Research- one step at a time

"Today you are guinea pigs" I said to my second graders. Sometimes you just have to take a risk. I explained that being guinea pigs meant we were trying something new. They were cool with that.

So I asked: "What do you know about reindeer?"
Random answers came:
  • some are domesticated
  • they eat carrots
  • they fly
  • they have hooves
  • they are brown
  • they have names
What do you WONDER? Starting day 1 in the Workshop of Wonder, my students have been asked, "What do you wonder?" They've gotten quite adept at questioning! We distilled down all of their WONDERings into 4 categories: appearance, habitat, purpose, and nutrition. 

Time to INVESTIGATE! I made cards with instructions of a website, book, or article to read. Students were working in pairs or triads to gather information for one of our 4 categories. When they did, they added a bit of knowledge to our collective note pages. If someone had their fact on the page already, they could affirm it with a check or underline.  

What they didn't know- they were SYNTHESIZING information. Gathering information from multiple sources and comparing with other information. This is the next piece in the research model that we've been working through this year. Next week, I'll point that out to them. 

So, how did the experiment go? The kids enjoyed working together- and finding different parts. It condensed the time "researching" into a manageable chunk. The difficult part was the real time organization. While I had in my mind the general topic, reindeer, I couldn't be sure that my sources would pull out what they were wondering. So I wasn't able to pre-make the collaborative note pages. The challenge became being sure that everyone could access the material they needed in order to collect information while simultaneously managing behavior, check out and establishing the note pages. 

Will I do it again? Absolutely. While I had some "control" of the information and process, the kids did the work. They created the questions, accessed the material, and made the notes. What's next? Helping them EXPRESS what they've learned! 

PS. In regards to reindeer flying, being pets, and having names... the research did not confirm or deny those aspects. PHEW! 


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