Tuesday, June 16, 2020

10 Great Ways for Kids to Research and Present Information Across the Curriculum

There are three things students should be able to do when it comes to researching to build and present knowledge. These are the standards:
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Nowhere in there does it say students HAVE to write an essay or a research report. And since you already know about having students write essays and reports, I'm here to give you 10 alternative ideas for how students can research and present information (instead of or in addition to writing).

When I had 90 students research and present biographies, the last thing my students and I wanted to do was listen to lengthy presentations or read lengthy reports. But, by having them make these biography blocks, it resulted in shorter, to-the-point presentations as well as awesome visual displays that could be left all around the room for students to look at. In my free lesson, you will get the template and directions for an easy no-prep lesson. Now, you can also use the block to have students present any other kind of information. When placed around the classroom, students pick them up to admire them and they end up learning something at the same time! Win-win. (& making it = storing memories). Get my FREE lesson that comes with directions and a block template. Here is a sample:

2. Brochures for book reports, biographies, destinations, and lots of other things. There are a lot of people offering free as well as paid brochure templates with great ideas for how to use them. A couple that I liked were a free book report brochure and a free travel brochure. 

3. Pyramids 

Similar to the blocks in #1, the pyramid is a visual display that other students can pick up, admire, and learn something quickly  in the process. (Plus, the act of making it gets the info in the student's brain.) These are a couple examples that go with free WebQuests I made. The WebQuest is the research part and the pyramid is one part of the presenting part. The pyramid template comes FREE with the lesson.

Since writing this post, I made a FREEBIE in my store of the block and pyramid templates.

1) Researching a Dog Breed's Character Traits and History FREE WebQuest: In this free lesson, students are guided step-by-step (so no prep) tor research dog breeds and input information into a premade Google sheet. Then, they can choose one breed of their choice to present.

2) Researching "Why Do We Need Vitamins and Minerals Anyway?" FREE WebQuest: Students are always hearing about getting proper nutrition but most have no clue even what vitamins and minerals do. This helps them find out. Then, they can each select a different nutrient and present it on a pyramid. That way there are a variety of pyramids around the room teaching everyone about different nutrients.

Since writing this post, I made a FREEBIE in my store of the block and pyramid templates.

4. Wax Museum: They do this at my kids' school every year and it is a huge hit that draws crowds. Students do a biography report with a visual display, then on presentation day, they stand there as if they are wax figures. One option is for people to pay a penny, or quarter, or any amount (as a fundraiser) to get them to talk. They are dressed up like the people, talk like the people, talk about themselves. What a great idea. There is even an option to have it run through an entire school day and have the younger grade students rotate through. All the kids love it! Here is my daughter dressed as John McCain and her friend was Wayne Gretzky (in this modern age of defying gender stereotypes):

5. PowerPoint Presentation: Am I right that we need to train our youth to give good presentations so they don't bore the heck out of their colleagues in future jobs?! It occurred to me that a presentation would be a good way to present the information about the dog breed from example 3 above. I would have students do these slides: 1) introduce the breed with a picture and give some numbers about its height, weight, lifespan, and point out some physical characteristics, 2) Along with another picture, summarize the dog's temperament and give around 5 character trait words that describe it, 3) Give 5 interesting facts about its history, 4) Other interesting facts. This would go quite well with my FREE Dog Traits and History WebQuest. By the way, I found over 300 character trait words on one website in the WebQuest. Wow! I think this activity would also work well to explain how something works.

Here is an example of page 1 of a presentation on Pitbulls that would work with the free lesson:
6. Poster (a.k.a. Infographic): Again, keep in mind that just the act of making something with your hands and writing stores the information in your mind long-term and attaches good feelings to it. So, although it might seem like a waste of time and you might wonder what the point is if it is something you are going to throw away, just remember this, as research has proven. Think back to the memories you have of school assignments. The ones you still remember (including the basic information) are the ones you made by hand! Here's a couple that students can create after learning "The Science Behind Ice Cream" in my FREE ELA or Literacy in Science informational text and tasks:
And this one goes well with my FREE "Why There Are Seasons" informational text & tasks for ELA or Literacy in Science:
7. Interview: This could literally be done or figuratively be done...what I mean is that students could conduct a real interview with someone (in person, by email, by video, by voice recording, so many options) or they could do a fake interview with an actor (brother, mother, friend, so many options). The point is that the questions should be thoughtful and the answers should yield good information. In any case, it should be scripted beforehand (you know, like on "reality" TV lol). 

8. Digital Poster (a.k.a. Infographic): In a distance learning situation or when you want students to have the digital option, a digital poster can do the trick. This allows for easy usage of photographs and diagrams that don't have to be printed, something that is key if there are a lot of graphics. For example, this one is about a popular research topic, the Titanic (man I loved that movie lol). My daughter made it in Google Slides on an 18x12 slide. I remember having students doing this at school by hand, making black and white copies with the copy machine, but this was much more efficient.

9. Collage: Who doesn't like collages? Nobody. Which kids don't know how to make a collage? Hardly any. These can be done physically or digitally and are a great way to show a lot of visuals at once.

10. Video: Again, a good option for distance learning. Speaking of options, it's good to give kids options. They're more likely to buy into doing the presentation and certain kids will like to present one way and certain kids another way. And the best part is you end up with a nice variety of presentations which makes grading them much more pleasurable and makes students happier to listen to them.


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