Free Sample Lesson Of The Day:
Upper Elementary Research Projects
With this project, the goal is for students to learn how to research. I don’t care what they learn about- as long as they are using books from the non-fiction section of the library.
(You could easily assign a topic, but I prefer to leave the choice to the kids. I like
students to feel involved and connected to their work, especially in this project which could easily become boring.)
This fun because I have yet to meet a kid who picks the topic I would have assigned them. Letting them choose their own topic helps me get to know them even better!
I will admit, there are quite a few books that students have used that I can’t say are terribly academic. For example, “Haunted Houses," is a fun book, but isn’t full of facts students need to know. BUT- the point here isn’t to learn facts, it’s to learn how to research.
This is an exciting step! (An added goal of this project is to build a love of books & learning, and to re-enforce the idea that there is SO much to learn!)
With my homeschoolers, we go to library with an idea of the topics they are interested in. Then, I let them spend as long as they want (within reason!) looking through the non-fiction section.
(“Look at all the books you can choose from! Wow! Take a few to the table with you! Check the out! Which ones grab your interest?”)
I like to remind the kids that it is okay to not read the entire book. If they select an easy-to-read non-fiction with lots of pictures, then they’ll probably end up reading the whole thing.
But, if they select a text-heavy non-fiction book, they don’t need to read all of it. We’re looking for facts and an understanding of the topic- we don’t have to learn EVERYTHING all at once.
he biggest thing I’ve learned here is that this needs to be a fun step. I let the kids enjoy reading and fact-finding. When we worry about just finding facts, it quickly becomes overwhelming and unenjoyable. I approach this as “Read! Enjoy! When you find a fact, jot it down!”
I don’t always have students decide their subtopics right away. Sometimes they need to read a little before they can decide what they want their three fact categories to be. I let them read and write down a few facts as they go. Then, together we determine what the categories should be.
(For example, a project about Ancient Greece could leave a student with three subtopics: Gods/Goddesses, City-States, and Olympics.)
Each subtopic needs five notecard-facts to be complete. We keep our notecards in an envelope with the subtopic written on it. This helps keep things organized!
Once we have three envelopes (one for subtopic) filled with facts, it’s time to start the outline!
At this point, students should have five facts for each subtopic. I have them go through each subtopic envelope and pick their three favorite facts. Then we start the outline.
If this is a student’s first time writing a five-paragraph essay, I give them a template to work on. Download it here:
(You might need to throw an incentive in here. Once kids have finished the rough draft, they can be super disappointed to find out the work isn’t done yet! J )
I edit the student’s outline and then we talk about it together. Basic editing procedure.
(With the final draft, I always look for indenting at paragraphs and implementing the edits we made on the rough draft.)
You're done! Hurray!!!