The students have their assigned state, their books or computers and they are ready to begin. I first explain my expectations and show examples of good and poor quality work. If this is your first year doing the reports, ask students if they wouldn’t mind leaving their reports behind when they are done. This way you have examples for next year. Some will always donate for the next year. Take the good and bad examples. Sometimes the bad examples are the best.
I try to not spend a lot of time describing the entire project because it can be overwhelming for the students and you will be asked a million questions that are irrelevant. I start with 1 page at a time. I never give my students all the papers for the project at once because they get lost and everyone will start on a different page. It is also daunting to be handed 12 sheets of research on your first research project.
The first day I always start with the cover page. I go over the directions and they can color. The goal is to be done within the hour.
The only way to manage so many questions and so many interruptions is to have students sign up to meet with you. I advise that they need to sign up on the board and wait until it is their turn. Students will inevitably interrupt you with other students and just come up to your desk. Be strong, and tell them they need to sign up at the board and wait their turn. This will help you focus on the student you are working with and not constant interruptions.
As the students complete each page, review the directions and log their grade on your grading sheet.
Time Needed: I try to estimate the time needed for a State Report by how many pages of research that needs to be completed. I plan 60 minutes for each page. To map out your project, take the number of pages of research and multiply it by 60 minutes That is how I plan the days needed to dedicate to the project.
In the beginning, I give a little extra time to get started and work out the procedures such as signing into the computer and how to find the information they are looking for.
My favorite book to use for this project is the America the Beautiful series. Our school library has a set of these books for every state. Once we assign the state, the students check out their book. They still need some access to the Internet at times, but this limits the need for computers.
To manage deadlines, I highlight the grading sheet if a student has had more than 2 hours to work on something, I start reminding them that they need to finish an assignment. I highlight the students left on my grading sheet so I can keep track if they were late turning in an assignment.
Next Post: The First Day of Research and Managment
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One thing I have learned over 13 years of doing state reports is to draw states randomly. This is a very exciting day and the students look forward to picking their state. I really preface that before picking states that we are trying to do research on a state that you may be unfamiliar.
Occasionally, I will have the student that is going to pout, because they didn’t get the state they wanted. They will usually recover. Although, if you have that special student who will make everyone miserable because they didn’t get the state they wanted, there are options. Pick your battles, if they can’t calm down you can:
Do a trade- tell the class, “if you don’t like your state go to the back of the room, and you may trade with those in the back of the room and no one else that is seated.” I have only had this happen twice when I knew a student was going to ruin the whole month for the rest of the class.
Let them draw another state after school, or when the other students aren’t noticing. This will eliminate everyone wanting to draw again.
Most students want a familiar state, I was born…, my parents are from…., etc… Disappointment is always around after drawing states, but after State Day I always ask if they liked the state, and I have never had a student say, “No”. They are proud of what they learned and typically want to visit the state in the future.
Time-Saving Tip: Have a fast finisher or your teacher assistant cut the states out for the drawing and fold in half. After the student draws their state and you have recorded the state, collect the slips of paper and keep it in a sealed bag for next year.
Don’t Forget – If sharing copies with your partner teacher hand the remaining states next door for them to draw. You don’t want duplicates, because you only have the 50 copies.