I'm always on the look out for different ways to get children researching for information online. In the past I've had success with: collaborative mind maps, note-taking sheets, crossword puzzles and quiz-quiz-trade questions.
This week with Year 4, I basically wanted the children to do some Internet research using mostly my Geography Encyclopedia website in preparation for presenting their finding using Microsoft PhotoStory 3 in the coming weeks. The activity that I came up with was something that I've titled 'Find a fact about...' - I give the children a grid of topics and they must make a short note in each box explaining a fact that they've found out about each one.
I found that it worked extremely well because it prompted the children to focus upon particular lines of enquiry whilst giving them enough freedom to choose what fact they wanted to write down about each. For example, when looking up about polar bear adaptations to life in the Arctic, they could choose to write down facts about their: fur colour, large paws or fur thickness. Giving them only limited space to write their facts down and asking them to handwrite them onto paper forced them to think carefully about the information and re-interpret it into their own words as much as possible. As the activity was presented in a grid, it could also be differentiated easily by including more/less fact-finding challenges where needed. You will also notice that the sheet contains a few blank boxes at the bottom - this gave the children space to write down any extra facts that they might have found out and thought were particularly interesting to finish off.
I always like trying out new ideas and discovering that they are successful - I'll definitely be adding the 'Find a fact about...' activity to my collection of Internet research lesson!