Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Research Involves a Journey and Choice

I had the opportunity to attend Dublin Literacy Conference.  I look forward to this conference once school starts in August.   I tweeted this past Saturday it is like Christmas morning in February.  I presented with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading on Celebrating Poetry Friday.  I was so excited to present with her because of her leadership and love for poetry that is why my class celebrates poetry every Friday. 

I have a thousand ideas (honestly that many) percolating in my brain. I was immersed with amazing conversations, compelling presentations that made me want to shift several ideas in my class, and finally the chance to meet authors in person that I have admired. There will be several blogs posts upcoming, but I wanted to start with thinking about research.

As I listened to Ralph Fletcher speak in our opening keynote, I had several light bulb moments that I needed to lift my spirit and begin to jumpstart my thinking about 3rd trimester research writing differently.  The first light bulb was in the way he presented-he modeled for teachers the importance of using mentor text in our classrooms.  He used student letters, work samples, picture books, pictures, research and several personal connections. I sat there and realized those components are the foundation for any strong lesson in a classroom.

Next he discussed how “Good Non Fiction writing draws from all different genres.” As I begin to focus on my students’ research projects. My definition of projects shifted to include choices.  He shared a mentor article written in question/answer format that was a mixture of fiction/nonfiction. Next he suggested having students write NF poetry.  I leapfrogged that idea to have students publish a poetry book about their research topic. Finally through conversations with Mary Lee and Sarah, we discussed the idea of Pair It books:  fiction/non fiction. I am excited about my new toolbox for research choices.

For the afternoon, Louise Borden spoke about her Journey Back to Dublin through pictures.  I listened and soaked in all of her visual presentation but one thread was woven throughout her talk.  The idea that research is a journey for a story, which connected my thoughts from the morning.  As this point, I was bursting with ideas as she shared how she worked for several years on one of her new books: His Name was Raoul Wallenburg.  She traveled to different countries, found several primary sources, interviewed and researched until she finally had her story to share with us.  I loved the connections she made as an author that now I can share with my students.  Ralph Fletcher reminded us that “students are authors in their world” that is the message that I plan on weaving throughout my 3rd trimester research.


  1. First...I am still so bummed that I missed the conference!

    Second...my son's fifth grade teacher uses something caused "pre-search" into her inquiry projects. Since students choose their own topics and questions to answer (paragraphs)...she has them do pre-search...learn a little bit about three topics you are interested in/see if resources are available and make sure that it is a topic that helps you and inspires you to "dig deeper". Then, commit to your topic. My son had Al Capone, Sports Medicine, and Starbucks...he ended up choosing Sports Medicine because he came across "most common sports injuries being treated" and that Michelle Obama is considered the most influential person in sports medicine right now. You are right...research involves choice and the journey can begin with pre-search because journeys do change :)

    Thanks for reminding us that it is the student's journey and that choice will motivate the students.

  2. What a wonderful opportunity for you to learn and grow as an educator! Thanks for sharing what you've learned.

  3. Great recap! I loved presenting with you -- it was a highlight!

  4. Some day I am going to learn how to thread comments but for right now I am sending a HUGE thanks to all 3 of you for being amazing supporters and leaving great comments that make my day!!