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How to Get Research Started in the Elementary Grades

By Lynne R. Dorfman

           I have always known that research begins with a burning question – one that needs to be answered to satisfy that “Curious George” persona in all of us.  As my students have engaged in content area learning in the past, I now realize that I was perhaps too quick to send them off on a journey (not always a journey of student choice either).  We all know how important the three Cs are to student learning – choice, challenge, and collaboration.  But what if your students don’t have a burning question to ignite their quest? Read more

PAWLP — An Invitation to Inquiry

By Janice Ewing

       “Transforming wonderings into questions is the start of teacher research” (Hubbard & Power, 2003).

      This month on our blog we’ve been exploring the challenges and rewards of research and inquiry. Tricia Ebarvia shared the thoughtful process she has developed with her students  in “Updating the Research Paper” and Rita Sorrentino examined the timely issue of “Why Johnny Can’t Search.” These and numerous other posts have inspired me to reflect on the value of teacher research and inquiry and on PAWLP’s role in creating a culture that invites us into these practices and sustains their growth. Read more

Teaching Johnny to Search

By Rita Sorrentino

      Although today’s students are tech-savvy in many ways, they tend to have less-than-stellar searching skills. In an article, “Why Kids Can’t Search,” Clive Thompson makes a strong case for search engine fluency. I am not surprised by the research results that were conducted by a group of researchers led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan. In the study, students relied on Google’s ranking of web pages, and selected information from the top of list even when the order was changed resulting in (falsely) top-ranked pages. From this and other studies cited in the article, we have identified a new quandary in our educational landscape: Why Johnny can’t search? Read more

Updating the Research Paper (Part II)

By Tricia Ebarvia

      Last week I explained how I help students discover an inquiry question through independent research.  Below, read on to lean more about our drafting process and the final products.


      At the core of the inquiry paper is Kenneth Burke’s contention that writing is like “entering a conversation.”  No doubt others have written about music and feminism, for example, but I encourage students to think of their final paper as their way of adding their voice to the ongoing conversation about their topic. Read more