Monday, May 8, 2017

Research Paper Time

May 2017: Research Paper Time

I know what you're thinking. Groan... Research papers. As much as I love teaching writing, I hate the grading of the writing at the end. Even with the help of Google Classroom, Google Docs, Doctopus, and Goobric, I still have to carve out a chunk of time to do lots of reading. But, if I pause for a moment, and think of the process I am taking my students through and the reflections that come after 4 months of research, speakers, actions, and everything else we've done, it is worth it.

I love that my students are taking action, learning a lot about classrooms, and are fueling their learning forward. We did over two months of research, and I wanted them to be able to take their research, put it into writing, and share out their reflections of what they had learned. Embarking on the journey of writing a 6 paragraph research paper with fourth graders can be a daunting task. Using our discussion of creating graphic organizers and using evidence as a spring board, we created a structure for our paper:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction and our central idea
  • Paragraph 2: How kids learn best
  • Paragraph 3: Types of learning technology
  • Paragraph 4: Organization of Space
  • Paragraph 5: Bring it all together and reflect
  • Paragraph 6: Conclusion and final thoughts
From there, the students utilized their notes from our research from books, videos, and online sources to complete their graphic organizer they built in Google Docs to cite evidence from sources and how the lines of inquiry connected with the ultimate classroom. As we neared paragraph 5, many questions were flying about what to put in paragraph 5. So, we gathered as a class and begin to write things we had learned and what we really hoped for after our journey. 

This week and next, we undertake the largest task...editing. As we break down the editing process, my goal is to have each student do as much of the editing on their own or with peers first. I could swoop in and start editing with students, and while I intend to go over things with each student, I have found our process seems to have the most meaning if they are guided through the process step by step. Over these next two weeks, we will be printing, correcting, printing again, reading with peers, reading with adults, and even learning how to cite our sources. (Why not? They are going to have to cite their sources properly at some point in their education.) All in all, even though a daunting task, I couldn't be more impressed with some of their reflections. I wanted to share a few below:
  • Get kids involved. Some teachers just show the kids what to do. The teachers can use the kids to demonstrate. 
  • For every different kids that comes in, they might need a different thing than the kids before them.
  • There is no perfect classroom. 
  • You can learn new things when you make mistakes. 
  • Teachers should be open-minded to all learners. 
  • Two heads are better than one. 
  • Kids should be able to change the seating arrangements and choose the resources that help them learn.
  • There is not a front of the classroom.
  • Kids should be able to get involved in organizing the classroom.
  • Students should be allowed to experiment with different types of furniture to see what they like to learn in best