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5th Grade Research

5th graders have all expressed interest in using library class time to research personal interests.  Interests include how to write a book, astronomy, inventors of instruments, google earth, Romans, the American flag, genres, Minecraft, how to be an artist, the ocean, world war 1, and so much more.  We will spend the next year reviewing the research process, investigating our own personal interests, and finally creating a product we will present to each other.

Skill 1: Make connections and build background knowledge

You have thought of something you are interested in learning more about.  Getting started can be the hardest part.  Before you look for information on your topic, it will help to connect prior knowledge (what you already know) about the topic.  You will also begin wondering and asking questions about the topic.

  • Have you read any books or seen any Web sites or movies about this topic?
  • Have you had any conversations or personal experiences related to this topic?
  • Why are you interested in this topic? What part of this topic interests you most?
  • What questions do you have about this topic right now?

Use digital content to build background knowledge. Here is a link to our online reference tools:

Use our school library catalog to find resources.  Here is a link to our library catalog:

Use a graphic organizer:
There are tons of organizers here.  Find one that you like - print it out and use it.

Use ReadWriteThink's Alphabet Organizer to jumpstart your thinking about the topic. Go through each letter of the alphabet to see if it jogs your memory of anything. You may not have an idea for every letter. Print your work when you are done and put it in your binder.

In your research folder:

Use the connections chart.

Use the KWL chart.

Skill 2: Brainstorm questions to guide your research.

You have activated your prior knowledge, made connections, and built background knowledge about your research topic. Now it is time for you to think of some questions that will help guide you to the find the information you need. You can use brainstorming to help you ask different types of questions. If you have already started a KWL chart, you can add your research questions to the What I Want to Know (W) section now.

Together we'll view these presentations on thin and thick questions and brainstorming.  Take some notes as we view the presentations.

In your research folder:

Review your "Asking questions" hand out.

Together we'll view Ms. Burman's presentation on focus questions.  Take some notes during the presentation.

Skill 3: Make a research plan.

Now that you have written your questions, you need to identify keywords to guide your information search. You can use keywords as search terms in search engines and databases. You can also look for keywords in nonfiction text features like tables of contents, indexes, headings, and captions. If you started a KWL chart earlier, you can write your keywords there. Part of planning your research is making sure you understand the expectations and timeline for this research task. 

Review this brainpop video on nonfiction text features:

Review the section on keywords in this book:

In your research folder:
Use the planning sheet to assist with your research.

Skill 4: Search the information landscape to identify resources.

It is time to begin searching for information about your research topic. Start by exploring your information landscape. Your information landscape includes all the information resources that are available to you in school or online. You will need to searchbrowseskim and scan to help you decide which resources include the kind of information you need. 

In your research folder:
Use your inquiry log to make a list of possible sources to look at more closely.

Use all the resources available to you: Biography Search Encyclopedia Encyclopedia WebPath Express Our Library Catalog

We will read about primary sources together.  
We will also learn more about primary sources here:

Need images? Look here:
These images come with automatic citation.

Skill 5: Evaluate sources to choose the best ones for your research.

The information landscape may include many different sources of information about your topic. How do you choose which sources to use for your research? You will need to evaluate the sources you find, so that you can choose the best ones. Evaluating sources means judging their quality and usefulness based on certain criteria. This is especially important when choosing online sources. Who is the author or publisher? What are their qualifications? Is this person or organization a reliable source-- one that you can count on to provide information that is accurate? The skill-builders and tools below will help you to evaluate the sources you find.

We will read a book together about evaluating web sites, and use our sources criteria sheet to evaluate web sites.  Use this web site for more understanding:

Now: see if these web sites are reliable:  

Tree Octopus:

Skill 6: Use reading strategies to develop your understanding.

You have located relevant, reliable sources about your topic. Now you will need to apply reading strategies, so that you can discover new information that will help you to answer your research questions.
 Research requires that you read carefully to fully develop your understanding of the topic.

In your research folder:
See your inferences and summary handouts.

Skill 7: Use notetaking strategies and avoid plagiarism.  

Watch the brainpop on plagiarism here:

Watch the brainpop video on copyright here:
Watch the brainpop video on notetaking here:

Take notes while you watch!

Watch the brainpop video on outlining here:

Skill 8: Organize information as you gather.

Now that you have gathered your research using a note-taking method, it is time to organize your facts. This is for two reasons: to make sure that you have enough information, and to make sure that you understand your research before you start creating your product.

Here is an interactive you can use for organizing your information.  Print it out when you are done:

In your research folder:

1) Try using your outline form to organize your thoughts.

2) Use the venn diagram in your folder to compare and contrast ideas.  Why would you want to compare and contrast?  If you were researching Massachusetts today with Massachusetts in 1852, comparing and contrasting can help you organize your information.

Writing in sequence:

Watch the brainpop video here:

3) Use the sequence organizer in your folder.

Skill 9: Collaborate with others.

You have developed research questions and gathered important information from a variety of reliable sources. Soon you will use that information to create a research project and share your new knowledge with others. You may have an opportunity to work on your project with other researchers. This is called collaboration. You and your team members will need to collaborate effectively to produce a great project.

Watch this presentation for tips about "brainstorming" in a group:

In your research folder:

Read the information on TEAMWORK.

Skill 10: Use the writing process to organize information and ideas.

You have used many information resources and taken notes about your topic. Now it's time to create a product or presentation to communicate your new knowledge in a way that others can understand. First, you will use the writing process to organize information and ideas from your research notes. This will help you to create an effective research product or presentation.

Watch the brainpop video for a reminder of the writing process:

Watch the brainpop video about types of writing:

Learn how prewriting can help you:

See Skill 7 for a reminder about outlining.

Watch this video about strengthening your sentences:

Skill 11: Use media ethically by respecting creators and copyright.

When you create your own research product or presentation, you may wish to include pictures, sound, or other media that others have created. You will need to make sure that you are using the work of other creators with respect for copyright. United States copyright law states that creators have the rights to say how other can use their work.

Watch the brainpop video on copyright here:

Check out cyberbee for practice on copyright:

Library of congress on copyright:

Learn about copyright here:
Review "what is copyright?"

Skill 12: Create your product:

How are you going to present your research?  Will you present a written report? Will you create a poem, or a skit, or a comic strip? Will you use on online tool?  

In your research folder:

There are ideas in your folder, and some online tools here:
This storytelling tool helps you present your ideas. The site provides all the tools to create an animated story.
The Animated Book is a tool that you can use for writing, presentations and storytelling. You simply type your text onto virtual pages in order to create your book.
If you are researching a person, use the cube creator to present your information.

Fakebook is a tool for writing and presentation.  The site allows you to create a fake Facebook account for a fictional or historical figure, or even an event or group of people.  You can add photos, videos, status updates, friends and more.

Make Beliefs Comix is a digital 
presentation and storytelling tool that you can use to share your learning or create stories. You have a choice of characters and can write words and thoughts for them.

Voki is a 
presentation tool that allows the user to create a customized speaking avatar. You can add a voice to your avatar by typing text or recording your own voice.
Use Ms. Burman's name and password

ReadWriteThink's Trading Card Creator gives you an artistic way to present your knowledge. This interactive allows you to create your own trading card about a real or fictional person, place, object or event.

Wordle is an application for generating 
word clouds from text that you provide. It allows you to work closely with words and make interpretations, since the clouds give greater prominence to important words that appear more frequently in the source text.  Not working?  Try

Don't forget to cite your sources in your bibliography.  We'll review this together.

Watch the Brainpop here:

In your research folder:

We'll review the bibliography pages together.

Skill 13: Present your knowledge to an audience

One way to share your new knowledge with others is by presenting your research to an audience. You might share your research project with your classmates. You will want to get some feedback from audience members about your presentation.

If you are using speaking skills to present your research, you might feel nervous. Public speaking is a powerful skill that takes time to develop. The more often you present to an audience, the more comfortable and less nervous you will be.

Watch this videos for some tips:
Public Speaking

In your research folder:

We will review the handouts in your folder.

Skill 14: Reflect on your research process and product.

After you do research, it it important to think about the experience, evaluate how you did, and set goals for future research tasks. You can ask yourself questions such as:

        • How did my research process go? What was easiest and most challenging?
        • How effective was my research presentation for the targeted audience?
        • Did I achieve my learning goals for this research?
        • How could I improve the next time I do research?
Based on Baltimore County Public Schools Research Guide: 
BCPS K-12 Research Guides, Copyright 2014, Baltimore County Public Schools, MD, all rights reserved. 
(BCPS Research Guides may be used for educational, non-profit school use only.)