Monday, March 30, 2015

Shared Research

So, I tend to be one of those teachers that gives the kids a blank piece of paper to record information on instead of a copied recording sheet. Or we staples pages together for a observation journal rather than a pre-made booklet.
Normally for two reasons.
1. The copies. The struggle is real. 
2. I'm always a little worried about stifling any creativity or brilliant ideas if I try to keep our thinking in the box, or really, within the guidelines suggested on a piece of paper. 

If you love worksheets and cute and pretty plant observation journals, there is NOTHING wrong with those (I'm actually thinking of making a one this year! ;) )
If you don't let recording sheets darken your door, that is totally fine!  
Here's the deal. Neither sides of the coin are wrong, because I think we need to allow both in our classroom at times. As kids inquire, the teacher needs to decide how we will guide them in the inquiry process. Will we provide lots of scaffolding? Will it stay really open ended? A lot of it depends on what we are wanting them to learn. Sometimes the topic of inquiry might be more open-ended, but our goal is to help them know how to find the answers to their inquiries.

I'm definitely rethinking how I have done some note taking, plant observing, recording our work papers. I want kids to have choice in what they write down based on what they think is important, but they also need some support, especially in the primary grades. 

This quarter, our IB unit involves a lot of observing, note taking,  and recording. And we are having to do some shared research as well. So I want to provide lots of opportunities to my kiddos that have to do with our unit and sometimes to just practice how to research and record our findings.

That is how these Country Fact Books were born.
Its the right mixture of support for what to research, yet still open ended enough to allow room for all the interesting facts we might discover.

When I teach my kids how to start researching something, I tell them that I like to type my question into google (hey, I'm sure that is what you do too!) One boy commented that on the iPad you can also tell it your question! ;) When we use informational text, we tend to look more at the index, glossary, and table of contents to see if we can find the information we need in that book. (You can read about one of our other shared research projects here)

The country books are perfect to help guide what direction you want to go with your research and give the kids structure, while still leaving plenty of room for them to make their own interesting discoveries to add to their books! Its the best of both worlds! :)
Kids can add a word, phrase, or a sentence based what the teacher desires or depending on their ability level.

Don't forget to keep track of your sources! Even if they just write down part of the website, I think it is important that they start learning to cite their sources!

Right now I have Japan and India posted, BUT more will be added soon! 

{click on the pictures for more information!}

If you are interested in collecting all of them once they are completed, go ahead and buy the bundle!
All the books will be added here and you will save 60%!
Click on the picture to check it out!

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