Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Behind the Books: Stepping Up to Research, Step 2

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 students care deeply about

2. Organize, categorize, and compare observations.

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

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at each of these steps in detail and suggesting activity ideas.

For Step 2, take a look at your science curriculum. Students could observe and compare soil samples from home and the school playground. They could observe how a plant changes as it grows.

Here’s an activity I love. Collect a dozen rocks or shells. Divide your class into small groups and give each team one of the objects. Ask the children to use words and pictures to describe their object.

As the groups finish, one member should return their object to a central location. Then have each team rotate to a new table, leaving their description behind.

Invite the groups to read the description in front of them and carefully study the drawing. Then the teams should take turns going to the central location. Their task is to select the object they think the first team used to create its description. Encourage students to repeat this process until all the teams have identified the correct object.

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