Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Follow her on Twitter! @MrsHorne1

    This post is part of the #LaunchBook series of #D100BloggerPD.  This post is written by Lori Horne, a 5th grade teacher at Hiawatha School.  She is a guest blogger today on Responsive Literacy as part of this series.  She has been using the book, Launch, with her students in a NGSS based unit on the Earth's spheres and the impact of humans within at least 2 spheres.  Click on the Thing Link above to catch up on previous posts.  

Chapter 6Understanding The Information

     "Every child deserves someone to be crazy about them!"  I first read this quote and thought "Yes! That's me!"  Then I realized at that moment I only read part of that quote and mistakenly processed "Every child deserves someone to be crazy..."  Eh, either quote applies.  Allow me to introduce myself.  Lori Horne- fifth grade teacher, 18 years teaching experience, and first time blogger.

     I agreed to the journey of design thinking before knowing what it was.  Why?  Well, because I am crazy and crazy about my kids.  I love to see them authentically and organically learn.  Also, Jenny Lehotsky is a good sell.  She made the book Launch by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani sound like an epic journey.  I can't say I disagree.  I just know that I have some big shoes to fill.   So epic or not, I am sharing my thoughts during this #D100bloggerPD on Chapter 6.

    I'm a mom and a teacher.  So I see learning through multiple lenses.  My daughter, for example, LOVES basketball.  I mean the girl would sleep with her Jordan's on if I let her.  I questioned at first if this was her passion or did I somehow guide her to this.  Did I inadvertently use my Super Teacher powers of scaffolding to tell her that of all activities basketball was THE one?  Basketball was my sport growing up so naturally a sense of excitement was mixed with that concern.  But I decided that I would not make this a walk down memory lane for mom.  Instead, I found a basketball program for girls, signed Bella up and let someone else be the "expert."  This coach is intense.  My daughter is 8 and was taught and expected to execute drills I did in high school and even college ball.  I often wondered if I did the right thing.  There were tears.  But not for reasons I thought.  It was frustration. It was determination.  It was MANY hours on the driveway perfecting her shot and nights in the basement perfecting her ball handling.   It was watching YouTube videos and NBA games and many many questions.  All driven by her!  I had to let go AND be ok with it.  I now work for the basketball program.  Yep, on top of teaching, I told you I was crazy!  But I watch as my daughter grows and learns about a game she loves because she worked for it.  I offer suggestions and guidance ONLY when she asks for it.  Let me tell you, that is hard!  Why?  Well, because we have to admit that kids don't learn from only one source.  Even bigger than that, they can do this without us telling them everything.

     So what does that ultimately mean?  Make research fun!  Research doesn't have to be just about reading.  It's about discovery.  Furthermore, having the right attitude is key.  I had to step back and be ok knowing someone can teach my daughter basketball better than me.  I had to let her explore knowing she could fail.  But it's ok.  It really is.

     I brought this real life experience to my classroom while teaching the launch process to my students.  I will tell you, Phase 3: Understanding the Information, has been a challenge for my fifth graders.  Questioning is hard.  They are so used to us asking the questions and them just finding the answers.  So creating their own questions may take time and some reminders.  The kids should make sure that their questions are:

  • Connected to the main topic
  • Specific
  • Object and fact based
  • Going to help them find solutions and create products

     Once they make sure they have all that in place, they are ready to research.  This won't look like your "average" research.  This is student centered research.  They have to be allowed to explore.  So moving into this, you as a teacher should consider the following:

Make the Research Process Flexible

So far my students have used Notability, google forms, sketch noting and a plethora of organizational structures.

Pay Attention to Bias

This was a tough one to teach.  I found I constantly have conversations about the information about the information they find and how certain facts are conveniently omitted.

Start Early

I don't mean first thing in the morning.  I mean, early in the year.  We started this project early in November.  Without a doubt, I guarantee that when we do the Civil War nonfiction later in the year, these kids will be ready, to ask and answer questions.

Expand your Definition of Sources

Articles, web sites, books, and magazines.  Those are all wonderful.  But let them know there is more.  Reach out and find an expert to answer those hard hitting questions.  My students LOVED the fact that they could FaceTime my husband to ask about machines and mechanics.  Use social media to reach out to those who are experts in their field.

Provide Scaffolding... But Not Too Much

Ahhhhhh...  Sorry that was me letting go.  We are so used to feeling like we need to have everything planned out for our students.  So instead of telling them what they should or shouldn't do, provide them with options.  Begin scaffolding the lesson knowing that at some point you have to let go.  Let them decide what help they need and be there if they need you.

     Last but not least, allow for a bigger definition of a research.  While there will always be a need for a library, that should not be the only stop in their inquiry journey.  Therefore, think about these five key methods of research.
1.    Research through reading
2.    Multimedia research
3.    Exploring Data
4.    Interviews
5.    Hands on research

     Once they have all the information, they are ready to start navigating ideas.  To continue on this epic journey, join Hip Hooray in K as she navigates you through Chapter 7 on December 12th.  If you want to stay up to date with the entire book study, follow this link or click on the Thing Link above.


  1. It is great to see how you and your students have embraced this process Lori. The research skills, flexibility, and ability to see bias in text are great skills that will benefit them for a long time. And they will keep refining those skills. I love how you were able to speak of this in real situations. Excited to see the end result!

  2. Great post and love seeing the pictures of kiddos in action! Thanks for writing! :)

  3. Lori - this is so wonderfully written. I appreciate your real life example and walking us through what it feels like to be a student learning through this process. Seeing this in action in your classroom is full of engagement, excitement, curiosity and YES questioning! Thank you!