I am doing something similar with grade 3 (year 4). They are going to be doing research on climate change. They started in class with the teachers working on questions. What makes an open ended question, what isn’t open ended. They next had a session in which the following took place:
as a whole group they discussed what they already knew (or thought they knew) about climate change
They then divided into groups of 5 and worked on developing their own questions. They were encouraged to develop open ended questions but we knew that there would be some (or many) which weren’t. They recorded their questions on a large piece of paper. As they worked they received encouragement and some feedback from the teachers.
After 10-15 minutes students were asked to choose one question from their group of questions to present to the class and then did so.
This activity was about 30 minutes at which point we stopped.
In the next session, students will do the following:
Reform their groups of 5, cut out the questions they wrote and put them under one of the 4 categories: questions that are the hardest to answer; questions that are not important or relevant to the topic; questions that are easy to answer; and finally questions most commonly asked. I wonder about the last category and since we haven’t done the activity yet we may remove it.
Having categorized the questions, (and receiving feedback from us) each group will decide on the best research question from their”questions hardest to answer”.
If any group would like to proceed with a question which is from the category “easy to answer”, we will assist them in reworking it.
At the end of the session, students will have a research question to start their investigation.
Admittedly students will not necessarily have developed the questions we might have wanted them to explore. However, they will be invested in what interests them on the topic. This project is very fluid at the moment since I have never worked with this age group, being a secondary teacher-librarian, and the teachers have never worked on developing research skills with this age group. For example, I can see us assisting students as they start their research to rework their questions as they learn more about the topic.
This unit will also introduce students to information literacy skills such as note taking. Our art teacher will be developing sketchnoting with the classes and the teachers will be working on identifying key information in texts so that students are able to start to summarize rather than to write full sentences in their notes.