“Research is formalized curiosity. It’s poking and prying with a purpose.”
– Zora Neale Hurston

20160217_094436             20160217_094501             20160217_100813

Research can seem a daunting task in second grade. There is a lot of background work that precedes any written work. Students first choose a topic and then they determine three or more categories to study. From there they finally use books to conduct research, taking notes as they work. Last, they use the Internet to fill in the gaps of their studies. It can be very arduous process!

Not to mention, the final product from this work is to compose a five-paragraph essay, a task that is advanced for second graders. With proper scaffolding and appropriate pacing, this task can be a great introduction to a concept that will be practiced in many grades to come. Organizing information into paragraphs, translating notes/ideas into full sentences, using transition words, and topic/concluding sentences are all important skills that require focus and critical thinking. This is a big project, and there are few other assignments that require this extensive of a commitment. Exposing students to advanced concepts is challenging, but in the end, it can help them be more prepared for the progression of their education. Bixby’s small class sizes allow for plenty of one-on-one instruction during this project to make it the most meaningful.

Further, as with any project, personal interest is a powerful motivator. When one is intrinsically curious, research isn’t just an assignment anymore; it is an adventure in learning and discovery. In second grade, we let individual interests drive our studies. All students are given the freedom to pick any topic they like. I love to see my students choose topics of personal meaning. Several students chose countries of heritage. Others chose home cities, or favorite animals.

Consequently, students were excited for the project because they had the autonomy to select any topic. When provided encouragement and support, the challenge of conducting research and composing a report is a very rewarding experience for students. In they end, they are very proud of their work. Many of them surprised themselves with their capabilities! Keep an eye out for research reports on the gym tables soon!