Monday Made It–Getting Ready for Team Research!

I’m happy to be hooking up with 4th Grade Frolics again for her wonderful “Monday Made It” link up!

This weekend I’ve been working on getting organized for our big research project.  Over the years I have tried many different approaches when teaching the research process, but over the last few years what I have enjoyed the most is TEAM research.  Rather than having 24 different topics going on at once where I am frantically trying to keep track of everything, now I do trios where I can really help each group do a better job.

It’s great…we do some brainstorming about topics and then students rank their favorites and rule out topics they REALLY don’t like. I work to put them in groups with people I know they enjoy working with and we are off to the races!  We research together…students share resources (we never have enough for 24 students to work alone anyway–especially with all 4 fourth grades doing this at the same time!), read and discuss together, start note taking and planning together–and then after a few days, we break off and they finish the process on their own.  It’s the best of all worlds…they have GREAT academic discussions, they get the support of peers as they learn, but then they are EACH accountable for taking that new learning, organizing it, and doing all their own writing and presenting.

So…I always feel like there are papers and books flying EVERYWHERE during this process so I decided to invest in some new storage materials and “doctor them up” a little bit!  Here’s what I did.

I love me some Dollar Spot supplies!
Step 1:  Assembly
Step 2:  Create fun labels on the computer and contact paper them on.
Step 3:  Quality control
Step 4:  Color coding!  Each team will easily be able to find their supplies!

The magazine files are for their notebooks, graphic organizers, and any other “loose ends” so they all stay together.  Because the labels are covered in contact paper, we can either label them by topic or by student names.  I can use them over and over for different activities/projects.

So this solved part of my problem, but I also wanted ALL of their supplies in one place so each group could just grab their stuff and go.
New tubs!  
This way they can keep pens, highlighters, their magazine holder, and books they are using all in one spot.

Then I started thinking about how CRAZY it gets while we are working and how I don’t always have good systems for helping students…so I made some coordinated laminated cards.  I’m not sure how I’ll use them yet…to display with names of kids in groups?  A place for them to list their resources so we can make a bibliography?  A place to list questions that come up during research?  A way for them to hand me a card to let me know they need help?  I’m not sure yet–but I HAVE them!

So…I’m hoping the new systems might help ME as much as they help my students!  I’ll blog more about our process as we get going on it.  Thanks again to 4th Grade Frolics for hosting this great linky–and make sure to stop by all the other great blogs that linked up this month!

By the way…I am pleased to announce the winner of my mini giveaway!  Thanks to all of you for entering, and the winner is…

Congrats and thanks to all!