Social Research in the Web 2.0 classroom


Common Core Anchor Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.1
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


April is School Library Month, a time to celebrate your school librarians, and all that they do for you. When reading the ELA Common Core Standards, the most poignant thing that jumps out at me is that they BEG you to utilize the expertise of your school librarian. Your librarian wants to collaborate with you to help teach your students these valuable skills, there is no need to go it alone! What better way to utilize your school librarian than by developing a collaborative research project for your students!


There are so many fabulous Web 2.0 tools that allow your student to collaborate with one another. I am going to focus on web based products, so no matter what platform or device you use in your classroom, everyone is on a level playing field. Lets take a look at some of the steps in the research process where these tools may come in handy!


Gathering Sources

Gathering sources is the first step in any research project. Frequently, students print them out - at best - or copy and paste the information they think they want to use - at worst. They rarely take the time to note where the information came from, or create a meaningful citation to use in their bibliography at the end of the research. The following tools will help them create not only a working bibliography, but also take notes in different sources they wish to refer back to.



EasyBib is an amazing tool that not only teaches students how to create a citation, but also offers the ability to share the bibliography with others, and to take notes on the different sources collected. (It also has outlining and research help options!) You do need to create an account on EasyBib to access these features, but you can create a free account. They offer sign in with Google Apps accounts, and an app to connect with your drive.


Pearl Trees

Pearl Trees is a way to organize files, links, photos and more online. You are able to invite a team to share a Tree. Trees created are public by default, and cannot be made private unless you purchase a premium subscription, though other information, such as personal information, is confidential. They also offer sign in with Google Apps, and the ability to add notes to items curated.



Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allow users to have both individual lists of links, as well as belong to groups to which they can make contributions. It also allows you to highlight website, add comments and tag your entries. They also have special education accounts, where teachers can control who their students interact with. It looks like they may also be adding a bibliography feature soon!


Brainstorming/Note Taking

Brainstorming and Note Taking are skills that students do not use enough. Many are in the mindset that if they just start writing, they will be fine. I strongly recommend teaching your students how to take notes and brainstorm their ideas. This is especially important when you are working on collaborative projects.



Linoit allow you to create a shared canvas, where they can post sticky notes, images, videos and files. The set up can be a bit tricky, and I would recommend that after you have your students create accounts, you create the group canvases and invite the users. This will also allow you to keep an eye on the collaborations that are happening between your students, and offer assistance when necessary.



Padlet is similar to Linoit, in that you get a blank canvas, and you can add whatever you want to it. You add to the wall by double clicking or using drag and drop, so you can drag websites, images and videos right to the wall.  It does have a collaborative feature, and you can adjust the privacy and security of the wall you create. Once more, to maintain your presence, I would recommend that you set up the walls students will use for collaboration.


Google Docs

For those of you who have access to Google Docs, it is by far the most easily implemented collaboration tool. Sharing documents is simple, and straightforward, and students can easily share their thoughts and ideas, images, and files. Although students can easily share the documents, I again suggest you create them so that you can have a birds eye view, and step in where necessary. Another advantage of using Google Docs is that you can see who edited the document, and what they added using Revision History.



LucidChart is a great brainstorming application, and can be used to create flow charts and mind maps, and share them out with teams. They also partner with Google Apps, where you can connect with your Google login, and save and share your mindmaps through your Google Drive. User can add links, images, comments and notes, and participate in a chat window while creating the mind map! Revision history access is limited to paid accounts.


Creating the Product

The creation of a final product with others used to be a difficult task.  At best, you sat together in a computer lab, one person typing on the document, the others hopefully adding insight and ideas. If you wanted students to work on the project outside of class time, they probably emailed files back and forth, hoping they weren’t working on the project at the same time and trying to make sure they didn’t miss any changes each other made. Web 2.0 tools have completely changed the world of the group project creation. Files hosted on a central server, access from anywhere, anytime. Tools that now allow students to work on the same project simultaneously from across the world! I will focus on tools that allow multiple editors at the same time. Tools like Wikis are awesome, but do not allow for simultaneous edits.


Google Apps

It’s almost as if I have a secret love affair with Google Apps! See above mentioned reasons to use Google Docs as a collaborative platform for products produced by multiple participants! Google Apps include Docs (for more traditional “papers”), Slides (similar to presentation tools that we and our students are familiar with, like PowerPoint and KeyNote) and Sheets (a spreadsheet application similar to Excel). The can also create Forms for data collection and analysis.



Titan Pad allows up to 64 users to work on a document at once (but they suggest you don’t have so many!). The benefit it has over Google Docs is that each author shows up in a different color. The biggest drawback is that once the collaboration is over, you must save the work elsewhere, because they will delete it after a set amount of time. This also limits the ability of the teacher to keep track of who contributed. You might want to check out their help section for more details. This software is base on EtherPad, a free, open source project, and there are many others like it.



LucidChart offers quite a bit of flexibility, and can be used by groups to present their research in a more interactive, visual way. With shapes, images, hotspots and more, students can let their imaginations run wild as they create essentially an electronic poster. The final product they create can be downloaded as a PDF, JPG or PNG, exported as a web page, embedded on a webpage, or shared in a LucidChart community.  They have a very robust help section with video and written tutorials.



Prezi is another presentation tool that students can use to build non-linear presentations together. It allows for the incorporation of videos, images, websites and your own text. You create your own paths through the information, and it is all displayed as a visual image! Prezi has a pretty impressive help section to get you started using the tool!

There are so many collaboration tools available you there, it’s a bit overwhelming! This is not even close to an exhaustive list. What are your favorite collaborative tools for research projects?