Fifth Grade Social Justice End of Year Research Project

ELA 5

Social Justice Research Project

Project Overview

In this unit students will complete a four-week research project focusing on a compelling question that falls under the umbrella of social justice. Students will develop their own compelling question after being introduced to several social justice topics and being allowed to do preliminary research on the topic of their choice. After posing this question, students will embark on independent research, using guidelines set forth by Mr. Robles, to begin answering their question. Students will compose a research paper that poses their question, presents their findings, and discusses the implications of these findings on their question. Students will present their final projects using a multi-media format.

General Plan for Project Based Inquiry

Pose Compelling Questions: At the start of the Unit, students will spend two days on the process of posing a compelling question. On day 1, students will spend time familiarizing themselves with a social justice topic of their choosing. Students will be given five general social justice topics to explore: child labor, access to clean water, voting rights, access to education, and poverty. Each topic will have a few pre-selected articles that describe the general state of the issue. Students will be encouraged to do some additional research to further understand the status of the topic. On the second day, students will be guided through the inquiry process, first brainstorming any and all questions that come on mind about the topic, and then refining and prioritizing questions until they have identified their top question. Based on their topic preference, students will be placed into groups where they will further refine and prioritize their questions until each group has decided upon a compelling question. Groups will submit their compelling question for teacher review.

Gather and Analyze Information: After identifying their compelling question, students will spend three days conducting research on their topic. As they conduct their research, students will complete both a source evaluation and a source analysis activity. The source evaluation process will help students to determine first if they have selected a reliable source. The source analysis process will help students to start thinking about how they will use the source in their paper. It will guide them through picking out the most important information from the source and explaining how they will use this information in their paper. 

Creatively Synthesize Information: After conducting research on their topic, students will begin the process of synthesizing information. This will take six days. Students will start by first creating a detailed outline for their paper where they will go through the process of categorizing their research and grouping it by subcategory. During this time, students will engage in mini-lessons that are aimed at fine-tuning certain aspects of their paper such as thesis writing. Once their outline is complete, students will begin drafting their paper. This will take three of the six total days. During this time, students will continue to have mini-lessons on topics such as writing introductions and conclusions. By the end of the six days, students should have a complete draft (including in-text citations and a bibliography).

Critically Evaluate and Revise: Students will spend two days evaluating and revising their work. Students will start by completing a guided self-evaluation where they will be given a set of objectives and asked to determine if their paper meets them. After a self-evaluation, students will conduct a peer-evaluation, in which they apply the same standards to a work of their peer, while their work also receives feedback. Students will also have a conference with the teacher to review important parts of their essay such as thesis statement, structure/organization, and explanation of evidence.

Share Public Act: Students will finalize their papers using the feedback provided in the evaluation phase. In addition to finalized papers, students will create a visual presentation using Windows Movie Maker or Google Slides. Students will present their findings to the class at the end of the unit.

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