|Working on her rough draft big book page. Final presentation choice.|
Short research projects have been our focus the last month of school. My students have completed 3 different projects in a month (Thinglinks, Wonders, Big Book pages) I sure have learned several important lessons about “short” research projects.
A) Not only do I like short projects, but my students also commented they were enjoying them too. “It has been fun choosing different topics to learn more about.” For conferences, I felt like I was able to keep better track of their progress, and the students saw continuous progress.
B) I am exploring what "read closely" means. One of my biggest goals was to continue to ask the question: What did you learn new? Which resources helped you the most in gathering evidence? There were tons (literally) of conversations about how to research on line. The importance of skimming an article for new facts and not just “Googling it.” I know that this did not sink in yet, but I have set some strong groundwork as they move into middle school.
C) Students continue to love choice! They chose their topics, their resources, the end presentation and final due date. Our mini lessons focused on these areas, and I really felt several students used the mentor text as examples. When I give them these choices, they all “buy into” the writing. Often I heard conversations include: “Mrs. Caplin gave us a choice.”
For next school year, I am already thinking bigger. I plan on integrating non-fiction short research projects throughout the entire year. We have read non-fiction all year and the students definitely know that fiction, non-fiction and poetry are all integrated in our class, but I need to send a clearer message about connecting it to writing workshop and have time for all types of continuous writing projects. Lessons learned about short research.