I'm starting to feel like a grape, being crushed into wine. Or maybe I'm just whining. What a busy few weeks we're having, with research, and author visits, and budget deadlines for ordering books. Oh, my!
We are in the midst of our third grade research project about rapid changes to the earth's surface. As I said, I use a LibGuide to put all of our project resources in one place, accessible from any computer, but you could also make a Symbaloo or a Live Binder or use your teacher web page. It reassures the teachers that you do, in fact, have a plan.
Last week, I found that some teachers had already used the LibGuide to introduce their classes to the concept of Trash and Treasure note-taking and citing sources. Woohoo! I reviewed, and then we got down to business.
I have 8 working computers in the library, so students took turns researching either in the books I had gathered (from my library and the public library) or on the computers.
I had lots of positive feedback from students and teachers. The students were saying things like, "I thought this was gonna be boring, but it's really fun!" And "Wow! You've got a lot of information in here!" I am NOT kidding! And here's what made the difference:
Instead of doing the project in bits and pieces of time carved out of the day, each class came to the library for 2 hours. Solid. The students LOVED being able to really dig into the subject and LEARN! They had fun thinking about what would melt in hot lava, or what came down the slope in a landslide.
(Yes, I know that this student has his feet on the chair, and no, I do not care. He is so involved in what he's reading that he couldn't even tell you what shoes he's wearing, much less where they are. To me, this is a good thing.)
Here are the details. Last week, I talked to each class for a few minutes about taking notes and citing sources, then they worked for 2 hours. Every 40 minutes, a different group rotated to the computers, and everybody stood and stretched. The classroom teacher and I walked around giving one-on-one help, as needed. Students helped each other. The students were assigned to write treasure words answering 3 questions about their rapid change, and cite their sources, within those 2 hours.
Next week (starting tomorrow), we will work for another 2 hours, with students pairing up now to create a table comparing their rapid changes. At the end of next week's session, their table should be complete, and they will only have the self-evaluation to finish.
I'm delighted with the enthusiasm these students are showing for the research process. I'm definitely going to try to implement this type of schedule for future projects.
How about you? What makes your research projects successful? Let us know, so we can ALL inspire our students!