In social studies class, my 2nd grade students learned about immigration. With help from their parents, they created family trees, discovering that their ancestors immigrated from different Eastern and Western European countries and even from as far away as Taiwan. … Continue reading
My second-grade students recently learned all about alliterations and then created their own digital versions, which we compiled in a book. We started by reading Maurice Sendak’s Alligators All Around and defining alliteration. We thought about the purpose of alliterations … Continue reading
The last few weeks of the school year, my 3rd grade class researched information about a country of their choice. While engaged in the research process, they explored a variety of technology resources to gather information, synthesized what they found, … Continue reading
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 … Continue reading
App Smashing Biography Research My 2nd grade students did some biography research this spring. The first challenge was to find biographies they could actually read. While we had enough books for each of the students, I wish we had … Continue reading
In language arts class, my 5th grade students read A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park (2010). The book tells the story of Salva, one of the thousands of Sudanese “Lost Boys” who … Continue reading
My 3rd and 4th grade students embarked on a new endeavor–creating book trailers. I had never created trailers before, so I learned alongside my students. Since I meet each class only once weekly for 40 minutes, the project spanned twelve … Continue reading
Thank you Common Craft for creating a video about the roles of libraries and librarians in the Internet age.
This video licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Exploring the theme of community, my 1st grade students wrote and designed an ABC book wherein each letter in the alphabet relates to a noun about our school. Encouraging students to explore our school in this way reinforces both a … Continue reading
My 4th grade students are studying Florida and its history in social studies class this year. Their teacher, Michelle Lewis, asked me to introduce them to digital resources related to the subject. Here in Florida, the Florida Electronic Library (funded by the State) makes available free to all its citizens a variety of electronic resources, including a Florida History database. After a brief introduction, I let the kids explore this resource via a scavenger hunt. They had so much fun with this that I decided to expand this project to a mini-research unit. Key elements of the mini-research unit are researching facts on two states, synthesizing information into a short written report, and creating a final digital report.
To facilitate the exercise I replicated the model report laid out in Liz Allen’s Research Without Copying presentation (2009)–a fabulous compilation of research presentation ideas, some of which are adapted from Nancy Polette’s book by the same title, challenging students to think critically about what they read and then synthesize the information learned in a variety of creative ways. Its a higher-level type of engagement with the material that ensures students better retain the information.
So on their next visit to the library, I introduced my students to the If…But Report. The idea was for them to research two different states, compile four facts for each state, and then compare and contrast the states in a one-page report, consisting of a written portion and a non-linguistic representation of the facts.
The students scoured three pre-selected websites (kids.usa.gov, factmonster.com, and 50states.com) as well as the Kids InfoBits database for information. They were to find something interesting from each source and record the information on a graphic organizer.
Using a template, students drafted their reports. In a mini-lesson, we looked more closely at some student’s writing to discuss mainly style. For example, one student listed the state name in every sentence. Is this necessary? Is it interesting? Another student used big numbers to express the populations of his states. What would be a better way to tell the reader?
Using Pixie for iPad app students created their reports, which had to include a written portion as well as a non-linguistic representation of the facts gathered for each state. Even though I had originally planned three 40-minute sessions for this quick research and report project, it took five sessions. It was harder for some students than others to retrieve interesting facts from the sources. Also, the report writing was easier for some than others. All students, however, quickly created their reports using the Pixie app.
My students know that I expect quality work, so as a final step, they had to use a checklist. Those students who finished early, also had to write a brief reflection on their student blogs.
Here are some of the wonderful examples of the final product.