I am supposed to come up with a research topic for my 5th graders to do a paper on that will be do in May. I am a first year teacher and have no idea what the topic should be. It has to be around 2-3 pages. They can use the internet, books, etc. Does anyone have any good ideas for topics for 5th graders?? Thanks!
I always did research papers when I taught our Space unit. I found that by fifth grade, they'd had space several times already and so I just let them each pick a planet and I grouped their research into 3 chunks, which later became three body paragraphs. I also did animals a few years...we did ocean animals and did a paragraph about habitat, family life, etc...you get the picture. So...I guess my advice is to tie it in with whatever you're studying in Science if possible and kill two birds with one stone.
and they are expected to write a 5 paragraph essay with a bibliography and notecards. I have an outline that they follow since figuring out what information to use is what's hard for them. If you need a copy, let me know and I'll send it to you.
Every spring (after testing), I focus on research. I teach media literacy (which at the current moment isn't in our standards... but it's SO important!), as well as "report" writing in the five paragraph essay. We tend to do our research on a famous person (although we may have to change it, since the Social Studies teacher is doing famous people right now!!). I may ask them to write about a favorite activity or hobby (its history and notable characters).
I posted the unit plan on this post, but since I use a lot of materials that others have created, I'm not going to post that... Many of those materials can be found online. One of the best is "Wading Through the Web" from ReadWriteThink
Why do you have to come up with a topic for them? Allow them to choose a topic, a very specific one, in which they have an interest. Have them come up with two or more guiding questions that they wish to learn on that topic. They can get the topic and questions okay'd by you before they begin the whole research process to make sure it's not something too simple or broad or just not "meaty" enough.
The students will get more out of it if they take ownership in what they're researching. A problem with requiring them to research a topic in one particular area is that it's limiting and those who don't favor that area are going to be stuck with it. My kids do research projects every year and I always have them choose their own topics. If I were to tell them they had to do something on government, for example, many of them would be very disappointed--especially if science is really what they're interested in.
My students will do a research project on countries. I have my students pick a country that interests them or of their heritage (they love picking that). We're learning about the 13 colonies and the Revolutionary War, so we talk about our ancestors moving here from other countries. I have a paper that explains what is to be included in the research paper, and a rough draft paper to help the students organize their paper along with a letter to parents explaining all of it (at school though).
Besides the research paper, I have my students create a power point presentation where it highlights important information to present to the class on our "Around the World Day". On this day, the students present their countries to the class with their power point. I also have the students bring in a food that represents their country. Some times I have a student who doesn't bring anything it, but most do. It's really interesting to see what the students bring in. Every year I want to make a recipe book with all of the different foods, but I haven't gotten there yet. Someday though....
I love this idea. tnv-can you tell us a little bit more. For instance, I'm curious when the students see the rest of the staff-do they visit classrooms or do you mean as they pass in the hallway. I have 32 students so am trying to figure how they would all have the opportunity to speak with more than one staff person for a minute or two. Maybe I'll invite parents in.