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Career Day Project Helps Second-Graders Hone Research Skills

On March 3, second-graders presented their Career Day research projects to family and members of the community. We asked our Lower School librarians Jessica Ortolano and Emily Zeblo to tell us about the research involved in these projects and why it is important to introduce this research process in second grade. 

What is the Career Day project? 

This multifaceted unit asks students to answer the following essential questions: What is a community? How do community helpers make communities better places to live? And, finally, what are the characteristics of a good citizen?  

The second-grade teachers and the library team (Mrs. Zeblo and Mrs. Ortolano) then help guide students in answering these questions by providing background knowledge through various lessons and activities.

How did the project come about?

The Second-Grade Career Day stemmed from the community helpers unit that second grade focuses on every year. A couple of summers ago, I had the pleasure of getting to do grant-funded curriculum work with the second-grade team to interweave informational literacy skills into this unit. Since flex scheduling was still new to us at the time, the summer grant allowed us to work more intentionally on meeting the teaching standards as well as the informational literacy and tech standards that needed to be covered. 

What kinds of things do the students research? How do they pick a career to study? 

After a week of exploring library resources (print and digital), students researched a particular community helper using the “Super3” research process and presented their findings in the career fair.

Students in the past have picked their career. It honestly depends on the type of learner. Our second-grade team has been great about adapting this to the student's learning needs.

Can you go through the research process for this project? 

We follow a consistent process when introducing a new research project to a grade level.  This project wasn't very different from others at this grade level and included the following lessons:

  • Introduction (or review) of the Super3 research steps

  • Book and library resource “tasting”: Students explore the different topics they could study in this unit, and then they usually rank their top choices.

  • Introduction to the graphic organizer: In this lesson, we model (or review) effective note-taking strategies on the graphic organizer they will also use. We talk about citing our sources, and the importance of using the resources around us (teachers, peers, print and digital sources).

  • Independent research support sessions: This is some of our favorite time in the research process! We get to work more intentionally with individual students (or small groups). This provides students an opportunity to test out the Lead From Here competencies (growth-mindedness, accountability and more). 

Why is it important to start teaching research skills in second grade? 

No matter the age, students need to be provided instructional opportunities to empower them as effective users and creators of information and ideas. Introducing research and informational literacy skills early on engages them in critical thinking, collaboration and authentic real-world problem solving — an important set of skills for them to be prepared for middle school, high school and beyond. 

How did the event go?

I think it went wonderfully! It was a loud, fun and interactive event. The students and teachers worked so hard, and we couldn't have been prouder!