Into the Curriculum
School Library Monthly/Volume XXVI, Number 5/January 2010
Using Picture Books to Jump-Start Inquiry in Elementary Learners: The Tiny Seed
by Julie Green and Kristin Fontichiaro
Julie Green is a school librarian at Pembroke Elementary School, Birmingham Public Schools, Birmingham, MI. Email: Green.firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Fontichiaro is a school librarian in Birmingham (MI) Public Schools; Adjunct Lecturer, University of Michigan; and co-author of Story Starters and Science Notebooking: Developing Student Thinking through Literacy and Inquiry (Libraries Unlimited, 2009).
This lesson plan builds on the article "Jump-Start Inquiry: How Students Begin When They Don’t Know," (SLM 26, no. 5, January 2010, pages 22-23). It serves as a dynamic way to help young researchers investigate the seed cycle through the discussion of a common text while identifying their background knowledge and developing deeper questions for inquiry.
Information Literacy/Inquiry Objectives:
Connecting to AASL's Standards for the 21st-Century Learner:
- Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning (1.1.2).
- Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding (1.1.3).
- Display initiative and engagement by posing questions and investigating the answers beyond the collection of superficial facts (1.2.1).
- Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning (3.1.1).
Curriculum (subject area) Objectives:
Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations for Science:
- Generate questions based on observations of plant growth and plant parts (S.IP.02.12).
- Share ideas about the needs of plants and life cycle stages (S.IA.02.12).
Grade Level: 2 (adaptable to other grades)
Carle, Eric. The Tiny Seed. Crowell, 1970.
Access to the following wiki or one of your own creation: http://pembrokemedia.wikis.birmingham.k12.mi.us/The+Tiny+Seed+by+Eric+Carle
Google Docs account for creating Google Form
This can be a stand-alone (release time) school library lesson that coincides with what is going on in the classroom. In this case, the school librarian is the facilitator and the recorder for question asking. The school librarian also creates the wiki pathfinder if using one different from the one provided. If co-teaching is possible, one instructor can read The Tiny Seed aloud and the other can model and facilitate questioning and scribing.
Procedures for Completion:
Using the format outlined in "'Skill of the Month" (SLM 26, no. 5, January 2010, pages 22-23), the instructor(s) begins by demonstrating and defining the sections of the oversized note-taking "folder" (see Folder Example, below). They then transcribe what students think they already know about seeds. The instructor reads The Tiny Seed aloud, pausing to "think aloud" and scribe questions ("Can a flower really grow taller than a house?") and new learnings ("Seeds need just the right temperature to grow—not too hot, not too cold") in a "think aloud" style. After hearing the story, students summarize what they have learned, and the school librarian scribes the students' ideas onto individual sticky notes.
On the second day, students are introduced to a wiki pathfinder that is a combination of research links, embedded video, and embedded Google Books. In pairs, they explore the resources on the pathfinder and write new information on sticky notes.
At the conclusion, the class reconvenes to share what they have learned. Sticky notes that answer earlier questions are attached to the questions and moved to "New Learnings." Sticky notes that contradict what students thought they knew are attached and moved to "Misconceptions." Students are reminded of what they have learned to remove their misconceptions.
The school librarian (and teacher, if available) will assess students informally through discussion, mini-conferences, and observation.
Students will perform a self-assessment at the end of the research time by filling out the Google Form on the wiki pathfinder. Responses on the self-assessment will inform what skills and strategies to emphasize when the activity is repeated.
Students can share their learnings by creating a podcast, informative video, brochure, etc., or investigate questions generated during the research process through print or online sources.