Research Skills Grades 10 – 12

/Research Skills Grades 10 – 12
Research Skills Grades 10 – 122019-01-08T09:33:33-07:00

Research Skills Grades 10 – 12

Students in high school are encouraged to be excellent researchers.  Students should be open to new ideas and be able to challenge their thinking, evaluate websites, critique bias, cite correctly, and create an accurate list of references.

High school students need to be able to make connections with the real world.  In order to do this they need to immerse themselves in the topic of interest, and generate ideas for brainstorming.  During the exploration stage students will actively engage with questions, exploring and forming a key question that will drive their research.  Students are invited to connect with our teacher librarian Pippa Davies ( or their teacher for help with this process.  Pippa can help guide the question and resource building stage in order that students are prepared and mentored during the process.  Once students have gathered enough information they are ready to present their learning using different digital tools, along with an evaluation of their sources and content with the help of a teacher or teacher librarian.

Watch this video by Wendy Drexler on becoming a connected learner before you start the research process.

Understanding Library Terms (Infographic Flyer in .pdf format)

Recipe for Research A 9-Step Process for Acquiring and Organizing Information (from EBSCOhost) – Infographic Flyer in .pdf format

BC’s Modernized Curriculum incorporates Inquiry as a means of helping our students move into the next chapter of learning. The Galileo Foundation of Learning shares three types of inquiry: Universal Inquiry ModelMinimally Guided Model, and the Discipline-based model.

In the Universal Inquiry Model, students enjoy hands-on learning, actively creating, and sharing their learning with the world as opposed to passively learning the information.  As our students become detectives we as teachers can take a step back and let them become the experts which helps them move towards the deeper content, while learning technology to enhance understanding.  Learning how to capture our student’s voice digitally will bring confidence, and an ability to enhance their learning.  Watch this great video under universal inquiry from the Galileo model to gain an understanding of the teacher role and student role.

  • Key assumption: Students need a highly structured step-by-step framework in order to engage in the kind of self-directed and independent study ‘genuine’ inquiry requires.

How can we do this in our distance learning environment?

  1. Take advantage of all the amazing resources/databases we have collated for you in our learning commons to tie into their natural questions and passions, based on the socials or science standards.
  2. Work with your teacher to help outline your projects, building steps to allow for a deeper level of learning. Take your students on field trips so they can explore the experts on their topic, or contact the expert via mail or Skype.

As your student engages in the research process you can encourage them to journal about their research using Google docs, and Explora and the tool My Folder.  Encourage your student to identify three topics that interest them.  Help your student to identify with what interests them. and how it can perhaps help others in their research.  Identify what they know and what they need to know more about. Then get your student to write down three questions they need to know more about.  Debate the titles and the keywords with a teacher librarian or teacher.  Discuss search engines and databases that could be useful.  Lastly, assess for content, validity of sources (bibliography) and sense of accomplishment and interest.

The second method of Inquiry is called the Minimally Guided Theory, Design Thinking, or MakerEd as we call it in our learning commons.

Minimally guided means as the words imply that the student comes up with his or her own student-driven questions which provoke natural curiosity and drive learning.  Students learn concepts without being taught them per se.  Students question a problem that they can personally relate to based on compassion and interest.  They would research the topic and present their own findings based on what they were trying to prove in their essential question.  The teacher really takes a back seat in this learning, maybe just presenting one idea and then letting the student discover and research the rest.  It can be messy. Students need to learn from a growth mindset that making mistakes is part of the learning process.

  • Key assumption: Students most likely to learn concepts if they discover them on their own, rather than being told them. Teacher, acting as ‘guide on the side,’ should, therefore, avoid high levels of direct instruction.
Design Thinking is a process to solve problems that focuses on understanding the people involved, the unique circumstances tied to the problem and coming up with creative, innovative and testable solutions!”  Design Thinking for Teens
This infographic below shares the process of empathizing with a particular people need or situation, defining the problem, ideating a solution with many possible outcomes, prototyping and developing a model or patent, and then testing the ideas with an expert or the person/s situation you were researching.

How do we do this in a distance learning environment?

  1. Find out what things your student would like to make based on the Big Ideas in the curriculum.  Chat with your teacher to define that learning, and what it might look like based on student interest and compassion to solve a problem?
  2. Discover how design thinking process can be applied to all research, using research databases.
  3. Read the book Invent to Learn which outlines the history of making and the pedagogy behind it.  Check out the following websites:  Design Thinking for Educators, Stanford Design School
  4. Borrow some of our MakerEd materials from the learning commons.
  5. Tie into learning at a community connection centre, learning camp, or virtual inquiry/STEAM book clubs.

Teach your students about a “Growth Mindset”

Growth Mindset is the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and solve problems. Carol Dweck is a pioneering researcher in the field of motivation and why people succeed (or don’t), and how to foster success.  Watch this TED talk to hear Carol share her research.

Want to learn more how to put this into practice?  The Mindset Kit is a free set of online lessons and practices  designed to help you teach and foster adaptive beliefs about learning.

The third and last means of inquiry is called Discipline-based Inquiry. This approach takes into consideration that deeper learning can only happen when students are learning what they really can tie into topics that are meaningful to them.  Here teachers ask the guiding questions which will elicit responses from a statement or opinion or hook.  Many teachers might understand this as Socratic learning, where both teacher and student work together to push learning and dialogue towards meaningful thoughts.

“Key Renaissance figures such as Galileo Galilei and Leonardo da Vinci were emblematic of a quest for knowledge that spread to the rest of Europe in the late 16th century spurred on through the creation of new technologies, eg. microscope, telescope, printing press, etc. This spirit of inquiry and scientific discovery took hold on a wider scale during the European Enlightenment beginning in the 18th century.”  ¹

  • Key assumption: inquiry should emerge from a particular discipline. Students learn best when they are brought into the structures and ways of thinking of a particular discipline. Teachers have a large repertoire of pedagogical approaches so that instruction conforms to what is to be learned and the learning needs and strengths of the student. Teachers use a balanced combination of student-centered and direct oriented approaches aligned with disciplinary, curricular and assessment practices. They use diagnostic tools and formative and summative assessments to monitor student’s progress and ensure students are acquiring deep understanding and knowledge. (Focus On Inquiry Galileo)

How do we help students learn more about discipline based inquiry?

  1. We learn to ask more open ended questions to get our students sharing.  We use questions such as How would you, what would result if you, how would you describe, compare with, what is the relationship between, how could you change, how would you improve, and how do you feel, what is your opinion, what would you do differently, what choice would you have taken. Questions should have deep meaning to the student. may not have one answer and will require research.
  2. Find issues which are pertinent to your community.
  3. Help your student tie into some real authentic learning relevant to their grade and interest, or gifting.
  4. Students are encouraged to spend more lab time, studio work, construction time or interviewing time to capture data.
  5. Encourage students to use technology to help them present and exhibit their work.
  6. Get your student connected with an expert in the field of his or her topic.
  7. Find ways to help your students communicate about their learning whether it be podcasting, or writing a blog post etc.

Digital Literacy is “the interest, attitude, and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate, analyze and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, create and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society”.

Basic elements of this definition include:

  • Participation
  • Access
  • Integration
  • Analysis
  • Evaluation
  • Management
  • Creation
  • Communication
  • Empowerment

The following experiences with technology and digital resources are examples of learning activities in which students might engage during Grades 10–12 (ages 15–18):

  1. Design, develop, and test a digital learning game to demonstrate knowledge and skills related to curriculum content.
  2. Create and publish an online art gallery with examples and commentary that demonstrate an understanding of different historical periods, cultures, and countries.
  3. Select digital tools or resources to use for a real-world task and justify the selection based on their efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. Employ curriculum-specific simulations to practice critical-thinking processes.
  5. Identify a complex global issue; develop a systematic plan of investigation, and present innovative sustainable solutions.
  6. Analyze the capabilities and limitations of current and emerging technology resources and assess their potential to address personal, social, lifelong learning and career needs.
  7. Design a Web site that meets accessibility requirements.
  8. Model legal and ethical behaviours when using information and technology by properly selecting, acquiring and citing resources.
  9. Create media-rich presentations for other students on the appropriate and ethical use of digital tools and resources.
  10. Configure and troubleshoot hardware, software, and network systems to optimize their use for learning and productivity.

In its glossary, Stony Brook University’s Center for News Literacy defines news literacy as:

“The ability to use critical thinking skills to judge the reliability and credibility of news reports, whether they come via print, television or the Internet”.

How we teach everyday civics is becoming more and more important for student consumption of news.  With the topic of ‘fake news’ as a popular debate,  how do we evaluate what is good news. Statistics show that high school students are not prepared for critical evaluation of the media, let alone understand their own worldview, and how that changes ones perspective.

Here is a good TedEd video by Damon Brown sharing the process of choosing news worthy items.

Fake news can be fabricated stories to get more clicks (click bait)  or hoax sites, satirical sites made by teachers or students, and edited images to remix reality.  How reporters share information can be seen as biased based on pressures of a deadline and a particular worldview.

How do we encourage our students to evaluate all media including social media like tweets?  Take a look at your social media accounts.  Do you follow people you do not agree with?  Our own biases and experiences shape the information we consume.  How do we encourage our students to evaluate what is truth?  What does God say about truth?  Is truth relative i.e.does it change depending on one’s perspective? Are opinions relative?  What do you think the phrase, “all truth is God’s truth” means?

MediaSmarts has some tips for you to check for fake news.  Watch this video here and access these lesson plans for verifying online news.

Tips for Online Checking

High school students need to know how to research the Internet to find current, reliable, accurate, vetted resources.

But How Does the Internet Work?

To search on the Internet and find reliable sources students may do either of these options:

  • Search using Explora High School or Gale Cengage, WorldBook (for more information check out our Subscriptions Portal)
  • Search using Advanced Google.  Do NOT use Google  (unless looking for needle in haystack queries) as your results will be overpopulated.

The first option using Explora, Gale Cengage or WorldBook allows students to find great resources without having to do as much evaluation of websites as all have been vetted by academics.  However students will still need to identify relevant articles.

They can choose to search within the federated search option within our learning commons portal Insignia or they can choose to search within each database by clicking on the database URL.

Here is a simple tutorial for students using Explora.

If students decide to search the Internet via Advanced Google watch this tutorial which shares some simple steps.

Algorithms tell the search engine what to show you. They look at:

  • What they know about you. Search engines will personalize your results based on things like your location and your past search history.

  • The number of times search keywords and phrases appear on the page and their location on the page (e.g., is the search term in the headline?)

  • The number of times other websites link to the webpage

  • The authority or importance of those websites that link to that page (the website of a government agency gets more weight than a personal blog)

  • The number of links, shares, and social media mentions that the webpage has

  • The amount of time the webpage has been up

Searching Using Social Media

Many of us get our news from social media and your social media will shape the information you see in your feeds.

Some of the main factors that social media algorithms look at include:

  • Relevance: Does it match the type of content you typically click on?

  • Engagement: How many likes, clicks, comments, and shares has the post received? How often has it been hidden? How much time do people spend looking at the post?

  • Who Shared It: Is it a close friend or family member, or a company? Do you look at the sharer’s profile or engage with their posts more often than others in your feed?

Effective Search

  • Use good keywords and quotation marks to refine your questions.
  • Be aware of adverts on the website page as this might indicate a paid site.
  • Check the source URL for relevancy (gov. etc)
  • Do you select sources that challenge or confirm your existing perspective?

What is Content Curation?

Curating” is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as: “Select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition).”

Digital Curation is defined in Wikipedia as:

“the selection, preservation, maintenance, collection and archiving of digital assets. Digital curation is generally referred to the process of establishing and developing long term repositories of digital assets for current and future reference by researchers, scientists, historians, and scholars.”

Content curation is the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest. Services or people that implement content curation are called curators. Curation services can be used by businesses as well as end users.

Students need to understand how to curate the web, and create collections of information that are academic, current and authoritative resources.  Encouraging our students to curate requires Bloom’s taxonomy skills.  Here they learn to identify what makes certain resources useful for their own personal learning network.  They become producers of their own information,  and wise disseminators of that information.

We need to be sharing with students how to go about curating the web, how to create their own content and collect vital web sources so they can share with their own personal learning network.

There are many exciting options for sharing your curated resources.

Techie Tools for curation purposes!

Scoopit!  We use Scoopit because it is easy to curate free topics, and disseminate  information to blogs or favourite social media outlets.  The tagging system, although not perfect, allows one to archive subject keywords so the topics can be searched at a later stage.  Scoopit is useful for daily research and newspaper columns.

Symbaloo.  Is a free colourful tool easy for younger students to organise their information on their desktop, and find all links on one topic.  Students make tiles to share their links on their desktop and can share their symbaloo’s with other students.

PaperLi.  Create your newspaper. Today. Turn Twitter and Facebook into online newspapers in just a few clicks.Treat your readers to fresh news daily.

Pinterest.  Visual aid to share a collection of visual links, especially recipes or art collections.

Pearltrees.  Pearltrees is the social curation community. It’s the place where you can organize, discover and share the stuff you like on the web.

LiveBinders.  Your 3-ring binder for the Web. Collect your resources. Organize them neatly and easily. Present them.  These are especially useful for sharing portfolios.

Gooru.  Library of free collection of resources which allows you to research and add your own collection.

Social Bookmarking!

          Diigo.  Online bookmarking, with highlighting ability to create PLN.


Blogger.  Simple and easy to use blogging tool, especially for beginners.  Lots of plugins but limited template design.

NEW! Kidblog  Kidblog offers a kid-friendly publishing experience suitable for any K-12 student. We help students focus on what’s important by removing distractions so they can focus on writing. Teachers efficiently manage all posts and comments through an easy-to-use dashboard. Kidblog is free for HCOS students–find it in your Encom parent homepage under Curriculum Resources.  Parents can set up their own Kidblog site, or students may sign up under their teacher’s site.

WordPress.  A little harder to use for beginners, and not as many plugins for widgets, but more like a website. Check out these free tutorials from the WordPress community.

Tumblr.  Good for visual blogs and posts with minimal text. Good for beginners.  Limited design controls for semi-experienced bloggers.  More experienced bloggers will go to WordPress.

Evaluating Sources Online

Rules to follow when identifying credible sources:

  • Does this writing seem too good to be true?  You may wonder at its validity.  Ask these questions:  Does this article seem unbelievable?  Does it conflict with something you already know to be true?  Is it greatly exaggerated?
  • Who wrote this information?  Identifying the author can help you determine the credibility and truth of your source.  Determine the author’s education, training, or experience/knowledge on the topic?  Does she or she have a professional title, belong to an established and respected organization, and can you take extra steps to find out more about the author ie an about me page.  Who owns the website?  Sometimes the owner and author may be different.  To find the owner search the URL on
  • What type of website is this?  A political organization?  A non-profit.  A social media celebrity?  Check the URL.  Read the About section or profile bio.  Do another search for more information about the source.
  • Who else links to the site and why?  What is their reputation?  Do they stand to gain anything by attacking or supporting a point? Type the website link into your search engine with quotation marks and see what reviews show up.
  • When was this article written?  How old is the information on the website?  This will determine its reliability and accuracy.  There should be a date when the information was written and links included on the site should be updated and be working.  Check on the bottom of the website to see the last update.
  • Can the information be verified?  To check the accuracy of an article or website we might want to look at the sources used in the article, whether they are listed in the article, and is there a good bibliography or other links to provide additional sources of information.  Can you find other sources which share identical information?
  • How does the tone of the writing reflect credibility?  The way an article is written will reveal clues about the credibility.  Check for good grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style of language.  Is the language demanding, critical, or over emotional?  Is the writing too informal and more colloquial?  Does it only share one point of view?  If you can notice a bias what facts does it use to back it up?  Does it appear to make people angry or try and manipulate people?
  • Why does the author write this information?  Every author comes from a particular worldview or perspective.  Some people will write articles to contribute to unreliability, bias, and untruth.  That does not discount argumentative essays or passion/opinion pieces.  However, use your judgment and the clues as shared above about credibility before using this as a reliable source.

Lesson Plans

Website Evaluation

Teach your students the following lessons shared here:

GCSC Library tutorial from Youtube.

Digital Tools

There are so many tech tools out there that sometimes it can get pretty overwhelming to decide which ones to leverage into our learning experiences.  Which ones are user-friendly?  Which ones are really cutting-edge? Which ones will engage my learner?

We have curated some of the best digital literacy and tech tools out there, here on this list for you.  We hope you explore these tools, and discover how they can help your students access, manage, integrate, analyze, and evaluation information; construct new knowledge; and create/communicate with others more effectively!

Collaboration and Engagement Tools

Creation and Editing Tools

Games and Quizzing

Global Engagement Tools

Presentation Creation and Engagement Tools

Showcasing and Networking Tools

STEM Resources

Video, 360° and VR/AR Creation and Editing Tools

Plagiarism should be avoided at all times!

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, to “plagiarize” means:

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
  • to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward. ”

To learn about how to avoid plagiarism, see

Plagiarism Tools


Students need to know how to follow the MLA standards for citation purposes.  They also need a list of references or bibliography at the end of their presentation.

If you are using databases like Explora you can save all your citations using My Folder.  To use My Folder you will need to create your own personal account within Explora.

There are lots of great tools on Explora sharing the research process and how to cite.

Learn how to use copyright in Canada by studying this UBC Creative Commons Guide.

Duplichecker– free plagiarism checker

EasyBib- free citation generator

Photos for Class- Images come with citations

Creative Commons – still need to cite  likewise Google IMAGE  search with the free to reuse search term as your parameter is great for stock images!

Seesaw Digital Portfolio

You can learn more about Seesaw here.



Here is a review of Trello.

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 5.00.11 PM


Livebinders Youtube Channel (tutorials)

Dropbox beginner Tutorial

Sharing Folders Tutorial


FreshGrade  is a portfolio platform designed to promote collaboration between teachers, students, and parents. You can be confident in encouraging student ownership in the classroom and promoting parent engagement at home.

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