This month, I participated in a fun “Swap & Share!” I was so excited to be paired with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper.
We both teach 4th grade, and we both have similar teaching styles (even though we live in two completely separate states!) so we both adore each other’s products! I actually had a hard time choosing a product from her store because I already OWNED almost everything that was designed for 4th grade! Hee hee! I was finally able to decide on her awesome Natural Disasters Project, though, and it was PERFECT because we are smack in the middle of our weather unit! If you are looking for an informational/research project to do with your class- this is the product for you!
Because this product is EDITABLE in her store, I was able to adjust some of the wording in the project explanation page to fit my classroom’s needs. Since we are learning about weather, I had mine choose either hurricane or tornado to research. Next year when I do this again, I’ll probably add in flood, blizzard, and drought as choices, but I just needed to keep it simple for the first time!
The students were expected to choose a topic that they would be writing a research piece about at school, as well as creating a visual and presentation for at home. I checked out EVERY book in the media center about tornadoes and hurricanes so the students would have plenty of resources in the classroom. Students got into groups to look at the books together and decide what information was important to include on their outline.
Holly provided a great outline in her product that the students should use to prepare to write their research piece. It clearly lays out how the paragraphs should be “grouped” in their paper. She also provided an example research paper about hurricanes, but I didn’t use it this year because I didn’t want my students that chose hurricane to “copy” it.
We also went to the computer lab and used our PebbleGo and TrueFlix subscriptions (provided by our school) to get some more research in! These two sites are awesome because the students can read it, or they can choose to have it READ TO THEM!! This is a great option for your ESOL kiddos!
Once students had enough research, it was time to write their piece! This was a great time to have a mini-lesson on good leads and endings… no one wants to read about tornadoes when the first sentence is, “I’m going to tell you about tornadoes.” I read some opening paragraphs from a few of the books they had used for their research, and we also talked about making personal connections to grab their attention. Here are a few examples my kiddos came up with on their own:
The whole week we were working on these research pieces at school, they were working on their visual aids and presentations at home. Holly’s project explanation does a great job of letting the students (and parents) know what is expected, and I didn’t have ONE single email or phone call about what was expected… and EVERY child had their project on the day I required it to be at school! Yahoo!
The students are asked to create a presentation that is 5-15 minutes long. Their visual needed to be used in their presentation. A few of my students created powerpoints, many made posters, some made dioramas, and one made a video! Here are some of the visuals that my students made:
Didn’t they do a fabulous job? Honestly, their presentations could have been a little better… but it IS the beginning of the year, and it was their FIRST time getting up in front of the class to present anything! Because of this, I was more lenient as I graded the presentations… which PS – Holly provided some awesome rubrics to use- one for the essays and one for the presentation. Both rubrics are very clear and easy to use. We have to use county-created rubrics to grade our writing pieces, but if you don’t already have a writing rubric made, the rubric Holly provided is perfect! The presentation rubric was fabulous- my students clearly understood the expectations with the wording Holly used.
This is DEFINITELY a project I will do every year. The students really enjoyed listening to everyone’s presentations, and learning information they didn’t already know. If you are looking for a ready-to-go Common-Core-aligned project with an awesome explanation page, kid-friendly outline page, well-written example essay, adorable project idea pictures, and clear, user-friendly rubrics, grab Holly’s Natural Disasters Project!