March continued to try to beat me down. The weather this week was less than hospitable, but the climate in my classroom was gentle and pleasant.
As I mentioned in my last post, my students are in the process of creating their own book award. On Wednesday of this past week, we moved our classroom to the computer lab. After an information literacy mini-lesson about how to conduct a search, the students were off!
Because 7th grade brains can get easily distracted, I created a data collection sheet for the students. On the sheet there were 4 categories: Award, Sponsoring Organization (and URL), Criteria, Recent Winners. Because we spent two half blocks (about 37 minutes) in the lab, I decided to set up the chart into something that could be completed during that time. So during our first session, the students researched three awards, and the second session they researched three different awards. At the end of the week, the students had research 6 awards. Once back in our classroom we created a list of the awards researched; it’s quite an extensive list.
Here’s what I observed this week:
- My 7th graders who come to me after lunch and are usually rambunctious, came to the computer lab and didn’t need to be settled down. My 7th graders who come to me before lunch and are lethargic were excited to be in class.
- The students worked on their own – only calling me over when they had trouble finding information, such as the sponsoring organization.
- Once they learned some tricks of where to look for organization, the called me over less and less.
- They helped each other find the information needed for their data collection sheet!
- They started calling me over when they found an award given to a book they read or an author they liked. By the end of our sessions, I was being called over to talk about authors and books more than I was called over to help located information.
- They became increasingly annoyed when an award didn’t have a clear set of criteria listed.
- They gained a bit of information literacy skills.
By the end of the week, my disposition was a sunny as spring weather is supposed to be. (I think Mother Nature made one more attempt to dampen my spirits with snow, wind, sleet, and rain on Friday, but I didn’t let her get me down.)
The students are ready to start creating their own criteria for their award. I’m curious to find out what the criteria will be. Our first class next week will analyze and synthesize all they have learned. I’m hopeful that by the end of the block there will be an award criteria, and by the end of the week, we’ll have a list of nominees!
As I reflect on this process, I feel this project is doing a few things to promote literacy:
- It is teaching research skills and information literacy skills without forcing the kids to write a research paper. Thus, making research meaningful to their lives.
- It is asking them to reflect on books they’ve read.
- It is asking them to take a critical look at the literary devices within a book.
- It is transformative. The student and the book together help to create the meaning for this project.
It’s a fun time to be in seventh grade!
Until next time… See YA!
Cher–Your reflection piece in this blog is the key!!! Promoting literacy, and showing the kids by sharing about skills, and not forcing a research paper makes this a perfect basic skills lesson!! Students see the facts unfold, making research meaningful. The critical look at their own books is transformative, hopefully making them wiser about future selections, as well as more open to “trying” titles they would not otherwise have attempted!!
Love this plan!!