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A Survival Guide for Teaching Students How to Write Research Papers

About this Daily Classroom Special:
A Survival Guide for Teaching Students How to Write Research Papers was written  by former Teachers Network web mentor, Lisa Kihn, a math and language arts teacher at Nevin Platt Middle School in Boulder, Colorado.

A Survival Guide for Teaching Students How to Write Research Papers


Dear Parents,

We are beginning research papers in Language Arts. We are asking that students select a topic that enriches or supports a specific interest of theirs. Students should decide on a topic that passionately interests them and that can be supported by appropriate resources. Time will be given at school for students to locate possible resources and to check their availability at the library at school. Students will also be given time to use the Internet. In addition, our class will be visiting the public library.
Students should fill out the attached topic commitment form and return it to school. Discussing topic possibilities with your children will help them decide whether or not their choices are feasible. If the topic seems too broad, please try to help narrow your child’s focus. Students are expected to have at least 5 resources related to their topic. They will also need to interview someone in their field; therefore, it is important to select the topic carefully.
The final paper is expected to be no more than five to seven pages. Final papers must be typed. The quality of work and research is very important. Students will need to have a total of 50 research notecards to support their papers.

Basic Components
Minimum of 50 3x5 notecards (one idea per notecard)
Rough Draft
Final Written Piece
- Title page
- Body of Paper
§ Introduction
§ Body Paragraphs
§ Conclusion

- Bibliography

- Must be relevant to and reflect the research
- Can be pictures, graphs, illustrations, maps, etc.

- Students will deliver a speech on their topic to the class
- Specific guidelines will be discussed closer to the deadline
- Students will also create an activity related to their topics for the class to do


By this time, students have selected topics and discovered whether enough resources exist to conduct a thorough investigation. Please take some time to talk to your children about their topics, the resources they will use, and the direction they want their paperss to take.

You can help them to focus their topic so that their papers cover a reasonable amount of information (i.e., “Force and Motion” is probably too broad, while research on “Bernoulli’s Principle” would probably be narrow enough). It is critical that students have a genuine desire to find our more about their topic!

Suggested Sources: (students will need at least 5 resources)
At least one primary source is required (such as a personal interview or a first-hand visit).

- Reference Books
- Texts
- Magazine Articles
- Newspaper Articles
- Computer Accesses Sources
- Interviews
- Visits
- videos/Movies/Programs
- Computer Software

Student Name ___________________________________
The topic I am interested in studying is _____________________________

My parents and I agree that I have a genuine interest in this topic. We also know of a number of resources that will provide the information I want to discuss in my paper.

________________________ _________________________
Student signature Parent signature

To the Project Overview
To the Daily Lesson Plans
To the Speech Preparation Sheet
To the Research Paper Self-Evaluation


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