Friday, February 12, 2016

Famous Americans Project

I added a "research center" to our center time about 6 weeks ago.  My students have really enjoyed visiting this center with nonfiction books and graphic organizers related to our theme.  This week is packed with things to celebrate, so I wanted to include some of these things in our research center.  I am thrilled with the results of this project!

I decided to focus on Presidents and Black History Month in the research center. Books available included: Barack Obama, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and Jackie Robinson.  We used the Rookie Biographies series of books to research.  I asked each child to visit the center, choose a Famous American and complete a research graphic organizer.  This was pretty basic, but it allowed students to find important information.  I made each idea a different shape to help them visually organize their research.  This way everyone, even those with limited reading skills, could use the sheet.
For those that needed help reading the books, my student teacher jumped in during their visit to the center.  We have been using nonfiction books in my small groups, so many children were able to use the books relatively independently.  We also worked on just looking for the information the wanted to know rather than reading the whole book, though most of them did want to read the whole book anyway.
After completing their research, they came to me and shared what they learned, either the same day or later in the week depending on the day's schedule.  We went over their learning on their graphic organizer and talked about a shape that related to their person.  Students use use this shape to share their learning with others.  

Shapes were made on large pieces of tagboard or rolled bulletin board paper.  I coached the kids about remembering what they learned and thinking about a shape that would represent that learning.  I also did not let them duplicate any other shapes used by other students in the class.
After making their shapes, the kids decided where to place their information. I did sit with each child (usually 2 at a time at my table) and helped them with formatting of dates, text size, etc.  They haven't had a lot of experience with larger workspaces, so this was a new challenge as well.   The first wrote with pencil then traced their shape and all their words with a Sharpie.  Using a permanent marker was quite the thrill for them.
I think their work turned out awesome!  I was truly amazed with what they could share with me and their ideas for their projects.  Warning: picture overload coming!  I wanted you to see a variety of projects.

"He experimented with plants and made medicine from them, so I want to make a flower."
"We should make a railroad because that is how she helped people."  Side note: We did discuss that it wasn't a real railroad.

Lincoln's Log Cabin.  "I wrote his name on the door so everyone knows it is his cabin."

"Martin Luther King Jr. wanted peace because he wanted us to all get along."

"How about a number 1 because he WAS the first president?"
We went back and added an 's' to "Parks" after this picture was taken!
"O" for Obama.  We are from Ohio, so a block O was easy for this teacher with limited art abilities to show her.  She did a great job with it.

How have you tackled research in your classroom?  I'm starting to think about our next project!  Have a great weekend!


  1. We start research soon. I liked the variety of ways that they showed what they learned. and i love rookie readers

  2. Fabulous!!!! I am definitely pinning this one!