Sunday, December 22, 2013

State Projects ::: Research Paper, Power Point, & State Float

This research project is a huge task for the students, but they always do such an amazing job! Last year, I had my students work on the project towards the end of the year. This year, I had my students work on it in the first trimester. In hindsight, that may have been too early for such a big project. Especially the research report aspect of the project. So next year, I will hold off until the 2nd or 3rd trimester.

The project consists of a research paper, a state float, and a Power Point presentation.

I tell my students about the project a few weeks before we get started. I created a Power Point that shows examples of projects from last years students. This visual really helped them understand what was expected. I also showed some of the Power Point presentations that my students created last year.

Now last year, my 5th graders were also my previous 3rd graders. So they were familiar with creating a Power Point. I worked with them on creating a Power Point in 3rd grade for the plant/animal adaptation unit. So the Power Point aspect of the project was a piece of cake for them. However, this year was a different story. Most of my students haven't had the experience of creating a Power Point. I pulled back groups of students and modeled/taught them how to create slides, add transitions, etc. Luckily the kids today are so technologically savvy they catch on quick!

I asked me students to think about three states they would be interested in researching. A few days later they chose their states. I don't allow the students to research the same states. I tell them, there are 5o states and 29 of us!

I give my students a month and a half to complete the project and created a calendar that gave walked them through on what they should be working on each day and tentative due dates for certain parts of the project.

We first tackle the research paper. Most of their papers ended up being 10-12 pages! Of course, I am modeling each step of the way.  During our writing time, I pull back groups and teach mini lessons on what the following should include and how to correctly set them up:  a cover page includes, table of contents, bibliography, etc. We discuss the different means of obtaining research, how to paraphrase, etc. Students are given a packet (in English and Spanish) that explains in detail the components to the research paper and state floats. Students are also given the rubric for all three parts of the project.

Once, they are almost finished with their state research paper, they start gathering materials and creating their state float. This year I had quite a few students put wheels on it so the float actually moved!


The state research project and state float are mostly completed at home. The Power Point presentation is created in class, but those students who have access to computers at home worked on it there too.

Since the students already researched their states, creating the Power Point wasn't too difficult (once I showed them the in's and out's of creating one).

One everything is finished, I invite the parents to our classroom to watch their children present their projects using their Power Point presentation. They also discuss their state float and their research papers are on show throughout the room for others to view.

I must say, it was A LOT of work and when I first rolled out the project, they looked at me like I was crazy! But, to see the joy of accomplishment in their faces once they were done was awesome! I keep telling them, that I am trying to prepare them for middle school, high school, and ultimately college. These are definitely skills they will need!

Head on over to Fifth in the Middle's Social Studies Linky for more nifty projects!

I found a great 50 State Video/Song on Youtube that my kids LOVE!

***Now I just need to figure out how to make a little smiley face symbol for their faces instead of a black dot!***

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  1. Really creative floats!! I loved them. We do state projects, too. This year with the 1:1 iPads in our room, I am going a different route. I will definitely have to head over and link up as there appears to be some awesome projects there! Thank you for sharing.


  2. Wow! Looks like an intense but rewarding project! States and regions are taught in fourth grade in my district, so I might have to pass this on to them. Also, if you put the pictures on slides in PowerPoint, you can add a smiley face shape over their faces :) At least, I can on my Mac.

  3. 29 students? Twenty-nine? Veinte y nueve? Holy moly...that's a lot of big kids. I'd love to have a copy of your state project floats/rubric. Yours turned out awesome! We did a state project this year with the class next door. They have 44 kids so it left enough for my kids to work on the remaining 6 states in groups. It was interesting to see them work on this in groups since I normally have them do it individually. I taught my kids that I have now in our Gifted program when they were in 1st grade. We did thirty minutes of technology each morning. It definitely makes all the difference in the world now because they definitely are tech savvy. That sure does help doesn't it?!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'


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