We have a new literacy initiative this year. In literacy centers teachers are required to plan anchor stations including a Research Station.
When I heard this it was a moment in the midst of that professional development quandary: it does not apply to me and there are other things I could be doing vs. I’m glad I know what’s going on in homerooms. In this case I was really glad to know what’s going on in homerooms, because RESEARCH STATION. Wahooo! A reason for teachers to integrate information literacy skills!
While teachers got their literacy sea legs steadied after making instructional adjustments, I kept the idea of the research station on my back burner. Teachers weren’t asked to implement the station yet, but I knew when they were I needed to be prepared. It would be so easy for our literacy facilitator, teachers, and curriculum coaches to approach the station strictly from a literacy aspect. I didn’t want to be left out. I didn’t want to miss this easy collaboration opportunity.
I have great connections in my building, so when I felt that the time was near, I spoke to one of our teachers who is a pro at literacy centers. I basically said, “this is my area of expertise and we need to collaborate. We need a plan.” So we sat down one day and made a plan. It was actually much simpler than I thought it would be. I reviewed the information skills curriculum for kindergarten through second grade. My main goals were to have students generate their own questions and to self-assess. We talked about what the center needed to be for ease of use. That was it! At the time, I was working on research guides for the different grade levels. I adapted the research guide for early learners I had created and made it a research station writing mat.
|Research station mat about ice cream. This is version 3.|
Students use a lot of dry erase and wet erase markers in centers. I made four green mats for my friend who has first and second graders. She keeps a bin of reading material related to content area themes. In the center, students look at the theme of the materials, generate a question, and then read for their own purpose. That’s the “Plan.” Then they “Do” by drawing and writing an answer to their question. The review is a statement of the sources used and then evaluating themselves on two learning targets. I save magazines and even books destined for discard for research centers.
This has been a simple way to implement the required literacy station and to daily integrate the research process and information skills. If you would like to try the research mat, go for it! To ‘assemble’ it: print both pages, tape them side by side, and laminate. The version available is version 4. I made some changes to the flow of the steps from the previous version.