I have always believed that not all knowledge should be “served” to the students. A lot of the contents I remember most vividly from school come from researching and exploring topics – or learning by exploring.
We went exploring for knowledge in textbooks, encyclopedias and eventually online. One teacher stands out for me in particular, my social studies teacher at junior high. We did a lot of exploring in that class! Not because the teacher was lazy, not at all! We had clear cut directions of what to look for, questions to answer, and not to mention – questions to find! We had presentations, posters, papers and made neat notebooks.
|I strongly believe in learning by exploring!|
If you’re looking for the free Incas Ancient Civilization Research Unit download, you’ll find it at the bottom of this post!
Based on these memories I’ve created a framework for sending my own students exploring different topics. The worksheets are high resolution so they may be printed as posters. This allows me to choose between group based projects with presentations, or opting for a regular scale print for individual work. The students have separate notebooks for these exploring topic pages, and we’ve decorated the covers.
In my experience these research units work well for painting a picture of a topic – getting an overview. In particular this applies for students that might have difficulties concentrating, or having a satisfying progress in their work. There isn’t a big, blank paper staring them down, and feeling that they have an overwhelming task ahead of them. These sheets have smaller boxes, and this appears to have a positive effect – focusing on one at a time!
It’s important for me to have some control of what the students must take away from a research unit like this. Because of that I have some pre-determined elements on the different posters/worksheets. In addition to that there are blank fields where the students decide themselves, and entirely blank templates for full teacher autonomy – or student freedom. 😉 Suggestions for inquiry questions are also found in the research unit, and you may use them as a basis or starting point. What would we like to find out? How can we approach this topic?
I encourage my students to combine different types of illustrations for these research units. Drawing is wonderful, and they can supplement their own illustrations with pictures they find online. When we’re finished with the unit I use a rubric for assessment. Naturally, we’ve looked at the rubric before starting the unit as well. Find a rubric, and an empty template, in the unit!
All the best,