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Scaffolding Research in 2nd Grade

posted Dec 17, 2014, 10:30 AM by Julie Alonso   [ updated Dec 17, 2014, 10:43 AM ]
We're enthusiastic about scaffolding research in the library.  As educators, we know that students don't begin reading until they know the alphabet and they don't start doing algebra until they understand numbers. Similarly, students should not use the open web (ie, Google) when they are first learning how to do research, and research lessons they learned in the past must be reviewed regularly before they can be built upon.

This month, we've been working on research skills in 2nd grade.  We talked about how Google is a great tool for lots of reasons and we use it at home all the time to look up quick facts like movie times, weather forecasts, and recipes. We also talked about how it is NOT necessarily the best place to find information for school because websites aren't always trustworthy. 

We watched these videos to better understand using the libraries databases instead of searching the open web:

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

While these videos are a little advanced for second grade, we paused the video at tricky spots to talk about what we were watching and hearing.  The basic message is that databases are full of credible information, while the open web requires verifying information found there.  As students get older, they will learn to evaluate websites for credibility, but in Lower School, we have a great alternative: World Book.

Since our lesson was not paired with curriculum in the classroom, we wanted to make sure to capture the students' engagement in the research process in another way, so we gave them free choice of what topics they wanted to research.  We started out with a blank brainstorming template. The boys used the template to generate questions about the kind of information they wanted to learn about their chosen topic.  We talked about asking who, what, where, when, and why or how questions while brainstorming:

Once the students chose their topics, we printed out their articles for them.  While we do want them to eventually be able to navigate World Book online, for this introductory lesson, we decided to focus on the article itself, rather than finding the article through the internet using a device. For the most part, the students used articles found on World Book Kids, the online database geared towards Lower School students.  Some students chose topics found only on World Book Student, the database geared towards older students. The link to World Book can be found in the left-hand sidebar. Here are the passwords.

The next step was for the kids to read their articles and find a fact that answered one of their brainstorming questions (or just something they thought was interesting).  We talked about how reading the subheadings in a longer article could lead them to the information they are looking for.  Then, we asked them to read through their entire article before highlighting their chosen fact:


After students had done their research, we made our own Second Grade Encyclopedia of Interesting Facts, which will be available as an ebook through Destiny Quest.  The most important aspect of creating our finished product was giving credit (citing our sources!) to World Book. We talked about how it would feel if we had written the World Book article and someone else used our work without giving us credit: it would feel pretty lousy.  We made sure to use quotation marks, since we were using the exact words from our article:

It's very easy to give credit when citing sources. It is also easy to forget this step, but it is in our students' best interest to start modeling and having them practice behavior that will always be expected of them throughout the rest of their academic career.

In addition to doing this research, we used the following books to support our research unit:


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