research mania.

Let’s be honest.  How many of you out there about lose your mind during the research phase of expository writing?  Here in Indiana, it is expected that beginning in 3rd grade, students use the Internet to find facts for their expository writing.  Now I’m all for technology . . . and learning to integrate it into all parts of the curriculum beginning in very young grades.  But what about . . .

  1. Misspellings when searching
  2. Finding websites kids can understand
  3. Blocked sites (Would you believe all search results for the English Channel were blocked, along with all results for tunnels and platypus?)
  4. Documenting a website
  5. Computers that freeze
  6. Websites that —

Well, you get the picture.  This week, I’m working alongside a sixth grade teacher (Andrea Komorowski) and a third grade teacher (Andrea Hoeppner) during this research phase.  In third grade they are working towards writing feature articles and in sixth grade they are planning to make speeches highlighting their learning.

Here are a few things we’ve done to make researching go more smoothly:

  1. Considered subtopics.  (Sixth grade version; Third grade version)
  2. Andrea Komoroski created this source sheet to aid in collecting all of the necessary citation information, as well as cross-referencing notes.  (An Indiana sixth grade standard = create a Works Cited page)  Andrea also inspired the post title.  🙂
  3. Modeled, Modeled, Modeled.  For today’s (6th grade) lesson I made a transparency of an encyclopedia entry on my topic (pirates).  I then modeled how to document the source, as well as how to take relevant notes in my own words, and cross-reference the notes to the source.  Last Friday Mrs. Komorowski modeled the same from a website.
  4. Used Google Safe Search for Kids.  The search results are filed according to kid-friendliness.  Gotta love that!
  5. Used Wikipedia (which happens to typically be the first result Google Safe Search for Kids lists).  If you’ve not used this resource, then know that you are missing a God-send!  It has practically every topic and a great place for everyone to begin while you help them through the nuances of gathering research.  (BTW: The search box is in the menu along the left side of the page.)

(All of the documents are posted on my wiki under Teacher Resources.)

I would lovelovelove to know some ways you’ve made the research phase go more smoothly in your classroom.  Please share . . . before I’m sent to the Loony Bin!