Doing poster projects with my students has not been my forte. Some projects I’ve attempted required herculean efforts from all of us but delivered less than impressive results with little true learning having occurred. I’m choosing not to include pictures of these!
Because of our birding focus in our classroom, I wanted each student to research one bird and do a project displaying their findings. When I couldn’t find a ready-made template, I decided to make my own 14X18 inch version of Scholastic Poster Reports. Students loved them because they could add their own touches and I loved them because they were simple.
We used about 6 science periods to research and create our posters. Here’s what each student did::
Before Day 1: Choose a bird found in our state.
Day 1: Print out bird information. You could do this step for your students if they don’t have computer access at school. However, the students loved the chance to look up their own birds. We used the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. The best part? Students thought it was finding the “sound” tab and listening to their bird’s calls and sounds. Tips: Before setting them loose on this one, show them exactly what search terms they should use, the features of the Cornell website, and exactly how to print out their information. Tech-savvy students can help others.
Day 2: Read and highlight Cornell Lab’s information on your bird. Because my fourth graders were highly motivated, they had mostly completed this task before class. So I assigned them to help third graders read and find important information. To guide their reading, I showed them the posters and talked about what they’ll need to know to fill in their posters.
Day 3: I We spent an additional day reading about our birds. Some students were still reading and highlighting their Cornell Lab papers. Others looked up their birds in bird books and encyclopedias. I love how a project like this is personalized according to student ability and interest.
Day 4 & 5: Fill in several sections of our poster each day. For some sections, I gave them a sentence starter to ensure that they would use complete sentences. For example, for the habitat section I wrote this on the chalkboard. _______ live in _____. You will usually see them in _________.
Day 6: Go back to the computer lab and print out pictures of our birds and their range maps from the Cornell Lab website. Thankfully, our lab printer only prints black and white. So students had to color their range maps and birds, an activity that allowed them hands-on interaction with the information. Students who were done early enjoyed listening again to the bird calls and sounds on their bird’s page.
Besides using six science periods, we spent additional time coloring the posters, before students presented to classmates an especially interesting fact from their bird posters. This project achieved at least two purposes in my classroom.
- Students practiced reading and summarizing informational text, preparing them for more challenging research projects in upper elementary.
- Their interest in birds skyrocketed, turning some of my students into avid birders.
To see the source that inspired my posters, check this link.
Download the poster template here:
CONTRIBUTOR: Anna Zehr