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Monday, January 28, 2013

Arctic Research Update...the end is in sight!

When I say "the end is in sight" I do mean it in the best possible way...we have be totally immersed in all things arctic for the last week. We have had REALLY cold weather to accompany our arctic animal unit - even an early release last week due to ice; however, in typical South Carolina fashion it will 67 tomorrow!

Our research projects have been really great. If you haven't read about how it all started you should look at my first post. Introducing the project with a "real purpose" got the kiddos SO excited to begin. They love their journals and you could tell by the amount of work they were willing to put into it each day. 

To manage the study, the children were able to choose what "team" they wanted to be on and each team had a different animal to learn about. Lucky for me, it worked out that pretty much everyone got their first choice of animal. During our literacy station time (and every extra second) each day I called over groups to research with me - we read books and got on the internet to gather information. We would pick a topic in our journal to work on, and we completed around 1-3 pages throughout the day. Some groups were more independent than others. My groups with strong readers could "lead" their group with less help from me so I could devote more time to those that needed more guidance.  Here are some pictures to show how things went...

I used the "sound record" feature on the Promethean Board to record a message from the research team in the arctic.

 The researcher told us he sent us a package that should have arrived. We all got to head down to the teacher mailbox room to check it! In it, we found some photos of animals that they needed help identifying. At this point, students could choose what "team" they wanted to be on. We had eight animals, and the teams were mostly groups of three. We had two groups of two. The box also had our journals that would guide our study through the week. (The journals are on my TpT store!)

We drew what we would look like if we were actual researchers in the arctic! So cute :) 

Here are students that were able to read through nonfiction books and gather information with a good bit of independence.

We went to the computer lab with our "Third Grade Mentors." We normally read with them once a week, but this week they helped us find pictures and additional information for our project. I created folders for each animal on our common drive. Each folder had a PDF with links to get to information. The sweet third grade teacher taught her students how to save the pictures in these folders.

I told my kids that it was okay to have the third grader do a lot of the writing because our time was limited in the computer lab - however, we all know at this point in the year you can should never underestimate your little ones! This child had her whole research page filled out all on her own! She was so proud of herself!

Presentation is a key part of PBL, and I have been thinking for days about how we will show what we have learned...I can't ever commit too early on how a project may end because so much of it depends on how the kids are progressing (and what their teacher has time to prepare/buy.) I went to Bi-Lo Sunday afternoon to get poster board and none was to be found...but they did have small pieces. I bought all that they had, and decided we could make a "quilt square" response. (Appropriate with the Arctic as well, haha...cold - quilt...even some of my kids got it!)

I recorded another voice over of the researcher telling us he sent us poster board and describing the quilt project. I like to give the students choice on how they present most of the time, but I just could not think of another way to really manage it with this particular project - we are all doing it the same way; however, each group does look different. I drew this out in front (with their help) of them to help them understand what quilt pieces they needed to include. 
Their only requirement was to have a title to tell the name of their animal, and four quilt squares.

They had to talk with their group about who was going to do what. I have to say I am incredibly blessed this year with a group that gets along really well overall (most days...knock on wood for tomorrow). 

They got started right away, and were to use their journals to guide them. Some got it...others didn't.

Here are some that are almost finished - overall we worked on our quilt squares for probably 45 minutes today. They were constantly up and down and talking so the time flew! Below are some pictures of the ones that are almost done. Tomorrow we'll look over them to decide if we want to add anymore color, and we will add photographs that they found during their research on the computer.

We will practice presenting them and then share them with our class. I plan to record them so we can "email" them to the Arctic researchers we are helping. It may be neat to use them in the listening center as well on the computer.

 Hope you enjoyed a peek at our project! It was our first attempt, and I have learned a lot from it. I would love to hear about research projects you guys do in your rooms!
-Alexis :)

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