When planning for a unit of work with a group of Year 10 Science students I wanted to identify what the links would be to the New Zealand curriculum and cross curricular. This flow chart represents those ideas.

Working with students I noticed that none of them searched in any way other than a few words in the Google toolbar. I noticed their results were often too general. Students became frustrated when they couldn’t find what they were looking for or they easily became distracted into something else that seemed far more interesting to them but was often totally inappropriate. Poor keyboard skills also hinder the researching process. Apart from incorrect spelling, students tended to mostly look at the keyboard whilst typing and often missed the auto-suggestions that would appear in the tool bar as they typed. "One of the most consistent results in this study across all ages was in how the children’s typing abilities impacted their interaction with and use of the screen. None of the children looked at the screen while beginning to type." (research paper - Human-Computer Interaction Lab)

It would therefore seem a key element to using technology effectively in the classroom, is to prepare beforehand, either by identifying a number of useful websites (psee Web2.0 tools) specific to the task or to use certain tools to help channel students in the right direction. I introduced students to Google's Wonder Wheel and Google Squared which helped them identify sub areas to look for their research.

The Year 10 Science students I was working with had the task of researching an element of the Periodic Table and then giving a class presentation on their findings. Student engagement with the new search tools was highly effective, not one student was off task. I also provided a template to generate ideas of what they might be looking for and to help structure their research for presenting.

The next task was to define what presentation tool might be utilised? Power Point (as we know) is the current de rigueur for presentations but there are other Web 2.0 tools that offer a little bit extra and may help to generate interest from students. I chose to use the online tool Prezi, a simple and fun tool which allows people to construct a presentation in a much more lateral and visual way. . Here are some examples below from the students, click the arrow.jpgto load the slide show. Students gave me some great feedback on how what they liked and disliked about using Prezi follow the link to find out more.

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