Search and Report: Beanie Babies
A mini-research project for students
[Nunber 1 in a series of 3]
Bill Pellowe (email@example.com)
Portions of this page will be included in an article appearing in Recipes for Wired Teachers (1999).
Overview: This short project introduces the students to using the Internet to find information about a simple topic they may not know anything about. Since all students do the same topic, this activity is very much a guided activity with a high level of teacher control.
Skill Area(s): Internet search, e-mail
Specific Activities: Internet search, e-mail
Time Frame: 1 or 2 class meetings of 60 - 90 minutes
Aims: To familiarize students with search engines. To develop tolerance for ambiguity. To introduce the idea of searching for information for a later report.
Prerequisites: Students should already know how to use browser software and e-mail, and should be fairly familiar with the idea of using search engines.
Preparation: Prepare a short "task sheet" (or e-mail the following message to your students):
Initial classwork: Distribute the task sheet (or inform students to check their mailboxes if you mailed the task sheet to them.) Tell students that even if they have no idea what Beanie Babies are, they will be able to find a lot of information about them with search engines. You may need to point out that they cannot answer questions 2 or 3 until after they know the answer for question 1, but remind them to record all the URLs which helped them (question 4).
During class: Circulate to offer help if needed. Students may wish to help each other out.
Report: Students e-mail you their answers (or they could hand in a written report).
Variations: When students are finished, I bring in some Beanie Babies for them to see. You could expand on this to ask students to find a Beanie Baby whose birthday is closest to their own.
Lessons Learned: Even though the students initially will have no idea what a Beanie Baby is, by the end of this activity my own students actually have personal favorites. Students will know that Beanie Babies are small stuffed animals which are collectibles. Each has a name, a date of birth, and a poem. Moving from ignorance of a topic to being knowledgeable on it will, it is hoped, foster a tolerance for (initial) ambiguity while developing research skills (information-gathering and citation).
Links: http://www.ty.com (official homepage of the Beanie Babies)