Reflection: Complex Tasks Introduction to the Research Process - Section 2: Introducing the Objective and Brainstorming Time


After teaching the lesson, I realized I needed to do a bit more modeling to show students how to form "just right" questions for their research.  Some of my students wanted to research areas that were much too narrow and wouldn't be able to elicit 8 details about the topic.  For example, one group of my students asked the question, "Do elephants eat peanuts?"  While this shows that they are cluing in well to the work we've done asking/answering questions about a text (RI.1.1), I had to explain that we should make that a broader area to research and we turned that into "What Do Elephants Eat?"  I wanted to guide them to seeing how much more interesting this question is than a simple yes/no question.

Modeling how to broaden topics so they can be able to find many details in their research is a real world application that students will need to be explicitly shown.  It's my job as a teacher to explain that if they narrow a topic too far, then they won't be able to find many interesting details.  I am glad some of my students went too narrow with the questions that they wanted to research.  This was a teachable moment for my students, and I was glad I was able to model this for them.  You may want to nip this in the bud and tell your students to avoid research questions that can be answered with yes/no in your model from the start.

In fact, I think that in order to strengthen this lesson for next time I may add a lesson before the Day 1 lesson that teaches my students to ask good research questions first.  I found this great resource online from  that helps students to research and ask good questions before researching. If my students have a better understanding of how to ask good questions before they research, than today's lesson will be even better.

  More Modeling for Asking the Right Questions
  Complex Tasks: More Modeling for Asking the Right Questions
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Introduction to the Research Process

Unit 20: Expository Writing About Elephants
Lesson 1 of 7

Objective: SWBAT read a variety of informational texts on elephants and collect information for their expository piece on elephants.

Big Idea: Students are never too young to start participating in the research process.

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