I am excited to share with you how I teach completing research in 5th grade! I came up with this idea when I was struggling how to get students to ORGANIZE their research information. When I decided that I was going to attack a research unit with older students (I had always done it with 3rd graders), I knew I had to come up with a way that would make it more independent, but yet I could still guide them all the way through. I wanted my students to have the freedom of choice, but still have specific steps that will lead to understanding of research, and of course, an awesome essay!
I started out by allowing each of my students to choose which state they wanted to research. I planned on modeling with the state of Alaska. From there, they follow me through the process choosing what specific topics they will include in their essay after the initial collection of research is completed. Here is a little bit of a closer look:
Steps of Research
- Decide on a Topic (in this case, a state).
- List questions about your topic.
- Categorize your questions. (Which ones pertain to the land, the people, etc?)
- Answer all of the questions.
- Add any new information you learn about any of the categories.
- Review your notes, and decide on which categories will become the body portion of your essay.
A Closer Look at What Happens During Steps 3 & 4:
After students categorize their questions, I developed a system for organizing the categories and the answers to the questions and facts that they gather. I give each student a file folder and library card pockets. They label the pockets with each of the categories they chose (I limited the categories to min. 5, max. 8), and assign a colored notecard to each category. Each card will have a separate question written onto the blank side.
This student is copying down the categories she created in her Writers' Notebook onto the library card pocket, and writing the questions for each category onto the colored notecard.
Next, students will use their research books that they got from their public library to find the answers to the questions they wrote.
After all of the questions are answered, or during that time, students might add information they find that they did NOT write a question about. This allows them to really collect a lot of information about the categories that interest them!
When all of the research is complete, the students will decide on which 3 categories will become their Body Paragraphs of their Research Essay! From there we start the drafting stage of the Writing Process!
I have really enjoyed teaching this to my students. I feel that knowing how to do research is a battle I don't want any of them to face down the road in Middle School or High School.
This entire unit is for sale in my TpT store or you can click on