I’ve been continuing a series of collaborative lessons with my school’s enrichment teacher, Darcie Rankin. ( @darcierankin at http://darcielearns.posterous.com/ ) During our last two weeks of lessons, the students completed short research projects on topics of their own choosing. First they located books in my school library, took three notes on their topics, and wrote citations for their books.
Then they found photos online to illustrate their topics and practiced using the photos with citation information in the form of a link to the original photo. Once they had found and cited useful photos, they printed them out.
Finally the students made posters with their notes, citations, and photos. At the end of the project they each wrote down two reasons to use citations. Here are a couple of their responses:
We had two essential questions for this project: what is a citation and why is it important to cite your sources? These questions came from our district’s K-4 Citation Expectations.
The design of the project came from the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Education Technology Standards: “Students locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.”
We found the project useful both as a way for students to practice their research and citation skills, and as a formative assessment of their understanding about sources and citations. The academic vocabulary words “citations” and “sources” were unfamiliar to many of them, even though they knew what citations and sources actually were. The words “cite” and “site” were easy to confuse as well. We’ll be teaching this vocabulary more explicitly from the beginning next year, and we’ll be circling back to it again this year.
The project seemed like one possible model for the short research projects required by the Common Core English Language Arts Standards for Writing in grade four. It took about two hours of class time for classes of 20 students and a team of two teachers (all work was completed at school). I’m hoping to share the model with my classroom teachers as a possible springboard for their ideas for short projects.