Tag Archives: research

Biomes for Everybody

Our fifth grade has been working on biomes, interdependence between plants and animals, and food webs. Some of the classes came and did research on it in the library but each focused on it in different ways. One class researched the biomes, but wanted more focus on the interdependence portion and then used Discover Ed to create boards about their biome. Another class researched the same things but then focused more on going in depth on particular animals in the biome to trace out food webs for the biome. We will be creating a Google Slides presentation showing the information and creating a food  web with images or using shapes. Here are a few pictures of some of the boards they created in Discovery Ed. There are more to them than what you can see if you scrolled down the pages, but I couldn’t fit it all in to take a picture. (We talked about making the backgrounds reflect their biome and they did a great job while still being creative, I think!)

Infographics Rock!

Our district held a conference this summer and one of the sessions I attended was about infographics. We learned about several different sites but the first one that I was able to confirm was ok to use with elementary students and figure out how to use was easel.ly. We have just used the free portion, but are looking into purchasing the pro version (if I get the grant I wrote)! The first class I used it with was 4th grade AIG working on various natural disasters. I was amazed at how fast they picked it up and how different each one turned out. We did have a few glitches and some trouble with logging in one day, but other than that it was great. The kids loved it and have been asking about using it again. I hung up printouts of the finished product and have had teachers already asking me about doing something with it with their classes and have a 5th grade already signed up to use it in conjunction with Native American research. Here are some of them working on it. (We used Britannica’s Image Quest for the photos and it was such a good resource as well.)

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Snip Snap

In starting off the year with 1st graders, I wanted to combine some fiction/nonfiction discussions with some research. Our school mascot is the crocodile, but I had more alligator fiction books that I wanted to use, so we did alligators because it was pretty close. (We did talk about how alligators and crocodiles are different animals though!)

The first week, we read Snip Snap What’s That and A Girl and Her Gator. After talking about the different points of view between the two books, the students chose if they would want an alligator or not and why. Then, they wrote why and drew a picture to support their answer.


The books we read.


I would like an alligator. Because I would watch tv with her.


I would not like an alligator. Alligators look weird.


I would like an alligator because it will help me read a book. And I get to name him Joanna.


I would like an alligator. Because he would be my friend.

The following week, we reviewed the Super 3 and read about real alligators. I modeled and then they wrote three things they learned about alligators with pictures to support their statements. We have been talking a lot about how the pictures need to show what the words say, so if you are talking about their teeth, your picture needs to show their teeth.


Alligators have sharp teeth. Alligators can swim. Alligators can walk.


They have sharp teeth. They have scales. They have look like logs.


Alligators sharp teeth. Alligators eat fish and turtles. Alligators have long tails.

Bees Super 3

I wanted to go ahead and do a little bee research with my Kinders in preperation for pumpkin research in a few weeks so I can tie the two together. This year I decided to try something a little different with the “do” step of the Super 3, and had the students draw and label a bee after we read a nonfiction book about bees. We talked about how you can gather information from pictures as well as the text, then we drew and labeled the bee together as we talked about the different parts. As usual, here are some of their bees!


This is the one I did with them to model.

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Sea Turtles Life Cycle

I am finally adding some of the projects we have been working on to the blog. Second graders spent a few weeks working on sea turtle life cycles. We started off with a graphic organizer and gathered info about the parts of the life cycle from One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies. We talked about the eggs, hatchlings, juveniles, adults, and then laying eggs. Once students had the information, we needed a way to put it together and I wanted to do something a little craftier than I have tried in the library in the past.

I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought it would work out well. I made a few tweaks but mostly it was pretty similar. I made patterns for each table from manilla folders for the kids to trace and cut out the shapes. They colored the shells and wrote about each stage inside the shells and then glued them to a paper circle.

Showing what parts they need

Showing what parts they need

Tracing the patterns

Tracing the patterns

Writing the information in the shells

Writing the information in the shells



They really enjoyed it but it was definitely a different type of classroom management to think about. I started with one pattern of each shape for each table thinking they would be able to share them but it worked much better to have at least a pattern for the shells for each student. I had them trace everything and color the shells before they cut them out. Then they wrote their information and glued them together. It took an extra class or two than I thought it would for most of the classes, but they really liked it so I think I will do it again, but maybe try to find more ways to streamline it.

Interest Research and Text Structures

A 4th grade teacher came to me recently and wanted a project in which her students would use information text and also various text structures in writing – sequencing, description, cause and effect, problem and solution, and comparison. We talked a bit and with some extra ideas from our curriculum coordinator, came up with this.

Students each chose a topic of interest. I pulled a lot of books to get them started on choosing a topic, but a couple ended up asking for something else and we just pulled that at the time. I gathered topics like pyramids, Titanic, sports, Nascar, some biographies, animals, dinosaurs, SWAT, Navy Seals, anything I thought they might really like. The students chose a topic and did print research on Day 1. On Day 2, we added in using Webpath Express on Destiny and also online encyclopedias to gather online information. We gave them about 3 days I think to gather information. (It all got split up several times due to snow days, but we needed about 5-6 days in total.) The last 2-3 days were spent finding copyright friendly images, citations, and typing the paragraphs and captions for the pictures. The students also added bold words to the paragraphs and a short glossary with the project.

Once they had their information, we asked them to choose three of the five text structures that best fit their topic and complete a graphic organizer for each, then write a paragraph for each structure. Once they typed the paragraphs, they created a brochure type foldable and glued in the graphic organizers, and then stapled the typed paragraphs on top of the graphic organizer so you can lift the paragraph to see it. Add the pictures and captions and you have a nice informative project on something they wanted to know more about.

We found that giving them the choice of text structures really stretched them because they didn’t always know what information to use to meet the requirements, so they had to brainstorm a little more. Dor example, for comparisons, sometimes they ended up researching something else to compare. The student that did SWAT also researched regular police officers to compare the two. The students that did Duke Ellington had to think about how to present that information in these formats. They learned a lot and were excited about the project since they chose their topics. Here are a couple of the finished projects.

Rough drafts

Rough drafts

Rough drafts

Rough drafts





Using Creative Commons to find images.

Using Creative Commons to find images.

Fossils in progress.

Fossils in progress.




Duke Ellington in progress


Miniature Schnauzers project


Paragraphs with graphic organizers underneath



Fossils final project


Picture with caption and citation


Graphic organizer under the paragraph




They had to include bold words that they also added to a glossary in their project.



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Edited to add: After we finished these, the students added printed photos to the covers so they showed up better. Here is an additional example.

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IMG_0469 I like to start doing research early and even in the younger grades, we start doing it. I did this project closer the to beginning of the year, but never blogged about it for some reason. For first grade, we read and talked about this crocodile book as a whole class. (Crocs are our school mascot.) Then, they completed the 3-2-1 sheet below in pairs. Well, we did the 3 part together, then they did the 2 and 1 sections. The following week, the same pairs did the same thing with various animal books that they read and then talked about with their partners. They love animals, so just gather some lower level animal books and get started!

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The photo below is from a similar project with 2nd graders, but I made it a 4-3-2-1 by adding in text feature discussions.