Internet workshops are the best thing since sliced bread (in my opinion). When Dr. Frye first introduced them to my class last year, I thought I’d never see a kindergartener complete one accurately. I loved the idea of the internet workshop and thought it would be a great way for students to research topics, but again, I didn’t think my students…my five and six year olds were capable of doing so.
When I decided to “dive head first” into the internet workshop I KNEW my students would need a lot of modeling. I first sat down and explained that we would be researching or looking for information on hermit crabs on the internet as we were composing a class book on hermit crabs. I had previously printed out a “Hermit Crabs Notes” document for us to record notes on. The page asked basic recall questions such as, “what do hermit crabs eat?” On the Smartboard, I pulled up my teacher website from the school’s homepage (the students were already aware of how to do this). On the left side, I had a new page called “Internet Workshops.” I had posted all the links for all of the topics we were researching. We clicked on the hermit crabs page and used the links to research the sea creature and complete our notes page collaboratively.
Surprisingly, after we completed the hermit crab internet workshop collaboratively, they were able to grab their computers and begin researching independently. The students were given individualized pre-printed note pages depending on their sea creature. Each student already knew how to locate my teacher site – next, they simple found the internet workshop page that had links to their topic (dolphins, whales, sharks, or sea turtles). Very few of them needed help locating answers to their notes pages. It was so wonderful to see them working so independently.
After reading Dr. Frye, Dr. Trathen, and Dr. K’s article on internet workshops in the social studies curriculum, I felt as though my questioning on the notes sheets I created were not “up to par.” Frye et al.’s research suggests that teachers provide questions that are open-ended, that don’t require “just one” answer. This will allow for students to formulate factual ideas on their own. This will also lead to richer discussions between classmates upon research completion. The culmination of research and discussion of open ended questions leads to deeper understanding of new topics.
I will definitely have Dr. Frye, Dr. Trathen, and Dr. K’s suggestions in mind when creating my next internet workshop for my kinders.