Continuing the Research Process on Elephants

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SWBAT identify key details in informational videos and websites and use a tree map to record and organize those details.

Big Idea

In today's digital age, students can find information for their expository writing from many different sources. Today we gain information through various media sources.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

We are living in the age of technology, and our students are technology natives.   Some of my students have more technology in their back pockets than I have in our classroom!  It's exciting (scary?) to think about what the world of technology will look like by the time our students get to be seniors in high school and ready to go off to college!

The point of today's lesson is to show students that we can find information in a variety of ways - not just from books. If they can begin to understand this now they will begin to have well balanced expository pieces not only for this assignment, but also for years to come. We continue to addresses standards W1.7 and W.1.8 today as we extend our shared research and writing project into new areas today.

More specifically, we will be learning about elephants through both websites and videos. We are also using our recalled experiences with elephants from previous reading and trips to the zoo or circus, so that helps get at W.1.8 as well. 

The students will need their tree maps from yesterday, a pencil, and something hard to write on like a clipboard or their basal reader.  You will need to download my list of resources on elephants (it includes both video and websites): Elephant Research Videos and Websites.docx.  You can just follow the hyperlink on the sheet if you want or you can peruse the list of videos and websites and decide which ones you'd like to use.  I wouldn't expect for you to use all the links, though.  I have previewed most of these links and they are appropriate for first graders so you don't need to worry. The one exception is the 50 minute video - you may want to preview that in its entirety before showing this to your students and pick out the specific clips you think are best. You will also want to use either the Smartboard Elephant Writing.notebook or Activboard Elephant Writing.flipchart lesson.

Explaining My Expectations and Group Work

20 minutes

I brought my students to the carpet, and we sat in front of our Smartboard. I had the students sit on the floor in their student groups from yesterday.  I said, "Today we are going to learn about and find information about elephants in a different way.  Remember, we are learning how to research.  Yesterday we learned that when you write a piece of expository writing, you don't want to gather all your information from just one source.  Well, you also might not want to research from one single type of source.  Besides books, you also want to find information from sources such as websites and videos.  That's what we are going to be doing today."

I explained to the students that we would take time to stop and talk about the information we read from websites or from seeing on the videos.  If they learned about something that they could use on their tree map, then they could write down the information in their own words.

This part of the lesson was very guided as it was our first time taking notes while watching a video.  After watching a video segment, I would stop the video and say, "This is important.  Who is researching a question that relates to this detail?  This is something we should record."  For example, some of my students researched what elephants ate.  We watched a video about zoo elephants.  After we watched the portion of the video where it explained what zoo elephants ate I stopped the video and said, "Who is researching what elephants eat?  You should record this."  Eventually, I started to ask students to put their hands on their heads when they heard a detail that related to their topic.  Many of students got the gist and began to notice key details that were relevant to them by the end of the video.

I also modeled how to take notes using "cave man talk."  Students don't need to write whole sentences when note taking.  When we recorded what zoo elephants ate we wrote, "zoo elephants: lettuce, bananas, apples, melons, carrots."  Students need to see that note taking is important, but they just need to write down the gist.  When they look at their notes later, they will be able to turn those fragments into full fledged sentences.

Group Work Part Two

20 minutes

We took a brain break during the middle of the research process.  I have found that it's important for young students to get up and move and take a break in the middle of a long task such as this.

Then we continued on with our videos and websites.   I took the time to stop and elaborate on things mentioned on websites and made sure they understood concepts from the videos.  I also gave students time to turn to their groups mates and talk about what  new information they could add to their tree maps.  I wanted to make sure they worked in their groups because if one student missed some piece of information that might be important, another student might remember and tell ask their group member if they wanted to put that on their map. I would have students stop and talk to each other after we had written about 5 facts on their tree maps.  Then I would have groups compare their notes with each other.  You can see my students researching in the video here: Researching By Watching Videos - Elephants.mp4.

I know when my students get to be in middle and high school that they will be able to complete research independently.  For now, we are researching as a group. I feel if I can expose them to the process of how to research by reading  credible websites and watching videos then they can build on our group work in years to come.  This lesson was very guided.  Researching looks very different in first grade than it does in older grades, and that's O.K.  As teachers, we are putting them on the path in which they can move along in future years.


3 minutes

If you've read any of my other lesson plans, you know that I like my closures short and sweet.  I said, "We've learned and added new information to our tree maps and you will have many details about elephants to put in your piece of expository writing.  Turn to your group members and tell your group 1 new piece of information about elephants that you learned today that you didn't know yesterday." The students were all on task and we had a nice short closure that summed up our lesson for the day.