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.
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!
Some people, even a few librarians, think that simple fact-finding questions lack depth and complexity. Well, sure they do, but there are still many benefits to finding the answer to, “Who was president in 1882?”, “How many legs does a spider have?”, and “What is the capital of Zimbabwe?” Those simple research questions require students to read for comprehension, identify the keyword, locate pertinent articles by using that keyword, scan for the keyword in the text, and seek out answers. Not bad for just a simple question, huh?
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.
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 a 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.