Sunday, September 9, 2012

Encouraging students to follow their passions

This year our Elementary Librarian and myself have launched a new initiative with our students in Grades 3 - 5.  It's called Independent Studies and our aim is to give the students the skills they need to become lifelong, independent learners.  So far this year we have given students the opportunity to use the print resources in the library and the databases that the school subscribes to, such as the World Book.  The students have now chosen what they want to investigate and have started to write out some questions.  During Independent Studies we discuss the importance of developing good research questions and the skills that are important for critical thinking:  analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  We are hoping that by developing open-ended questions that promote deeper research, that we will be supporting these skills.

So what are our students interested in?  Here are a few examples from the many different investigations our students have started to engage in:

Grade 3:  Paper planes, extreme sports, Indian ranis and English queens
Grade 4:  Special effects in movies, relationships between animals and people, Jamaican dance, the art of Leonardo da Vinci
Grade 5:  the Northern Lights, Shakespeare's life and writings, video games

I will continue to write about this new programme and how it develops with our elementary students.


  1. Hi Maggie,

    My students have about two hours each week for independent learning and I scaffold the experience in a similar way, working with the librarian/tech integrationist on introducing research skills, reading non-fiction text and skimming for answers or information pertaining to to topic, and using a variety of tools to share new learning. I would love for my third and fourth graders to have an audience for their projects. Perhaps we can connect them.

    Karen ( in Vermont, USA

  2. Hi Karen,
    This is a great idea. We are hoping to publish all the students' projects and will send you the URL so you can share this with your students. When will your students' projects be finished? Are you publishing them on your school website?