Culminate Research with a Timeline

Posted on November 07, 2016

Culminate Research with a Timeline

A key facet to research involves answering questions based on expert sources. Look for opportunities to practice such fact-finding skills without it always culminating in a long research product. Rather, integrate smaller chunks of the research process that in turn create smaller research products, too.

A smaller research experience might include simply generating a single all-class question to be answered from source reading. The sources could all come from a basket of books pulled off the Classroom Library shelf or a set of teacher-selected hyperlinks or open access to the internet. Regardless of how controlled the sources are, the question drives the students' reading purpose. And if you add a short deadline to the fact-finding mission, now students must evaluate the best sources and use text features to be efficient researchers.

That's what third graders did in Christy Neuenschwander's classroom at Salamonie School (Warren, IN). Christy provided a variety of print texts on transportation--a unit they'd been studying in social studies. She then asked them to research information about the history or evolution of transportation.

Students read independently and jotted facts on sticky notes. (NOTE: This was a focused task for students when they were in Classroom Library while she met with guided reading groups.) At the end of the reading block, the whole class shared out their discovered facts.

Beyond simply calling out information learned, Christy layered another standard to this research experience. She drew a timeline on the board. As students each shared new information, they adhered their sticky facts onto the large timeline. (This also reviewed math sequencing, as often it became necessary for students to move sticky notes to make room for others to keep the dates in progressive order.)

In this short activity, students identified a question, found relevant answers, jotted facts from sources, organized the information--and yet no one wrote a sentence. This is research! This counts!

With this new understanding of research, it's easier to weave such experiences into the classroom more frequently. This inherently builds students' skills making the occasional longer research-writing product less challenging.