I started researching last school year with my highest guided reading group as a way for them to build comprehension and work independently in the classroom for their group time. I had too many students that needed my support, guidance, and encouragement when reading independently, so this was my idea and it turned into my solution that has continued to grow ever since.
Comprehension was a growing challenge in my classroom. It was one of the elements of reading that was stopping some of my higher readers from increasing their reading levels.
I started with a reproducible reader. My "go to" reader is called A Safe Lodge. It has about 2 sentences on a page and it is a yellow level book. I would use this book again to introduce researching. It is about beavers and their building of dams. Kids love researching all different kinds of animals. I also hand wrote my template the first time because I didn't want to invest a lot of time in this activity in case the students didn't like it. (I blog about researching in the classroom, so you know my students must love it!)
I introduced the book in a guided reading group and listened to each student read with a whisper phone to make sure they could read the book since nonfiction is much harder to read than fiction. Then, I presented the template for the book. (Templates can be found under the “Getting Started” tab) I explained to the students that when answering the questions they don't have to worry about making sentences. Their answers would be about 1 or 2 words. (I don't want them to write sentences yet because it means they are copying the book.)
This is where some students will finish faster than others and that is okay. If they don't finish in their group time, you can let them take it to their seat and finish in their extra time. The next time the group meets you can review the answers of the students who are finished and allow the others to continue working. I check to make sure they are using sentence fragments to answer the questions and the answers are coming from the text and not their heads since this is a comprehension exercise. If they have completed these, then the student can begin writing their first draft using words from the question and reporting only what they have written. Remember each box will make one sentence.
This first report does not have to be perfect. You are giving students time to get acquainted with the process. They will have plenty of opportunities to write research reports throughout their time in your class if you choose to allow your research library to grow and allow your students to work at their own pace.
I would have 8 books at the yellow level (2 sentences per page) ready to go with templates made so you will be ready for your students to begin another research report. Most students will want to research again and they love to choose their topics from the research library.
- Your school book room
- Your district reading series might include reproducible books or a collection of leveled books
Google "free nonfiction guided reading books."
- I recently rediscovered www.readinga-z.com which has many free books as PDF's and you can preview them too. (Guided Reading Levels D-I)
- The main reading series for nonfiction stories that you may not have used this year.
Scholastic has lots of affordable nonfiction books. You could find your favorite and invest $12.00 into purchasing a group set which you will use year after year to introduce researching to your students.
- Plenty of online books for those classrooms that use tablets and computers.
If you have any questions or would like to send your photos of your research library, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Luck and Enjoy!
Images courtesy of www.mycutegraphics.com