This week we spent the majority of our recess time indoors. Each morning as I was going over the schedule with my children, a child would ask “Are we going to have indoor recess?”. Needless to say it was pouring as the question was asked. Finally on Friday our morning discussion led to asking the question “Why is it raining so much?”. We looked at some videos on The Weather Channel, but I could see that some children did not understand the role of the hurricane in our weather system and thought the rain was going to bring the worst. Other children were able to input information about Hurricane Joaquin, but then the questions began.
- What is a hurricane?
- Where does the rain come from?
- Why it is raining so much?
- When will the rain stop?
- What is the hurricane doing?
- How big is the hurricane?
Since our Friday schedule is pretty open, I decided to put the daily plans on hold and our classroom became a hurricane research center.
I first learned about Wonderopolis from twitter and have been using it in my classroom for background knowledge and to find more information. The site is very user-friendly and I searched hurricanes on the front page.
We started our research with three texts – What is a Hurricane?, Where is the Eye of a Hurricane? and How Do Hurricanes Get Their Names?. I used the read aloud function for the first text, but read the second text aloud. It was easier for the children to follow along and I noticed that I was stopping to explain the vocabulary and then give more background information.
As I read the text I could see the children were thinking more about the hurricane and wanting to ask more questions. After reading the two texts, we started to list some questions that we wanted to answer based on what we had already learned.
- What is the eye and eye wall?
- How does a hurricane start/ form?
- How does a hurricane stop/ disappear?
- How big can a hurricane get?
- How does a hurricane get a name?
- What is some hurricane vocabulary?
- What can a hurricane do on land and/ or water?
I then let the children choose the question that they were most interested in researching. I provided the 3 texts, a highlighter and an iPad. We also looked at Big Universe for more hurricane texts.
This year I am trying to encourage my children to make choices about what they want to learn. As second graders I feel that they are ready to be engaged in tasks of choice and choice of final projects. Since this project was spontaneous and I did not have a required outcome, we discussed some options to present their answers. The children came up with ideas to use whiteboards to write information, present information in a video, write information on a paper and take a photograph, draw a diagram to represent the information. All the children wanted to input their information on a padlet. I created our Hurricanes Padlet and the children went to research.
Nearly every student was engaged in this activity throughout the day. I noticed that most students are learning how to work with others and were excited to engaged in a choose activity. We tried to input the information on the padlet, but we experienced some technical difficulties. All children research, created a product and video/ photographed their work. I tried to input the information on the padlet and will continue to try next week (iPads have to be left at school). I want my children to share their work with an authentic audience.
I was very impressed with their engagement and excitement around the project. Look for my next post on how I am going to incorporate this model into my classroom weekly.
Do you have opportunities for your students to research choice topics? How do you structure your independent research time?