Asking elementary aged students to do research on their iPad seems simple enough, but it can lead to frustration when the content they find is not accessible to them.
For example, many students (as young as first or second grade level) are asked to “do research” on topics, such as animals, famous people, holidays, etc. The Internet, also formally known as the World Wide Web, is just that. It’s a wide world of stuff just waiting to be clicked or tapped on. Type in a keyword into the omnibox and you could get billions of hits. Depending on the search engine you use (Google is my search engine of choice and has been since it launched) the results are often filtered and ranked in such a way that they are most relevant.
I always encourage K-5 elementary school educators to avoid having students search the omnibox. It’s just too overwhelming for students to find things that are A) appropriate and B) ON their reading level. Therefore, we pre-plan and work to find a handful sites that are best suited for our students when it comes to researching a particular topic, such as National Geographic for Kids or Kids.gov, etc. The Epic Books app has excellent non-fiction books on common school research topics, and it’s free for educators and their students.
My trick for finding appropriate sites for these students to use is to add kid and facts to my keyword, such as kid facts elephants or kid facts Abraham Lincoln. Performing searches like this allows me to filter through the junk for my students. It saves instructional/research time and gives me some comfort that students aren’t looking all around, willy nilly, on the world wide web.
Once we have a handful of kid-friendly research sites, students can bookmark them on the iPad using the “Add to Home Screen” option in Safari.
Teachers can AirDrop these sites from their iPad to their students’ iPads OR Another great tip recommended by my Twitter friend, Teresa Thomassen, is to make QR codes that students can scan for easy access to kid-friendly sites. Scan the QR code to easily access the approved site – no typing long addresses!
Now that you have found some great sites for your students to use, we need to make sure the sites are readable. So, let’s keep making this content accessible! The screenshots below cover the following steps that should accompany each research session:
1. Use Siri Dictation to dictate a keyword into the omnibox (for struggling spellers)
2. Use the “Find on Page” search to find the keyword you are looking for.
3. Tap on the horizontal lines to the left of the URL to turn on Reader View. Note that not all pages support reader view. Don’t use those.
4. Swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to turn on Speak Screen. (Great for struggling readers)
The before and after reader view images speak for themselves, but just because the page is easier to read, doesn’t mean that your own child or every student in your class can read it. Therefore, my final iPad research tip is to allow the use of my favorite text to speech feature, Speak Screen! You can find more about that here on page 6:
iCan with iOS
I have worked with my 7 and 9 year old on research projects at home and these are the tips and tricks that have helped them most!