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Research Paper- how long?
Old 01-01-2009, 09:52 PM
 
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This is my first year in 6th and I often overestimate or underestimate their ability. What is a reasonable length for a 6th grade research paper on a narrow subject (a historical person, for example)?


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Old 01-02-2009, 06:13 AM
 
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This will be my 22 year of doing research reports with sixth graders. I have learned to give them very specific guidelines and always on paper. I usually hesitate giving them numbers because they focus on that, rather than the topic. Here are my guidelines for a historical person (as I recall, anyway):

Paragraph 1: A strong lead (we spend a lot of time working on leads) that includes an interesting, little known fact.

Paragraph 2: Birth, family background

Paragraph 3: Education

Paragraph 4+: What impact this person had on history and why (this could be several paragraphs.)

Next paragraph: End of his/her life

Conclusion: Summarization. No new information

I have them use a separate sheet of paper for each paragraph to take notes on. I do not allow them to write sentences unless they are writing a quote. They use bullets and skip a line between each fact. They use one source at a time. When they have finished taking notes, they go through and cross out duplicate information and then number the facts in the order they are going to use it. As they are taking notes they use one of the online bibliography sites to keep track of their sources. Internet sites have to be approved by me before they can use them (or they end up using a fifth graders online report ) They must use at least one book and one periodical in addition to any online sources they may find.

Once their notes are finished, they start writing their first draft. Each paragraph is written on a separate sheet of paper skipping every other line and stapled to the top of the notes. I go through it with them and make suggestions. They are not allowed to use personal pronouns. They may not move to the next section until I OK what they have written. What usually happens is that there is way too much information for paragraph 2 and not enough for paragraphs 4+.

When all are approved they type their report in the format I give them and make a cover page and works cited page.

This type of report will have 750 to 1000 words.
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Similar approach
Old 01-02-2009, 07:04 PM
 
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This is my second year teaching, but first year teaching SS with the ancient history project my students will be starting on Monday. I have the benefit of having the previous teachers notes and schedules, so that helped, but I'm taking the entire month of January to have the kids hash out their projects which will end up around 1.5-2 pages. Rather than using loose leaf for note taking, I'll have mine working on note cards. They can't have more than 6 words per card - also bulleted. I have them make one card for each resource and then number those so they can cite their sources on their cards and not have to go through the whole process - just card number and page number (if necessary).

I'm going to have them create an outline using their note cards as well - otherwise they seem to be overwhelmed with all of the information and not much of an idea of what to do with it.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:00 PM
 
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camillew: I forgot about the outline. I do that, too. It helps them organize their thoughts better.

For some reason, I never had luck with note cards. They were always losing cards, even though I gave them a baggie to keep them in. I even went to different colored cards for each topic. That is why I went with the loose leaf paper and a pocket folder to keep it in. How do you keep them organized enough so they aren't losing cards?
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how long?
Old 01-03-2009, 09:33 AM
 
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How much do you want to grade?

I also have student work on a research report. Everyone reads a nonfiction book about their subject and they take 2 column notes (no sentences).

As they read about their subject, they need to narrow their topic to something more specific and come up with possible thesis questions. In the past, I've had students come up with an introductory "grabber" such as an anecdote along with a thesis statement; three sections of body information and a conclusion that analyses and responds to their thesis. They can always do more. We include text features, bold words, titles and subtitles, pictures, cutaways, etc.

They wrap it up with a bibliography and fill out the rubric.

It was a ton to read, but during our additional library research time, I read most of the notes and report sections, so I knew what to expect. We do the work in class, so the students do the work and not the parents.

As far as what to expect, you will always have a range of skill. I guide them by using my own topic. I select an animal and then I don't allow anyone to do animals. (OMG...they have done animal reports since second grade--NO ANIMALS!). For each step, I model it. First I read. Then I take notes. Turn the notes into a narrow topic and thesis. Next I make an outline. We go to the library and do additional reserach about their body sections. Write each section (takes at least a day each). Then a whole day drafting a conclusion. We wrap it up by including text features and typing reports if they want to. We also take time to do peer evaluations. It really helps for them to read each other's work.

By strictly guiding it, they know what to expect. We review the expectations in the rubric after each section.


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notecards
Old 01-03-2009, 09:36 AM
 
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I agree Wig. I've never been able to figure out that notecard thing. Too many cards, subjects, etc. Very messy.

We make folders out of big pieces of construction paper. Fold one hamburger, one hot dog. Open them both up and staple the hot dog sized paper to the bottom of the other. Voila! a folder is born!(Does that make sense?)
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Old 01-03-2009, 09:37 AM
 
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Quote:
We do the work in class, so the students do the work and not the parents.
I found early on that that was very necessary. The only involvement I expect of the parents is to take them to the public library and get a library card and password. I will happily teach them how to get the material they need on line. Of course then the parents need to pick up the materials whenthe library calls.
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An Event in American History
Old 01-03-2009, 12:45 PM
 
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I have taught 6th grade for 2 years and the research paper in me Language circulum is 500-600 words, in 5th grade they do a biographical research paper which is 800-900 words. and the use of note cards is very important, it is how they write their report. and if you go through the steps you should not have any problem with having that many words. Just remeber to leave yourself enough time to grade it. I have a TA and I'll have mine count the words and check for any obvious spelling mistakes. Then I read through it at least three times.
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Old 01-03-2009, 01:14 PM
 
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Quote:
agree Wig. I've never been able to figure out that notecard thing. Too many cards, subjects, etc. Very messy.

We make folders out of big pieces of construction paper. Fold one hamburger, one hot dog. Open them both up and staple the hot dog sized paper to the bottom of the other. Voila! a folder is born!(Does that make sense?)
Yes it does. I'll have to keep that in mind. Right now I get free folders from our fraternal insurance company (Thrivant). So that has been very helpful

My ADHD kids have the hardest time with cards, bas well as my disorganized ones. And the sheer volume of cards is overwhelming to my LD kids. I don't have a problem with the concept of cards, I have just never been able to teach them an effective way of organizing and hanging on to them. I give them rubber bands, ziplock baggies. color coded cards, etc. to no avail. It also seems to take longer to write the notes and organizing them.

I always used notecards when I was in school and had no trouble with it. Perhaps the problem is that I don't know how to teach using notecards effectively. I would love to know the secret.

I learned about using a different sheet of nb paper for each topic from a workshop I took in teaching ADHD kids. I cannot begin to tell you how much easier it was for a large population of the students in my classroom. It is less frustrating for me in any case.
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Thank You!!
Old 01-03-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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Wow, I am so impressed with the amount of information all of you have given me. The step by step instructions from Wig and additional comments from each of you has helped me tremendously. Imalith - can you share your rubric? I was planning to only grade the final product against a rubric. Do any of you grade the paper any differently? Again, thanks for all the help, my students will be less confused because of you!
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Rubric
Old 01-03-2009, 04:37 PM
 
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Suggestion: Grade each part, as you are teaching an entire process not just a finished product.

I give due dates for each step:
  • Getting resources
  • Notes
  • each paragraph draft
  • outline
  • first draft of report
  • proofed and edited
  • works cited page
  • final copy

This is my rubric, but it is based on what they had learned and were applying in the report. Your objectives may be different from mine. I had a separate rubric for content for SS

http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?ts=1231029063

ID # 1421912 (language arts)
ID # 1421931 (social studies)

Last edited by wig; 01-03-2009 at 09:38 PM.. Reason: Forgot rubric ID
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rubric
Old 01-03-2009, 08:10 PM
 
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Attached is my rubric from last year. It isn't my best work, but it will give you an idea. I also grade notes, outlines, drafts, bibliography apart from the main project.
Attached Files
File Type: doc Research project rubric.doc (33.5 KB, 293 views)
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I haven't gotten that far yet...
Old 01-04-2009, 09:54 AM
 
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and you're scaring me a little.

Actually, since we're semi-departmentalized, and they will be doing all of their work in my room, I plan on having a 5 minute wrap-up at the end of each day, storing their resources in zip-lock bags and then keeping each homerooms in separate baskets in my room. In the event that they have some study hall time in their homeroom, they can come "check out" their materials.

I do have a few students who use neos and I've not yet completely decided how to help them utilize their technology for this project - I still want something along the lines of cards in order to limit the amount of information they copy down and to increase the amount of information they can produce on their own.
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Thanks AGAIN
Old 01-05-2009, 06:58 PM
 
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I like the idea of giving them points/grades as they go. I think it encourages them to do better or keep it up. Thank you again for your input.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:12 PM
 
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it should be 2pgs.
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6th Grade research report
Old 01-30-2010, 03:42 AM
 
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WoW!!!...As a Mom of a 6th Grader it was wonderful to find this conversation. My son is about to start a research report on the artist Jacob Lawrence. Thanks for the helpful hints on what I can expect from his teacher....v
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