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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Who Would Win Research and Writing Project

After those wonderful and amazing state standardized tests I sat down and did some thinking! The writing was just so different from what my kids had ever seen. Before the test, we pushed writing hard focusing on the writing process, the 7 good traits of writing, conventions, topic sentences and conclusions.  However, it just wasn't enough! The MERIT test here in Arizona had the kiddos read two passages and using that information answer a persuasive writing prompt.  Talk about stepping it up!  And I like stepping it up, so it was turn to up my game.  I started to think about what we could do for the remainder of the year to mimic this process demonstrated on the test and set my kids on the path to success.

And then it came to me: Who Would Win? If you haven't heard of the Who Would Win? book series and you work with early-to-middle-elementary school students drop everything and check them out! ( These great HIGH INTEREST non-fiction books choose two animals and pit them against each other in a book to see who would win in a fight. Along the way students learn all sorts of great science!  

My kids go nuts over these books in my classroom library.  So I raced home to do some research and write up to two passages about different animals. The idea was to have the students read the passages and use the information they found to write a persuasive essay about Who Would Win?!  But then I thought, why would I do all the research?  Doing research projects is part of the standards and a great way to incorporate technology into the curriculum as well as give the kids some control over the material they/re learning.   So instead, I went to the library and picked any book about vicious/fun looking animals and brought them into the classroom the next day and let my kids go to town.  What a great scene to see kids eagerly searching through NON FICTION books and loving learning!  Here are the basic steps of what followed:

  1. Choose Animals. After looking through the books and getting some ideas, students choose the two animals to pit against each other. Once they have teacher approval...
  2. Pre-Write. Begin research on each animal ranging from scientific names to ways they protect themselves. Library books were the primary source to begin with and then we moved to the internet focusing on googling search skills (my how times have changed!). Once they feel they have sufficient information they teacher looks over it and a) suggests more info they might need or b) gives approval for the...
  3. Draft!  Fold up some pieces of paper hamburger-style, staple the edges and have students use a Who Would Win? book from the classroom library to mimic the format.  As kids began drafting you could have heard a pin drop!  This allowed me time to help the kids who were struggling with completing their research.  Once done partner kids up to...
  4. Peer Revise and Edit.  Once peer editing is completed come see the teacher for further aid in revising and editing and then...
  5. Publish!  I created lined paper on white paper with a space to draw a picture on each page and included a black piece of card stock as a cover.   We folded it up and we had some great looking books! 
  6. Persuasive Essay. This was the goal of the project! When students completed their publish they then wrote a persuasive essay about who would win and why!  
  7. Author's Chair.  We had a session where students could read their Who Would Win? books to the class and field the many adoring questions from the audience!

Kids finished each step at very different times, those who finished early with the whole process (before Author's Chair) were able to chose a research project of their own to create any book they wanted. Some kids did another Who Would Win but some people chose to research people. 

This project had to be the highlight of they year in writing. I was able to reach EVERY student and see measurable growth...and they didn't even know I was trying to help them on standardized testing next year ;)

Happy teaching!!!