expository · focus lesson · genre · minilesson · non-narrative writing

reading research.

Today’s lesson in the sixth grade class went along the lines of Ways to Be a Good Researcher.  I taught:

  1. Complete your source sheet only when you know you’ll be taking notes from the source.
  2. Determine if your subtopics are worthy.  Will they offer you the chance to collect several bits of information?  Are you still interested in the subtopic?  Are you able to find information for the subtopic?  We encouraged students to revise their subtopics if needed.
  3. Read like a researcher
    1. Use Table of Contents, Index, pictures, and bold headings to skim the source. 
    2. Upon finding a section that may be worth your time, read it looking for information you could use.
    3. If you find information, read it again, slowly and in depth.
    4. Write down key information, using your own words, under the appropriate subtopic notepage.
  4. Practice self-control.  It’s hard work to research and you will need to make sure you are on task and working hard. 

This lesson seemed to make a difference.  The workshop went well and students completed a lot of work.  At the end of the workshop, nearly everyone had collected at least six notes appropriate to their subtopics.  They seemed to be enjoying their learning and have become quite adept at using the library. 

One more note, they need to have three sources, including at least one print source and one electronic source.  Today, students could use the computers after collecting notes from a print source.  We figured there’d be a mad-rush through the print resources in order to get to the computers.  We were wrong.  The students really seemed to relish their print sources and tried to glean as much information as possible.  The one student who did move to the computer had to be talked into it.  He had found & taken notes out of the ONLY print source available in our library on his topic — Nyalas.

I’d still love to hear more ideas on how you make finding research go smoothly in your classroom.  Please weigh in with your two cents!  Check out Jenny’s comment here.