Research Using Digital Tools 

Field Guide Header Tools for Digital Research

The Scenario

Your students will need to write a research paper or create a research project that reflects their learning and showcases their research skills. The end product will be a product that includes a variety of cited sources, works cited or bibliography, and their own angle on the topic. Students have a variety of topics and research capabilities and you would like them all to be successful with their final product.



Ms. Dragovan’s students research a variety of topics to build background knowledge before reading Nisei Daughter.

How Tech Can Help

The probability that the student creates a final digital product is likely, whether it is a written research paper, a Sway, a webpage, etc. In this guide, we will focus on how to get there rather than the final product. The questions that we would like to answer are:

  • HOW should my students organize their research? 
  • WHAT tech would support my students the best?
  • HOW can I encourage digital citizenship?


  • Providing students access to the tool(s).
  • Differentiating for your students.


For this Field Guide, we will be using Padlet, KCLS, and Noodle Tools.

Before You Go

  1. Determine if you will need to create a sampling of resources for students ahead of time. Are you limiting them to specific topics? If you decide you would like to have students start with some resources already at their disposal create a Padlet (which can be organized with headers/topics). Gather a variety of resources (database articles, web sources, videos, pictures, etc.). Then share the Padlet via a link with your students (consider posting on your website or creating a link). This will give students a starting place for resources and be a great way to differentiate for your students. 
  2. Explore Noodle Tools! There are many features and options available and you can determine which settings would work best for your students. Practice creating a project so that you are prepared to introduce it to your students. Set up an Inbox for student work to be shared and consider how students might collaborate. This is also another great opportunity to differentiate. For example, Noodle Tools students can self-select their citation level as “Starter,” “Junior,” or “Advanced.” Depending on the grade level might change your expectations as well. 
  3. Access your teacher KCLS account and review some of the different databases. Review how your students will access their account as well (User Name: 4 1 1 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (7 digit ID#) & PIN/: _ _ _ _ (Last 4 digits of ID#). Students can access KCLS from their Clever or Classlink account. 

Now you are ready to work with your students and get them started on their research. Let’s take a minute to think about what we have covered.

We have looked at a couple of ways to differentiate for students in your classroom to help them be successful in their research projects. We have also made a decision on HOW your students should organize their research. Now it’s time to get students started in the research process.


In the Field

After creating your Noodle Tools account, Padlet, and determining how much support you will provide regarding initial resources, it is time to invite your students to engage in the research process. For secondary schools using Noddle Tools, your school librarian is a viable source for supporting students initially accessing Noddle Tools. Together you can introduce students to signing into their account, creating a project and the process for adding a resource. This is a great time for them to determine their research question and to write a thesis or hypothesis to help guide their research. 

Using a Padlet resource, work with your students on creating their first source. Using the “junior” citation level helps guide students through the process. Having students all use the same type of source to start (a classroom book, a database, or a website) will work best for ensuring they all understand the process. Once you have determined students understand the citation process, you can introduce them to Notecards.

Notecards provide students a chance to process the article that they are reading by copy and pasting directly from the article, writing it in their own words, and adding their original thoughts. Having students work through the notecard is teaching good digital citizenship skills since they are learning to synthesize their reading and the text into their own words and process their own ideas.

Now that students are ready to conduct their own research, introduce them to the KCLS databases. This can be accessed from a student’s Clever or Classlink account and their username and password
User Name: 4 1 1 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (7 digit ASB card number/Student ID)
PIN/Passcode: _ _ _ _ (Last 4 digits of ASB card number)

Databases allow students to find reliable resources that are often peer-reviewed. This provides another great opportunity to discuss their roles as good digital citizens and good researchers. Some of the recommended databases include Britannica Online for Young Adults, CultureGrams, Family Health Database, Gale in Context (Biography and Opposing Viewpoints) as well as ProQuest. Check with your librarian for other database resources and passwords as needed. 

What’s Next

Now that your students have researched their topic, created citations and notecards it is time for them to create their project or write their paper. Citations can be generated directly from Noodle Tools and added to a paper or project. Students can also utilize their notecards for easy to access quotes, summaries, paraphrases, and synthesized ideas. Reiterating the idea for using a bibliography or Works Cited once again ties into students being great digital citizens and researchers. 

The Path Not Taken

Sharing of resources: We could have shared the ready-resources with students using Wakelet. Wakelet allows for easy bookmarking of resources, uploading of PDFs, adding videos and more. Collections can be shared for viewing, copying and even collaboration. Students over 13 can create an account, add the collection to their own account and continue compiling resources. For students under 13, the teacher can manage the collection for collaboration and sharing.

Compiling resources: We could have used Actively Learn for students to compile their research. Each student has access to the “Research Projects” tab in their Actively Learn account. They can easily add content, label their resources, and cite them. There is less analysis than offered in Noodle Tools but is still an effective organizational tool for research. Learn more in a past blog

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