Monday, December 31, 2012
Teaching Students to Narrow Their Topic
I have been taking this much needed break as an opportunity to catch up and plan my non-fiction writing unit for next week. As I look at and sdjust my mini-lessons I decided I needed to step back and reflect on what went well and maybe not so well with this unit last year.
We know that true learning occurs with students when we ask them to be metacognitive with their work. As teachers and life-long learners, we must strive to do the same.
I found that one of the most difficult parts of teaching non-fiction writing is teaching students how to narrow their focus when choosing a topic. You want them to be inspired and interested in the topic they are writing about, yet having over 20 different subjects to help students narrow and negotiate through can be a daunting task.
This year I decided that as a class we would take the same topic that we are studying in Science: Animal Adaptations in Winter.
Some steps and points to consider for this unit:
*I will be able to easily gather books and resources on one subject. This will limit running around gathering nf books from libraries since I have many in my classroom already.
*I will model through an INTERACTIVE READ-ALOUD how I would read this book talking about the text features and new information I was learning.
* I will then model completing an FQR chart and creating an ESSENTIAL QUESTION. This question or "wonder" will be the base for my upcoming research.
* Students will then complete their own FQR chart. I will pull students and conference to help them develop their wonder essential question based on their research.
* Hopefully, I will then have 21 essential questions unique to each student in which they are passionate about to learn more and research. Because it is all connected to animal survival in winter, I will have plenty of resources available.
* Students will then complete mini-books based on their question.
Check back for freebie graphic organizers for this unit. How do you manage helping students narrow a topic for non-fiction research?