Digging Deeper and Pushing Beyond

Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions …            -CCSS

This year is interesting in that I am learning a great deal about persistence. This is not persistence for my students but for myself. I have recently retired from years of teaching and now am beginning those projects that have sat so long on the floor by my desk.


I have four children’s stories that need to be developed. By developed I mean they need a great deal more research. There are details and facts that I know will make these stories pop but it means I need to set guiding questions, read closely, gather notes, and – well you know the drill.  It is the research project we set before our students every winter.

I have been teaching 3rd through 5th grade for way to many years. I teach the beginning skills. I set the stage for them. We learn all the steps and practice them.

But – we don’t dig very deep! We don’t really push beyond the first gathering of information. It is the more sustained research we don’t do. We are beginners. We are excited to gather those first few facts and comments. Then begin to write short informational paragraphs.

This is great for my past third graders (maybe) but now I am well patterned myself to do short not sustained research. I review things quickly, I take short notes, my questions are not really guiding my research as deeply as they should. I have lost persistence in my work.

It is amazing what we learn about ourselves and our teaching when we take on a project we have given our students. I have been teaching research for years. Yes-I know what to do but I now find it hard to really go after the information I need, to dig deep.  To be persistent!

This makes me I wonder if I have been patterning short research for students – not deep sustained research and writing. In my effort to cover all the beginning skills I may have been setting up some bad habits. Teaching time is short and we try to cover so much.

Now wondering about:

  • What patterns we are setting up for our beginning researchers?
  • Should we take one class project and dig deep so they understand what that means?
  • What age is best for developing that sustained research project?
  • How do I make time in the busy schedule, of winter research pushing into spring testing, to really go deep?

and last but not least –  How do I now break my pattern of short, quick research?

Can I be persistent, take the time and read through that big stack of books on my desk with all those pages and all those words?

I will let you know – I am off to do sustained research on Georgia O’Keeffe and Ibrahim El Salahi.

1087017_99419559826_2069541989_qFor further reading on research and the internet for students check out the post at Two Writing Teachers by 


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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