Friday, May 22, 2020

Getting Ready to Research, Part 4

Since the 2019-2020 school year marks the 10th Anniversary of this blog, on Fridays, I’m resurrecting and updating old posts that sparked a lot of conversation or that still have a lot to offer people teaching or writing nonfiction. Today’s essay is number 4 in a six-part series that originally appeared in spring 2016.

Because it’s difficult to create authentic, self-driven research experiences for early elementary students, I’m in the midst of sharing a series of activities that will allow K-2 students to develop research skills, such as visual literacy and information literacy, without actually doing research. As a result, they’ll be ready to start doing authentic research in third grade. 

Last week, I focused on the Visual Teaching Strategies method. You can scroll down and read that post if you like. Today, I’m going to continue my discussion.

As students do research for a report, they need to decide what information is important enough to record. You can help students learn this critical skill by posing a focus question or developing a wonder statement, and then working with them to extract relevant content from a fiction-nonfiction book pair. 

As you read each book aloud and discuss the content, organize the pertinent information in a table, list, or diagram, as shown below, so that students have a visual record of the process. Then have the children participate in an activity that involves synthesizing and integrating the information in the table(s).

Here are two examples:

Focus Question: How do animals depend on the place where they live?

Book Pair: Just Ducks by Nicola Davies & Hip-pocket Papa by Sandra Markle

Sample Tables: Guide your students in compiling tables on chart paper after reading the books.

Sample Activity: Students create a mural that compares what ducks and frogs need to survive and how those needs are provided by their environment.

Wonder Statement: I wonder how a rain forest is different from a desert.

Book Pair: The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry & Here Is a Southwestern Desert by Madeline Dunphy

Sample Lists: Guide your students in compiling lists on chart paper after reading the books.

Sample Activity: Students fill in blanks to create poems about one of the animals in the list. Then they draw a picture of the animal. All the poems are compiled in a class book that compares the creatures and features of each environment. 

For more examples and details about how to implement this method, please see Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction & Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, K-2 by Melissa Stewart & Nancy Chesley

What’s next in getting ready for research? Next week I’ll discuss the role of graphic designers in creating books and other visual materials, including advertising. Stay tuned. 

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