Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nonfiction Research Mentors

It's been almost one full week since our last summer invitational class.  I've had the best intentions of blogging every day, but the summer haze and 105 degree days have set in and I admit:  I've been very  lazy!  I have been mulling some ideas around in my mind, though.  This year I would like to teach 4th through 6th in a different way in the library.  I'd like to incorporate more research and include all of my reference lessons into the research projects.  In the summer invitational class, we talked a lot about using authors as mentors for writing with our children.  Finally, an idea popped in my mind this week:  Why not use nonfiction authors as mentors for research?  So, immediately I started to think of some of my favorite nonfiction authors:  Steve Jenkins and Robin Page, Loreen Leedy, Jerry Pallotta, Ben Hillman, Kadir Nelson, and more.  The first thing that I thought of was to check out their websites.  Several of the authors, like Steve Jenkins, have videos or show the step-by-step process of the basics of writing or illustrating, but few had information about their research process.  So, I started e-mailing them!  I told them that I'd like to use their works (that our students LOVE) as mentor texts, but that I want them to be  mentors of research.  I had questions about how they found the amazing information in their books!  Some of my questions were:
1.  Where do you get started with your research?
2.  Do you use online sources for your research or print?
3.  If you use online sources, are there specific sites that you prefer that are more reliable than others?
4.  Do you find information that you use in your books anywhere else? interviews, museums, etc. 
5.  How much time do you spend researching one book?
6.  Do you research before you begin or do you work through the process as you write your books?
7.  Is there anything else about your research that we need to know? 
I heard back from Steve Jenkins, Ben Hillman, and Loreen Leedy almost immediately!  Ben Hillman answered my answers in great detail, Steve Jenkins told me he was thinking about posting some information to answer my questions on his site, and Loreen Leedy sent me a link to an amazing blog!  The blog, called INK:  Interesting Nonfiction for Kids, has several nonfiction authors who blog about their craft, research process, fact gathering, and detective work!  BINGO!  On the right hand of the blog page, the information is divided into topics and there are 58 entries under "research."  I have a lot to read!
I'd also like to look into having a few authors that will videoconference with our kids and tell more about their research process.  I'm still trying to formulate some options for the kids to think about with their writing after they learn about the mentors and their research process.  I want to give the kids a lot of choice with the topic they'd like to research, but I also want to formulate a rubric at the same time with some defined expectations.  I'm open to any suggestions!  Post a comment if you have any ideas...

1 comment:

LjP said...

WOW! That's awesome that you got such great responses. The kids will really benefit from this.