LearnicsIL - Not Just for Research Projects! Idea #1: Discussion Prompts & Starters

Kathy Post
February 2, 2021

In the wake of COVID-19, teachers are looking for ways to engage students in authentic learning virtually. As I have discussed LearnicsIL with teachers, I think there may be a misconception that the Insight Link may only be useful for large, open-ended, end-of-the-semester research projects. I think there are many instructional strategies that could benefit from the use of student online research and analysis of student learning logs using the Insight Link. This blog series will highlight some of those ideas.

Idea #1: In-Class Discussion Prompts and Starters

Two of our Teacher Ambassadors, civics teachers from Southern Lehigh Area School District, designed student internet research activities for the first 10 minutes of class that focuses around a picture prompt about a current event. In the past, these teachers have used political cartoons and pictures of tweets by famous people to engage students in an open-ended inquiry in order to answer a discussion question and to provide evidence of their reasoning. Students are required to respond in the Google Classroom discussion thread about their findings and cite evidence. Then the teacher uses the responses, both from the Insight Link and the discussion thread, as a tool for whole class discussion, identifying misconceptions or knowledge that may need to be retaught.

Today, The NYS Education Department tweeted the following tweet:

I immediately recognized this as a great in-class discussion starter and I know I would have had to “google it” to find the answer and to learn more. Students can “google” to learn more about Candlemas Day and how it is celebrated in different countries around the world as well as the origins of Punxsutawney Phil and even compile and compare data to see how accurate the groundhog’s predictions have been through the years. 

It’s so common for us as teachers, as well as our students, to “google it” to look up unfamiliar topics or to find help to complete a task, but how often do we use the Internet search to expand their investigations into meaningful and engaging class discussions about current events? I hope this idea prompts you to consider using the Learnics Insight Link to promote student online research for in-class discussions and starters. 

Check out the Learnics Lesson Library for an example of a picture prompt lesson.

Kathy is the TEU Assessment & Accreditation Specialist at East Stroudsburg University College of Education
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