Interest-Based Independant Projects


Three to four 45-minute sessions for class instruction. This does not include the individual research/product creation component.


  • world map
  • globe
  • atlases
  • content web for unit
  • essential questions
  • menu of possible independent projects


  • Generate ideas.
  • Use decision making strategies to select a research topic.
  • Conduct research.


  • Administer forest interest survey to each student.
  • Team discussion of surveys - students may add to own survey.
  • Class discussion.
  • Three-Step Interview: Pairs of students will interview each other to determine strength of interest in topic. Upon completion of partner interviews, students will Roundrobin in their team, each one in turn sharing with the team what they learned from their partner in the interview.
    • What most interests you about forests?
    • How long have you been interested in this topic?
    • What have you read about this subject?
    • What else would you like to learn about this topic?
  • Class discussion - members of each team shares something learned from partners in the interviews.
  • Students will think and then write ideas for a research question that they could answer through extended research.
  • Team discussion and analysis of research questions.
  • Students will develop a written plan for research. THE PLAN SHOULD:
    • State the problem.
    • Identify the intended audience.
    • List the early steps and procedures.
    • List necessary resources.
  • Individual conferences between teacher and student about written project plan, making modifications as needed.
  • Students will begin to conduct research on selected topic, utilizing the Rainforest Connection, classroom library, school and public libraries. As students conduct research, they should be monitored and guided to narrow focus to one manageable question.
  • Once the research is well underway, come together to identify final products and audiences. Students will be asked to think and write product ideas in think pads.
  • Team share/team list of ideas.
  • Class share and discussion. Create list of product ideas.


  • How do people typically communicate results or products in a given field?
  • Students will select final product and audience, and will record in written plan.
  • Individual research and product creation will continue.
  • Students will share products either in jigsaw structure or as a whole class.
  • Students will evaluate projects and process.


  • How did you feel about working on the project?
  • What have you learned?
  • Were you satisfied with your final result? Why/why not?

NJ Core Standards: Science 5.6, 5.7; Language Arts 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4.