Editorial Review


Say goodbye to note cards: research and citations made easy for students
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Graphite Rating 4
  • The site’s homepage offers brief overviews of how the highlight-and-capture process works.
  • After signing up and downloading the toolbar, students create their project.
  • The readily accessible Tutorial link offers videos and easy-to-follow instructions.
  • Students can confine their research to the site’s teen-friendly “Knowledge Cards.”
  • Teachers can sign up for access to Teacher Tools, including the Cognitive Prints assessment tool.
It's like a one-stop shop for student research, from gathering sources to organizing research and outlining their own writing.
The automatically compiled bibliography may encourage student passivity rather than inquiry into the why of the citation process.
Bottom Line
A smart, intuitive support for all steps of the research paper process; design and sensibility resemble the social media sites teens love.

Graphite Expert Review

Amy Lauren Botula
Common Sense Graphite Reviewer
Graphite Rating 4
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Students will find the toolbar's highlight-and-capture process intuitive. Teachers will appreciate the research navigation tool that capitalizes on students’ media-intake instincts.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

The toolbar follows students as they search for articles, automatically creating a bibliography citation for each selection students highlight. Work can then be exported to Word or Google Drive for students’ research papers.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Video tutorials and “Knowledge Cards” -- articles from the Citelighter database -- support students’ research process, and the site is image-rich. Proficiency in selecting useful search words and sources is assumed.

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What's It Like?

Citelighter is an engaging online platform designed to support students as they tackle the much-maligned research paper. Students simply sign up, download the Citelighter toolbar, create a project, and then move on to their preferred search engines. As students select articles from the Web, the toolbar follows them; when they've found a useful excerpt, students need only highlight it and click Capture. Citelighter saves the citation and automatically creates a bibliography.

Further, students can make accompanying notes for any excerpt they select. At any time, students can click View and see the list of excerpts, notes, and citations. They can also re-order their excerpts as they read; when they're ready, they can export their work to Google Drive, Word, or an email. If students need assistance, Citelighter offers video tutorials, a thorough FAQ list, and Knowledge Cards -- a limited collection of articles on a variety of topics to help stumped students find a jumping-off point.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Citelighter touts itself as a “21st Century Critical Thinking Platform,” and rightfully so. With navigation and image-rich design reminiscent of teen favorites Tumblr and Pinterest, the days of notecard research organization are over -- without compromising the learning process. By gathering research in Citelighter’s cloud, students can easily assess the value of their collected excerpts and organize them in an order that works best. It's an automatically compiled bibliography that tracks students’ progress while also discouraging plagiarism. The export option makes it quick and easy to create an outline or rough draft.

Overall, in using Citelighter, students should feel a satisfying balance of support and autonomy. That said, the video tutorials, FAQ list, and Knowledge Cards won't likely be enough to help some struggling readers in locating and selecting credible sources.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

To make the most of Citelighter as a research tool, teachers should treat the site as exactly that: one tool among many. Supporting lessons on detecting credible sources, note-taking, and following proper citation format will enhance and deepen students’ experience with the site and with research in general.

One distinguishing feature is the Teacher Tools link. Teachers can sign up their entire class for Citelighter and then, upon launching a project, track students’ progress through Citelighter’s Cognitive Prints -- a visual assessment of each student’s use of sources, citations, and time. Teachers can access the Cognitive Prints throughout the course of an assignment, making them a great tool for both formative and summative assessment. Citelighter also offers an option for students to collaborate in a way similar to Google Drive. Teachers can assign team projects with the ability to track every student's participation and learning.

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