Research and Thinking Tools
The following research and thinkng tools are available to help you begin to plan your research.
- Search a topic of your choice using a variety of resources
- Check to see if there is a lot of information, some information, or no information.
- Do not choose a topic with an insufficiant amount information to help support your research.
Baltimore County Public Schools' Digital Content and Databases - View your school library's online resources today where you'll find reliable information — available 24/7 — from current magazines, journals, encyclopedias, how-to guides and more. Get the free AccessMyLibrary School Edition mobile app for your device using the links below.
Maryland AskUsNow - Live Chat with a network of librarians who will provide resources or answers to a question 24/7.
Google Labs - Google Scholar
Search through journal articles, abstracts and other scholarly literature.
Data Visualization Project
The Google Public Data Explorer makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand. You don't have to be a data expert to navigate between different views, make your own comparisons, and share your findings.
The Thinking Classroom - Reflect and Connect Thinking Tools
The Connection Cube interactive activity helps you connect new learning to what you already know and what you still need to learn. The One-Minute Paper gives you an opportunity to look at ideas from multiple points of view.
Use Popular search engines to find appropriate websites to search.
Top Three Search Engines
Boolean Search Techniques
Use basic search skills and Boolean search techniques as you complete an Internet search. To learn about basic search skills and Boolean search techniques click on the following link.
Additional Boolean search techniques:
- Truncating- A symbol at the end of a word stem will return results for all variations on the word stem. An asterisk is often used to return these results. Example: manufact* will return results for manufacture, manufacturer, manufacturing, etc.
- Wildcards - A symbol within a word will return all possible variations inside a word or stem. An !, an *, or a ? may be used for internal truncation in different search engines Example: wom?n will return results for woman or women.
General References to Build Background Knowledge
Go to a resource, such as an online encyclopedia, current events, websitE, newspaper, or database for a quick general reference to determine general questions and answers to those questions related to the topic. Ask questions that anwer who, what, when, and where.
Search for “sports medicine”
Who would be a patient of a sport medicine physician?
What is sports medicine?
What are types of sport related injuries?
When can you require a sports medicine physician?
Where can I go to be treated for a sport related injury?
Possible Keywords from your search for "sports medicine"
- Shin Splint
- Patella Tendinitis
Use the Visual Thesaurus to create a list of keyword to search.
Digital Thesaurus Online Help Manual
- Search for a general one word topic that you have decided to research.
- Write out all of the keywords generated from your search.
- Search two of the keywords generated from the initial search.
- Write any new words generated during the second and third search
- Using a search engine, online encyclopedia, online newspaper, and/or database to search at least 5 of the keywords.
- Use search results to create questions that answer who, what, when, and where
ORGANIZATION OF INFORMATION
Organize information using brainstorming and note-taking techniques, converse with peers by learning in small groupscalled Inquiry Circles, and compose in Inquiry Journals in order to connect to the content of the new inquiry.
Brainstorm ideas on your problem or area of interest.
While you are brainstorming:
The tools below are traditional forms of brainstorming with paper and pencil.
- Connect to your prior knowledge on your subject
- What do you already know?
- Construct questions of your own.
- Use note-taking skills to provide evidence to support your research
Click one of the links below to access a brainstorming graphic organizer. If you prefer the paper/pencil approach to brainstorming, print out the organizer that works best for you and record your brainstorm onto it. Be sure to hold on to your brainstorm throughout the research process.
Taking notes in research is more important than most people realize. Not only will effective note-taking provide evidence and support for your research. Through highly developed note-taking skills do we learn about our topic and create a knowledge base from which to conduct original research. Use the resources on the right to introduce yourself to the note-taking method necessary for collecting information while researching in both print and non-print resources.Guide yourself through the list of on-line tutorials and other student resources that will walk you through various methods/styles of taking traditional forms of notes and electronic options.
Learn in Small Groups
Actively involve yourself in inquiry circles. Conversations in these circles will provide support to develop ideas and emerge questions. Inquiry circles are:Typically composed of four to six studentsTailored to students need and abilities, the curriculum content, and the research processArranged by subtopic or they may form their own inquiry circles based on interest in a particular aspect of the study using the subject matter to guide your choices
Composing in an Inquiry Journal
Inquiry journals are used to help you express their thoughts, feelings and actions across the research process and to reflect on every aspect of the content. Write about the interesting ideas that comes from brainstorming and note-taking, while researching independantly or while participating in conversations with other students in inquiry circles. In this process, you will:
- Jot down interesting ideas
- Write about what most interest you
- Make connections to what you care about
- Build upon what they already know about as you begin to construct new understanding