For years, I have noticed that there are teachers that express frustration over their students not knowing the answers to problems they felt they have explained well enough, but now knowing how to remedy this problem.
While not always the answer, often, the student needs the chance to discover and learn for themselves. Rather than allowing these students to feel like they haven't learned everything they need to have learned, we need to cultivate an environment where "I don't know" because "I don't know....but I'll find out!" If every student had that kind of excitement for delving into the unknown, wouldn't every student be having a better time in school?
How can we do this? Well, I've said many times before that you can't Google good ideas, and I hold to that, but Edutopia came up with a great plan for how to use Google search to stretch that knowledge!
1. Learn to make Google work harder.
When your students don't know the answer to a question they have, encourage them to use Google search. They will quickly learn that they need to make their search very specific in order to the find the answer to their question. Often, it's difficult to realize just what we "don't know." Part of learning to use Google to learn is learning to ask the right question! From there, using Google's advanced search features will help students get their answers, and then they'll be in the know.
2. Do a Scavenger Hunt
Put students in groups, give them a list of various questions in topics from all of their classes and beyond, and let them loose! Their Google skills will improve, and they'll be reinforcing all that they've learned. Make it a contest: which group can most quickly find the correct answer, correctly cite the page on which it was found, and insert the answer and citation on the Google Document posted on the monitor in the front of the room?
3. Verify the Evidence. Embrace Wikipedia and all that it can teach. Teach students how to extract facts from what they read, and then find other sources to verify them! Teach them to mistrust information if they cannot find three reliable sources. Teach them to be cautious of the information they find online, but to embrace the potential!
"Sheridan Blau once said, "Honor confusion." The phase, "I don't know" is one that both honors confusion and stimulates the process of clearing it up."