December 17, 2013

Making Research Fun Using Diigo

For those of you who read my blog consistently and trust my professional opinion in regards to teaching literacy.  Stop reading this post right now and go to this link to sign up for an account: Diigo Homepage.

Now that you have signed up for your account and explored a little on Diigo, I hope you have rejoined me for the rest of the blog post :).  Two weeks ago, I was feeling a little stale in my teaching, my students enthusiasm seemed to be fading into oblivion, you know, all the usual symptoms teachers and students get as the holiday break approaches.  My students were beginning to research a famous poet for the purpose of learning about common techniques he/she uses in his/her poetry (more on this in a future post).  Of course, everyone in their research immediately went to google and started "googling" away.  It was at this point that I remembered back to a "Tech Tidbit" (the weekly tech e-mail that is sent out by our district technology coach talking about this fun research site called Diigo.  At home that night, I signed up for an account and started learning the ins and outs of how the site worked.  It didn't take me long to make the decision to have my students sign up for an account the next day so that we could all use this valuable resource together.

Once we all signed up for an account, "followed" each other on the site, and I created a group for all of us to join, we were ready to begin the research on our poets.  My favorite parts of Diigo are:

-Every user has a library that their websites, screen shots, annotations from any place online are stored.  In your library you can create different lists, so my students put all of their poetry research into a poetry list, but when they go to do another research project in my class or another class, they can create a new list.  I like the idea of each student having their own library where their research stays because so often students can not find places on the Internet where they were finding good research from day to day.  Also, for the purpose of a Works Cited page, this is a miracle because all of your resources are right there to get the information from at the end of your project.

-Once you're on a website, there's so many things you can do if you like what you're reading and want to save the website or specific information on the website.  You can save the whole website to your library, you can take a screen shot of a particular section of information on the website that will save to your library, you can highlight certain pieces of information in different colors that will save to your library, and you can put post-it notes by particular pieces of information to document your thinking that will also save to your library.

-It makes research collaborative.  We all know that research is generally not the number one item on the "get our students excited about learning" list.  However, if they're researching on a social network that has a feed where they can see what the other students they're following are putting in their libraries and has a group of their classmates where they can pose questions to and share information with online, even when they're not at school, all of sudden you have a group of students who are excited to research.

-Another great thing about Diigo is that if I am following my students, I am able to see the research that they're putting in their libraries.  It was easy for me to identify who was researching and on the right track and who I needed to check-in/conference with based on what I saw them putting into their libraries.  Also, students were able to send me a message on Diigo to ask me a question about their research.  I had several students who I don't even think generally do work at home send me messages asking a research question.  I like how it allows them to reach out for support when they're stuck.

If you have upper elementary students, middle school students, or high school students, I hope I convinced you to give Diigo a try.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  Even if you're currently taking graduate courses, it's a great tool for you.  Once you create an account with Diigo, you're able to add the Diigo widget right onto your toolbar so that you're able to save anything from the web into your Diigo library at the click of a button.  The widget that will appear on your toolbar looks like this:

I hope everyone is having a great last week before a well-deserved holiday break.  I can't wait to catch up with all of you over break and write a few blog posts that I've been itching to share but haven't found the time.  One of them will be the poetry products from my students that I mentioned above (so cool).  Happy researching, everyone!


  1. Would this be similar to using Google Drive where students can share their research and information with each other and their teachers? If we use Google accounts is there a need for Diigo also?

    1. I haven't used Google Drive enough to be able to say one way or the other. I will admit I'm not the best with technology so figuring this out was big for me, haha! :)

  2. Sounds cool! Does sound similar to Google Drive . . . though I never thought to have my students sign up for an account. Although I didn't teach older kids until this year :-) Looking forward to hearing more about the poets project since we're also doing a poetry unit when we return from winter vacay!

    1. I definitely would recommend having students share their research and have a place to store their research online, especially for the older students to up the motivation a bit. The poetry turned out amazing! Once I finish up my masters homework, I'll blog about it over Christmas break. Merry Christmas to you, Jamie!


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