Here's an idea to tuck into the back of your mind for next year. Prior to our 8th grade annual "inquiry based research project," I decided to poll the students to capture their pre-assessment on video. This was not a scientific measurable pre-assessment, but more of a qualitative, fun endeavor. I asked the 8th graders a variety of questions and they candidly answered. After creating this short movie we showed this in the ELA classrooms prior to this, their first large research project. Not only did they laugh, but they serendipitously, were ready to listen. We were amazed at the success of exposing ignorance.
You may hear a reference to www.librarydoor.com, as that was our school district research site that I had maintained for years, but subsequently has been replaced. It was set as the homepage on every library computer in the building (we had 75 computers in the library and the attached two labs).
I'd like to share that my goal after this, was to vertically align the research skills taught so that students wouldn't arrive in 8th grade needing so much triage. This worked. We were able to get district support to incrementally build capacity starting in the early grades.
As with many projects, once I started this, I was able to enlist the help of techy 8th graders (Andrew, specifically featured in the movie), to help splice comments and free up my time to move on to other things...). Enjoy the show!