Get Set!... Introducing the Leveled Research Library to the Classroom
Now that you have gathered your books and created your question templates, you are set to introduce your students to researching with the Leveled Research Library. Each year, I start researching in the classroom with my highest small reading group as a way for them to build comprehension and to work independently. Comprehension is always a growing challenge in my classroom. It is one of the elements of reading that has stopped some of my highest readers from increasing their reading levels. The Leveled Research Library is an ongoing teaching tool to scaffold my students through the researching process. It will assist them in continuing to grow in their reading, writing, and researching skills.
What level should my students begin researching?
Over the past 7 years, I have had students from first grade to fourth grade research from the Leveled Research Library. For my first and second graders, I start them researching at the red level. For my third and fourth graders, I start them at the yellow level. These levels are great for a quick assessment of the students’ reading and writing abilities. If the level is too low, it is easy to move them on to the next level. However, it can be difficult with older students to lower their researching level. I have them show me what they can do before moving them onto the next level.
How do students use the question template?
The first step in researching after choosing a book is reading the book for enjoyment. This activity involves reading and reading should be done for enjoyment as well. I have my students read on the carpet and encourage them to look at the pictures and take their time to enjoy the book before they work to gather information from it.
Next, students are to answer the questions on the question template with limited words or sentence fragments. I tell my students to answer the question and don't worry about making a complete sentence. For some, I instruct them to use as few words as possible. This prevents them from copying the book.
Then, I review their answers to make sure they understand the question. I tell them to answer the question using words from the question and combine it with the information they gathered. If the students are researching at the red level, I might encourage them to start their sentence with their research topic or main idea and then report the information they gathered until they become more comfortable with the question-sentence relationship.
Next, the students write a first draft. The first draft has one sentence written from every box. A first draft at the red level will have five sentences because it has five boxes, while the yellow level has six boxes. By combining words from the question with the gathered information, students are able to form one complete sentence in their own words. I review this draft and check that students are only reporting the information they have gathered. It looks like a group of sentences strung together complete with a main idea and clearly marked periods and capital letters. The sentences are created by the student with the support of the question, but it will be their work and not the work of the author of the book they just researched.
Lastly, the students receive the “good” paper to write their final draft. For the final draft, they copy their first draft and draw a picture. Once they have completed this process, they publish or read it to someone in the classroom or another adult in the building.
For the first round of researching, the report does not have to be perfect. I give students time to get acquainted with the process. They will have plenty of opportunities to write research reports throughout their time in my class. I choose to allow my research library to grow with my students and allow my students to work at their own pace. Most students want to research again and they love to choose their topics from the Leveled Research Library in my classroom.