Phase IIIThe following Classroom Close-Up is taken from the Teacher's Guide to Developing an I-Search Unit, a component of the Make It Happen! manual.
Cooperative Learning Activity
In the example below, students who have been investigating similar topics share information they have gathered. They see how their information links together and relates to the overarching questions. This type of activity is particularly beneficial for students who have problems seeing relationships because it helps them synthesize and integrate information.
Students work in small groups to create "And . . . But . . ." discussions. One student starts a discussion by presenting a conclusion from his or her research. Then another student elaborates or disagrees by continuing with a sentence that begins with "and" or "but." Everyone in the group has a chance to add to the discussion. The activity encourages students to think in new ways about their information, provides them with additional ideas, and helps them to link their separate searches.
Setting the Context
Sam wanted students to combine their information to answer the Coming to Americas unit's three overarching concepts . He explained, "Today you will be integrating information. I call this the And . . . But . . . activity. It involves drawing on your notes, linking information, and making comparisons.
Doing the Activity
Sam directed the students' attention to the overarching concepts on the bulletin board. "I'd like you to form groups according to the overarching concept that best relates to your I-Search topics," he explained. "Remember to take your note cards with you."
Once students were seated in their groups, Sam explained the process.
One member of each group begins the discussion with one thought-provoking or controversial sentence that expresses a finding from his or her notes. Other members of the group listen carefully and then, when called upon by the speaker, add a sentence beginning with either "and" or "but."
Sam clarified that "and" signaled an agreement or addition to the previous sentence, while "but" signaled a contrasting idea from what was just stated.
Sam circulated among the groups, listening to their discussions. He also set up a tape recorder for each group so they could record their discussions. When everyone in the group had taken a turn, they played back the tape and made notes in their journals on the following:
Linking Back to the I-Search Process
Sam used this thought-provoking activity again the following week. He grouped the students around a variety of topics such as periods in history, racial and ethnic groups, and regions of the world.