Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ready, Set...Write!

While doing some blog housekeeping recently, I realized I left out some other aspects of the research paper I use with my kiddos!

After students practice creative perspectives with Waldo, select their topics, and read sample papers, we get ready for our research. I use my own method for note-taking which includes one full page for each source. It is basically a combined source card and notecard, expanded across an 8.5"x11" page. There are a couple reasons I don't do index cards: I am not required to make 10th graders use notecards, I find them to be onerous, and I never used them myself in college. If you want to get away from notecards and are interested in seeing my example, I've provided a link to a sample page at the conclusion of this entry.

After students have done a bit of research - maybe after a day or two, we do a hypothesis & brainstorm. This is usually just a simple homework assignment or even a closure after a day at the library.

Just some simple prewriting...
This paper doesn't have a "thesis" per se, but students have to have some direction to it. So instead, they get to develop a "hypothesis." They will choose ONE possible explanation for their mystery and use that to formulate the plot of their story. I give my students the following:

Hypothesis: On your own paper, copy this sentence, filling in the blank with information about your paper.
I am telling a story about ____(topic)____, and I've decided the explanation I will focus on is _____________________________________________________."

For some reason, this can sometimes confuse classes. If you want to give them an example from a topic no one is working on, go ahead ("I am telling a story about crop circles, and I've decided the explanation I will focus on is that aliens make them in attempts to communicate.").

Then they must brainstorm possible ways to tell this story. Remind them of the different formats they saw from the sample papers. I give my students the following:

Brainstorm: List at least 4 different ways or perspectives you could use to tell your story. Circle the one you intend to use.

Again you can give them examples from a topic no one is working on.
Crop Circles: 1. a newspaper article about random crop circle appearances; 2. a short story about aliens creating the crop circles; 3. a first-person story about visiting my Uncle, a farmer; 4. a news report script/interview with farmers and experts

After you've made sure everyone is on the right track, then you can let them start drafting!

Source & Notes Page Sample

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