Introducing Research Folders and Generating a Research Question | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M2A:U2:L16

Introducing Research Folders and Generating a Research Question

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite text-based evidence to support an analysis of an informational text. (RI.6.1)
  • I can summarize an informational text using only information from the text. (RI.6.2)
  • I can use several sources in my research. (W.6.7)
  • I can conduct short research projects to answer a question. (W.6.7)

Supporting Targets

  • I can identify norms to make group discussion more successful.
  • I can determine the difference between a relevant and an irrelevant research question.
  • I can write a research question for my topic.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Research question on researcher's notebook

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1.   Opening

     A. Unpacking Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A. Introducing Research Teams and Creating Group Norms (8 minutes)

     B. Topic Chalk Talk: Rules to Live By (8 minutes)

     C. Evaluating Research Materials and Generating a Research Question (22 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A. Recording Research Question (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A. Continue independent reading. Answer this question: "Who is the intended audience of your book? Why do you think that?"

  • Although this lesson is in Unit 2, like Lesson 15 it is actually part of Unit 3. This is to give you time to look over the draft end of unit assessments before handing them back to the students with feedback in Lesson 17.
  • Students begin their research with their teams using Research Folders that contain a small number of previously selected research materials for each of the countries identified (see supporting materials for the list of texts).
  • Have these folders ready in advance. See the "Articles for Research Folders" list in the supporting materials of this lesson. Each team needs a Research Folder containing the materials relevant to the topic they have chosen to research, including a glossary of words they may not be familiar with. Have enough of each text for every student in the group, so students can self-select texts.
  • In advance: Using the exit tickets from Lesson 15, divide students into groups of three or four according to the topic they chose to focus on (either 'Healthy habits,' 'Reduce, reuse recycle,' or 'Bullying'). Mixed-ability grouping of students will provide a collaborative and supportive structure for reading complex texts.
  • Review Chalk Talk protocol (Appendix 1)

Vocabulary

norms, irrelevant

Materials

  • Articles for Research Folders (for Teacher Reference; see Teaching Notes above)
  • Lined paper (three pieces per student)
  • Chart paper (one per team)
  • Markers (one per student)
  • Research Folders (one per team according to the topic the team has chosen--see supporting materials)
  • Discussion Tracker (from Lesson 15; one for display)
  • Criteria for Research Questions anchor chart (new; co-created with students during Work Time C)
  • Researcher's Notebook (from Lesson 15)

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Unpacking Learning Target (2 minutes)

  • Invite students to read the learning targets with you:

* "I can identify norms to make group discussion more successful."

* "I can determine the difference between a relevant and an irrelevant research question."

* "I can write a research question for my topic."

  • Ask:

* "What are norms? Why are they important?"

  • Listen for students to explain that norms are positive behaviors that we would like to follow and practice to make sure group work and discussion is productive and enjoyable.

* "How does adding the prefix 'ir-' to 'relevant' change the meaning?"

  • Listen for students to explain that the prefix "ir-" means not, so irrelevant means not relevant.
  • Posting learning targets for students allows them to reference them throughout the lesson to check their understanding. The learning targets also provide a reminder to students and teachers about the intended learning behind a given lesson or activity.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Introducing Research Teams and Creating Group Norms (8 minutes)

  • Post the research team assignments in a place where all students can read them. Ask students to get into their teams.
  • Remind students that when they start working in a new group, it is a good idea to create some group norms to make sure group discussion is productive and enjoyable for everyone.
  • Distribute lined paper.
  • Display the Discussion Tracker from Lesson 15. Ask students to discuss in their research teams:

* "Looking at the Discussion Tracker and the skills you need to be working toward, what might some good norms be to make sure that you successfully practice all of those skills in your discussions?"

* "What other norms might it be useful to have that aren't part of the Discussion Tracker?"

  • Tell teams to record their ideas for norms on their lined paper to refer to in later lessons.
  • Circulate to assist teams that are struggling. Based on the Discussion Tracker, suggestions could include:
  • Listen carefully when someone is speaking.
  • Ask questions when you aren't sure, to get more information or to encourage the speaker to think more deeply about their ideas.
  • Be respectful when asking questions and when comparing someone else's ideas with your own.
  • Acknowledge other people's ideas and perspectives.
  • Creating norms for conversation helps to establish a positive group dynamic and make clear the expectations for collaboration. 

B. Topic Chalk Talk: Rules to Live By (8 minutes)

  • Post the question:

* "What rules to live by do you already have for the topic you have chosen?"

  • Tell students that now they are in research teams they are going to have a Chalk Talk to brainstorm some rules to live by that they already have for the topic they have chosen.
  • Remind students that this technique only works if everyone is writing and responding. Make it clear that everyone is responsible for writing, reading other people's comments, and responding; there should be no talking; and no one should sit down until the time period is over. Opinions must be freely expressed and honored, and no personal attacks are allowed.
  • Distribute chart paper and markers and invite students to begin their chalk talk.

C.     Evaluating Research Materials and Generating a Research Question (22 minutes) 

  • Distribute research folders to each team. Explain that students are going to spend some time familiarizing themselves with the informational texts in their folder before they actually dig into researching in the next lesson.
  • Model the process of sifting through the research materials in one of the folders to evaluate the resources and get to know the texts they will be reading. Take a healthy habits research folder and flip through the pages.
  • Pick out the glossary and model looking over that, discussing the organization. For example: "So, I can see that there is a glossary for each of the informational texts in the research folder, so if I am stuck on what a word means, I can use this to help me figure it out and move on with my research."
  • Pick out an informational text and skim the title. Then point out any tables, charts, or graphics that you can see and explain what they tell you at a glance about the content of the informational text.
  • Invite students to pair up in their research teams to familiarize themselves with their research folders. Circulate and support students in their initial review of their material. Ask questions such as:

* "What do you think this text is going to be about?"

* "How might this specific material help you in your research?"

  • Refocus students. Tell them that now they have chosen their research topic, generated some possible rules to live by and have an idea of the resources in their research folders, they need a question to guide their research so that they can narrow their focus on the research materials and choose the ones to read that are most relevant to their research question.
  • Model generating questions about a topic that could be researched with student assistance. Do a think-aloud and record the questions you generate on the board: "So which of the healthy habits rules you have brainstormed seem like they might have supporting evidence in the research folder? What is important about my topic? How does my topic contribute to improving the lives of my peers? My topic is healthy habits, and it is important because it is about helping my peers to stay healthy. It looks like the rules about healthy eating and exercise might have supporting evidence in the research folder. I am particularly interested in exercise, so now that I have had a quick look through the informational texts in my research folder, some of the questions that come to mind as I think about exercise are:

* How often do I need to exercise to stay healthy? Why?

* Is running better than gymnastics?

* Why is exercising every day good for you?"

  • Invite students to look at the questions you have recorded on the board. Ask them to refer to their norms and discuss in research teams:

* "Which of these questions do you think will be the most effective to research to write an evidence-based essay about a rule to live by? Why?"

  • Select volunteers to share their suggestions with the whole group.
  • Guide students to recognize that "Is running better than gymnastics?" is not a good research question because it is a very narrow question, which means it will be of interest only to people who like running and gymnastics. It will also require very specific resources to research.
  • Record criteria on a new anchor chart: Criteria for Research Questions:
  • Broad question, the answer of which is of interest to many people.
  • Guide students to recognize that "Why is exercising every day good for you?" already assumes that exercising every day is good for you, whereas research questions should not make assumptions--the research should help us make claims, not the other way around.
  • Record criteria on a new Criteria for Research Questions anchor chart:
  • Questions to help us make claims rather than make assumptions.
  • Guide students to recognize that the most effective research question in this list is "How often do I need to exercise to stay healthy? Why?" because the "why?" part of the question will lead us to find evidence to help us justify the rule.
  • Record criteria on the anchor chart:
  • Leads us to find evidence to justify claims using words like "Why?"
  • Ask students to discuss in their teams:

* "What is important about your topic?"

* "How does it contribute to improving the lives of your peers?"

  • Distribute lined paper. Tell students to work in their research teams to generate questions for research about their topic. Give teams 5 minutes to record all of the questions that come to mind. Discourage them from evaluating the questions at this stage.
  • After 5 minutes, stop the group and encourage teams to spend time evaluating the questions using the criteria on the anchor chart to determine which of the questions would be the most effective for research. Emphasize at this stage they don't have to evaluate the list down to one question--they just need to eliminate those questions that aren't going to be as effective for research.
  • Circulate to support students by asking:

* "Would the answer to this question be of interest to many different people?"

* "Do the questions make any assumptions?"

* "Will the question lead you to find evidence to support a rule to live by?"

  • Generating a research question is not a sixth-grade standard; however, this process is a good scaffold toward later grades. Consider providing select students with pre-generated questions to evaluate their potential as research questions. Other students may benefit from being provided the final research question they will work with throughout this process. 

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Recording Research Question (5 minutes)

  • Tell students that now that they have evaluated their original questions, and eliminated questions that aren't going to be as successful for researching to write an evidence-based essay about a rule to live by, they need to choose one question to focus their research.
  • Invite students to write their question on Part I of their Researcher's Notebook. 
  • Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all learners, but research shows it supports struggling learners most.

Homework

Homework
  • Continue independent reading. Answer this question: "Who is the intended audience of your book? Why do you think that?" 

Note: Consider explaining what you mean by "intended audience." Say something like: "Who do you think this book was written for? What kind of person do you think the author had in mind?"

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