Structured Inquiry Workshop: Topic HotLists

A Topic HotList is a hand-made directory of related Internet links.  Links are created from a variety of digital media sources from web pages, sites, pdf's, audio, graphics, photos, videos and interactive content such as games, simulations and apps. Topic links are typically organized into subtopics and can be expanded upon with annotated notes and/or questions for students to read for information.

1. Overview 

  • Topic HotLists often serve as a starting space for teachers to organize all their resources and share with others before writing and running with a fully developed unit plan created for student research. HotLists give teachers a beginning process for structured inquiry by getting students quickly focused on a topic and reading for information.  It also gets this generation of students familiar with using an organized directory as opposed to simply surfing a topic using a keyword in a search engine.

  • ?nquiry in the Classroom's Topic HotLists are created in a free Google Doc template. These HotLists often work best when shared and edited together by grade and/or subject alike teachers at a school. Once the HotList gains legs with at least 5-10 topic links, the HotList's link can be shared with students and staff on a school's or teacher's web site or Learning Management System (LMS).

  • Like all unit and lesson planning, HotLists are a process that can be added to over the years. Reviewing and updating your HotList at least once a year is important as links are here today and gone tomorrow. So let's get started in creating a HotList you could use this week with your students!

2. Workshop Goals

  1. To gather, sort and sift the most effective web resources for your topic activity
  2. To create a topic hotlist of pre-determined links for inquiry-based student research
  3. To provide time for building the topic hotlist
  4. To look at next steps by scaffolding your hotlist into a complete inquiry-based lessons and/or unit.

3. Topic HotList Examples

4. Creating a Topic HotList Using a Google Docs Template

  • Tip of the day - "Text links always load faster."

a. Opening and Copying the Template 

Instructions -

  • Make sure you have a gmail account before using Google Docs and Google Drive.
  • Use your Chrome browser and make sure you login with your gmail account. If you do not login now, you will have to login once you enter the Google doc to complete the following instructions below.
  1. Click here to open the template master. You can not edit the master template. Follow the steps below to make your own copy of the template.

  2. Go to the File menu and Make a Copy - (now you can edit the new file)

b. Title and Title Information Box

  1. Create a title for your HotList in the upper left hand corner- Keep the part Topic HotList: (and add your title after.)

  2. Fill in the following in the Title Information Box
    1. Title - Again keep the part, Topic HotList:
    2. by (Teacher or Teachers involved)
    3. HotList Overview - Tell your target audience what the hotlist about.
    4. Give your starting date in last updated
    5. City, State
    6. Appropriate grade levels


c. Inserting Images

  1.  In the Title Information box, left side, is an image created in the template, that says, "Delete this drag and drop your picture here."
  2. Click on the image as the illustration shows a blue frame will appear.
  3. Now press your Delete or Backspace key to delete this image.

  1.  Now, go do a Google image search, you can see mine on the illustration on the right.
  2. Follow me carefully here - Click on the image you want and drag it to the browser window tab of your template.
  3. Drop the image in the now blank space where you deleted the first image above.
  4. Using the blue handles in the bottom middle or bottom right corner. you can resize the image to match the rest of the information box.
  5. Below is the water spigot image inserted into the Title Information box.
  6. You can follow this same drag and drop procedure for inserting any image into a Google Doc document.

c. Subtopics and Deleting or Copying Subtopic rows

  1. Replace the word Subtopic in the blue table by simply highlighting the word and writing your subtopic work or phrase in its place.

  2. If you want to delete a table row of Subtopics from the template, right click on the table and you will get a drop down menu with many great options. In this case, if you select Delete row

  3. If on the other hand you need to copy a whole new row of subtopics, highlight the whole row with your cursor and then right click to get the drop down menu and Copy. Place your cursor on the next row down and Paste in the same way with the drop down menu.

d. Creating a Text Link into Your Subtopic

  1. Once you have researched a site or other web-based resource with an URL Address, highlight the link  

  2. Copy the link by using ctrl or command c depending on your computer OS.

3. Now, go back to your HotList subtopic, create a Bulleted List by selecting it from the Google Doc toolbar, see below.


 4. Write out your link title next to the bullet, see below.

5. Highlight the title - When in Drought , note - the bullet will not highlight.

 6. Select the Link tool icon in the Google Doc toolbar.

 7. The illustration shows the Link Window Box open and the link is pasted in using command or control V.

8. The last illustration shows the completed link in the HotList. Note - When the author(s) of the hotlist click on the link, notice the link window that allows you to change or remove the link.

Congrats, you have made your first link! This process will speed up quickly once you have several created links under your belt. 

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