Monday, October 17, 2011

Fourth Grade Research

Today we officially launched into the first fourth grade research project of the year.  This project focuses on landforms.  Students will choose a landform, any landform in the world, and investigate it like a geographer.  They will ask their own questions and seek to find answers.  They will learn about the geography, climate, and culture that surrounds their landform.  They will discover knowledge and demonstrate their understanding in ways that make sense to them.  This is an exciting opportunity to put the responsibility of learning in the hands of the learners, with teachers and parents there to guide and help them along the way. 

The research project covers multiple content areas and includes valuable enrichment opportunities for students of all abilities.  Some children will showcase previously known "academic" skill while others may uncover talent they never knew they had.  And although the "structure" of the project is designed for all learners, the variety of formal and informal assesments will be many.  Students will practice and develop better reading and writing skills when they takes notes from a variety of books and develop word maps.  They will enhance their ability to analyze text and information when visiting sites on the Internet as they search for reliable sources.  They will be asked to think critically when they must explain how a landform formed and evolved to the state we see it in today.  The project will be time consuming and challening, but it will be an incredible learning experience for many. 

One of the aspects of the project I am most anxious to work with children on is the final presentation.  With so many wonderful creation options and powerful web tools, students are going to have a variety of ways to share with their peers what they've learned.  From something as simple as a powerpoint or a more robust creation tool like Glogster to a scripted dramatic reading or play, everyone will be able to present their learning in a way they choose.  It's going to be a 6 week long adventure of learning so check back around Thanksgiving to see final projects!