Our 2nd grade is once again developing a Black History research project. We took some innovative steps last year to connect this project with an authentic audience around the globe. This year, we are trying to add a few new layers. One of the pieces that we weren’t happy with last year was the idea of a postage stamp. Students were trying to persuade an audience to vote on whether or not a famous person from Black History should be on the next postage stamp. While we loved the project, we knew that the postage stamp was out of our control and not realistic. This year, we decided to create our own prize that we could award to one of the people from Black History, and we are calling it the Barrow Peace Prize. As part of our project, we will learn about Alfred Nobel and the Nobel Peace Prize. That part of the project will come soon.
At the moment, we are deep in research. Each teacher scheduled 2 hour-long sessions with me. We decided to focus on 2 research tools in the library and 1 research tool in class. In class, students will use PebbleGo. It is the most familiar database to our teachers and students and a great tool for independent research. We wanted the library research tools to be a bit more involved with the support of me, the classroom teacher, and any collaborating teachers. The 2nd grade teachers developed a Google Doc graphic organizer with some framing questions. There was a space for students to add their research as well as cite their source. At the bottom of the organizer was a space for images.
Most teachers shared this doc with students through Google Classroom, but if they weren’t using Google Classroom, they shared via Drive and students made their own copy. This step was done before coming in the library.
In the library, we started with Galileo, our state research databases, for session 1. We focused specifically on Britannica Elementary. I did a brief mini lesson for students on how to search for a person, how to read to find answers to questions, how to change the levels of the text, how to turn on text to speech, and how to cite a source. Then, students had time to research with the support of peers and the teachers in the room.
During session 2, we focused on using the research tool in Google Docs.
I LOVE this tool, but I did feel like it was a step up for the trustworthiness of a database. We had to add a layer of conversation about evaluating the sources we were using. I showed students how to open the research tool under the tools menu. Then, we practiced a search together. I showed them how to look at images, quick facts, and specific websites. They loved how you can do a preview of a website before you actually open it. Finally, I showed them how the research tools makes citations so easy. By simply dragging pictures into the doc, the images are cited. By clicking on “cite” on a website, the website is added to the doc. They loved the simplicity of this.
Again, students went to work answering their questions and citing sources. The teachers and I had individual conferences to help students search for information, clarify terminology like “contributions” and “accomplishments”, and wordsmith with students to put facts into their own words.
Our next step is to spend time writing persuasive pieces about our people. We will also identify the criteria for the Barrow Peace Prize so that students can work that into their writing as well.
Students are also taking their images that they found during my session into the art classroom. Our art teacher is working with students to create images that represent their chosen person. The image might be a drawing of the person, but it might also be something that represents that person.
I love projects that pull together so many standards, skills, and subject areas. This is shaping up to be another standout project of the year.