Fourth Grade Takes a Stand

Earlier in the year, the fourth grade worked on their first research/media literacy project. We talked about how to find information and that media contains messages, has a purpose, voices that are heard and voices that aren’t heard. Below are my reflections during the process. Looking back several months later I can think of few projects that ignited such passion in the students that inspired the focused and high level of work. Constantly through the process I had to remind myself that these were fourth graders because of the level of work and the commitment to the project. Here are the reflections in the moment:

“Wait, what do we need to know?” This is the question that was shouted across the library as students gathered with urgency around a computer. Normally yelling across the room makes me close my eyes and breathe deeply, but this time I lit up with joy. This was the exact right question for the group and the passion is something teachers dream of their students bringing to their learning. The fourth grade was working on their first in depth media literacy project. The parameters of the project are simple: each class is split into two groups and given one side of a topic to research and support. One class is debating the Philadelphia soda tax, one class is debating bear hunting in Pennsylvania and one class is taking on Inuit whaling. The groups must organize themselves, and their information. Students must find a minimum of three facts to support their argument and the facts must come from a reliable source, read they can’t simply say “I already know this.” They must point to a reliable source, whether it be from a text or online. They also must cite their source at the end of the project.

Some of the skills embedded in this project are how to:

  • find information
  • create a good research question
  • vet information
  • get back on track
  • work together
  • resolve conflict
  • present information 

Below is a link to a short movie with snippets from some of the conversations students are having. In the first two videos students can be heard finding focusing questions to begin research. Students in the third video discuss using Wikipedia, and then make a face because they know they will have to find two other sources. After the video, students question if they are moving in the right direction. You can see the students sharing what they learned if they ever run into a bear, but is this relevant to their argument? In the final video students are extrapolating information about the effects of the soda tax in Philadelphia. They are forming arguments and asking questions based on what they are learning. Click here to see the video,

2 thoughts on “Fourth Grade Takes a Stand

  1. This is awesome. Thank you for sharing this project! These are such essential skills to build and what a fun way to do it.

  2. Fabulous! Although I am retiring, I am adding this to my file of important goals for my replacement.

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