Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nonfiction Research Project!

Wow! I'm getting two posts in this week! I'm on a role! :) Maybe, just maybe, I can keep this up! Let's hope! 

My 2nd graders JUST finished their nonfiction unit right before spring break. I combine reading nonfiction and writing nonfiction into one big unit! I love this part of the year because I feel like I end up having enough time! For once!

Differences between Fiction and Nonfiction
We start off the unit by talk about the differences between fiction and nonfiction. We make charts showing what fiction and nonfiction always and sometimes have....

Sorry that I din't get a completed picture of the chart. Basically, We read different texts and the students and I decide what to put on the chart. We use sticky notes so that we can change our minds if we need to. One of the main reasons I am obsessed with stickies! It makes the charts so much more interactive with your students! 

Nonfiction Research Project Set Up
My class researches big cats. I get all of the library books on the different kinds of big cats. For exmple, I collected all the books on cheetahs, lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. 
As a class we will research one big cat to guide them. I chose the Leopard because there were only 2 books on that cat. I wanted them to have many more options than that for their research. 

So, as a class we would be researching leopards and as individuals they would get to choose out of the last 4 cats which they wanted to research on their own.

I let the students choose and I record who is going to research what cat. 

Then, we begin with....

Nonfiction Text Features
After that we go into using nonfiction text features. We study a text feature or two a day, depending on how well they work together. For example, we go over photograph and caption together. 

We create a class Nonfiction Text Features Chart and add to it each day.

As a group I use one of the Leopard books to show examples of the text features. Once I explain what the text feature is and we discuss how it helps us, I practice USING that text feature to model how to research about the leopard for the project.

I record the facts on my Nonfiction Research Notes Packet on the document camera to model it for them.
This is a picture of me showing how to use the text features to research and record the facts.

After we do this whole class on leopards, I let the students go into their groups to practice using the text features that we have studied in the previous days to research their big cat.

Nonfiction Independent Research
The groups are based on the big cat. I put them around the room and have them research together. This way they can share books and help each other in the process! 
At the end of each independent research period, I always group them together and let them share a fact they found or how they used the text features in the book. This was to return the focus on the text features and how they used them. This was a very important part not to forget!

As they are researching they are recording in THEIR Nonfiction Research Notes Packet. 

Here is what that looks like and includes...

My morning class is the GT cluster so I used the blank heading version with them and brainstormed ideas of what we wanted to research about the cats. In the afternoon class, they need a little bit more support, so we used the predetermined heading pages for them. 
An easy way for you to differentiate within your class.

They continue this research throughout the week. So, basically in reading we are studying how to read nonfiction texts with the features and in writing we are hitting the Research standards. 

Final Product
At the end of the process the students chose from a RAFT of how they wanted to present their research information. 

Let me just tell you now.... My GT cluster class did FABULOUSLY with this! Some SUPER SUPER cute products were created. Here is an example of one of my students who chose this from her RAFT:
Role: your animal
Audience: Hunters
Format: Video Presentation
Topic: All about your animal ...and more!

Here is her final product. So cute....

We used our school's green screen and the VeeScope Live app on my ipad to create the background! 

Of course I used a rubric to grade these wonderful projects. I graded them on the research process and product process, but not the actual content itself. 

I have done this two years in a row and of course I find little things that need changing and altering, but all in all, it is a GREAT unit and my kiddos thoroughly enjoy every moment of the process! 

You can find my packet here at my TPT store! 

Phew! Sorry for the long post, but it is a long process! :) I'm back to work tomorrow from a very relaxing week off!

As for the rest of my Sunday, I think I'll finish crafting my chalkboard countdown until summer display! 10 weeks left! 
Happy Sunday!


  1. Anonymous3/16/2014

    Love that they get to work together and that the rubric is about the process and not all about the content! Love it!

  2. Your Nonfiction Research Notes Pack looks great! This is the next Reading unit I am doing with my second graders and I love how simple and easy this would make it! Looking forward to seeing it posted on TpT!

    Christina :)
    Apples, Books, and Crayons

  3. Anonymous3/16/2014

    This looks awesome! I am getting ready to start this unit with my class. This would make a great resource. Thank you for your hard work!

  4. This whole pack looks amazing. We are about to start the research reading/writing informational unit in my first grade class and I know this would be awesome. I particularly like the RAFT organizer where students would decide who their audience is, etc. What an awesome product!

  5. This looks great! I'd love to win your packet!!

  6. Anonymous3/16/2014

    I love the use of text features in this unit. Looks great! I would love to win this packet. :)

  7. Anonymous3/16/2014

    I love that it is focused! I struggle to help my students do research and take notes that they will use later. I have never seen such a great organizing tool, not only for them, but for ME! Also, I really love the idea that they are working together. It is so hard to share a limited amount of resources with the whole class.This is awesome!

  8. I love how you modeled and set your students up for success. I especially like the rubric. Great resource!

  9. The whole unit looks so great! I love how you break down the text features and teach 1-2 at a time. I also think your rubric for grading is so wonderful--I love the use of the words beginning, developing, accomplished and excellent. This would be so useful to have year after year after year. Thanks for sharing and for the opportunity to win. Molly

  10. I love the RAFT at the end. I never feel like I have time for them to present. Adding the writing in makes it all work:) Thanks a bunch girl! Great post!

  11. Great post on blending the common core together. My first students love learning about animals and this would be a great nonfiction unit as we learn about Africa. I loved how you modeled first and and showed students how to be successful. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Anonymous4/03/2014

    Where did you get your non-fiction text features that you put on your poster?


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