Save quotes instantly with Citable

Highlight text, click the extension and save the quote

The online document editor and storage service Google Drive is a great way to keep research organised, and a new extension has recently made it even more powerful. Citable lets you highlight web text and send it automatically to a Google Spreadsheet.

Once you’ve installed Citable you can select text on any webpage, hit the shortcut button and choose where you want to store the quote. Citable will automatically fill in the date & time accessed, author and address of the page. You can also add tags to help keep your quotes organised.

The extension works in the Chrome browser and doesn’t require a login. However, you do need to give Citable access to your Google Drive account, but like all apps you can revoke access at any time. You can download any files created by Citable from your documents and edit the document manually at any time. 

Visit the Chrome web store to install Citable. If you need help getting started then here is our step by step guide to installing and using the Citable extension.

PLN short course builds your research toolkit

The next round of the Victorian Personal Learning Network has been announced, with the first ever Victorian PLN short course kicking off on November 12 and running for 4 units. The Research Toolkit course will explore reliable online resources, effective search techniques and tools for organisation and referencing.

The online course is self paced and will feature webinars with research experts. It’s a great way for teachers and library staff to brush up on their skills and keep up to date with new tools and techniques. Research Toolkit is also a good refresher for previous participants in the Victorian PLN course looking to reinforce and further develop many of their own research skills.

Image of research guide on census

State Library of Victoria Research Guides

Research Toolkit is a partnership between the State Library of Victoria and the School Library Association of Victoria. The course costs $85 per person, but group discounts are available for teams of six or more. For more information visit the State Library of Victoria website, or email

Sweet search

This is an incredibly useful search engines for teachers to use with students at every level. In fact it is more than once search engine, as you can see in this screenshot:

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Sweet search has been developed carefully:  “It searches only the 35,000 Web sites that our staff of research experts and librarians and teachers have evaluated and approved when creating the content on findingDulcinea. We constantly evaluate our search results and “fine-tune” them”.

Their blog post explains even more:

SweetSearch is the product of 100,000+ hours of research that went into creating findingDulcinea’s 700+ Web Guides and thousands of articles. This content links to tens of thousands of Web sites that have been evaluated and deemed reliable by our research experts and librarian and teacher consultants (for a bevy of reviews of findingDulcinea and SweetSearch from top educators, see our media kit; or get a widget for SweetSearch, so you can embed it on your school Web site.).

For younger learners, we’ve recently introduced a beta version of SweetSearch4Me, which is the only search engine that prominently ranks high quality Websites created for elementary (primary) school students, and mixes them with accessible primary source sites. Please send feedback on SweetSearch4Me to so we can fully launch it with your input in September.

Sweet search also has a terrific page for school librarians.

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This page has information on:

  • research guides
  • tips for better research
  • news of the day
  • improving research habits and more.

This site comes highly recommended from educators globally. However, as always, check it out first to see if it suits your needs.

Interactive Web Search Tutorials

Richard Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers recently posted an excellent article on free animated web tutorials to help students with web research strategies.

The tutorials include:

  • Credible Sources Count
  • Research It Right
  • Searching With Success
  • You Quote It, You Note It

Although a university site, these tutorials are ideal for secondary students. Please see Richard’s post for more information and links to the tutorials.

The Role of Reading in Guided Inquiry: Building Engagement and Understanding

Following on from a previous post about the excellent professional learning session delivered by Dr Ross J Todd from the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey; his colleague Dr Carol A Gordon presented an interesting session last week to School Library Association of Victoria delegates.

The Role of Reading in Guided Inquiry: Building Engagement and Understanding was the second presentation  of the day. If you are interested in the link between effective reading and the resulting effective researching, please view and consider this engaging, relevant and thoughtful and presentation.

The notes below are a record of the session:

Carol Gordon – The Role of Reading in Guided Inquiry: Building Engagement and Understanding

  • Reading with older students; learning phonics for 14 year olds in demeaning. Research came up with what did work. These are strategies that came from evidence-based research. Context is inquiry.
  • Can use information search process as a framework for these strategies.
  • “Children reading for Gilad Shalit” YouTube video shows real engagement even though students were previously struggling readers.
  • Need commitment, emotional attachment and engagement for the students to learn to research well.
  • We want the whole Blooms. Creating, evaluating, analysing, applying, understanding and remembering.
  • Authentic learning tasks such as this one based on Anne Frank: “A bit of outrage is a good thing that helps them engage with the task.” This is asking kids to be historians rather than journalists. Historians want to know the truth. Use primary documents and artifacts and interpret the evidence as they see it. Deep understanding of what history is, what historians do and the questions that they ask. Task to a high academic level. Problem solving, decision making, display and share their work. Choices about how they present; radio broadcast, write a news story, etc. Interdisciplinary applications. Methodology needs to encourage kids to use the new information in another way; relate to other situations; Blooms, variety in tasks. Keep a journal of blog to see how they are doing. Opportunities to work in groups and revise their work. Use rubrics to show students what good, average and poor looks like. We give them opportunities to reflect. Time is a pressure, but they need time to think. We must build that time in. Show them an exemplar of what a good news story looks like. Self assessment and peer review. Get kids to evaluate the task for you. How did it go for them? You will learn by asking them. You can then change this for the next time this is taught.
  • Formative assessments are based on journals, rubrics, portfolios, peer review, self-evaluations, Graphic organizers, Mapping, Checklists, Statements of intent, Rough drafts.
  • Reading skills are thinking skills. Our role in reading is much more expansive.
  • Free choice is the most important thing in terms of reading engagement.
  • Book; “Strategies that work” by Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey is worth looking at.
  • How is reading digital text different from reading print text? “Are we losing the deep culture of reading?” is a more pertinent question rather than “is the book dead?” Better for kids to print out rather than read from the screen as an intermediate step. Graphic organisers and concept mapping and Wordle are not enough. Use printouts to analyse notes so that you know what they really mean and you can work out what is important and what you should use. Hard copy is really important. Passive kinds of approach to reading is not getting kids where they need to be. Encourage them to annotate and gather, sort.
  • Never give a child something to read that is at instructional or frustration level if you expect them to read it independently. Need help with this at school.
  • When comprehension breaks down, many students skip sections or words that are confusing and pick the text up again where they can understand it. The problem is, they have lost valuable information and opportunity to improve their own reading. 
  • Activating Prior Knowledge (GNR) Emotional attachment needed. Prior knowledge is who you are; your experiences, your emotions. Tap into this to help kids read well.
  • o Establishing prior knowledge, or what the learner already knows, is critical to helping them read better. Research shows that there is no difference between the recall of good and poor readers when their prior knowledge is the same. Therefore, prior knowledge can be instrumental in improving reading comprehension.
  • § Here is an example. Mrs. Clark announces to the class that they are going on a nature walk. They go outside and walk across the street to a county nature park. They walk about a half-mile and stop. They sit down and Mrs. Clark asks the class to imagine that they are lost. She asks the students to help her come up with some ideas about how they can figure out where they are, and how they will get back to school. One student suggests backtracking until they recognize where they are. Another student suggests walking until someone recognizes a familiar tree or flower as a landmark. Another student suggests that Mrs. Clark use her cell phone to call the park supervisor to come and find them.
  • § Mrs. Clark relates each of the answers the students give to clarifying what you are reading.
  • § Backtracking is similar to rereading material when you realize that you have lost your way in the story and do not know what is happening. Looking for familiar landmarks is similar to readers activating prior knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, and syntax (Hackey, et al, 2003). Calling the park supervisor on a cell phone relates to referring to outside resources, such as dictionaries or atlases. The students begin to understand that pretending they are not lost is not going to get them out of the woods, and pretending to understand what they are reading when they really did not will not enable them to fully understand the reading assignment.
  • § When the class arrives safely to their classroom, Mrs. Clark gives the students a reading assignment and a pad of sticky notes. She models reading a short passage and marking words or concepts she is not quite sure of with the sticky notes. Students then practice reading independently and highlight any words or concepts that they do not understand in the text.
  • § The next day, they write the words they marked on the board. Mrs. Clark models ways to determine the meaning of the words, such as using a dictionary, using keywords surrounding the unfamiliar word, using picture clues, and rereading. The students are comforted to realize that many students wrote the same words on the board. This helps them to build a community of learners and helps Mrs. Clark to identify vocabulary words that need further explanation.
  • Kids pretend that they don’t have the breakdown in comprehension and they get more and more lost and disengaged. Kids need to be taught to ask questions.                                                                                             
  • o Brainstorming. Developing a purpose for reading.
  • o K-W-L chart.
  • o Using Visuals to assess prior knowledge. Why pictures? They inspire questions and interest. They provide a tangible element when focus blurs and clarity is elusive. Offer a starting point. Offer support of a group working with similar themes, situations. Record in a reflection sheet (done as a group).
  • o Use Wordle to create a reading/writing summary. Words that evoke images? Good self-analysis tool for peer assessment.
  • o Wordsift analyses text. More sophisticated. Concept map and mind maps are different. Asking kids to explain why topics/words are connected. These helps kids that are on information overload.
  • o Voicethread uses voice. They can create their own book talks. Naugatuck HS on VoiceThread. Authentic learning.
  • o Determining importance, All information is not equal. Get rid of what is not important. Illustrations are important; they can represent data in a table, graph, etc. Use these tools to elaborate on an idea. A quotation is an illustration. They need to elaborate on it and link it to one of their ideas.
  • o Statement of Intent with research question. TL must sign off on it. Passport to continue.
  • o Information circles. Idea of Literature circles and adapted to informational text. Group kids by topics they are interested in. Break up tasks. Students have roles (leader, illustrator, vocab guru).
  • o Different types of questions. Some info is literal, some is inferred. Give them ‘what if’ questions.
  • o Sticky notes or Diigo.
  • o Graphic organisers are very good for analysis. We don’t give kids the tools to process the information that they find. Graphic organisers give kids the ability to process and analyse notes.
  • o Kidspiration/Inspiration
  • o Inferring and predicting are just as important for informational text. Read with higher interest.
  • o Blogs effective with helping with reading, They read each other’s work. Get kids prepared for class. Framework for thinking about pre-reading. Many kids will read a blog rather than a book. Their absence is visible from a blog.
  • o Best books for visualizations: Visualize This: Books about the Arts, Notes on a Page: Books about Music, Into the Past: Books about History,
  • o Theories and Revelations: Books about Math and Science, Challenges and Change: Stories of Politics, Identity, and Understanding, Seriously Surreal: Tales of (Im)possibility, Over-the-Top: Sly and Sophisticated Humor, All Cracked Up: Fractured Fairy Tales and Fables
  • o Double entry journal. Quotes/My thoughts about quotes. Forces kids to interpret. Do I understand what I have read?
  • o Kids have to make connections with their reading text, eguse graphic novels for visual alternatives for stories
  • o 16 Steps to Monitoring and Regaining Comprehension
  • § 1. Reread.
  • § 2. Read ahead.
  • § 3. Stop to think
  • § 4. Try to visualize.
  • § 5. Ask a new question.
  • § 6. Make a prediction.
  • § 7. Study the illustration or other text feature.
  • § 8. Ask someone for help.
  • § 9 figure out unknown words.
  • § 10. Look at the text structure.
  • § 11. Make an inference.
  • § 12. Connect to background knowledge.
  • § 13. Read the author’s or illustrator’s note.
  • § 14. Write about the confusing parts.
  • § 15. Make an effort to think about the message.
  • § 16. Define/Redefine the purpose for reading the text.

 The School Library Association of Victoria should be congratulated for providing such transformational and important professional learning sessions. Thanks to Rhonda Powling for supplying Bright Ideas with some photos from the session.

Powering Up Minds and Powering Up Machines: Guided Inquiry, Reading and Web 2.0

Dr Ross J Todd and Dr Carol A Gordon from the Center for International Scholarship in School Libraries Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey presented two vital presentations this week to the Planning Learning Perspectives: Guided Inquiy Masterclass held by the School Library Association of Victoria.

Powering Up Minds and Powering Up Machines: Guided Inquiry, Reading and Web 2.0  is the first presentation and an exceptionally vibrant one. If you are interested in supporting students right through the researching, writing and presenting stages of assignments, you must experience Dr Ross J Todd’s powerful presentation.

The notes below are a record of the session.

Ross Todd – Powering Up Minds and Powering Up Machines: Guided Inquiry, Reading, and Web 2.0

  • Guided inquiry is not about ‘finding stuff’ but creating something with that stuff!
  • When classes come to the library, there is intensive information finding, printing, downloading, then we stop them coming to the library and send them off on their own! We abandon them at the most critical time of knowledge building.
  • We need to walk with kids on the information to knowledge journey. We must intervene instructionally along their journey. We can’t just assume kids can do these things on their own. We must support kids in ways that we’ve not traditionally done.
  • Guided inquiry is a partnership with teacher librarians, teachers and students.
  • Students often feel that they are doing research projects against their will.
  • The information world is not all safe and secure nor accurate. We have to get students to see this.
  • “Libraries should be cesspools of intellectual discontent”.
  • How do we really develop kids as critical thinkers?
  • Cut and paste article from Wikipedia and run it through Wordle. This gives them the vocabulary of the topic.
  • Run school library information policy through Wordle. What does it say? Run research assignments through Wordle. Are they superficial? Describe/list? Or Bloom’s higher order level? Examine intellectual capacity of what you are asking kids to do.
  • We need to get over define, locate, select. This contributes to plagiarism because they don’t know what to do with the stuff that they find. Yes important, but we need to construct ideas.
  • Carol Kuhlthau’s research model. Frameworks and structures that are built on research.
  • How we use the Web 2.0 tools to build deep knowledge. How do we support them all the way along?
  • Plan deep and rich inquiry based projects.
  • Kids begin with limited, vague knowledge. This is okay. All our kids begin searching with Google. Let’s work with it. Google, Wikipedia(quite reasonable) this is helping them get their head aroundthe topic. Don’t stop this as they are trying to build a knowledge picture of their topic. These notes should only be for background knowledge. This is where the research process goes wrong. We must give kids choice. This model gives three levels of choice. 1st  choice: selection stage; pick the topic. Must let them build background knowledge first. Wallow in their choice and allow them to get a foothold in it. General resources such as Wikipedia play a role here.
  • 2nd choice: formulation. Kids encounter differences in the background material. Here is where students develop their focus questions that they are going to explore. What makes them curious, what intrigues them? Do this with guidance. Deep knowledge and understanding. This is only developed after they have a background understanding of their topic.
  • Collection stage has 2 important meanings; Background knowledge then move into a secondary set of resources that enables them to ask complex questions. Away from elemental stuff to a higher level of resources. How do I now construct my knowledge?
  • 3rd choice: presentation. How am I best going to represent my deep knowledge? What is the structure going to be? Who’s going to listen to me? As a journalist reporting? As a scientist making a report to a govt body? May need instructional interventions. Don’t abandon them.
  • VELS and guided inquiry. E5 model fits nicely with the research based inquiry model.
  • How do we use Web 2.0 tools to help develop tools for inquiry? Raft of tools that foster production of content. Generate deep knowledge. Shift to community act of personal engagement with topic to create. Platform gives provision of information, production and sharing information.
  • 45% of 9-12 year olds have online profiles.
  • How do we use ToonDoo and Voki to develop deep knowledge and understanding? We need them to foster thinking and creativity? Important criteria before we select the Web 2.0 tools to use in our classes.
  • How am I using this tool to think? How are kids using this to foster deep thinking? Meta cognition? Do they help kids think? Or just another toy? How do they develop kids reading environment? The way information is structured? Does it help them use language and to read? Need to develop other critical competencies. How do we use them safely? How do we engage and participate? How do we manage the content? Beyond traditional information literacy skills. 
  • How do schools deal with ethical issues? They shut them down. How do we use these environments to deal with inappropriate stuff?  John Dewey. Learning by doing and experiencing. Engage them in safety in some of these environments.
  • Does it promote critical thinking? Where does it fit in the inquiry process?
  • Blogs for blogs sake is a useless experience. How do blogs support inquiry? What are we saying in the blog? What is the message? What’s my response? Provide 5 facts we didn’t know about topic. Sources. Explain something. We need to direct them to learn how to craft a response. Are they being used in an analytical way? Collect and craft responses. Engage critically. Use the blogging space to teach and intellectual ability. Look at the responses. What do you conclude? Sustained and intellectually sound position statement. Reflective response. Thinking process and Personal Learning within VELS. How this space becomes a thinking space for the kids.
  • Uses wikis for groups of students working in one space. A living document. People work together to generate and maintain the document. Wikipedia is the best example of this. Social construction of knowledge; community watchdog, a group of people negotiate meaning. A group’s best effort. Teaching kids how teams work together, how to deal with conflict (others edit entries), negotiation skills, managing documents. Construct a picture of prior knowledge.
  • Use Wikipediastrategically. Fabulous for building background knowledge. Go through an article with them. If there are errors, edit it and fix it. If kids write a fantastic piece about a specific topic, get them to submit it to Wikipedia. That their ideas are worthy of giving back to the universe of knowledge. Formative and summative assessment. Use a wikispace for drafts of their work. PQP. Praise, Questions, Polish.
  • Wonder wheel. Connections and relational documents. Timeline shows primary resources. creates a topical matrix. Great for building background knowledge. Gives kids a way of building topics selection, choices. Away from constant writing of meaningless facts.

Dr Ross Todd is an energising, transformational educator. If there is ever an opportunity to attend professional development sessions with him, do everything in your power to be there! What an amazing person!