This week the grade ¾ class began “digging deep” to find and select resources around their questions: what are the different types of rocks, minerals, and soil in Saskatchewan? The class was divided into three focus groups: rocks, minerals, and soil and each student used a graphic organizer to: write down why a book/website was worth investigating, record jot notes, and to site their sources.
A grade 3 student shares her search process below:
Preparing for Investigating
“The web is the go-to tool for answers, images and interactions. But even as online resources expand exponentially, making us info-seekers drool over the possibilities, the complications, the confusions, and uncertainties of Internet research also seem to be multiplying daily”( Harvey & Daniels, 2009).
To ensure that our students were prepared for this arduous task we modeled and pre-taught:
- How to research a question by identifying key words and synonyms
- How to know if a source is accurate and reliable
- Differences between databases, reference materials, and search engines
- Google Advanced search options such as reading level
- Using pictures to understand
- Reading and scanning online text-features
An “ah ha” Moment
Beyond some of the fundamental search skills that our students learned it was interesting to see how our students went beyond just finding the answer. It was during this phase that they realized inquiry isn’t about finding an “answer” but rather it requires them to think about what they have discovered, make connections to what they already know and to find out more about what they don’t know. As was illustrated in the clip above, the students found what some of the soil was in Saskatchewan but they didn’t know what it meant let alone pronounce it correctly. They were able to identify that they would have to go back to check for understanding and repurpose their search process. Lastly, they realized that they were not collecting facts in isolation. When they discovered the different types of minerals in Saskatchewan, they also found out information around where the minerals were located and some uses as well. The big picture is starting to come together.
Harvey, S., & Daniels, H. (2009). Comprehension & collaboration: Inquiry circles in action. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.