One of the first lessons I teach to my students is that their differences make them a special member of our team (our second grade class). To prove this point, I focus on researching a location daily that represents where my students originated from. This year, a student shared that he is from Colombia. One day, I pulled down the world map from its roller, this student excitedly gasped, "There is Colombia, where I'm from !" The excitement in his face and the eagerness for more conversations on this topic, inspired me to model research lessons that reflect student interests. Common Core has real world applications that require students to make linkages to prior experiences or knowledge.
This lesson, which is a part of a series of lessons that I teach at the beginning of the year to get to know my students, will focus on Colombia, since my students share that heritage. Other lessons are available within this unit that show more cultures that we explore.
I begin with a KWL chart that assesses students' prior knowledge or experiences with Colombia. A lot of the "What I Know information" came from the student who is from Colombia. Then, I ask students to complete the "What I want to know" part of the chart by asking questions about Colombia. Afterwards, I ask students to find answers to these questions as I show a Promethean Flip Chart I created about Colombia. The flip chart includes embedded articles, images, music, and movie clips. The main source of my Promethean flip chart is timeforkids.com. Common Core implementation requires integration of technology to keep up with 21st Century learners. Focusing on these questions make students into "Movie Detectives". It gives a purpose of viewing.
I like my students to collaborate by using the jig saw technique. Jig Saw is a cooperative learning strategy in which groups of students are assigned one aspect of a learning unit. They become experts in that assigned area by researching and problem solving together as a team. At the end of the lesson, each team shares their expertise with the class, thus learning from each other about the entire unit by the end of the lesson. The jig saw technique saves time on research because as I explain to my students, "We are all one piece of a puzzle". We only have to worry about our piece, yet when we are all done, we assemble all our pieces to get the complete picture. I relate this experience to the fable "Stone Soup" where each person contributed one ingredient, yet at the end, they got to share a delicious soup with all the ingredients blended together. You get so much more in return than you give when you work as a team.
I introduce the rules, norms, and roles of members for cooperative learning (see resource). Once we complete our discussion and answer questions regarding this procedure, I give each group a section of an article regarding the Colombia research:
I facilitate discussions by walking around to assist as needed, while observing and redirecting cooperative behavior.
After students share out their information about their respective research sections, we put it all together to create a research paper. I model the sections by typing it on my computer using a word processing document. I also create a page entitled "Sources". We discussed the importance of documenting sources where you get your information. I use a template for this section to demonstrate the different information required for books, articles, web pages, etc. (See resource).
Seeing the final product of the research paper that I edit, and students created, enables students to see this process from beginning to end. It is so important to model the research process first and gradually release to sutdents.
Students adapt to each other's learning style very well. As shown on the video, sudents learned to share information and even finished each other's sentences during their oral presentation. The interest level of this activity motivated students to work together cooperatively and focus on the finished product. Also, the guided questions assisted students in staying on topic and focused.