I Wonder: Exploring Research With Primary Students

If you have ever had your class interrupted by a thunderstorm or by a bug crawling across the carpet, you know that students naturally question the world around them. This eight-lesson unit  encourages second-grade students to ask questions about a specific topic, choose a particular question to explore in detail, and research the question using a variety of resources. Students organize their information on a "What we think we know," "What we have confirmed we know," and "New facts we have learned through research" (TCF) chart. They then collaborate to write a class scientific explanation.  This resource can be used with various topics easily.  Therefore, once students have been through the whole unit and become familiar with each session, it could be repeated using different topics.  The consistency of using the familiar research process would allow student to develop their research skills.  It could easily be scaled back for 1st grade or Kindergarten students by including more teacher guidance in each lesson. This unit allows students to explore each step of the research process, refine questions, locate important details  in text, and how to write facts in their own words.   Consequently, it would allow a teacher to spend time with students practicing the skills related to research, and then demonstrate how to report findings.  It could also be a way to differentiate for students the learning expectations involved in research...meaning that each session (lesson) could be used with groups of students who need remediation, or compacting to grow the research knowledge.   

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.1
Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.2
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.1.3
Write narratives in which they recount two or more appropriately sequenced events, include some details regarding what happened, use temporal words to...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.1
Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.2
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.3
Write narratives in which they recount a well-elaborated event or short sequence of events, include details to describe actions, thoughts, and...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.7
Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.8
Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.2
Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.3
Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in...
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.7
Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.K.8
With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
GLE 0001.3.3
Compose simple stories with teacher assistance.
GLE 0001.4.1
Define and narrow a research question appropriate to grade level and ability.
GLE 0001.4.2
Select a source necessary to answer a research question.
GLE 0101.3.1
Compose simple stories with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
GLE 0101.3.3
Begin to develop topic sentences.
GLE 0101.4.1
Define and narrow a research question appropriate to grade level and ability.
GLE 0101.4.2
Select a source necessary to answer the research question.
GLE 0201.3.1
Write in a variety of modes for different audiences and purposes.
GLE 0201.3.3
Organize ideas into a topic paragraph with complete coherent sentences.
GLE 0201.4.1
Define and narrow a question for research appropriate to grade level and ability.
GLE 0201.4.2
Gather relevant information to answer a research question.
GLE 0201.4.3
Write a simple research report.
TSS.ELA.1.W.TTP.1
With prompting and support, write opinion pieces introducing the topic or text, stating an opinion, supplying a reason for the opinion, and providing some...
TSS.ELA.1.W.TTP.2
With prompting and support, write informative/explanatory texts, naming a topic, supplying some facts about the topic, and providing some sense of closure.
TSS.ELA.1.W.TTP.3
With prompting and support, write narratives recounting an event, including some details to describe actions, thoughts, and feelings; use time order words...
TSS.ELA.2.W.RBPK.7
Participate in shared research and writing projects, such exploring a number of books on a single topic or engaging in science experiments to produce a report.
TSS.ELA.2.W.RBPK.8
Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
TSS.ELA.2.W.TTP.1
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts.
TSS.ELA.2.W.TTP.2
Write informative/explanatory texts.
TSS.ELA.2.W.TTP.3
Write narratives recounting an event or short sequence of events.
TSS.ELA.K.W.RBPK.7
Participate in shared research and writing projects, such as reading a number of books by a favorite author and expressing opinions about them.
TSS.ELA.K.W.RBPK.8
With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
TSS.ELA.K.W.TTP.2
With prompting and support, use a combination of drawing, dictating, and/or writing to compose informative/explanatory texts.
TSS.ELA.K.W.TTP.3
With prompting and support, use a combination of drawing, dictating, and/or writing to narrate a single event.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will:

  • Gain scientific knowledge by exploring a topic, engaging in hands-on experiments, and posing questions
  • Gain knowledge about writing by learning about the structure of scientific explanations and how to write paragraphs
  • Demonstrate comprehension of how to answer a scientific query by doing their own research and helping confirm their own and other's responses
  • Apply what they have learned about writing and scientific explanations by organizing notes into paragraphs and by illustrating these paragraphs appropriately

NCTE/IRA National Standards For The English Language Arts:

  • Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound–letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Lesson Variations

Extension suggestions: 

Extensions:

  • Decide as a class whom you would like to share the book with. Some possible publishing ideas are to:
  • Invite parents in for a publishing celebration
  • Display the book in the school library
  • Add the book to your classroom collection of nonfiction books
  • Publish the classroom explanations on your school or classroom website
  • Have students refer to the "I wonder..." chart that they created in Session 1 and select a question to answer on their own.

References

Contributors: