Over the past six weeks the four instructional coaches have been working with Mrs. Grandon’s first grade class on their ocean animals research project.
Research in first grade?
That’s right! First graders walked through the entire process of research.
First they chose a topic from a preselected list of ocean animals. Then they began by researching these animals on the Internet. No, they were not given free reign to search wherever they wanted. Websites that were age appropriate were carefully researched and selected. These sites were then shared with the class using Symbaloo to help keep students focused on research only their animal. (You can view Mrs. Grandon’s symbaloo here.)
Students researched on a specific topic (the animal’s appearance, what they eat, predators, movements, and interesting facts) each day. Students learned how to look for specific words to help with each topic and used audio readers to help with reading difficult sections. As students learned about each topic, they took notes and recorded the resources they used.
These notes were used the following day when students wrote that topic. Students had to analyze their notes and decide which order to put their information in for it to make the most sense. This process continued until students had researched and written a rough draft.
After the first graders had completed a hand-written rough draft, they began typing their final draft on a template that was created for them. Their final draft also included a list of their resources, which is such a vital part of research. When all students were finished typing, their research was compiled into a book titled Amazing Ocean Animals using flipsnackedu.
Finally, the first graders had the opportunity to use the Chatterpix app to tell about their animal using the first person point of view. The students had a lot of fun “becoming” their animal and sharing some of their favorite facts about their animals. You can check out their work here!
Throughout the research unit, mini-lessons on a variety of topics were used, including how to take notes, writing the paper from your notes, computer skills such as using the shift and spacebar keys, and changing writing from third person to first person.
We also covered the following Common Core standards:
In conclusion, this project really challenged the first graders in many ways. After all, research is a challenging concept for older students and even adults. Students writing skills were challenged (They wrote a lot!), and they used a wide variety of technology. It was so rewarding to see how enthusiastic and excited these first graders were about what they were learning and how hard they were working to learn. They absolutely loved the challenge and were thrilled with their completed projects and becoming published authors!