This post is the fifth in a series about research and writing in Heather Bitka’s kindergarten classroom.
- To learn more about this project’s purpose and outcomes, you might want to read the first post.
- If you are interested in understanding how this project enabled the teachers and coaches involved to position themselves as learners, you can click through to the second post.
- This post demonstrates the beginning of instruction, where researchers applied strategies that helped them gather facts.
- The fourth post reveals how learners were taught to make connections, determine importance, and revise their work.
While Heather’s students began their formal research using varied texts, books were not their only resources. The learners that I interviewed shared detailed stories of the facts that were gathered as a result of different connections and conversations that they had with others. For instance, shortly after we began our work together, something very exciting began to happen:
The kindergarteners announced the arrival of the chicks by Skyping into first grade teacher Molly Koelle’s classroom. Her students were thrilled to celebrate with their younger friends, and more importantly, several of them shared specific facts about caring for the chicks, culled from the memories of their own kindergarten experience.
This provided Heather, Molly, and all of the students a chance to take Skype for a test drive, in anticipation of their session with Joanne Kaminski, the Skyping Reading Tutor. Joanne introduced herself by accessing Google Maps and demonstrating her location in relation to ours. She shared a variety of facts about chicks with her captivated audience and led us through a very informative read-aloud using Pam Zollman’s book, A Chick Grows Up.
Each of these experiences expanded the background knowledge of these young researchers and writers, and as I redirected them to our guiding questions, it was clear that their thinking had changed considerably.
“Which tools can help us research best?” I asked each of them individually. The most common responses?
“All kinds of teachers–not just the ones in our classroom!”
As I’m reflecting on this part of the experience, I’m reminded of how important it is for connected learners to be critical consumers of the information they access from all of these abundant sources. After all, just because a person or a text or a website suggests something is fact doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. How do we help kindergarteners begin to understand that reality and engage in a bit of their own fact-checking? What would that lesson look like?