The Foundation for a Meaningful Life
Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA

News Detail

Exploring Research Skills

Fourth graders step into the shoes of famous explorers to understand their drive to discover the world.
Students in Ward Russell’s fourth grade social studies classes have been delving into the Age of Exploration by studying the seven reasons for exploration this spring. Students examined the underpinnings of exploration from curiosity, national pride, expanding trading routes, spreading religion, the desire for greater wealth, foreign goods, and fame. They used their understanding of the reasons for exploration as a jumping-off point to their Explorer Biography projects. 

Ward asked each student to learn about the life and accomplishments of a well-known explorer and distill that information into a poster-board display. While each student uses an organizer with guided questions as the foundation for their research, the hope is that the fourth graders will become like the explorers themselves, seeking information and following their curiosity. “We help them to find additional sources to explore and encourage them to watch documentaries as well,” says Ward. Having already researched Native American tribes earlier this year, this project continues to hone the fourth graders' non-fiction research skills. Students are working on the essential skills of identifying a reliable resource, highlighting critical information in a text, taking notes, and presenting their information as clearly and concisely as possible. Ward reinforces the fact that good notes don’t require complete sentences, just essential information.

The culminating Explorer Expo event underscores the need for extensive research. On May 19, Ward invited families and Lower School students to meet each explorer and hear them talk about their accomplishments and challenges in character! The requirement that students be able to answer questions off the cuff requires that they dig deeply into the life and experiences of their chosen explorer. “They might face some tough and tricky questions,” he says, “but that’s also part of the students immersing themselves in their chosen explorer.” As visitors wandered around the trade show of explorers, each student gave a small presentation and fielded questions. The costumes ranged from the simple but effective donning of Jacques Cousteau’s little red knit hat to a bearded, sherpa-wrapped Leif Erikson. “I tell them not to spend money on costumes, but to explore how they could dress in character with materials they already have,” says Ward. “It's one of my favorite parts of this project because I have no idea what they will come in looking like, and there's nothing better than seeing the students arrive on Expo day and seeing their creativity on full display!”
main number 508-490-8250
admission 508-490-8201