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How to Help a Child with Research

 

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How to Help a Child with Research

Grades 5 – 6
Author

Caroline Duda

Chicago, Illinois

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

Tip Topic Tips for Teaching Writing
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Why Use This Tip

How to Help a Child with Research

 

Why Use This Tip

Many students encounter their first structured research paper or research project in the late elementary or early middle school years. As is the case with any new skill, learning to choose a promising path of inquiry, to support a thesis with reputable sources, and to find such sources takes time and practice. When combined with a classroom teacher's initial instruction, this how-to can help you support a student's research efforts and developing research skills, while also minimizing confusion and frustration.

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How to Help a Child with Research

  1. Set aside 5-10 minutes to review the assignment sheet with the student. Ask him or her to highlight or underline information that will determine the subject and scope of the paper or project. This might include a required number of sources or a thesis that revolves around a specific topic. This step will also allow you to familiarize yourself with the assignment.

     

  2. With the assignment guidelines in mind, take some time to brainstorm a list of potential topics. For instance, if the student is being asked to research a cultural aspect of a country, he or she should list all those countries that interest him or her. For now, brainstorm broad topics, and encourage the student to make his or her selection based on personal interest.

     

  3. Open the K-W-L Creator. Using this interactive tool, help the student record what he or she already knows about his or her broad topic, as well as what he or she would like to know. If the topic is Italy, perhaps the student wants to know more about Italian food and holidays, which leads to a final, narrowed research topic about Italian holiday feasts.

     

  4. Work together to locate potential sources, asking “Who wrote this, and why?” to evaluate authority and bias. Introduce the student to any library databases that may be available to him or her through community or school, and explain that such databases often contain sources that have been reviewed for accuracy. When using Google, use search terms like “and” and “or” to narrow searches, and analyze any promising results together for reliability.

     

  5. If you decide that a source is reputable, direct the student to write down any new information that he or she learns on the last column of the K-W-L Creator. When the student begins to work on his or her assignment, this tool can serve as a rough outline of his or her main points.

     

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