This lesson begins right before Halloween when spiders and spooky things are in the air. The students enter the room to find plastic spider rings and webs on their desks. I give them a minute or two to play with their newfound toys and then I tell them that today we are going to the computer lab.
After the excitement dies down, I explain to the students that they are going to research types of spiders today in order to get information to write a compare and contrast paragraph about the two spiders. Because my students don't have a great deal of experience with types of spiders, I have a list handy of spiders that they can look up.
I also have a graphic organizer to give them a starting and finishing point for their research. Without this organizer, my students would search forever for information and because I don't want their research to take forever, I need to focus their efforts.
As students finish their research, I give them the graphic organizer to plan their paragraph. Students will be finishing at different times, but I don't want them to write the paragraph until we're all ready, so as I notice most of the students finishing research and working on the graphic organizer, I begin to wrap up the time in the computer lab. Those students who require more time for their research can use the computers in the classroom or finish their research at home.
I collect the graphic organizers until tomorrow and send the students out with their spider rings and webs and the excitement of all the "gross", "scary", "cool", "interesting" and "spooky" facts they've learned today.