Research is a great way to combine goals and objectives across curriculum. In Texas our goals and objectives are called TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). For several years we have combined several Reading and Science TEKS in one animal research project. There are several Reading TEKS we address by this method including informational text features and research gathering. We are also able to teach our Science TEKS on animals at the same time. This is always a favorite unit for our 2nd graders.
We begin by giving the students a chance to choose the animal they would like to research. Then we head to the school library to check out books about the chosen animal. We find as many books as we can on each child’s reading level. The students read their informational text. I make it a point to teach informational text features in Guided Reading groups before we begin our research. This helps the kids know how to navigate the book as they begin searching for specific information.
After the students have had a chance to read their book. I introduce research with the iPads. There are several wonderful sources available for animal research.
National Geographic Kids is a favorite of my students. This site requires login and password information, but it is free. Your school can obtain a site license as well. My kids love this site. They can choose to read books, magazines, or watch video about animals.
Facts4me.com is another favorite source. This is a paid site as well, but is worth every penny for younger students. Research is easy and information is presented in a user friendly manner. Here is a small sample of some of the topics available to research on this site.
Enchanted Learning is another great resource. This one has some free items. The paid version allows more access. It is inexpensive and affordable. This site not only has information for kids, but also for teachers. They have an excellent picture dictionary (Little Explorers) that can be used in a variety of ways.
There are several ways you can make this information available to your students. I like to make Google slides for each site and post them on Google Classroom and in Canvas, my district’s Learning Management site. My schools website has a link to some of these sites on our Library page. My 2nd graders have no difficulty following multiple steps to find these sites. I also post login and password information around the room. Even the least tech savvy of my students can find what they are looking for with a few simple reminders.
After students have completed their research, they choose a format to present what they have learned. We have several options available to students including iPad Pages, iPad iMovie, PicCollage, Poplet, and Shadow Puppets Edu. We also allow the students to make an old-fashioned poster if they so choose. Most of them choose an iPad response. All of my students chose to complete their projects with iPad Pages, and PicCollage. I must say this surprised me. I have several that love iMovie and I expected to see some movies.
I taught them how to use iPad Pages before the Christmas break. They are truly loving this. It has increased the desire to write for many of my friends. They love to add photos and then write about the photos. I have some re-teaching to do as several figured out how to copy and paste information. Some of them didn’t use their own words. We will be reviewing digital citizenship and copyright for the next little while.
When the projects are complete we upload them to Padlet to share with our student’s families. You have a few options for sharing the Padlet. You can download a QR Code or embed the link into a website or blog. I shared the QR Code on my Smore Newsletter. The code to embed is cumbersome so the QR Code is a bit more reliable.
Scan the QR code above to view my student’s completed animal research projects.
Do you have your own tips, tricks, and websites for teaching your students research? Please share in the comments.