I don’t even remember the country I researched nor do I recall what I discovered in my inquiry.
I just remember not enjoying it, not at all, and I loved writing even then. I know that I don’t want my students to be that kind of researcher.
We used a very simple citation method, connecting the bibliography resources with a number in the text itself.
The essay had to be at least 300 words long, cite two sources and develop from an introduction into a body of research and end with a closing.
After gathering information, I did an extensive lesson around plagiarism, quoting and paraphrasing.
I acknowledged the ease of which we can now copy and paste text from one source into another with technology, but I emphasized the need for a writer’s own understanding, words and voice to come through, and that if you use information from research, you need to point to it with citations.I hoped that by sharing my thinking, it would make more visible the writing process, and for many students, it was helpful to watch their teacher writing research with them.Many students kept my annotated essay files in front of them as they worked (although more than a few copied my writing style in the opening paragraph.) One particular student, whose work I want to share here as an example of our process, was interested in the elephant generally, and then they narrowed down the focus to the African Forest Elephant.This allows writers to do searches and citations right in a Google Doc.I had all students set up a Research Document where they would take notes and grab information, while also keeping track of websites and citations. By doing this, I was able to have a handle on how students were faring and who needed the most one-on-one assistance from me during class.I still remember a monumental, and nearly insurmountable, research project that I was assigned in elementary school on an African country.It caused no end of frustration at the time and the memory of it still gives me shivers.In this two-part video, Bobby Shaddox's and Karen Mac Donald's sixth-graders at King Middle School in Portland, Maine, engage in a highly structured sequence of writing lessons in order to create the final product of their Rules to Live By learning expedition.The final product is a Rules to Live By Poster, which includes their personal rules to live by as well as the story of a major world leader.The various extension activities have also provided my top-tier writers with an means to push themselves at every step of the way, meeting their needs, too.After talking through what a research project is, and what it has been for them in the past, I explained how we would be using an environmental theme connection for the writing, but beyond that, the choice of a topic would be up to them.