1) Your librarian should be your best resource. But, research is NOT just for the library.
Research is just a word used to describe the process of discovering new information, seeking answers, and studying a topic deeper. As an educator, you are ALREADY guiding your students to research. Every. Single. Day. Each time that a student learns a new fact, they have performed a baby step along the research journey. Often, I find that teachers place too much emphasis on the concept of research. They make it heavy. They turn it into a burden; when, truly, research is happening a dozen times a day. Let your students know that each time you say the words, “Let’s look it up.” you are completing research. It’s just that easy!
2) You can easily teach inquiry-based research skills in short bursts of time. Research projects do not need to be long, drawn out, or take days upon days to complete. For example, during a lesson, one of your kids asks an interesting question that you don’t quite know the answer to. Don’t say, “Let me get back to you on that.” Instead say, “Well, let’s take a second to research that.” Don’t just look up the answer and share it. Talk out loud. Explain the steps that you are taking. What resource are you using? What keyword did you choose? How did you know which page/website link to go to? Model it for them. There, now you have completed a shared research task. Won’t Common Core be happy??
Kids just need to keep track of WHERE their facts come from. This process can easily be simplified in many ways. Take a peek at my FREE resource, It’s Elementary-Bibliography for the Youngest Students. You can learn even more about encouraging kids to record where their research facts are coming from, without burdening them!
4) Successful research inquiries begin with strong keywords! Keywords are needed for utilizing printed table of contents and indexes AND for researching websites and databases. Students need to be able to look at a question and decide what the key words are. I like to explain to kids that a keyword will UNLOCK the answer to their question, just like a key unlocks a door. This is a skill that needs lots and lots of practice.
Each time that you are seeking text-based evidence with your kids, ask your students to identify the keyword. Use the word, “keyword” in your daily discussions. Again. And again. I have found that the youngsters with a strong sense of keywords are the best researchers.
5) Create a final product that is fun and exciting. It is possible. Really! You will be hard-pressed to get your kids excited about a research project if the end result is going to be a five paragraph essay with an introduction, three detail paragraphs, and a conclusion. Just saying!! How about shaking things up a bit?
Utilize task cards. Use apps to create a storyboard or comic strip. Invite students to create an A to Z report. Have students pretend that they are a reporter breaking a news story. Record them. Create a file folder report or a research poster.
How about an interactive report, similar to interactive notebooks? I have created state and country reports that utilize many interactive elements. Students are excited to conduct the research and even more excited to put together the project. One of my students said it best when he said, “I am definitely NOT letting my Mom throw this away.”
Sonya is an elementary school librarian who has a genuine passion for what she does. She loves books, kids, and technology! She is excited about all of the opportunities that threading these three things together brings each and every day. Sonya tends The Library Patch where she can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers, Facebook, Pinterest, and a librarian inspired blog.