The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

American Colony Research Reports

Toward the beginning of the year, my students undertook their first major independent research project. They learned about different fish from the Great Lakes and reported on them to the class. I designed the report to be as open-ended as possible, giving the students complete freedom in how they presented their findings. They had come up with a list of 10 questions about their fish and used those to guide their research. Many did posters, a few did PowerPoint presentations, and the remainder presented written reports. We invited guests from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to visit and hear some of the reports.

The second independent research project was to learn about one of the early European explorers and create a page for an alphabet book. This task was slightly more difficult in that the students had to limit themselves to a few sentences or maybe two short paragraphs. We didn’t share this project with others, but it was very interesting to see what they learned and what they chose to share with their classmates.

For the past several weeks they have been working on their third project: learning about one of the original thirteen British colonies in America. I have 24 students, so each colony had two students learning about it, but they were not to work in pairs. (I used a report on Connecticut last year as an example, so nobody got to use it for their project.) The twist for this project was that they were not able to give a boring written report. They could do anything else, though.

Some students went with a poster presentation and had the information organised in such a way that they could share it with others.


Some chose to do a PowerPoint presentation and, taking advantage of the LCD projector we have checked out from the library, were able to share right in the classroom.


A couple of students even made movies that we were able to watch.

They will continue to share reports next week while we are learning about the War of 1812, which will take us right up to Spring Break. I haven’t decided what our last research project will be yet, but I am hoping to tie it to one of our science units so that the class will have done two science and two social studies reports by the end of the year.


One response

  1. Pingback: Celebrating Champaign-Urbana History |

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