Let's take a look at what's expected in third through fifth grades:
W.3.8 - Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
- Recalling information from experiences could include a broad spectrum of encounters! Students might write about events that they've personally experienced, people they've met, places they've visited, animals they've observed, etc.
- Gathering information from print and digital sources in this grade level could range from participating in a web scavenger hunt to locating information to answering a specific question. Although many third graders are ready to write brief research papers, interpreting this broadly presents a multitude of possibilities.
- Taking brief notes sounds simple, but is it really? To do this, students need to find information and summarize it. This becomes the first step in a powerful sequence of thought processes that allows older students to locate key points, summarize and paraphrase, and synthesize to communicate their own writing without plagiarizing.
- Sorting evidence into provided categories helps kids understand how to organize their information.
- Children can explore social studies or science content using guiding questions or graphic organizers. For example, they might investigate the three main categories of rocks on the website Rock Hounds, a website hosted by Loogootee Community schools, and record their answers on a simple worksheet like the one found here (partial text shown below).
- Children can research something specific. Here are a few ideas for animal research (available in full in Animals! Animals! Animals!, a free product in my Teachers pay Teachers store):
W.4.8 - Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
More sophistication and independence are required for fourth graders. They must recall and gather "relevant" information, as well as taking notes and categorizing information on their own. In addition, fourth grade students must create a list of sources.
Early in fourth grade, teachers might guide their students using graphic organizers with categories written in, such as these. As the class becomes more familiar with the process, students can begin creating their own graphic organizers and determining their own categories.
The Common Core does not specify how students should list their sources. That's left up to the individual teacher. Most students at this grade level are at least ready to locate author's name, article title, publication title. Many can do even more!
W.5.8 - Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; summarize or paraphrase information in notes and finished work, and provide a list of sources.
Fifth graders are asked to do all that third and fourth graders do, as well as summarizing and paraphrasing "information in notes and finished work." This is the year that students must be able to take notes, organize them, write a complete informational piece, and provide a works cited.
How do you encourage your students to gather and organize information? I'm sure there are many creative ideas floating around out there!