April 15, 2016

Research Papers: Choosing Topics, Using Appropriate Sources, Creating Outlines & Avoiding Plagiarism

Research papers. Not sure who shudders more, teachers or students, when they hear those words. Read on for ideas on how to help students choose appropriate, focused topics and find appropriate, reliable sources. You can also find out about different processes for organizing student research and creating outlines as well as various approaches to getting students to paraphrase rather than plagiarize and correctly cite sources.
This #2ndaryELA Twitter chat was all about writing research papers in the secondary ELA classroom. Middle and High School English Language Arts teachers discussed the types and frequency of research papers written, choosing topics, finding reliable sources, creating an outline, citing sources and paraphrasing versus plagiarism. The highlights are below.

Choosing appropriate, focused sources:
*Topics in the “Room For Debate” section of the NY Times
*Brainstorm and share topics in writing groups and conferences
*Choose the topic for the first research paper for students, for the second allow them to choose a subtopic within a larger topic, gradually releasing them into choosing their own
*Tie student writing into to a current unit of study
*Give students a list of ideas and allow other ideas with approval
*Base research papers on themes in literature circle novels

Finding appropriate, reliable sources:
*Go over the qualities of reliable sources with Schmoop video or this video
*Use your school's databases subscriptions
*provide the sources for the first research paper for students, for the second allow them to also add their own, gradually releasing them into finding all of their own
*Provide links to start initial search
*Partner with media center specialist/librarian
*Model reliable sites and what they look like: lack of ads, web address endings, etc.
*Use the links at the bottom of the Wikipedia articles to find great sources
*Use Google Scholar
*Create a shared Google Doc that students add to as they find great sources

Organizing research and creating an outline
*Have students create an annotated bibliography
*Putting research onto note cards which can easily be grouped and rearranged
*Provide an outline or graphic organizers
*Use Google slides as digital notecards which can also be rearranged
*Create an outline of the information students need, then as sources and information is discovered, assign colors/symbols to help with grouping of ideas

Paraphrasing versus plagiarism
*Practice paraphrasing by reading the text, write a summary without looking, and then putting ideas in bullet points
*Practice paraphrasing with famous quotes, quotes from books and movies, etc.
*With the note card method, have students write research on one side, their own words on the other
*Have students highlight source material in their paper & see the total percentage
*Tell the story of Kavvya Viswanathan as a cautionary tale with examples from her highly publicized plagiarism
*Use stop and write/draw - after 2 minutes of reading, give students one minute to write/draw what they remember without looking back
*Run papers though PaperRater to check grammar and plagiarism or other free plagiarism checkers
*Use Draftback, a Google extension, to create a live-action movie of a paper's creation, character by character.  You see every typing stroke, deletion, and mass paste.

Citing sources
*Use EasyBib online or as a Google Add-On
*For citations @EasyBib is awesome
*Discuss why citations are needed with famous examples

Hope you'll join us next Tuesday April 19th at 8pm EST to talk about teaching media literacy. We'd also love for you to join our 2ndaryELA Facebook group (even if you aren't on Twitter). 2ndaryELA is a group of middle and high school English Language Arts teachers looking to share ideas and best practices. This group is an extension of our Twitter chat and a place for collaboration, questions, and encouragement. Feel free to post teaching ideas, success stories, resource links, photos, etc. that will enhance our instruction. 

If you missed this most recent chat, scroll down and read the whole thing below.

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