Saturday, December 15, 2007

Day 3

For day 3, I brought students to the computer lab. What I'm trying to do this term is get students more information-literate, get them using the Internet in new and more effective ways than just checking Facebook or using Google. One of the obstacles I'm coming across is that there is no real up-to-date database of op-ed essays. If I want to find someone's opinion on illegal immigration (the topic I've chosen for the first assignment) and I use Lexis-Nexis, 80% of the articles listed will be news articles reporting on the debate over illegal immigration or the latest pronouncements by presidential candidates. If I use Academic Search Premier, I run across many longer articles from academic journals. If I use Opposing Viewpoints, I end up with outdated essays. This was a bit of a challenge.

I also introduced the students to Delicious. Another challenge: the computer lab's computers do not allow student users to install the Delicious buttons. Perhaps I can contact the academic lab coordinators and have them install these buttons for now.

It took some time to get all students signed up for Delicious, then to teach them how to add the buttons to the Favorites drop-down menu. (A problem we came across in Day 5 was that the computers automatically wipe away all Favorites nightly. I understand why, but it creates the need to reinstall these buttons weekly.)

Once Delicious buttons were installed, I asked students to locate an opinion essay on illegal immigration then use Delicious to bookmark it using a special unique tag I had decided on. I also showed them how to use tagging (i.e., multiple tags for each link). Their first assignment was to summarize and analyze the essay they chose, identifying the claims, the evidence, the purpose and the audience of the essay. I just finished grading these assignments, and only 2 students analyzed the purpose and the audience! This required more research on their part, which they did not do. They did not, for example, know that Tom Tancredo is a Republican presidential candidate (the essay a few of them found was from prior to his announcement of his candidacy). They did not think about the implications of an essay on illegal immigration posted on It was kind of disheartening.

Delicious is a great tool for students because it can allow them to share their research. The second assignment asks them to find an essay that takes the opposite point of view on the issue. They can use the Delicious links to poke around and find other essays. They've helped each other do research.

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