Each year, there are students in my class that finish assigned work quickly and complete lessons well. It is such as shame to ask them to “do it again” or “help other students” when they really need something to challenge their intellectual abilities and channel their natural curiosities. This independent study project packet came out of this need in my classroom. After attending a CAG conference in my area, I found a draft of an independent study organizer. I revamped the earlier version and added my own ideas for references, redrafting paragraphs, and new ideas for final projects. An added interest survey gives students and teachers a great starting point. I use this as bonus work for the fast-finishers, and make sure that a teacher, aide, or parent volunteer is available each time they are working on their project in order to help them along the way with research, writing, deciphering text, Internet searches, etc. I also allow any other student the opportunity to complete an independent study project on their own, if they want to do so. I print out the copies and three-hole punch them so I can insert them into three-pronged pocket folders, which helps everyone to keep their notes, papers, and resources in one place.
Key Words: Independent study, small group literacy, paragraph writing, research, project, fast finishers, bonus work, writing in complete sentences, GATE depth and complexity, Laura Donner