By now, School Library Monthly subscribers should have received their May 2010 issue. (Mine came last week.)
This month’s “Nudging Toward Inquiry” focused on revamping holiday research. Here was the scenario to be revamped:
Sometimes, getting teachers to revolutionize their vision of research projects isn’t practical or feasible, but a small change (with a big impact!) is. What are the small tweaks that can lead to big changes in student learning and turn around what David Loertscher calls “bird units”? That’s what we seek to find out in each of the ten 2009-2010 issues of School Monthly. This month, we turn our attention to holiday research.
A teacher, to support the diversity initiatives of the district, wants to have kids research holidays from all religions that focus on light.
Kids will choose from Diwali, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah. They will use encyclopedias to research:
- Origins of holiday
- Traditions practiced
- Special objects / music / rituals
- Why “light” is important
They will create PowerPoints to demonstrate what they have learned.
You really want to build a relationship with this teacher, but you worry that this research won’t lead to the diversity understandings the teacher is hoping for. What small steps can you take to move this closer to inquiry?
When we were collecting ideas, one idea came after the column had gone to press, and I promised that we’d publish it here. Here’s what Kathleen Summerlin wrote:
I am a K-4 library media specialist and teach just such a unit with my third and fourth graders. Our culminating project is a greeting card. Each student has to create a card for their holiday that they would send to someone celebrating that holiday. The card has to include the following:
- symbols of holiday
- greeting of holiday
- date(s) of holiday
- colors of holiday
- tradition(s) of holiday
Before creating the card the students will research the holiday and find out about its music, food and history. We talk about the importance of light and why it is such an important symbol at this time of year.
The card is graded on a rubric.
I think that cards are appropriate for each of those holidays (if we’re wrong, will you let us know?), making this a very practical, manageable way to move the project closer to synthesis. Thanks, Kathleen!