Monday, June 25, 2012


So Lars and Anders finished the first part of their Summer Social Studies Projects, their research papers, right on schedule.  Both papers are posted on their blogs, and I'm sure they would appreciate comments and congratulations from friends and family, so please stop by their blogs to check out the fruits of their labors when you get a chance.  They worked on their research papers for two and a half weeks, compiling note cards, creating outlines, rough drafts, and finally their finished research papers complete with end note citations.  I'm very proud of both of them, and they are very much looking forward to playing their new LEGO Harry Potter Playstation game when they get home from camp this afternoon!  Then tomorrow they'll begin the next component of their projects, which for Lars is an essay about an important Japanese historical figure, and for Anders is an essay about Irish folklore. 

For those of you parents who are struggling to help your own children manage large projects like this one, I'm posting my lesson plans from our summer research adventure.  You can find all of the lesson plans at once by clicking here.  Without further ado, I bring you


1.    What’s your thesis?  Remember, your SUBJECT + your OPINION = your THESIS.  If your main topic is something you know little about, you may need to do some BRIEF background reading before you can come up with a working thesis.  Encyclopedia articles can be helpful for this preliminary reading.  Remember that the goal of all of your research and note-taking will be to find information that helps you “prove” your thesis!
2.   With a big project, you need to identify subtopics so you know what kinds of information you are looking for.  Make a list of possible subtopics, or categories of information that you will use to support your thesis.  Think of each subtopic as one paragraph of your paper, and each notecard as a supporting detail that belongs in that paragraph.  You may think of other subtopics once you begin your research, but you should have a few to start out with.  Make sure that most of your subtopics relate to the subject (Science, Language Arts, Spanish, Social Studies, Math, etc.)  area of your project! 
3.   Next to each subtopic on your list, write which type(s) of sources would have the best information for each.  Make sure you have some books, articles, and web sites.  Often your teacher will stipulate how many of each type she wants you to have, so check your assignment packet.
4.     Now you can start finding your sources!  Find your books first, then your articles, and your web sites LAST. 
5.     Be choosy about your sources!  Do NOT check out every single book on your topic or print out articles/web sites without reading through them first.  Choose the best sources, making sure that you don’t get two books or articles that have the exact same information.  Are your internet sources reliable?  Are your facts and figures up-to-date?  How long ago were your books/articles published?
6.   Taking Notes: Check to see how your teacher wants you to cite your sources before you begin research.  Note cards do not get complete sentences; just facts and the title and page number of where you got the information.

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