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Inquiry Research

Student Inquiry Learning

Inquiry all starts with "I wonder..."

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At Pine Bush Elementary, our goal is to help students develop certain research skills at specific grade levels, building upon each other and using currentcurriculum topics for learning content.

clip art of books 

Elementary students love to read nonfiction and most children have a basic awareness of the features of nonfiction (bold, index, captions, etc.) and how these features help a reader to use the nonfiction text in order to learn.

It is important to provide opportunities for our students to identify and apply this foundational awareness when doing their own inquiry research.


Novice level research: three-stage process

K-2 students will:
Finding and Choosing Books for Your Research
Evaluate resources (Can I read it? Do I need it?)
Use information to gain understanding (What have I learned? Did I answer my question?)

Emerging level research: six-stage process

adapted from the WSWHE BOCES Inquiry-Based Curriculum

Use this Research Tracker (.pdf) to help you keep track of where
you are in the research steps below.

1. Connect/Explore prior knowledge.

Print and online encyclopedias are good resources to help you get started
with background information.

When beginning research, you should:
think about what you already know
think about what you want to know
organize your thinking into categories.

Download this tool to help you plan:KWLQ sheet (.pdf)

2. Focus on or develop a kid-friendly essential question.

Develop a good question

When doing inquiry research, it is really important to think of good questions.
You may have an idea (big or small) that you want to learn about.
Crafting your question correctly will help you turn that idea into a great starting point for inquiry.
Remember – good questions make you want to keep learning.
It’s not just about getting one “right” answer.

Have a clear purpose

You should also have a clear purpose for sharing your new knowledge.
It’s fun to learn new things through research and if you share what you learn with others, it shows that your research is important.

Download the Focus planner (.pdf)  to help with your question and purpose.


3. Investigate resources by locating, selecting and using them effectively.

Using Library Books and Online Resources

Go to the Reference Section of the library to use encyclopedias, dictionaries,
field guides and other special reference books to learn more detail about your topic.
These books must be used in the library.

Click on the link for the Research Page for a list of databases and web sites
that will help you with your research. Get usernames and passwords from the library.

Do careful keyword searches when you are online:
• Scan the results for clues (captions, .com, .org, …)
• Make choices based on:
     Purpose of website
     Useful (to you, right now)
     Current (are updates listed?)
     Easy to read/navigate
• Put notes in your own words
&• Keep track of the resources you use so you can go back.

Download the  Inquiry OPAC tool (.pdf)  to help you search for and select books to check out of the library.

Taking Notes

After you find information that is helpful to you, it is very important that you
read the information, take notes on the facts that you learn in your own words
and keep track of the resources that you use.

When you take notes:
write facts down using a bulleted list (complete sentences aren't needed for notes)
do not write everything that you find, but focus on important and interesting facts that will help you answer your inquiry questions
• keep track of the resources that you use, in case you need to go back to check something.

Download the Book, Encyclopedia and WWW notes pages (.pdf) to help you keep track of the resources you use for your notes.


4. Organize information to understand, summarize and devise a plan for sharing.

Graphic organizers are illustrations or forms that help you to visualize, brainstorm and organize your thoughts, ideas and notes on a topic. When you use a graphic organizer, it helps you to compare, make connections or solve problems.

There are some great tools to use to organize your learning and plan your creation/presentation that can be found online and printed from the following web sites:

Education Place

Enchanted Learning

Student Interactives at ReadWriteThink


5. Create/Present new learning in a format of own choice or one that best meets the purpose.

The most important purpose for doing research is to learn something new. Another purpose is to share what you have learned with others (which helps them to learn something new, too!)

When you were in the Focus Stage of research, you thought about the purpose of your presentation, who your audience would be, how you would present your learning and if you would create/present alone or as part of a group.

This section is a reminder of all the potential ways to share your learning. When making a choice, consider if it is the most appropriate choice for your topic, how much time the project will take, if you know how to use the program and if you have all the resources that you need. Visit on the Library Home Page and the Online Gallery links to see samples of some of the multimedia projects listed below.

Print/Visual Products for Presentation:  Multimedia Products  for Presentation
(from our school's network and online)
1. Report
2. Drawing
3. Poster
4. Feature article
5. Mobile
6. Model
7. Flip chart
8. Timeline
9. Graph
10. Diagram
1. Kid Pix picture or slideshow
2. Comic Life comic strip
3. Graph Club graph
4. PowerPoint presentation
5. Kidspiration  diagram
6. iMovie or iDVD
7. Timeliner  timeline
8. Garageband  podcast
9. Animoto  music video
10. Voicethread online discussion
11. GoogleApps

 6. Assess/Reflect on own learning.

After completing your research and sharing your presentation you might  feel like you are finished with your project, but there is one more important stage... reflection.
It is important to think about what you learned about the topic, but also what you learned about the process of doing research.

How did you find the resources that you needed?
Did you take good notes? Did you keep track of all the resources that you used?
If you worked in a group, were you a good team member?
Would you do anything different the next time you do research?

Download this Assessment/Reflection tool (.pdf) to help you assess/reflect your research experience.

Clip art from Clip Art Gallery