Learning how to research

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This year, the C2 lead learners chose a "Fairy Tales" theme for the year. As daunting as it seems to choose one theme for an entire school year, I haven't regretted it yet! After really focusing on the literary aspect of fairy tales, we celebrated with a "Fairy Tale Festival" the Friday before Halloween. Starting November 2, it was time to decide what direction we'd go in next.

First, we webbed everything we knew about Fairy Tales:

Then, we did a secret vote to choose which area we would study first:
1) Fairies/Mermaids
2) Pirates
3) Magical Lands
4) Royalty
5) Castles and Knights

Castles and Knights won the vote! I immediately began gathering resources to launch this unit properly. 

While I gathered resources, we create fact books for our fairy tales unit. This is basically just a piece of posterboard that we've folded in half. The students created a cover to reflect all they knew about Fairy Tales. As we learn and create during our studies, we can create pages to add to our fact books.

As a class, we created a KWL about Castles - what we know, what we wonder, and what we have learned (we left this one blank). 

From our wonder charts, I found a trend of things the kids wanted to know...
1) Parts of the castle and castle design/materials
2) Life in and around the castle
3) Defending the castle - knights, weaponry, war & seiges
4) Medieval times - coat of arms, lords and ladies, serfs/peasants
5) Castle locations
6) Dungeons, drawbridges, and moats

Students each picked 1 group that they were most interested in. I met with each group and I worked with them to develop a list of questions they had about their particular topic. I used these questions to create a research guide. It can be purchased from my TpT store here -

Then - we built background knowledge! 
The next 12 weeks will be dedicated to learning about these 6 topics as a class. Every week, we create a new page to add to our growing fact book about Fairy Tales, each fact page dealing with one of the 6 topics.

Page 1 - Fairy Tales web
Page 2 - KWL about Castles
Page 3 - Castles web
Page 4 - Castles drawing (done with art teacher)
Page 5 - Types of Castles
Page 6 - Labeling parts of the castle
Page 7 - Castle lapbook to contain smaller pieces of research

Here are some photos of the research and documentation process on the types of castles.

The opportunity for independent research has already started! Students have been busy creating iMovies about castles, designing Castles in minecraft, and using the legos and blocks during afternoon explorations to build castles!

Students have even changed the outside of our classroom to look like the entrance to a castle!

Keep checking for updates on our research process and our further understanding and exploration of castles!