Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Modeling Research: A Study of Afghanistan

Our students will soon meet Elizabeth Suneby, author of Razia's Ray of Hope. To prepare for the visit, we have studied the book using many lenses including the lens of writer, reader, and literary analyst. Now we will study the book as historians and geographers as we develop a child's eye view of Afghanistan.

While we learn this information, I will also model the many tools, materials, and processes we can use to research. I will model these efforts often in the weeks to come as we prepare for the spring student research project.

Hence today, we'll begin with a discussion about how you may travel via the Internet.  We'll start with the child-friendly research site, National Geographic for Kids, and together we'll read and study a slide show about Afghanistan.

As we study, we'll write down the questions, surprises, and facts that we think are very interesting or important.

Later, we'll watch a video of a photographer from National Geographic who has spent many years studying, photographing, and visiting Afghanistan.  I will tell the students that this is a kind of job some of them may be interested in--the job of visiting places and recording the stories, people, and events of that place as a writer, photographer, photo-journalist, historian, archeologist, anthropologist, researcher, or many other professions.

After that we'll bring it back to the story, and the action of research in general with the following questions:

1. How did this Internet research change the way you think about the book, Razia's Ray of Hope?  Do you understand the book and/or characters better?  Were you left with more questions or less?

2. As a researcher, how might you use video or Internet information to develop your understanding of a topic?

In the days that follow we'll continue our study by creating circle graphs with Afghanistan's statistics demonstrating the ways that data and statistics can help to build one's contextual understanding of a topic or place.  We'll also read about the Afghanistan War, the background information for the story, and other current events with child-appropriate text.  Finally we'll read about the author and prepare questions for her visit.

Razia's Ray of Hope is a rich narrative that introduces children to important information related to reading, writing, and the world around them. It's a story often untold which piques students' interest and generates many questions thus broadening students' world view and study skills in a way that create a foundation for greater understanding, study, and share.