It’s science fair time for my middle school classes. I enjoy this time of year, but it’s most certainly a month of great chaos. One of the biggest challenges of the science fair for my students is the research paper. Finding a decent source can be tough, but getting the relevant and/or necessary information from that source is equally challenging for the students. They often have trouble summarizing or sifting out extraneous information.
This year, I decided to give Awesome Highlighter a try to see if it might help students with their research. Awesome Highlighter has been around for a while, but I hadn’t tried it until this week. This app allows users to highlight parts of a webpage or make notes on it. Once completed, it gives you a url that you can return to and review your highlights. You email the link anywhere from the site or post it to delicious, facebook, twitter, and more.
It turns out to be an excellent way to track student research habits. As students read a webpage I can quickly scan several computers and see if they’re highlighting too much (common) or missing important things (bold or italicized items). Once they’ve completed their highlighting, they fill out a simple research sheet for me and email me the link for their highlighted page. I can then compare their research sheets to the highlighted page and see if they missed anything or got unnecessary information.
Here are some student samples.