Researching a History of Aggression: Answering Inquiry Questions about Afghanistan (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT integrate information from database sources by creating information slides that respond to the QFT questions and by presenting these slides to classmates.

Big Idea

Understanding Afghanistan through research is like digging through layers of sediment as my students uncover meaning upon meaning.


Engagement in Research. Engagement is one of those perennial challenges in education, since as teachers we all want to engage our students, but it is the perennial question of how to do so successfully.  We want to raise the standard for rigor (our agenda) but as adolescents, they are often engaged by what interests them (their agenda).  Further, sustaining interest for the long haul, for sustained reading experiences, is particularly challenging. 
PBL Frame. As a result, I have chosen to adopt a frame for the unit implementing PBL, problem-based learning.  In this frame, our class will generate rich questions and go about researching across more than one text (RI.9-10.7 and W.9-10.8) to find answers together.  Since we will examine maps, data charts, memoirs, research articles, and personal letters, students will have the chance to triangulate their knowledge across sources and come to a better understanding of the history and culture that we are studying.  And the fascinating thing about Afghanistan is that the history is complex and the conflicts go deeper and deeper the more one learns.  Yesterday's lesson centered on forming the questions, and now we have two days to begin to do some background reading.  
- Formulate authentic questions that come from student interest.
- Research and begin to hone the questions.
- Bring an expert on board! 
- Create a response to the knowledge gained. 
Certainly, the students will need to be able to read individual texts successfully, but corroborating those sources and finding important connections is even more important (RI.9-10.7) for our unfolding unit of study.

Library Research Kick-Off

10 minutes

Library Research.  

In order to create the library research project, I collaborated with the  school's librarian to create research pathways, amass databases and to create a viable orientation toward Information Literacy to help the students.

When you look at the AfghanistanQuestions assignment you will see that the class' ten research questions have been documented.  At the beginning of the library session, I will have each student draw a number to determine his or her partner and the topic of inquiry.  The students will have to focus the research question and define search terms, and the librarian and I will circulate to help them do this.  The important thing is that the students will need to do some background reading and begin to engage in the topic for themselves and to connect what they learn across sources (RI.9-10.7). 

In the end, I am looking for a strong reportage of the research, as well, in which the students metabolize the information that they learn and explain it in their own original words on the slides (W.9-10.7).  I also have set the expectation for proper citations: this is is a research project, after all--albeit a short one.


Research Questions Generated by the Students. 

  1. Why is this about aggression and not peace? (Who, What, When, Where, Why)
  2. How/Why did it start?
  3. What part of Afghanistan started the aggression?
  4. How did it start?
  5. What type of aggression existed?
  6.  What were the effects: economic and political?
  7. Who is the story about?
  8. What were the positives?
  9. When did the aggression start?
  10. DId the aggression affect all of Afghanistan?


Wrap up.

5 minutes

At the close of class, we will process together how the research is going by engaging in a discussion of process.  

I will ask:

1.) What search terms were useful to you?

2.) How did you refine or change your research question?

3.) How much time/effort will it take to do this research and to finalize the research slides?

4.) Who has found out some interesting, truly interesting, information about the region or aggression that existed at various times?