This is my fist EVER research project with my kindergarteners. I understand the importance of working on a project, I just didn't really know where to begin. I decided to gather my students together and decide what animals we wanted to learn about and let them choose their research team. I limited the teams to only four students. I felt I could handle four students easily. In the end, I could have done six to a team. My lofty goal was to do the paper work and a team poster for them to work on and present to the class. I ran out of time. I will be using a packet that has a page for collecting data and a page for writing their paper. I can see that a lot of what we already do in class leads up to writing a research paper. In upper grades, even next year in first grade they will have to write research papers on their own. I have exposed them to the process and they had fun doing it, so I don't think they will approach the assignment with any fear in the future. Today we will discuss the sea creatures we know about and choose research teams.
"We have been learning about many creatures that live in the ocean. We have read many books about the ocean. Let's talk about the creatures that we would like to know more about. I have some of my ocean books on the book shelves that we have already read. Think about the creatures we have read about and we will do a bubble map and put all the creatures on it. We will just go up and down the rows and I will ask you to tell me what your favorite ocean creature is. "
I draw a bubble map and quickly go up and down the rows gathering the names of all their favorite ocean creatures.
"This is great. Can anyone think of a creature we forgot? Ok. This is what we are going to do now. We will vote on which creature we like. I will say the name of a creature and you will raise your hand if you like it. I will count the votes and the top creatures will be the ones we write about."
I go through all the names of the creatures and write the number of votes they each get. I then erase the names that are not chosen. I write the names of the top eight creatures and go up and down the rows asking each student which creature they wanted to write about. When all the teams had been chosen I told them of the research project plan.
"We are going to do research projects. That means we are going to learn about the ocean creatures and then in our teams we will write the sentences about our creature and draw the pictures of it. This will take a lot of time but it will be fun."
For research I checked books out of the library and showed videos about each animal. I showed the video as a whole class activity so we all could learn. The student generated sentences came from the team members. During the last week of school this was our reading and writing small group activity. Using a preprinted research packet they met with me to fill out their research page and then writing their sentences. This project took most of the day to do. I used my reading and my writing blocks to get to all my students twice. During the reading block I rotated them through reading centers. When they came to my table they answered all the research questions using the information gathered from their team notes. In the afternoon during writing I had them rotate through centers again coming to me. This time they wrote their sentences on their writing paper. They went back to their tables to draw their pictures.
At the end of the day we gathered together on the carpet to listen to everyones research paper. I did want to have each team make a poster where they put pictures of their ocean creatures on it and cut one sentence from their paper to glue on the poster. We spent so much time on it as it was that we were all happy when it was over. I had each team stand up and go to the front of the class. They took turns reading their writing and showing their pictures. They were so proud. I am very proud of them. This was labor intensive and they stuck to it. Each team came up to do their oral presentation. Each student had the opportunity to read their writing. We cheered loudly and applauded all their efforts. I wish I had done more research projects. I love this activity.