While there are a ton of essential skills that today's students need in order to succeed in tomorrow's world, learning to efficiently manage -- and to evaluate the reliability of -- the information that they stumble across online HAS to land somewhere near the top of the "Muy Importante" list.
Which is why I had a few of my students experimenting with Scoop.it this week.
Specifically, they put together this collection of resources spotlighting the range of perspectives people have on New York City's decision to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.
Designed to give users the chance to create curated collections of resources on topics that they are interested in, Scoop.it is a wicked mashup of digital goodness - part feed reader, part blogging tool, and part social bookmarking service.
Scoop.it users begin by creating a blank page and entering a bunch of search terms connected to the topic that they are interested in. For my students, NYC Soda Ban was the topic and things like "soda ban" and "Bloomberg soda ban" were the search terms.
At that point, Scoop.it automatically scoured the most popular web sources -- Google Search, Google Blog Search, YouTube, Twitter -- for those search terms and automatically brought potential content back to my kids for consideration.
Next, my students poked through those search results looking for sources that they thought should be shared with readers interested in learning more about the soda ban -- a decidedly low-tech process where they applied skills learned in our ongoing unit on reliable nonfiction reading.
What I liked the best about Scoop.it was that whenever my students found a bit of content that they thought was worth sharing, all that they needed to do was click a big green "Scoop It" button and the piece was added -- with their written commentary -- to their public page.
I also like that viewers of the Scoop.it page -- including YOU if you want to REALLY make the day of the two boys who put this together for us (#hint #hint) -- can leave comments on individual articles, starting a conversation, pushing back against flawed thinking, and/or challenging the reliability of a shared source.
Do you see how useful all of this is?
Basically, Scoop.it can become a one-stop shop for (1). teaching kids to search, (2). giving kids chances to manage information, to evaluate sources and to build collections and (3). allowing kids to easily publish content on topics that they care about.
A few tips worth considering:
Remember that Scoop.it ALONE doesn't teach kids how to evaluate the reliability of online information.
Those are reading skills that YOU'VE got to introduce in your classes. Really -- check out the lessons we're teaching this year. They work and they are simple.
Remember that Scoop.it ALONE isn't motivating to kids. Interesting topics are motivating to kids.
I didn't have any trouble convincing students to build a collection around the NYC Soda Ban simply because it is FULL of themes of fairness and justice that middle schoolers dig.
Remember that Scoop.it ALONE can't help kids to decide what a solid collection of resources around a controversial topic looks like in action.
A part of the higher-order-ness in this activity is forcing your kids to make choices about what should go in their collection -- but making good choices is something kids won't automatically be able to do.
I put this handout together to help my kids evaluate the quality of the individual choices that they were making and the quality of the final collection that they'd put together:
In the end, this was a great project because it gave my kids the opportunity to make several decisions about the quality of the content that they were finding on a controversial topic.
Each decision was a mini-learning lesson, forcing my students to practice evaluative skills that are essential for success in an information-soaked world.
It was also a great project, though, because it allowed my kids to publish a nice-looking final project that they are proud of.
They see their page of resources as a public service -- a place that others can turn if they want to quickly learn more about a topic that matters.
So whaddya' think?
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