Inquiring Minds: Generating Research Questions and Leading in the Discovery

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SWBAT conduct short-focused research in order to answer a self-generated question about the Civil Rights Movement using a research form

Big Idea

Inquiring minds want answers in this lesson but they don't get them from me--they discover them in the research

Do Now

10 minutes

Now that we have read a few texts that relate to the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King's "I have a Dream speech," Malcolm X's "The Black Revolution" speech, and Langston Hughes' poem, "Theme for English B," and we have viewed photos of events during the Civil Rights Movement, it is time for students to engage in the process of discovery. When students ask me questions, I have the habit of turning the question back around on them. I do this because I want them to become self-sufficient seekers of knowledge--I know it sounds like a character from a science fiction novel. For today's assignment, students will generate their own questions about the movement and use internet sources to find the answers to those questions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7).

For the "Do Now" today, I'll be asking my students to brainstorm a list of  questions that have come up during our our discussions and reading over the last few lessons. We are using the short focused research form to capture our learning during the research. The form was created by a colleague, Jessica Shuey, and all of the 9th grade teachers in my school are using it.

I have chosen to give my students this form for this activity because I think they still struggle with organizing their ideas in a way that others will be able to logically understand them. I also want my students ideas to be so organized that they will be able to intelligently share them if called upon to do so. 

As a model, I have created a Google document on which I have brainstormed some of my own questions about the movement and I will use this document to model how they should go about their short focused research.

Building Knowledge: Modeling the short focused research process

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I will model how I engage in inquiry using my question. I have given students a list of databases with passwords that have been provided by my school system, so they will be able to search for their information through a wide range of sources.

The question I have selected for my inquiry is "What was the stance of Mexican Americans during the Civil Rights Movement?" I chose this question because most of the literature that we have read has made the race issue primarily an issue of Black v. White, and I wonder how other races were treated in American and whether they were fighting for equality as well during this time. In this video, I explain how students will use the form to document their learning.

I will model how I listed ideas for further study and how I am documenting the information that I find in the articles (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8). My students will be expected to read at least three sources and summarize their new learning from each of the articles (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2) on the form.

Application: Short Focused Research

60 minutes

During the application part of the lesson, I will take my students to computer lab and have them engage in short research focused on their self-generated question (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7).  While my students are researching, I will be providing support by helping with search topics and ensuring that the new learning they record on the form is substantive. In other words, I want to make sure they aren't taking the lazy way out and simply writing down ideas that were already discussed during class. The learning must truly be new in order to earn a spot on the form.

Closure: Sharing Out Findings

15 minutes

During the closure part of the lesson, I will have students share out a few of their findings (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1.a). I don't think they will finish their searches, so it will likely become homework, but we can do a preliminary share out just to make sure that folks are headed in the right direction. I will also remind my students that after they have read at least three articles, they must complete a summary of their findings on the back at the bottom of the short focused research form. The summary must be at least five sentences and must reflect a synthesis of all of their learning from the three articles (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9).

I am having my students summarize because the whole point of this assignment was to research a question by using three sources that help them answer a single question. The summary is an opportunity to see how/whether they found an answer to their question (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8) and to see how well they can synthesize information from more than one source.

To check out completed student work from this research assignment, check out my next lesson when students read, question, and answer.