My Students Are Excited for their Research Project! (Part 2)

Three week Winter Break is a wonderful thing!  During that time I was able to come up with a lesson that my students will understand and be able to do.  I am having them write one paragraph answering a research question; however, they first need to create a glog that answers their question with a bibliography for all sites they use for their research.

First, I decided that I wanted to teach them about big ideas and focusing their research topic from there.  I therefore created this Research Report Topic Question PowerPoint presentation which leads the students from 4 large ideas to creating questions, to choosing a topic, and creating a topic question.

Then, I decided to teach students what are acceptable sites for research.  I don’t allow them to use the normal search sites that they are used to, nor do I allow any wikis.  We went over this and discussed why certain sites are acceptable and others are not.  Some of them of course resisted, but once I explained the reasoning behind these restrictions, they grudgingly agreed.   These are the websites I allowed and disallowed.

Digital Library:  the school district’s online research library
LAUSD Kids Search:  includes pre filtered and validated web searches
•Official Websites
Since they were all pouting and I did not want to lose their buy-in, I quickly switched to what they would be doing with a glog.  A glog is an online multi-media poster.  I created my own free teacher account at that gave me a teacher code.  Then, as my students created their free student accounts, they entered my account to link them to me.  However, I believe that this cool feature is only available to me for one month, so I also created a classroom blog where students will be able to post and display their glogs as well as the paragraphs and bibliographies that they will create for this project.  Check out our progress at
Please feel free to use any of these ideas and let me know how they work out.

My Students Are Excited for their Research Project! (Part 1)

This year I am teaching a self-contained ESL 6th grade class.  My students range from newly arrived to those born here, but unable as of yet to test out of the ESL program.  Those who still have not tested out, are the ones I have in my English class. It is now January and we are in the middle of our Expository lesson.  I started by going through the entire textbook and marking all the pages that had anything to do with the skills we would need; then, I assigned a couple to the class and after much scaffolding asked them to answer a few questions on their own to assess their comprehension…EPIC FAIL!!!!

Therefore, I decided to go back to my old standby for student buy-in, technology. I had my students create an Edmodo account, which is a classroom based social network.  I decided that because bibliographies are so difficult for students, I would give that to them first giving them the opportunity for several practice opportunities throughout the lessons.  I began by giving them these links.

That was too confusing for my students so I wrote the instructions on the board for them.


I left this for them as homework over the break and was soon bombarded by messages that they did not understand.  I then posted this video for them.  (The OSLIS website has changed it’s look since I recorded this so just scroll down for MLA, and the audio is not very good so turn it way up.)

For those teachers in LAUSD, you may also find these links useful as you cannot get into the World Book encyclopedia without an account.

  • School E-mail Login (Have students login before they attempt to open the World Book Encyclopedia if they are working from home.)
  • LAUSD Digital Library (If the other link does not work, they can also access the World Book Online here.

If your students are working at home and do not have Microsoft Office, you can direct them to Open Office, which is free shareware.

I will end this lesson here and post what I did for the rest of the research lesson in my next post.


New School Year Lessons

I was recently rehired by the school district.  Yaaay!  However, I do not currently have a position as the school I left lost positions and I will not be going back there.  I am currently looking for a position in both middle schools and elementary schools.  With the school year just around the corner, I figured I better start lesson planning now—but wait, I don’t know what grade or what subject I am going to be teaching.  Therefore, I came up with some ideas that will fit into any subject in pretty much any grade level.  At least I will have some ideas to pull from once I do get an assignment.

Please feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section as I can always use more.


  • Introduction Letter–Write a letter introducing yourself to _____________. Include your hobbies, your likes, your dislikes, and the funniest thing ever.
  • Pet Story–Choose any animal (real or fictional) You get to have this animal as a pet for one week. What adventures would you have with this pet? What type of trouble might happen? Do you still want to keep the animal at the end of the week? Do you love the animal at the end of the week?
  • Advice letter–Write a letter to a student in the previous grade. Give them good advice on how to best survive and be successful in that grade. (SEND letters!)


  • Favorite Things–Draw all of your favorite things on a poster. Label them
  • Adjectives–Write down 5 adjectives that describe you in a way that uses the meaning of the word in order to write it.

Social Studies

  • Timeline–Draw a timeline of your life with all of the important events that have happened in your life.
  • “Where do you come from?” Interpret that question and answer it as fully and creatively as you can. You may write, draw, act, sing, dance, etc.


  • Charades–Act out your favorite ____________. Everyone tries to guess.


  • Measurements, equalities, ratios, tangrams
  • Circle Clap–In a circle place your left hand on top of the right hand of the person to your left. Pass the clap. As you pass the clap you must say the next multiple of _____________. (Count by ___________)
  • Measurement Estimates–In groups have students estimate the measurement of certain objects. They turn in their group papers. They get rulers and measure the objects. Class surveyed for agreement on actual measurements and the group who had the most correct or closest wins.
  • “tangrams”–Using the materials on you, build a(n) ________________. (elephant, fly, piano, tree, etc.) Each group shares with the class.


  • Name Game–In a circle, say your name and do an action with it. When it is your turn start with the first person and say each person’s name with their action. You finish your turn with your name and your action.
  • “Simon” Says–Simon says, but use the leader’s name.
  • Duck-Duck-Goose–If you say the correct name of the person, that’s a duck. If you miss the name or stop for 3 seconds, that’s a goose.

Study Skills

  • Portfolios–Writing portfolio, Project Portfolio, Online/Digital Portfolio, etc.
  • Subject Notebook–Set up notebooks with 5 pages for table of contents (Date, Title, Page) and number the first 50 pages front and back.
  • Agenda books–On the first day received students write that they are to write their homework down every day, check it off as they finish, and show their parents once they have completed it. Student signs and parent signs.
  • Write a complimentary note to each parent and get their signature back
  • Parent Survey–Since the parents are the adults who best know the students ask the parents about the child’s likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, advice on how to best work with their child, and the best (only ONE) phone number to get a hold of them since many calls take place during class and dialing multiple numbers may not be realistic.
  • Mix-Trade-Match–Students are given a card with either an expectation or an example on it. They walk around the room and mix for several seconds. At the signal they trade cards with someone near them so no one ends up with the same card. They find the person with the matching card; if they have an example, they look for someone with an expectation and vice-versa. When they find their match they introduce themselves and shake hands. They then discuss whether the example meets the expectation or not and why or why not. Go around and share what was discussed.

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