I put the picture of a dragon on the board and open by asking students, "Are dragons real?" Students signal and I call on them to respond. If yes, I ask them "Have you ever seen one?". If they respond no, I ask, "I read about them in books - where do you think the idea for a dragon came from?"
After a short debate I tell them that dragons are real. (I love the reaction to that statement!)
I want them to realize the power of questioning readers, so I draw them in with my questions before showing them the reveal.
I ask, "Have you ever swam in the ocean?, Have you ever seen a dragon swim by? If you saw one what would you do?" Let the excitement and debate continue a little, then show them the picture and introduce them to the blue dragon, a form of sea slug that lives in the ocean but is too small for most to notice.
I get them back to the objective by asking, "How did my questions influence you?" Good writers use questions to make connections with their readers and create interest in their topics before they share the answers and information they know.
I share with them that today they will use peer sharing to create questions that interest their readers.
I project the picture of the Blue Dragon on the hand on the board. I ask students to write down 3-5 questions they are wondering about this little creature. I set the timer for 5 min.
The signal is made and I call on students to share their questions. I write them on the board and categorize them into similar groups. I then create 5 questions about habitat, dangers, diet, life span, location, etc.
I say: Good writers write for their audiences. We, as writers, need to think about who will be reading our reports and what they will want to learn about. If our reports answer the questions that they have they will become interested and connect with what we are sharing.
Students are divided into groups of four-five students and are given a stack of small papers (I use recycled pages cut into fourths). I share that they will each take turns introducing their topics. Their peers will then write a question or two on a slip of paper and pass it to the speakers. The speakers read their questions and ask for clarity if needed. When the signal is given a new student becomes the speaker. I remind students that should not answer the questions posed and that the purpose is to consider questions that readers may have. This should be a quiet group time and if we answered all the questions the conversations could get lengthy. I set a timer for 2 min per rotation.
Students gather their question papers and return to their seats.
I randomly group students by pulling sticks because I want them to get advice from many different peers. In the past I had them form their own groups but had similar friends group together. The problem with this was that in that they socialize often they had similar interests and thus similar connections to topics. This seemed to limit their questioning and also created a shift to "social talking" that I had to redirect. By making the groups varied this year, I found that my students got better questions on their topics and stayed on task better than previously.
I now instruct students to read each question and compare it to their graphic organizer questions. They should ask themselves, "Did I include the same questions in my report that my audience asked?"
I give them 5 min time to change their questions to match the ones that their peers asked.
Students are signaled back to attention and I tell them: Good writers answer questions one at a time in each of their paragraphs of their reports.
Students can start their paragraphs with the original question and then answer it as they write, or they can change it to a statement and explain it in the next sentences. I project sample paragraphs of each on the board and read the first parts aloud as they follow along (examples can be given to students as a reference tool)
I have students open their computers and tell them there are two ways for them to search for answers to their questions. First to type their entire first question into their search box. Second is to type each word with a + sign between to search for documents that only contain the specific information they are looking for. We do this together to ensure understanding by all.
Students begin searching and typing/writing information for their first question. If completed early they can continue to their next questions/ next paragraphs. I'm not so concerned at this point about their format and editing because I'm looking more for ability to perform the steps - in later lessons they will have the opportunity to edit and revise their writing. Students will continue working until signaled to stop.
In this video students share some difficulties they faced with the researching
I close by asking students, "How did questioning help you as a researcher?, How many of you are interested in learning more about a peers topic? Why?" I want students to connect questioning text with building interest. The peer sharing builds curiosity and interest because of the value students place on these friendships. If a friend cares - then I care mentality.
I close with: Sharing information helps to get our readers interested in learning more about our topic. Writing is like a conversation where you are speaking with your friends about something that is really interesting to you hoping that they will want to learn more about it, too.
Students will need a couple more days of research and writing to complete all the research paragraphs but the format of each lesson is the same.
I have students save their data on flash drives/ jump drives and also in their writing folders. The flash drives help it limits the amounts of printing we need to do, and gives them the ability to take their work home to complete past-due sections and edit and revise it with their parents.
Early finishers can self and peer edit their research.
I'm not sure and hoping you don't have the internet connection problems we have at your school...but if you do, then I would highly recommend having each child bring a flash drive from home to save their work on daily. There are two benefits to this - first of all students learn a skill that they will use later in life and they ensure that they do not lose their typing. Second, they are able to take these home (I have them check them out) to upload into their parents computers to get assistance with their writing/ typing at home. Saves me so much time when editing is done with parents!