Digital research tools can help students as they engage in project-based learning
Here are reviews of four high-quality digital tools that can help with project-based learning, courtesy of Common Sense Media and its new Graphite service–a free database of teacher-written reviews of learning technologies.
Grade range: 6-12
What is it? No noodlin’, just serious research with this comprehensive resource
Pros: From creating notecards to listing citations, every step is scaffolded with multiple supports built right in; the site’s focus on the why of research is excellent.
Cons: Through all of its thoroughness, the site could do more to help make the research process more engaging for kids.
Bottom line: NoodleTools gives kids smart, specific assistance where they need it the most — with citations, paraphrasing, and organization, though the details may overwhelm.
Grade range: 6-12
What is it? Versatile site teaches research skills, offers teachers flexibility
Pros: Research skills get real-life credibility in an accessible format that both instructs and supports learning.
Cons: Despite supportive graphics other accommodations like audio options, translations, and linked definitions aren’t included.
Bottom line: Because the lessons make information literacy accessible, it’s a great resource for teaching research-based units.
Grade range: 7-12
What is it? Helpful citation and writing resource for instant bibliographies
Pros: This handy tool takes all the un-fun parts of writing a research paper and demystifies them, making it less intimidating for students to find and cite the best sources.
Cons: The sidebar ads can be distracting and they’re a little pushy about upgrades if you’re using the free service.
Bottom line: EasyBib takes the pain out of citing sources and gives students and teachers a comprehensive place to organize all research paper-related activity.
Grade range: 8-12
What is it? Say goodbye to note cards: research and citations made easy for students
Pros: It’s like a one-stop shop for student research, from gathering sources to organizing research and outlining their own writing.
Cons: The automatically compiled bibliography may encourage student passivity rather than inquiry into the why of the citation process.
Bottom line: A smart, intuitive support for all steps of the research paper process; design and sensibility resemble the social media sites teens love.
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