My 1st graders love learning about animals, so making animals the subject of our research skills unit was a no-brainer. Also, thankfully, our library collection includes a decent number of early reader books on different animals. My goal was for students to read and extract information from both print and online texts and then to create a fun digital product showcasing their learning using a new tool, Pixie.
Reading and Extracting Information from Informational Text
We began by discussing “research” and that good research starts with a “I Wonder…” question. The students loved brainstorming things they wondered about different animals. They then completed the first page of a note taking organizer. Some students already knew a lot of information about their chosen animal.
In our next session, I introduced the remaining pages of the organizer and discussed each section. As a class, we read a book (I chose one from wegivebooks.org) and took note of relevant information. The students began working independently on their research projects. After two sessions, we moved on to the Worldbook Online database where students found an article on their animal and continued read and take notes. We concluded the research process by spending some time discussing the importance of crediting the sources of information. In 1st grade, my students simply provide the author’s name and the book’s or article’s title.
The traditional end product of research is report writing. As the librarian, I feel lucky that the expository writing is left with the classroom teacher, allowing me to explore many new and creative ways of creating a product. In this case, I decided to have the students create a riddle about the animal they researched. It is an idea I copied from Tech4Learning’s Creative Educator blog. We began by reading several riddles from It Does Not Say Meow: And Other Animal Riddle Rhymes (by Beatrice Schenck de Regniers, 1983). The students then created their own 4-liner riddles using a template.
I love integrating technology into my lessons, particularly with this class who is always full of anticipation when they see the laptop cart parked in the library. They have been using our school iPads regularly since Kindergarten, so the laptops are still a unique device.
For the final product, I introduced them to Tech4Learning’s Pixie software, an easy-to-use, creative tool. I showed the kids an exemplar I had created to give them an idea what their final product should look like. I also showed them a few of the basic Pixie tools before they began working on their own creations. When finished, too top it all off, the students audio recorded their riddles.