Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monkey Around

A fourth grade class is about to read Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. As an introduction to the book and as a way to continue working on paraphrasing, we had the students each research a different type of monkey. They get so excited about animals especially, but also learning about new things. This is a great way to review skills while building interest and background for the book. With only a couple of projects behind them, they have really picked up speed in how quickly they can finish something like this. It was amazing to see the progress they have made this year on paraphrasing. We have given them 3 different projects before the monkey one and found on the first one they could not take notes without copying. On the second project, we gave them a form with space on one side to write 8 short notes from information they read. Then they leave the source, turn the paper over, and use the notes they wrote to write a good sentence with each fact. Then, they take the sentences and put them in an order that flows into a paragraph.

The initials beside the notes were to remind them which sites they used so they could go back to them for the citation information for their bibliography. Citing their picture was also a requirement, as always. It was a struggle for some of the students at first, but by this project, they have gotten so much better at it and it goes much quicker now. The kids are even commenting on how much easier it is. Each of the prior projects has had different topics, different end goals, but we have really focused on paraphrasing and using your own words. This time around, most of them were done with the notes, and some also with the sentences in the first 45 minute session! In three sessions, they all had completed research, writing, citations, and a powerpoint. (We plan to try dropping out the form for the next one now that they have practice.) They also were asked to choose backgrounds and colors that relate to the monkey they learned about. We are so proud of them. Here are some of the powerpoint slides they made.

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