Sixth Grade Research Paper

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.

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He suggests a simplified note-taking system, and he urges teachers to allow students to have choice in the matter of topics, within a larger frame. This year, I found great success with my students’ ability to generate a topic of interest: ► I tapped into a new tool in Google Docs for gathering information; ► shortened the writing expectations to focus on structural development of essay; ► reinforced paraphrasing and quoting while arguing against the plagiarism of copy/paste; and ► added in “extension activities” that allow students to move beyond the essay itself to show understanding with media projects.

The result was a satisfying few weeks of research-based writing, and even my struggling writers made significant progress in writing longer pieces, not to mention learned how to effectively use the Internet for research (done in conjunction with lessons coordinated with our school librarian).

This important “narrowing” came after our consultations and the realization that “elephant” as a topic was too broad to cover in a small essay.

In Google Docs, this student tapped into a relatively new built-in tool called Research.

In the past few years, as the Common Core has pushed us all much deeper into research and expository/informational writing, I’ve been trying to keep reminding myself of some of the lessons I learned, and continue to re-learn through re-reading, from Christopher Lehman’s great resource on classroom projects: .

Lehman reminds us that small scale research endeavors are more effective than huge research projects that overwhelm students.I did provide a list of possible topics for those students who struggle with this part of the writing.In the end, the topics ranged from Hybrid Cars to Nuclear Power to Genetically Modified Foods to Air/Water Pollution to Endangered Animals.I created five screencast videos, one for each step of the research report process.These screencasts pair perfectly with my Research Report Instructional Unit for 5th Grade and 6th Grade!As teacher, I also was writing my own essay a day or two in front of them (my topic was Loggerhead Turtles, which connected to the novel, , that two classes were in the midst of reading, so my essay had two functions: make visible my writing process and give them information about Loggerhead Turtles).I annotated my draft files, printed them out to share with students, found and corrected mistakes, and talked through what I was doing, both my struggles and my success.The story includes a claim related to their rules to live by supported by textual evidence from their research.I do provide instruction and examples during this step because from experience, I know that students will think every piece of information from each source is important and they will copy long passages from each source.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.


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