Lately, I've been looking for ways to utilize technology to accomplish what we as English teachers have traditionally done with index cards for the source card and note card component of research. So far, working with other teachers, we've found three methods that seem to work. Special thanks to Tim Reger and Jen Moyers who worked through this process and created the materials shown below.
If you're only interested in giving your students one option, Google Slides (the first of the three listed below) is the simplest and the easiest to check and grade.
What we did in class: Before we got into the options for the students, we went over the basic concept of using source cards and note cards. We found that it was really helpful for them to have a firm grasp of what they were trying to accomplish prior to showing them different ways to accomplish it. We talked about the importance of pulling single pieces of information for the different notes, and the teacher assessing the project told the students to pull direct quotations only (instead of paraphrasing information). When I taught research, I had them take that approach, too. It kept them from making as many mistakes when it came to quoting and citing in their essays. We used the diagram below and explained the significance of choosing subjects and how the use of those subjects would ultimately help them shape their research papers. Then, once they seemed to understand the way that note cards work with source cards, we moved on the the specific method options.
- Google Slides: We created a template that only included two slides, one source card and one note card. We talked with the students about how to duplicate the slides and suggested that they keep those top two slides as they are so that they are easy to duplicate. We recommended that they change the background color for each source (so all cards, source and note cards, for the source would be a specific color). We also showed them how to create links to other slides in the presentation, so they could link every note card to the source. (That's what the "citation" word on the note card should be used to do--the students just highlight it and link it to the source.) Students could use the Find feature to search all of their cards for specific subject words, and they could choose to print their slides as handouts (6 or 9 to a page) in order to see them easily. They could even cut them up if they wanted to be able to move them around easily.
Slides was a simple option, and it was easy for students to access and turn in on Classroom. Even if you don't normally use Google Classroom, you might want to use it for this assignment so that you can easily share the template with students. Otherwise, you can just share the template with each student and have the students make a copy. They can share their completed source and note cards with you when they finish.
- Evernote: Evernote is another great option for research as well as lots of other online work. They have a great app and a nice Chrome extension (Evernote Web Clipper) that enhances their program. Students have to create accounts, and they can sign up through Google. For source and note cards, we had the students make a notebook for each source, and we told them to title their notebook with their last name and the source number (Ex: Dickson Source 1). Then, they made each bit of information a separate note, and they tagged the notes according to their subjects. They could search by tags or by source, so they were able to move around the information to see what fit together the best for their essay. For checking the note and source cards, the students shared the notebooks with the teacher through an email.
- Google Keep: I love Keep for many things (if you use Stickies, it has a similar feel but is with you on any device). In this case, we had the students create notes for each source. They could color code them. Then, for the note cards, they created a new note with the number of the source and subject indicated at the top of each note. They could label the notes, and then they could sort their notes according to the different labels. When they were ready to share with the teacher, they could highlight all of the note and source cards that went together and put them into a Google Doc, which they would then share with the teacher.
Overall, I liked the way the tag/label features worked better on the Keep and Evernote options, but the Slides were a simple, visual way to organize information, and the Find feature (command + F) worked when students wanted to sort their information according to subjects.