Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
May 9, 2017

The Who Would Win? 60-Minute Research Project

By Genia Connell
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    Over the years, I’ve learned that some of the best lessons aren’t planned out weeks (or even hours) in advance, they just happen. They’re often driven by student interest and curiosity, and the end result can be amazing. The Who Would Win? 60-Minute Research Project that I’ll share with you this week is one of those accidental successes.

    A few years ago I had a girl in my room who entered every single contest she came across. She wrote paragraphs and essays, made posters, took pictures, whatever the particular contest required. And she won these contests — quite frequently. One day I was notified that she had written a research report that won her first prize: a classroom visit from the Who Would Win series author, Jerry Pallotta.

    I helped plan and make the arrangements for his visit as he kindly agreed to speak to our entire student body, not just our class. The afternoon before his visit, the very last thing on my author visit to-do list was to read a few of his books to my class. While the Who Would Win? series was wildly popular with many students in my room, I knew several of my third graders hadn’t read the books and I wanted everyone to be familiar with Pallotta’s work before he visited our room the next day. What happened next led to a project that has become one of my favorites.

    If you are not familiar with these books, the nonfiction text is highly engaging. Each book teaches students about the adaptations of an unlikely pair of animals while posing the question, Who Would Win? should an improbable battle ensue. The winner is always determined by one trait that makes an animal stronger or faster than the other.

    Right after lunch, I read the first book to the class. They loved it, making predictions all the way through the story of who they thought would be victorious: the grizzly or the polar bear. While I was reading the second book to my class, something interesting started: I kept hearing mumblings among my students who were putting their own pairs of predatory animals together. Grabbing that teachable moment, I flipped to a clean page on my chart paper and asked, What animals would you like to see matched up for a Who Would Win book? And with that, a project was born.

    Generate a List of Pairings

    Students suggested pairings fast and furiously: elephant vs. hippo, piranha vs. electric eel, bat vs. tarantula, and on and on.

    Narrow the List Down

    At this point I knew the direction I wanted to take. I’d have my students do some research to determine who would win a battle between some of the pairs listed. In order to make it manageable, I wanted to get the list down to four pairings, so we voted. The four most popular pairs would be researched. The very first year I did this, the four pairs were leopard vs. cheetah, coyote vs. wolf, python vs. crocodile and — wait for it — tick vs. flea!

    Get Student's Preference for Their Animals

    At this point, I let the students know what I had in mind. I told them that we were going to do a research project that afternoon. They would be learning about one animal to determine what adaptations it had that would help it win a battle when opposing another animal. They were psyched! Right before they went out for afternoon recess, I asked students to state their preference for which of the eight animals they wanted to study. They listed their first, second, and third choices on a sticky note.

    Create the Teams

    While the students were outside, I quickly went through their preferences and assigned everyone to one of the animals they listed. Because I knew our time was limited I took personality and strengths into mind when creating the groups, while still respecting their preference order.

    Explain the Assignment

    Students returned from recess and gathered on the carpet. I passed out a note organizer I’d made quickly while they were at recess, then explained that they were going to do a mini-research project about their animal. They would have 60 minutes to work with members of their team to:

    ·       research their animal using books and online resources

    ·       create one poster with text and photos that taught classmates about their animal and its special adaptations

    ·       be prepared to present their poster and defend why it would win the “battle.”

    Ready, Set, Go

    With the clock ticking, students quickly set to work. Most teams divided the work up between the group’s members, with some researching while others began creating the poster.

      

      

      

      

    Time’s Up!

    At the 60-minute mark, everyone cleaned up their area and reported to the class meeting area with their posters. Looking around, I was amazed by what was accomplished in such a short amount of time. Because it was nearly time to pack up for dismissal at this point, I told students we would be doing the presentations first thing the next morning. The posters were hung up, side by side with their partner animal.

    So…Who Would Win?

    Because our author was due to arrive in less than an hour, we started the next morning with the animal vs. animal presentations. Again, it was evident that the students rose to the occasion. The leopard group shared first followed by their partner, the cheetah. Students listened to the presentation and were able to draw conclusions based on what they’d heard. My third graders decided that the leopard would win because while the cheetah is faster, it can only run at top speed for a very short amount of time before it tires quickly and needs to rest. The leopard, while not as fast, can run for much longer periods of time, therefore, it could escape the tired cheetah. While I wasn’t sure how the tick vs. flea research would go, the kids were enthralled. I have to admit that I was impressed when the class determined that the tick would win, because it is an arachnid that eats any insect in its path and a flea is just that, an insect.

    The Author Visit

    We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Pallotta. He captured the attention of all students as he talked about his childhood, how he became an author, and his many books. He even gave students a sneak peek at drafts of what was to be his next book, Alligator vs. Python. When my class heard that, they erupted. They had just studied crocodile vs. python!

    When the author came back to our room, the kids showed off the posters they had made. He truly seemed to love them, snapping pictures and texting them to his wife! He was also kind enough to gift each student with books that he autographed.

     

     

    I absolutely loved seeing what my students were able to accomplish in only 60 minutes. Driven by their own curiosity, I had never seen them work harder during an hour-long block of time. This accidental project was so much fun, and such a great learning experience, it’s now found its way into my plan book every year since — and that’s no accident.

    Thanks for reading,

    Genia

    Over the years, I’ve learned that some of the best lessons aren’t planned out weeks (or even hours) in advance, they just happen. They’re often driven by student interest and curiosity, and the end result can be amazing. The Who Would Win? 60-Minute Research Project that I’ll share with you this week is one of those accidental successes.

    A few years ago I had a girl in my room who entered every single contest she came across. She wrote paragraphs and essays, made posters, took pictures, whatever the particular contest required. And she won these contests — quite frequently. One day I was notified that she had written a research report that won her first prize: a classroom visit from the Who Would Win series author, Jerry Pallotta.

    I helped plan and make the arrangements for his visit as he kindly agreed to speak to our entire student body, not just our class. The afternoon before his visit, the very last thing on my author visit to-do list was to read a few of his books to my class. While the Who Would Win? series was wildly popular with many students in my room, I knew several of my third graders hadn’t read the books and I wanted everyone to be familiar with Pallotta’s work before he visited our room the next day. What happened next led to a project that has become one of my favorites.

    If you are not familiar with these books, the nonfiction text is highly engaging. Each book teaches students about the adaptations of an unlikely pair of animals while posing the question, Who Would Win? should an improbable battle ensue. The winner is always determined by one trait that makes an animal stronger or faster than the other.

    Right after lunch, I read the first book to the class. They loved it, making predictions all the way through the story of who they thought would be victorious: the grizzly or the polar bear. While I was reading the second book to my class, something interesting started: I kept hearing mumblings among my students who were putting their own pairs of predatory animals together. Grabbing that teachable moment, I flipped to a clean page on my chart paper and asked, What animals would you like to see matched up for a Who Would Win book? And with that, a project was born.

    Generate a List of Pairings

    Students suggested pairings fast and furiously: elephant vs. hippo, piranha vs. electric eel, bat vs. tarantula, and on and on.

    Narrow the List Down

    At this point I knew the direction I wanted to take. I’d have my students do some research to determine who would win a battle between some of the pairs listed. In order to make it manageable, I wanted to get the list down to four pairings, so we voted. The four most popular pairs would be researched. The very first year I did this, the four pairs were leopard vs. cheetah, coyote vs. wolf, python vs. crocodile and — wait for it — tick vs. flea!

    Get Student's Preference for Their Animals

    At this point, I let the students know what I had in mind. I told them that we were going to do a research project that afternoon. They would be learning about one animal to determine what adaptations it had that would help it win a battle when opposing another animal. They were psyched! Right before they went out for afternoon recess, I asked students to state their preference for which of the eight animals they wanted to study. They listed their first, second, and third choices on a sticky note.

    Create the Teams

    While the students were outside, I quickly went through their preferences and assigned everyone to one of the animals they listed. Because I knew our time was limited I took personality and strengths into mind when creating the groups, while still respecting their preference order.

    Explain the Assignment

    Students returned from recess and gathered on the carpet. I passed out a note organizer I’d made quickly while they were at recess, then explained that they were going to do a mini-research project about their animal. They would have 60 minutes to work with members of their team to:

    ·       research their animal using books and online resources

    ·       create one poster with text and photos that taught classmates about their animal and its special adaptations

    ·       be prepared to present their poster and defend why it would win the “battle.”

    Ready, Set, Go

    With the clock ticking, students quickly set to work. Most teams divided the work up between the group’s members, with some researching while others began creating the poster.

      

      

      

      

    Time’s Up!

    At the 60-minute mark, everyone cleaned up their area and reported to the class meeting area with their posters. Looking around, I was amazed by what was accomplished in such a short amount of time. Because it was nearly time to pack up for dismissal at this point, I told students we would be doing the presentations first thing the next morning. The posters were hung up, side by side with their partner animal.

    So…Who Would Win?

    Because our author was due to arrive in less than an hour, we started the next morning with the animal vs. animal presentations. Again, it was evident that the students rose to the occasion. The leopard group shared first followed by their partner, the cheetah. Students listened to the presentation and were able to draw conclusions based on what they’d heard. My third graders decided that the leopard would win because while the cheetah is faster, it can only run at top speed for a very short amount of time before it tires quickly and needs to rest. The leopard, while not as fast, can run for much longer periods of time, therefore, it could escape the tired cheetah. While I wasn’t sure how the tick vs. flea research would go, the kids were enthralled. I have to admit that I was impressed when the class determined that the tick would win, because it is an arachnid that eats any insect in its path and a flea is just that, an insect.

    The Author Visit

    We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Pallotta. He captured the attention of all students as he talked about his childhood, how he became an author, and his many books. He even gave students a sneak peek at drafts of what was to be his next book, Alligator vs. Python. When my class heard that, they erupted. They had just studied crocodile vs. python!

    When the author came back to our room, the kids showed off the posters they had made. He truly seemed to love them, snapping pictures and texting them to his wife! He was also kind enough to gift each student with books that he autographed.

     

     

    I absolutely loved seeing what my students were able to accomplish in only 60 minutes. Driven by their own curiosity, I had never seen them work harder during an hour-long block of time. This accidental project was so much fun, and such a great learning experience, it’s now found its way into my plan book every year since — and that’s no accident.

    Thanks for reading,

    Genia

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Genia's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

Put your reference books to help students power-up their vocabulary with games and activities that make the most of dictionary skills, idioms, antonyms, and synonyms.

By Genia Connell
January 5, 2017
Blog Post
Video Selfies to Improve Fluency

Give your students an assignment to make a 60-second video of themselves reading aloud to show off their fluency skills, and you may discover that they wind up reading for hours in the course of filming their video selfie.

By Genia Connell
December 8, 2016
Blog Post
Chalk Talks to Engage All Students

Chalk Talks are reflective routines that allow all students to simultaneously share their thoughts, ideas, and wonderings in a judgement-free zone. 

By Genia Connell
October 13, 2016
My Scholastic

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us