Connect Research to Grade Level Content

One of the best parts of teaching research skills is connecting it to grade level content.

As a classroom teacher, it was one of the best parts of teaching students to research.

Whether we were learning about biomes, regions, cultures, or adaptations research just made sense. Students always wanted to learn more and dive deeper into those topics.

As a classroom teacher, it didn’t matter what time of year research skills were taught. Connecting it to other things we were learning about at the time made it that more engaging.

They were big research projects. Followed by big research products. At the end, we had culture fairs, plays, documentary movie nights. They were huge.

One way to keep research simple in the Library Media Center is to connect it to grade level content.

Why Connect to Content

There are a few reasons why connecting to grade level content is beneficial.

Teach NEW Skills with OLD Content

If students are learning a brand new complex skill, use content that they have already learned. This helps them focus only on the research skill.

New and exciting skills deserve a lot of focus.

When 5th graders learn how to write in-text citations use content they learned earlier in the school year.

In our school, this is typically the space unit they did at the very beginning of the school year.

Teach NEW Skills with NEW Content

If students are going to focus on analyzing resources, use any content that they will use throughout the school year.

Kindergarten and First Grade focus on animals, vehicles, or plants when learning research skills.

Repeated skills can withstand split focus.

When scaffolding or spiraling skills, use new or not previously learned grade level content.

Scaffolding the skill of bibliographies is a great way to use new content.

  • Grade 2 learns how to record and date the source.
  • Grade 3 learns how to record, date, and link the source.
  • Grade 4 learns how to write an MLA8 citation.

Connect to Grade Level Content to Preview

An additional reason to use to grade level content is to preview what students will learn throughout the school year. This is a great way to the prime the pump.

Previewing content is a great opportunity to teach how to research with Augmented and Virtual Reality.

  • Grade 5 can use ARVR to go to Antarctica or experience Colonial America.
  • Grade 4 can use ARVR to visit National Parks or see the effects of erosion 1st hand.
  • Grade 3 can use ARVR to experience the wonder of dinosaur fossils and landforms.

Time of Year Best for Research

A common question is what time of year to teach research skills.

This varies depending on your students. And your preference.

Some, like my colleagues, prefer to teach research skills later in the school year. This is beneficial because students have acquired a number of skills.

Others, like me, prefer to teach it early in the school year. This helps get it out of the way and ensures research skills are actually taught.

Resources for Content Research

Available resources frequently determine which content to use alongside research skills.

Rich resources that support a range of grade levels and content include Scholastic, PebbleGo, PebbleGo Next, WorldBook, and BrainPOP (Jr too). There isn’t an abundance of time in the LMC to curate resources. Databases like these are incredibly helpful.

There are times to have students conduct internet searches.

  • When students specifically learn how to do a proper internet search with keywords.
  • When research topics are unavailable on databases.

Reward the Work

Library Media Specialists don’t typically provide grades. Be flexible with assessment.

Assessing research skills in Library Media include:

Keep it simple, manageable, and FUN!

In place of grades, give the students achievement badges to show off their skills!

  • Resource Achievement Badge
  • Resource Achievement Badge B&W
  • Resource Achievement Bracelets
  • Research Achievement Bracelts
  • Research Achievement Badges Color
  • Research Achievement Badges Black & white

Reap the Rewards

In the end, connecting research to grade level content generates rewards.

First, connecting to grade level content signals to students that what they do in the LMC is important. Students understand that you value what they learn in the classroom. And importantly, students will ‘see’ teachers collaborating.

Second, it provides a focus.

Students get overwhelmed by unlimited choice. Give students parameters to maintain focus on the skills being taught.

Most importantly, students will stay engaged. They will continue to be excited to come to library media.