Friday, March 02, 2012

Student Research Turning Point

The Students are in the midst of their biome research project.  They have neat folders, a collection of books, well balanced research teams, macbooks, research places, display boards, a research topic, paper and pencils.  They've engaged in the research for a couple of days so far.  They've had informative question driven research meetings on the rug with the student teacher.  This is the turning point in the project.

Today is the day when their investment will matter the most, the day when it's imperative that they visualize the final project and understand the rationale, urgency and importance of this project.  They need to know that their learning matters.  Now, some will argue, that should have been the first step, and that students should have chosen the topic as that fuels the most authentic, engaging research.  I agree with that, yet this community topic will set the stage for our engaging endangered species project, one that meets current standards, and this is an acceptable second choice as education evolves.

So where do we go from here.

Today's research meeting on the rug will be very important as this will the time to fire up the research teams and respond to their questions.  The research meeting needs to include the following components:
  1. Research Goals: a visible list on the research center bulletin board for students to refer to.
  2. Collaboration Benefits and Actions: a list also located in the research center.
  3. A Model or Sketch of the Final Project: paper cut biome bulletin boards of each biome with informational lists and captions--the future home for their endangered species paper cut sculptures.
  4. Plenty of time for student questions and comments.
  5. Templates and an informational writing rubric to guide students' project writing.
Once research teams begin working in their research centers, it will be essential that teachers coach and guide with positivity looking for opportunities to point out and remark on optimal research and collaborative work.

Finally, since it is a Friday, it will be important for teams to decide on the next steps for their research work next week and write those next steps down so they can refer to the list when they pick up on this research work on Monday.

I'm excited about today's research afternoon.  If we follow the steps above, we'll be able to foster a wonderful climate of scholarship, collaboration, enthusiasm and learning.  Let us know if you have any thoughts related to this process.