Friday, February 17, 2012

Animal Research - Part 5

In my last two blog postings (Part 1 and Parts 2, 3, & 4), you learned how our fourth graders used a non-fiction book, encyclopedia, and a website to gather information on the habitat, diet, and defense mechanisms of their animals.

Today we got a little more hands on with the notes we've been taking. I transferred my own habitat notes to pink paper so my visuals truly mimicked my students' habitat notes. I cut each of my habitat notes into strips (but at this point kept them in the order I had written them).

The order in which we write notes down isn't always the best order. I explained to students that when we do research, we need to truly consider how to sequence all our information so it has the best flow which eventually helps a reader understand our writing better. By cutting each of my notes into their own strips, I was able to manipulate and rearrange my notes. When it comes to an animal's habitat, we discussed how continent information should come first, then country information, then specific types of environments. Here is the sequence I felt gave my owl habitat notes the best organization and flow.

Then it was time for students to try out this process themselves with their own pink habitat notes they had recorded for their own animals. Students cut each of their habitat notes into individual strips, then rearranged them for best order, just like I had modeled for them.

Here is a video clip of our little researchers in action!

Here is the new and improved order for this student's notes on the habitat of a lion.

Students raised their hands when they were ready to get their order checked by an adult. After teacher approval, students glued their habitat note strips to a piece of paper in the new and improved order. This sheet will become the outline students use later on to draft their paragraph about their animal's habitat.

Students tucked their habitat sheet into their writing folders for safe storing. Tomorrow we will follow the same process with our green notes on our animals' diets!
To see pictures and footage from the next lesson in this animal research unit, visit this next blog posting (Part 6). Visit my TpT site if you're interested in getting all the student sheets used in this animal research unit.


  1. Replies
    1. This 'cut and organize your pink habitat notes' took one class period. Below you'll kind of see what my timeline is with this 'Research Paper' unit. Each lesson equates to one day. So if you see 'Lessons 2 & 3', that means it took two days to finish that part.

      Lesson 1: Students write down page numbers from the table of contents and index of their non-fiction book that they infer will give them information about the habitat, diet, and defense mechanisms of their animals.
      Lessons 2 & 3: Kids go to those pages and record notes they find about their habitat, diet, and defense mechanisms. They also record their citation information for their non-fiction book.
      Lessons 4 & 5: Kids use encyclopedia to find notes. They also record the citation information for their encyclopedia.
      Lessons 6 & 7: Kids use a website to find notes. They also record their citation information for their website.
      Lesson 8: Cut, organize, and glue habitat notes in best order.
      Lesson 9: Cut, organize, and glue diet notes in best order.
      Lesson 10: Cut, organize, and glue defense mechanism notes in best order.
      Lessons 11: Draft habitat paragraph.
      Lesson 12: Draft diet paragraph.
      Lesson 13: Draft defense mechanism paragraph.
      Lesson 14: Draft introduction.
      Lessons 15: Draft conclusion.
      Lessons 16 & 17: Peer conferencing (revising and editing).
      Lessons 18 & 19: Publish.

      Please note, I model EVERYTHING at the beginning of each lesson so students know exactly what they are supposed to be doing. :) So far we've finished Lesson 8. The whole project will probably take us about 3 and a half to 4 weeks, but I think it breaks the research process down into something kids can truly manage and understand so I'm willing to take the time to make sure that happens!