1. Before students enter the classroom, place cards or slips
of paper on each desk which have been labeled with
a wide variety of topics that will be interesting to
students, such as famous people, exotic places, and
intriguing issues. Make sure that each student has
such a card. Write the question of the day on the board: “Look
at the card placed on your desk, and on a separate
sheet of paper write everything that you know about
this topic. Then, explain what you might do to find
out more about this subject.” Give the class
5-10 minutes to think and respond to the prompt.
Begin a short discussion. Ask the class to share
what places or people were written on their cards. What
do they know about
these topics? What if you didn’t know anything about
your topic, then what? Ask the students what they would do
if they wanted to find information on a topic they didn’t
know anything about. Write student answers on the board and
discuss the usefulness of each resource. Some answers might
be “use the internet” or “look it up in
a book”. Consider various situations and alternatives,
such as: “What if you don’t own a computer, then
what?” Ask the class to consider another situation: “How
would you learn if you didn’t have to go to school?” Allow
the class to ruminate and discuss this idea. Encourage the
students to understand that they are learning and questioning
all the time, even when they are not in school, and that
there are ways of answering their questions and finding out
about their interests independently, without the aid of a
teacher or other adult.
Pass out an article to the students about a controversial
issue, such as the “Bush Plans Drilling in Untapped
Alaska Oil Reserve” article provided. Have the students
read this article silently to themselves, and ask them
about the pros and cons of the president’s plan.
Once students finish reading, open discussion again with
What do you think of the president’s
plan? Is it a good solution to the oil shortage?
b) What are some of the drawbacks to this plan?
c) If you didn’t know about the possible damage that
this project could cause to the environment, would you be in
favor of it? How does the environmental piece of this plan
alter your view?
d) What if drilling in this part of the country could
bring down gas prices dramatically? Would you support
e) How could research tools help us find out more information
about this issue?
Help the class to realize that some important
issues we read about may not give us all the information necessary
to make a wise decision. This makes it very important for people
to be independent learners in order to uncover additional information
which may be initially withheld. Being an independent learner,
therefore, will enable us to make more informed decisions.
Student responses to the question of the day should be
evaluated to determine what the students already know about
research tools. Discussion responses may be evaluated also
to determine student opinions and their understanding of
what it means to be an independent learner.
None for this