Researching a Topic: Teaching Students to Research Information

3 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT conduct a short research project about a topic.

Big Idea

How do I find information about a topic?


15 minutes

In the two previous lessons in this unit Choosing a Topic and Drawing on What You Know, students have decided on a topic to research and write about. In today’s lesson, we will begin to gather information about our topic so that we can actually write about it. I eventually want the students to create a flip book about their topic. So our focus in this lesson was to determine what we would like to tell our reader. I go back to my notes from my topic. In the previous lesson, I chose a topic that I am using to model the writing process for students. It is a good idea to use a topic from science or social studies that students have already been exposed to. I took a topic I had not already taught and I listed as much information as I could about the topic while my students watched. I didn't want to use a topic the students may be using because I wanted them to come up with their own ideas and not be tempted to use the ideas I list during modeling. Afterwards students did the same on a topic they have already chosen. To begin today’s lesson we take a look at my notes from my topic. I have transferred my notes onto chart paper so students can see them clearly. I read them aloud for students and I ask them to think about what I’ve shared with them. I then ask students to think of any questions they may have about the topic that I may not have answered with my notes. I ask students to jot their questions down on a sticky note and then share them with me. As students share, I ask them to place the sticky notes on my chart paper. After hearing from a few students, I let students know that these are questions that my readers might have so as I am doing my research, I will try to answer some of the questions they have asked. Now students will begin to analyze their notes for their topics. 


15 minutes

Now that we’ve taken some time to develop questions for my research, students will develop questions for their research. I give students a set of sticky notes and ask them to take a look at their notes from their topics. I have students glue their topic conversation cards from the lesson Choosing A Topic, in their writer’s notebook. Next, I tell students to think about anything else they may have questions about in their notes and if so to write these questions in the margins of the notebook page where their topic notes are. 

Research Session

15 minutes

Now that students are armed with questions to guide their search, we move into looking for answers to our questions and determining what information to include in their writing. To keep the focus on the actual gathering of information or reading for information, we use our science and social studies textbooks to gather our information. Once again I model for students how to read to answer our questions. Students have already been doing this in reading so now they have an opportunity to see the connection between reading and writing. With sticky notes, I begin to read in the section of our textbook that gives information on my topic. I am able to pull our textbook up online and show students on the smart board how to identify information that helps me answer my questions. As I read, I use sticky notes to identify the answers to my questions. I have written my questions on the sticky notes and I draw arrows on the sticky notes to the statements and phrases that will help me answer my questions. I’m sure not to write anything. I will show students what to do with the information in the next lesson. I make sure students understand that they aren’t writing any answers today, just locating them. Now, I have students do the same thing with their questions.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To end the lesson, I call on students to share where they found some of the answers to their questions. Next, I ask students what they think we are going to do with the information we’ve found today. Most students said we would use the information to write about our topic. I end the lesson with that and ask students to leave their sticky notes in their textbooks for tomorrow’s lesson.