When common core standards were introduced several years ago and one of those standards was research and writing. The standards said students should participate in shared research and writing. I found this standard to be terrifying. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with kindergartners researching something on Google?! That’s where our research projects were born. While the standards might have changed, these research projects still meet state standards and thus, are still applicable in all classrooms!
Research Projects In The Classroom
As a teacher, I believe in doing what’s best for my students but I also do what my district asks of me. This means providing tools and scaffolding so my students can be successful. So if research and writing is a standards, I want to find a way to make that goal accessible to my students in ways that that they can be successful. I decided that research projects should be a fun, engaging way to do research and writing in kindergarten. So here’s how it works in our classroom!
The research projects are completed during our ELA time or literacy block. This allows us to integrate science and social studies standards while meeting ELA standards such as research and writing. The actual research is done through read alouds and videos. The information is discussed and recorded on graphic organizers. Students then use the graphic organizers to do their writing. Our ELA block is designed for a 30 minute whole group lesson. Our research projects use that time to be completed. The read aloud/video and graphic organizers are done in 15-20 minutes and the students then work on their research journal independently. We do one activity or graphic organizer each day.
Each research project induces research journals. The research journals are where students record their learning. They write, do labeling, sorting, etc. The journals give students ownership of their learning and is a source of pride.
Each research project begins with a schema map. Students share their schema or what they already know about the topic. Every piece of schema they share is recorded on a post it note and placed on the schema map. The post it notes allow us to organizer our thinking much like our brains organize information.
When creating our schema map I always draw a fun picture. This helps introduce the topic and makes the learning fun!
As we progress through our research projects, we add our new learning to the schema map. At the end of the research project, we re-visit our schema and address misconceptions. Misconceptions might be wrong, or they might be something where our thinking needs to be adjusted. We move misconceptions to the misconceptions area of the schema map while discussing why it’s a misconception.
Graphic Organizers/Class Charts
The research portion of our research projects is done using read alouds and videos. As we read we record our learning on graphic organizers. We use turn and talk strategies as well as questioning to access the information. The students also have to share the information in complete sentences. Our research projects include tree maps, t-charts, brace maps, and more. We record the information DURING the read aloud. We do not wait until the end of the read aloud because doing it after the read aloud makes it an assessment and we don’t want it to be that.
The students take the information from our graphic organizers and use that to write in their research journals. Differentiated journals use sentence frames for student writing. Students copy information from the charts and they are encouraged to write on their own. As the year goes on and they build their writing skills, the independent writing becomes much more natural for them.
We also use the writing to work on mechanics of writing. I use one on one conferences to help them improve their writing. Students are encourage to use inventive/phonetic spelling when writing.
Vocabulary And Higher Order Thinking
We use labeling as part of our research projects as a way to work on vocabulary. We label a class chart and then students label their own picture in their research journal. The labels allow for conversations about adaptations, how each part helps or works.
For higher order thinking we use a true false sort. This higher order thinking activity allows students to discuss wha they’ve learned. For false statements we discuss why it’s false and we change it into a truth statement. Students then use the true statements to write about their topic.
Each research project also contains activities specific to that topic. Their might be clothing sorts for seasons. A lesson the water cycle. For push and pull we drew things we could push and pull. The students make a forecast for our weather research project. These additional activities allow us target specific science and social studies standards.
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Research Projects: What’s Included
Our research projects are all inclusive. They contain everything you need for your graphic organizers and research journals. The journal pages allow for differentiation. Also included in many of the research projects are book and video suggestions and art project ideas. Most of the research projects also include math and literacy centers.
Each one can be purchased individually OR you can purchase them as a bundle and save 50%!!
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Check out more our more than 40 research projects here and remember in the TKS Store, they are always Buy One Get One 50% off using the code RPBOGO50. Shop TKS Research Projects by clicking the image below.