Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Behind the Books: Stepping Up to Research, Step 4

According to new findings from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, the best nonfiction writing occurs when early-elementary research experiences are scaffolded as follows:

1. Organize and categorize information 
     (a) based on personal experiences
     (b) on a topic they care deeply about

2. Organize, categorize, and compare observations.

3. Conduct guided research.
4. Conduct cold research.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been looking at each of these steps in detail and suggesting activity ideas.

For step 4, students choose a topic they’re passionate about and conduct research with the support of their classroom teacher, literacy coach, and school librarian.  By now, they have the skills they need to find facts in books and online articles. They may also be ready to consider other kinds of sources. Encourage students to think outside the box.

For example, if students are writing about an animal, can they observe it in its natural setting? If the animal lives in your area, they may be able to find it and watch it. They may also be able to locate a webcam that shows the animal going about its daily routine.

If students are writing about a social studies topic, can they visit a local historical society or museum? What can they learn from artifacts? Can they interview people who are knowledgeable about their topic?

The more creatively students think about their research process, the more invested they will become in their topic, and their enthusiasm will definitely shine through in their written report.

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