I recently began using Google Forms within Google Docs to have my students collect and organise their research notes – and with excellent success.
The particular focus that we had for our research was to find out details about a water issue from somewhere in the world (we teachers had provided a list of websites to choose from at www.delicious.com/ciswater) with the purpose of producing a newspaper article about the issue and what is or can be done to help.
After doing some work on newspaper article structure and text features, each of the students set up a form in Google Docs that was specific to the task. The first thing to include on the form was the Website URL that the information came from. – a simple text entry box would do this. Next, knowing that we had to include who, what, when, where, why and how about the issue of research, we used these criteria as ‘questions’. Paragraph text boxes suited this fine. Following the introduction of who, what, when… we needed some further details about specific points of the water issue. Some simple paragraph text boxes called detail 1, detail 2, etc sufficed for this. Some students later renamed these to match the detail topic.
Once a website was found, the kids started taking jot notes using their form. When finished with the site, click submit and the results are entered into a spreadsheet for later access.
The beauty of using forms for research was at least threefold:
- Tailor Made Research Form: In making your own form, you can change it to suit your every need.
- Thinking ahead: by having to make the form, it forces the kids to think ahead about what they will be researching for. This definitely helps guide them when browsing through websites to eliminate useless websites and target the useful ones.
- Organised notes: Each submission of the form adds the detail to a row within a spreadsheet. The result after all research is done – an organised set of jot notes categorised by the criteria you set at the beginning.