Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"It says he was an English Explorer ...

... that means he was from America, right? We speak English in America."

Oh holy research! We started a research project today in 4th grade that involves every student reading about and collecting "evidence" on one of several European explorers. We found after all 3 classes had a full hour of research in the library, that our kids DO NOT KNOW HOW TO GATHER INFORMATION FROM EXPOSITORY TEXT!

It was seriously terrifying! The kids had no clue that someone that was a French explorer would be from France; and Italian explorer would be from Italy; a Spanish explorer would be from Spain; and clearly they didn't get that an English explorer would be from England! They also had no clue that the two dates in parentheses after the explorer's name had anything to do with the dates he was born & died ... and some of mine couldn't even figure out that the later of the two dates was the date of death. Yikes!

We spent the rest of the afternoon moaning & groaning about how the kids don't know how to research and don't have the background knowledge needed to take notes over the correct information. I read the following quote recently on a blog I read, and I thought it fit the situation quite well:

"At which point did children stop going to school to ask questions and go to school to be given answers to remember?"

We are too busy teaching our students the information that "will be on the test, I know it will be, so make sure you are paying attention" that we don't have time for them to explore (pun intended) to find the answers to the questions they have about the world around them.

Something to chew on ... I'll step down from my soapbox now!

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7 comments:

keepingkidsfirst said...

I'm with you on that one 100%! Save me a spot on the soap box!

RachelC said...

Believe me that the work you are doing now is helping the 5th-grade teachers immensely! My kiddos are finishing up research reports on ocean animals. The hardest part of this was getting them to write down their sources. They did a pretty good job of note taking.

Marie Hooker said...

LOVE that quote because it is so true. Sigh.

distaff said...

From a neglected librarian's point of view, you are absolutely right on. It's a sacrilege ...

... said...

Take the rest of the day off and relax by the pool.

chitknit said...

At least they're actually using BOOKS to research. HS kids think that "research" means Google search and Wikipedia (the bane of my existence)!

Bets said...

Today the kids wanted to know if their SS text books counted as an Encyclopedia on the bibliography form. Maybe they wanted to know that ... because they don't know what encyclopedias are! 2 kids asked me, "What are these books with the same covers and the alphabet on the outside?"
Another student looked in the B volume for Robert La Salle. Why? I have NO clue! He kept flipping towards the back to find the L information. ARG!