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Innovative Educator: Nampa teacher takes 'old school' approach to engage her young researchers

Teacher Lori Larson encourages her students to be more resourceful in their use of research sources.

NAMPA, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

The internet is a great, high-tech tool where we can find just about any nugget of information we want or need. But Idaho Arts Charter School fourth grade teacher Lori Larson wants her students to be more resourceful in their use of sources, to not rely only on the internet. So this week's Innovative Educator decided to go no-tech and a little 'old school.'

"Just bringing it back a little bit to that old hardcopy and being able to read something on pages," Idaho Arts Charter School fourth grade teacher Lori Larson said.

There's just something about opening a book. Larson's goal is to motivate her students to be lifelong readers, not just readers for school.

"Part of that lifelong reading is having choices and not dictating what the kids have to read," she said.

So, with a $750 CapEd Foundation grant, she bought about 100 non-fiction books for her class; science books, geography books, biographies and more. Larson is teaching her kids how to do research. Part of that is teaching them what a fact is.

"When you start doing the Google thing, it's not always factual, and so the old school way of going into a book and finding information in a book tends to fact check a little bit," she said.

One recent day in class, the kids had to write down at least ten facts they found in their books.

"We'd been working on it for a while, and I had several kids ask if they could keep working on it because they were having so much fun finding information in their books," Larson said.

Larson says that made her feel really good.

"Then they want to talk about it with each other," she said. "So that's another really cool thing about it, because it engages them, not just with what they're researching, but also with being able to share with each other."

It's led to a lot of "Aha" moments.

"They always want to share the facts that they're finding," she said. 

Before we close the book on this story, there's one final fact Larson found over the course of her career.

"I just love working with kids and hopefully making a difference," she said.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.orgIf you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

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