Part of our science cirriculum in 1st grade is the study of ants (animals and their needs). This lesson also tied into non-fiction reading and writitng. Stduents created questions and then they researched answers to their questions through non-fiction books and searching the internet. They created a podcast/power point to present their learnings.
What I did- Students developed questions they had about ants based on a picture I showed them of an ant colony. I gave them no information about the picture. We then sorted the questions and together developed catagories. They were then put into groups according which category was most intetesting to them. Within their groups, they first created a poster by painting "What They Think They Know" about ants. They included their questions on their posters with notecards. For the next month, students worked in their groups to research answers to their questions through the use of non-fiction books and internet. We scheduled many days to work in the library where Ms. Frachetti taught them how to use LION . Toward the end of the study and after questions had been answered, Frachetti taught them how to cut and paste pictures that illustrated the answers to their questions. Groups then painted new posters to illustrated "What They Know Now" about their topic. Lastly, they recorded their voices with Ms. Frachetti for our podcast. Frachatti was a HUGE help in the creation of the final project.
Extend- Through this process, the students really learned so much about non-fiction book features which was extremely helpful when it came time to write our own non-fiction stories. They also learned how to ask thoughtful questions that can really lend themselves to thoughtful research (questions NOT like "Do ants have butt cheeks?"....that really was a question).
Challenge- This was a VERY challenging process for all of us. Because 1st graders are still beginning readers, it was quite difficult for many to read and research the information from the books. I asked for many parent volunteers. I found that having each student choose ONE question to own was very helpful as well.