Young Researchers

This year, the Kindergarten team at my school has gotten very excited about having their students come to the media center to do research.  In previous years, they were unsure about what research might look like for Kindergarten students and if and how they might use the computers.  We’ve taken some very small steps to get started this year.
First, we explored informational text.  The students are already familiar with using pictures to make predictions about narrative stories.  I used this to dive into how we get facts from pictures in informational text.  I first showed a picture in a book via the document camera.  Students made guesses about what they thought was in the picture.  Then, I expanded the view in the document camera to show the caption.  We read the caption and discovered what we could learn just by reading the captions under the pictures.  So often, I see students open up informational text and begin telling all about what’s in the book just by looking at the picture without ever reading.  I wanted to reinforce at an early age that reading is the most important way we can know for sure what a picture is in a book.  Teachers then brought students in small groups to checkout books about animals and each student used the captions, headings, and for some, even the whole text, to get the information that they needed.
In another lesson, we used Encyclopedia Britannica Online for elementary via Gaileo.  This is a great tool for young students because they can click on the speaker icon and have the computer read the text to them.  In our lesson, we talked about the keyword we would type in.  Teachers had student topics written on index cards for students to reference in the lab.  Next, we chose an animal as a model and walked through typing in the name, searching, and reading each section of the encyclopedia page.  Along the way, we paused and retold the information we had learned, which is a Kindergarten standard.  The teacher, paraprofessional, and I all walked around and assisted students as needed.  We were all surprised and pleased with how excited the students were to learn about their animals.  They still needed a lot of assistance, but they left the media center with a few morsels of information and had a successful session of research.
I share this in the hopes that you will in turn share thoughts you have for supporting our youngest learners with research in the library.  What are you doing to support them?  What have you struggled with?  What are you thinking of trying?  Share away!
Andy Plemmons
School Librarian
David C. Barrow Elementary
Athens, GA
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About plemmonsa

School librarian, connected educator,Google Certified Teacher, NSBA 20 to Watch, speaker. Expecting the miraculous every day! http://about.me/andy.plemmons

Posted on January 25, 2010, in GALILEO, Ideas, Research, Standards, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Andy,

    Thank you for first of all working with these young students to help them learn the building blocks of research. By breaking research down into doable steps for this age you are helping them to feel successful with information and empowered by it.

    And thank you for sharing so others can see that it can be done. Teachers shouldn’t wait until middle school for kids to learn about research.

    Here’s my experience:
    I worked with a 1st grade teacher to teach her students about non-fiction books and how they are organized by Dewey number. They were learning to count by 100s so we had a Non-fiction Parade, counting by hundreds through each section. Then they had a treasure hunt with a Dewey number they picked out of a hat. (Each number led to real books so there were no disappointments.) With a bit of help the students were successful in finding a book which they could check out. Many returned the next day to check-in the books they’d enjoyed at home and go on another treasure hunt!! With help we looked up a book in the catalog, the student wrote down the number and then was off in search of treasure. Fun and empowering!

  2. Thanks, Andy. Great ideas!

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