My second grade students have been recently introduced to the concept of research, and began a preliminary process in both Writing and Science last week.  In Writing, students are writing non-fiction information texts, or “All-About” books.  In order to learn more about their topic, students have borrowed books from our classroom library and I have checked out books from our local branch for students to read.  Reading, comprehending, synthesizing, and summarizing new information is not an easy task!  I broke down the process into three simple steps to start: 1) Read the information, 2) Think about what you read, 3) Say it in your own words.  We talked about the concept of plagiarizing, and why copying straight out of a text is not OK.  

For Science, we practiced researching and taking notes using a video.  Students watched a video about our Solar System.  They had a guided notes sheet that listed each of the planets in the order they would be learning about them in the video.  Students were to watch the video and take note of at least one fact about each planet.  Before watching, I taught a mini-lesson on note-taking.  First, we discussed reasons why people may take notes (to remember something they heard, saw, or read).  Then I taught students that notes should be brief and should highlight the most important information.  I also explained that notes do not need to be full sentence, and that students should not worry too much about conventions of writing (capitalization, punctuation, spelling) while they are taking notes.

Though both of these lessons were very basic and preliminary, this is likely the first time that students were formally introduced to the concept of research.  The hope is that, if 7- and 8-year-olds are familiar with research – in this case through books on a single topic or a video that has been chosen for them – they will have the foundational understandings necessary to do more complex research projects in the future.

Melanie Berlin

is a classroom teacher on the K-2 team. Before moving to Chicago, Melanie lived in Philadelphia and worked for five years as lead kindergarten teacher at Mastery Charter Mann Elementary School. Previous to that, Melanie lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and taught at an independent school in Oakland, California. Melanie has her B.A. in psychology with a minor in urban education from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her teaching degree from San Francisco State University with a focus on social justice in education.

In her free time, Melanie loves playing ultimate Frisbee, drinking coffee, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and baby daughter.

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