Monday, June 24, 2019

Curation Activities You Can Do

Last week, I shared "Digital Curation Tools You Can Do" with 3 digital tools you can use to curate the various articles, ideas, activities, books, etc that you come across. If one of these works well for you, awesome! 

This week I want to share a different idea about curation. YOU don't have to do it all. 

"Why not have STUDENTS help with the curation of sources?"

Today, I'm sharing 3 different ways you could have students curate WITH you below, but let's talk about WHY you should have students curate sources.

We all want our students to be using good and credible sources, right? So quite often, we provide the sources FOR our students. But we are missing out on a big opportunity when we do this. At some point, students will be researching on their own. They will be sifting through vast amount of information that is at their fingertips. Have you ever seen students research? They go for the first few links - not the best ones - and call it a day.

That's why I think this is such a good activity. The skill of finding good, credible sources is a tough one. It's tough for many adults! I've heard many teachers comment on how their students don't find good sources and ask how we help them get better.

Think about this the next time you ask your students to do research. What if you collaborated with them on this task? What if this was step one in the research/project/activity? Hear me out ...

This can be beneficial on a couple of levels for you and your students. First, even if you ask each student in your class to find a single source, you could end up with 20+ sources of information on your topic. How great is that? Students finding the sources and then having a bank to refer to? Hot dog! Can you imagine what your bank of sources would look like if you have each student find 2 ... or more? And how about then having students use that bank of sources to DO the project or activity? How awesome!

Before curating, start out with reminders as to what makes sources good and then challenge students to go find ONE. Now, that might sound super easy, but I'm not suggesting JUST finding a source. The student must provide a short summary of the info AND ... here's my favorite ... explain why they chose this source. Explain what makes it "good"? I also think you should layer in a little fun and suggest that if more than 1 person submits the same source, the one with the best explanation gets credit and the other(s) have to find a new source! Now we get into providing the best explanation ... kicking it up a notch!

The second, and possibly more important piece to this activity, is for you to then have discussions about the sources they have collected. Once you have your initial bank of sources, take some time to pull up a few of them and talk through them as a class. Have the student who found the source explain their thinking and allow other students to ask questions. Now we are dipping into presenting skills. Yay!! 

After the first few, you might want to challenge your students to pair up and have these discussions with a partner and provide the opportunity to change their source. We all can pick out bummers, so putting into practice immediately can help students solidify their knowledge. They are curating and evaluating sources as the same time. And yes, they HAVE to explain why they think it's credible. 

Having conversations about the credibility WITH the students allows them to share their thinking ... and allows YOU to clear up misconceptions or help them reframe their thinking. And might I add ... they are seeing the CONTENT over and over with each source you cover? It's like a double-gift. And ultimately, you and your students have a solid bank of sources to work with.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, I have 3 different ways you can collect the information to ensure your students have a place to start. They only require a Google account and you can customize what you are looking for. I've created 3 different curation collections using Google Sheets, Forms, and Slides. They all have the same format, and to give a clearer idea, I used the idea of finding sources for an American Revolution unit. You can adjust colors to fit your theme. Feel free to make your own copy and use it. They will all open up in Template mode, so click on the blue "Use Template" button in the top right corner and it's all yours. I will also house these on my Templates for Teachers website.

Google Form  A Google Form is another simple and easy way to collect sources, this time with less concern over information getting lost or changed. Allowing students to enter information using the Form, and then sharing the resulting Sheet can be shared with just viewing privileges. Don't worry, you and your students can still click each link so it can still be shared as a bank of sources. It would be an excellent starting point for doing a class collaboration on curation. Forms keep the information organized and allow you to give very clear instructions. You are welcome to click the link below - it will make your own copy and from there you can modify it or use it as inspiration.

COPY Form for "American Revolution Curation"   (Sorry ... the template URL trick doesn't work for Forms)

Google Sheet ↭ A Google Sheet is a simple and easy way to collect sources, or anything else, really. Give each column a name and a purpose and let the information be gathered. The sheet I created has 5 columns: one for the student's name, one for the name of the person/event/fact, one for the URL, one for the summary, and one for the reasoning behind the selection of the source. The beauty of a Sheet is with the top row "frozen", you can alphabetize by any column you'd like. If you ask students to find 3 sources, alphabetizing column A will allow you see quickly how many each student has submitted. I also find the ability to have multiple tabs along the bottom keep information separated yet all in the same spot. You are welcome to take and modify this Sheet to make it work for you and your students

Google Slide ↭ A Google Slide is DEFINITELY not for your first go-round with classroom curation. I created a Slide deck in the same theme as the Form and the Sheet. There is a slide for a Person, Event, and Fact. Each student would need to make a copy of each. You will end up with quite an extensive Slide deck! I did color code the Slides to make it slightly easier. Like the Sheet, sharing editing privileges opens up the ability for accidents to happen. Another way to go about doing this, is to give each student a copy of their own to work on, and then share the Slide decks with viewing abilities. I really love Slides and can see this working ... but please know that this is probably the toughest one. You and your students need to be very cautious about using it. As with the Form and the Sheet, you are welcome to use this Slide deck or take it and customize it for your use. 

I do hope these are helpful activities for you and your students. I believe these can be incredibly powerful ways to help your students become better researchers!

Have a question or comment? Feel free to comment below, reach out to me on Twitter @kiefersj, or email me at

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