I use folders to store all the student’s in progress work. Red or blue are good colors because you can easily see if they are put in desks or left somewhere in the classroom. I have my students turn them in at the end of their research time in a file sorter. With the file sorter you can quickly see that Student #3 didn’t turn in their folder in the picture above. I don’t let them go home or get stuffed in a desk. I have the person who is assigned the teachers assistant check at the end of the period if all of the folders are filed.
I learned this quickly. I thought students would be responsible for my first few years of teaching and all of the following occurred:
“I can’t find my folder!”- This causes more frustration the next day when they can’t find it, and you have to tear apart a desk while the rest of the class needs you.
“I took it home by accident.” and it never returns. – This ends up being your time punishment because that is 20 more minutes you end up printing and making custom copies for one student.
“I took it home and couldn’t stop.”- Now this student is done with everything and then have nothing to do but ask for free time on the computer.
“I took it home and my parents helped me.”- We want the students to learn how to research and finish a big project. I had a student that her parents did her board and it looked so superior to the others that this caused tensions among the parents on State Day.
To prevent any of the above situations it is much easier to collect and store the work on any large project.
Coming Up Next: State Reports Part 4 Assigning States
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To prepare for the project I start by making the necessary copies. I usually have 25 students. I partner with another teachers and they do the other 25 states.
Time-Saving Tip: Print everything and share with your partner teacher. If you don’t have a partner, and you know you are going to do this next year; just keep the other states for next year. Just make sure to keep the undrawn state papers separated, so the next year’s students only draw the states you have printed.
If you are using my 50 State Bundle, I have set up the files so you only have to print once. Print the following:
Print the PDF- 50 State Report Cover Pages
Print the PDF- 50 State Report Physical Maps
Print 1 State Report Research Topics (Make 50 Copies)
Print 1 State Expansion Research Papers (Make 50 Copies)
Print Choice of Rubrics (Make 50 Copies)
If you are in 4th grade and doing one state, print once, and then make enough copies for your class of the topics you would like them to research.
In order to keep all of my copies organized I use this basket. You can flip the paper both directions to keep papers organized, have easy access, and there are no folded corners.
Grade As the Students Finish Each Section
If you are using my State Research Report from Teachers Pay Teachers then open the “State Report Grade Book” from the files. This will help to manage the grading while the students are finishing each page. Fill out the grading worksheet with your student’s names. The spreadsheet is editable. It is easy to copy from your online grade book roster and paste the names into the Excel program. Just print, and as the students complete each page of research, grade them and keep this as a record to enter in the online grade book. This will also give you an idea of research progress and if students are not managing their time.
Look for Part 3 coming soon discussing how to assign and manage a State Report project. If you are looking for a State Report template for your students, see my store at Teachers Pay Teachers – Learning in an Hour. 50 State Report Bundle and all individual states are available.
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For the majority of my 5th grade students this
will be their first exposure to a large-scale research project. It is a momentous task for the teacher to
manage 25 different projects and be available for one on one help while
ensuring that no one falls down the rabbit hole of time. Parents are excited to see their child’s work
on State Day and an unfinished project can lead to hurt feelings.
It takes about a month to complete everything prior to State Day. Parents are invited to the gym on a Friday morning for a few hours and the students run their state booth. Most students bring food from their state and dress up in state-related clothes and other grades are invited to view and eat their way through the United States. It is a popular event for the school. In the afternoon, my students present their reports to the class. It is a great day, but it can be an incredible undertaking. Even if you are not going to the extreme of a State Day, I hope these tips will help you and your students have a positive experience.
At my school we have a tradition of State Day. All 5th grade students are assigned a state and they research their state, create a poster, and on State Day they run their “state booth”. The students even wear costumes that represent their state. I have had students dress up as fisherman from Alaska, a Minnie Mouse costume for Florida, and cowboys from Oklahoma. The students bring display items and food for tasting. We tape their poster on the front of the cafeteria benches and invite parents and other grades to come visit in the morning for about 2 hours. It is a great way to show off all of the hard work the students have completed.
Everyone looks forward to this event, but let’s backtrack to the month before the event when the work has to be done! Over the years, I have thought of all of the challenges that this project brings and how to make next years even better.
Challenges of the State Report
For most students this is their first exposure to research and handing them a sheet of paper to fill out through “research” can be daunting.
Answering the same question repeatedly
Even though you explained it in whole group, and everyone seemed to be listening, you end up answering the same question 25 times. I think I answered the question, “What is a natural resource?” 400 times in my career. Maddening I tell you!
Now it’s all done and how do I grade this gigantic project that’s worth a huge portion of this quarter’s grade. If the kid bombed they can never recover.
Weekends are filled with the task of grading this huge project. No teacher likes to go home and grade. We need weekends off!
Redesigning the State Report Template
As much as I loved State Day; I just dreaded this project. I set off to create a State Report that addressed the 3 challenges that I had identified. Each page of the research tells the students what is expected of them and has point allocations at the top of the page. This part can be cut off for display.
For those maddening questions, I answered repeatedly, I put an explanation under the question. I give an example of what is a natural resource, natural disaster, census etc..
The last part was to streamline the grading process. As the students complete each research page they sign up on the board to meet with me for grading of that page. I meet with students and check off the points. I keep a running score with the rubric form for each student. This helps if the project is taking a long time I can enter points for each page in the gradebook. This can also help me to be the time manager and ensure a student isn’t falling behind on the project. Parents expect a completed project and poster on State Day, and having a poster partially completed can be awkward. Yes, this has happened!