table of contents, etc. We look at a couple of websites and talk about how navigation doubles as the table of contents for a web page. We also look at the headings on the page, images and captions, hyperlinks to other sites/pages, where to find site’s owner’s information, etc.
- I display a couple of preselected websites from the wiki page linked above. I choose specific web sites that I know are written at a level well beyond that of a 3rd grader. Instead of reading the text and explaining to kids what the author is intending to say, I show them how to dive right in and look for those key words that will give them the information they are looking for. Enter Cmd + F. This brings up a window where students can enter a key word like “born” and see where is appears on the page. I tell them this is a lot like a glossary but only better. We look for other key words and I show them this in a couple of web browsers so they can see how the cmd + F looks between web browsers. By this point someone usually asks, ” so we do not need to read all of this to find our information?” No way, and you can’t do this in a book. We practice using a few key words and trying synonyms for words to try and locate information on the page.
- Next I lead them to askkids.com. I tell them itis unlikely they will find all the information they need on one web page so at some point they will need to proabably do a search. Searching for web sites as a 3rd grader is a daunting job since the web is written largely for adults. However, weth kid friendly search engines like the one below, kids can usually tap into some material that is easily comprehended. This is a great opportunity to bring up search operators, using synonyms to search for information, using + and – sign operators in their queries, etc.