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Snapshot: “Nutrition in chocolate milk — what’s the evidence?”

Scaffolding an argument

Margaret Gaudino

Fifth graders wanted to know if the chocolate milk served at school was nutritious.  In preparation for creating public service announcements (PSAs) that would tackle this question, students have learned to find and organize evidence into an argument with Teacher Librarian Margaret Gaudino.  Her learning objective was that students appreciate how important it is to understand all sides of an issue before making an informed decision.

At Strawberry Knoll Elementary, in Gaithersburg, MD, students have learned to compose an argument and support their opinions with quotes from experts. To scaffold her students’ research for their PSAs, Gaudino created a project template in NoodleTools.  

“I have learned that we need to break the process into small chunks and focus on one piece at a time. For instance, we wanted to focus on taking notes and using evidence, so we provided the students with a project that included a source list.”

Sources from a student project
When students downloaded the project to their accounts, they saw various articles about whether chocolate milk should be served in schools.

Organizing evidence

After reading articles about the nutrition in chocolate milk, they copied and pasted quotes to support their argument into notecards, then paraphrased each quote in words that they could understand. For students who needed extra help, the notecard instructions explained the difference between quoting and paraphrasing. Then, using her prepared outline, students organized their notecards into paragraphs and exported them into a Google Doc.

Notes from a student project
Seeing the full content of their notecards helped students decide where the evidence supported their argument.
Student at laptop

 

 

 

Project templates scaffold students’ learning. By including a preselected set of sources, rather than expecting students to find them, Gaudino was confident that students would concentrate on extracting and organizing ideas in order to develop a strong argument.

From project template to PSA

Gaudino’s students created PSAs to share their arguments.  If you’re wondering whether chocolate milk—or even any milk—should be served in schools, listen to Sophia and Mariana’s well-researched arguments before you make up your mind!

Next up is Gaudino’s Genius Hour Project in which students learn to become experts on a topic of interest and share it with their peers. This time, they will find their own sources, take notes and share their work with her Project Inbox.

To learn more, contact Margaret Gaudino at margaret_m_gaudino@mcpsmd.org

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