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Pairs of students sat at computers talking, pointing, and nodding. The mood was as focused as any high school level class in the stepped, seminar-style computer lab—but these were sixth graders.
Team Zeal was teaching Team Perspective how to use OneNote—the Microsoft application that brings the familiar physical 3-ring binder to the digital era.
“It’s really helpful,” said one student, demonstrating on her screen. “I can paste my notes right into my essay. Here’s where I’m using the template Mrs. O’Neil gave us to create my bibliography.”
The student-to-student mentoring reinforced the OneNote lesson that staff developer Catherine Graybosch had given the students two weeks prior. It was one facet of a collaboration between Graybosch, Kathy O’Neil, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, and Jenn Useted, the school’s Library Media Specialist, designed to enhance student’ research skills and use of technology.
Using the school's library and computer lab, the educators created a trio of workshop for small groups of students to rotate through.
O’Neil prompted the students to think like detectives when using books to do research.
Useted helped students use online resources.
Graybosch showed students how to document and integrate their findings on OneNote.
The three-faceted workshop was integrated into the unit on ancient Egypt—a multi-disciplinary project in which students write a formal research essay and create an artifact which represents their research.
Students began using their newfound skills almost immediately; becoming immersed in the accomplishments of the Old Kingdom, how the Egyptians discovered how to blow glass, what the god Osiris symbolized, as well as mummification practices, how the pyramids were built, who wrote the Book of the Dead, and more.
Team Zeal’s ancient Egyptian artifacts will be shown in the JJMS library on December 19, from 9:15 – 10:35 AM. The students will also present overviews of their projects to visitors.