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This research paper will be based upon a topic chosen by the student, with peer guidance and on collaborative ideas as well as guidance from the instructor. The goals of this LE include: having students effectively pick a relevant and arguable topic to research, introducing students to correct MLA citation and to the importance of giving credit where credit is due. Students will become comfortable with conducting research, writing for a formal audience, and producing an expository piece of writing ‐ in which they argue a point using outside information through synthesis of ideas and sources. The students will need prior knowledge of developing and organizing a simple essay, but we will also check for understanding by including lessons on ways to effectively organize a research‐based essay as well as what an effective and valid source looks like, how to write in a formal/expository voice, etc. Standards: p. 45 Common Core State Standards 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. a. Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g.,headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. b. Develop the topic with well‐chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic. e. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing. 9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. p. 46 Common Core State Standards: Research to Build and Present Knowledge 8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. Assessment Plan: The assessments will be tied directly to the Performance Indicators because there will be formative assessments throughout this LE that will gauge students’ abilities to effectively draw evidence from sources and synthesize this evidence through the use of formal voice in writing. Many rough drafts will be produced, and students will also be formatively assessed based on the introductory tasks of finding valid sources and citing those sources correctly in MLA format. Essentially, each step of the research paper process will be formatively assessed in order to measure student growth throughout the LE. I will do this by using a checklist and collecting student work to briefly review for any challenges or confusions that students might face. I will also use small rubrics to assess
Writing the Formal Research Paper Learning Experience Final Draft
each step of the learning experience, so that students are clear on expectations, goals, and objectives. Each assessment will be individual, but students will engage in brainstorming and small group activities in order to gain support and ideas from their peers. Student progress will be supported and monitored through the teacher reaching out to each student during in‐class work time to gauge understanding and progress. The teacher will keep track of certain checkpoints in the LE and note when a student is struggling or has not met a checkpoint. In this case, the teacher will provide some additional instruction and guidance to that student, as needed. The summative assessment will be the final draft of the research paper, submitted in the form of a portfolio, including the formative steps in the writing process (See rubric, which highlights the writing process aspect of the research paper in the final portfolio). All rubrics and instructions for each step of the process will be provided to students in paper form and online for constant reference. In this way, students can track their own progress while referring to the expectations. Criteria Master Researcher Developing Researcher Lacking in Comprehension Back to the Drawing Board Topic Choice Topic is arguable and Topic is arguable and Topic is minimally Topic is vague and objective. The student objective, but the student arguable, but lacks enough subjective. It does not remains on topic for the makes minimal reference to substance to provide the support analysis or inquiry, entirety of the research the topic throughout the opportunity for analysis and is not arguable. research paper and/or and reflection. The student paper. strays off‐topic for at least strays off‐topic at times. half of the paper. Research Process The student has included The student has included The annotated bibliography The student has neglected to his or her annotated his or her annotated is incomplete. 3‐4 sources include his or her annotated bibliography, which has bibliography. 1‐2 sources cited in‐text are not bibliography. 5 or more been approved by the cited in‐text are not reflected on the Works sources cited in‐text are not teacher and used in the reflected on the Works Cited page, or 3‐4 sources reflected on the Works Cited final draft. The works cited Cited page, or 1‐2 sources on the Works Cited page page, or 5 or more sources page reflects the sources on the Works Cited page are not reflected in the on the Works Cited page are are not reflected in the used in the final draft. paper. not reflected in the paper. paper. Argument Development The student has developed The topic is partially The topic is The topic is undeveloped the topic with well‐chosen, lacking in relevant and underdeveloped with with irrelevant facts, (Body Paragraphs) relevant, and sufficient sufficient facts, concrete minimally relevant facts definitions, and few to no facts, extended definitions, details, extended and vague details & concrete details. The student concrete details, and definitions, and relevant definitions. The quotations has provided few to no quotations appropriate to quotations, which are are inappropriate to the quotations, and the the audience’s knowledge mostly appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of argument is not suited for a audience’s knowledge of the topic. of the topic. formal audience. the topic.
The student establishes and The student usually The student rarely The student maintains an maintains a formal style maintains a formal style maintains a formal style informal style and a and objective tone while and objective tone while and objective tone while subjective tone, while attending to the norms and mostly attending to the usually ignoring the norms ignoring the norms and conventions of the research norms and conventions of and conventions of the conventions of the research paper. the research paper. research paper. paper. The student draws The student draws some The student makes minimal The paper lacks research‐ evidence from evidence from evidence‐based analyses of based evidence. informational texts to informational texts to the text. support analysis, reflection, somewhat support analysis, and research. reflection, and research. The student evaluates the The student somewhat The student only minimally The student does not assess informational texts to evaluated the informational evaluates the validity and the validity or relevance of support analysis, reflection, texts. relevance of the texts, the texts. doing so in a manner and research. irrelevant to the research‐ based task at hand.
The student gathers The student gathers mostly The student gathers little The student gathers no relevant information from relevant information from relevant information from relevant information from multiple authoritative print multiple authoritative print few authoritative print and few authoritative print and and digital sources, using and digital sources, digital sources, rarely using digital sources, never using advanced searches sometimes using advanced advanced searches advanced searches effectively; assesses the searches effectively; effectively; seldom assesses effectively; barely assesses usefulness of each source in sometimes assesses the the usefulness of each the usefulness of each answering the research usefulness of each source in source in answering the source in answering the question; integrates answering the research research question; seldom research question; does not information into the text question; sometimes integrates information into integrate information into selectively to maintain the integrates information into the text selectively, barely the text selectively, barely flow of ideas, avoiding the text selectively, avoids avoids plagiarism and avoids plagiarism and plagiarism and follows MLA plagiarism and follows MLA minimally follows MLA minimally follows MLA format for citation with format for citation with 1‐3 format for citation with 4‐6 format for citation greater zero mistakes. mistakes. mistakes. than 6 mistakes.
Procedure: Day One – The instructor begins by introducing online and textual sources, giving a brief spoken introduction to the LE and explaining that the students will be conducting research. The instructor will also point out characteristics of an effective research text, as well as characteristics of a valid source. This will be merely an introduction, to be expanded upon at the end of this lesson. The instructor will draw upon prior experiences of the students in order to base instruction on student opinions and understandings of research. The students will then work together in groups to analyze these textual and online examples (as identified in the Resource section) and determine whether or not they are valid. The class will then come together, and, guided by the instructor, will further discuss what makes a valid source, wrapping up with ways to look for these sources. Day Two – The next lesson will begin with the instructor reviewing the content from the previous lesson, and introducing how to properly cite research materials, both on the works cited page and in‐text. Students will again practice this in small groups, while the teacher checks for understanding by walking around and speaking to groups. At the end of the class, the teacher will hand out many articles and have each student cite one of them to hand in as an exit slip. In this way, the teacher will be able to gauge the students’ understandings of the complexities of properly citing sources. This will not be the last time that finding valid sources or citing will be addressed! Day Three – In the third lesson, students will review examples of expository research papers. The teacher will project some text onto the board to read and review as a class, and the teacher will also provide speeches that prove a point (as identified in the Resource section).
In this way, the lesson can be broken up and can also appeal to auditory as well as visual learners. Following the class’ analysis and discussion of the example papers, the teacher will introduce possible topic choices. Student will then do a think‐pair‐share activity to brainstorm some topic ideas. The lesson will wrap‐up with students working alone to narrow down topics. Following this general pattern of teacher introduction/class discussion, small group sharing, and individual brainstorming, the LE will continue on to the point where the students are researching, citing, analyzing sources, drafting, and drafting again. Following this lesson, students would refine their research topic for homework and write a thesis and an introduction to be worked on and polished in the next class. Day Four ‐ Lesson four will consist of a writing workshop where students can continue to hone in on their research topic and search for sources to support their thesis. The focus of this workshop will be the thesis and developing the introduction. Students can peer conference or conference with the instructor. The teacher will provide some guiding suggestions to students in the form of handouts. These handouts will include a checklist for developing a strong thesis. Day Five – Students will have the opportunity to convey challenges and questions to the class and to the instructor. The instructor will field questions and concerns. The students will then be provided with more time to work on their research. Now that they have a thesis and the beginnings of an introduction, students can effectively research and find arguments for and against their thesis. The teacher will facilitate time in the library and computer lab. Students will receive a similar checklist to the one provided for constructing a thesis. This checklist will outline the important steps to conducting effective research and obtaining all proper resources for citing and arguing sources. Day Six – On the last day of the Learning Experience, students will peer review their first drafts – complete with thesis, cited sources, a Works Cited page, developed analysis for each source, and a strong developed argument. Students will again be able to convey challenges, concerns and questions to the class and to the teacher. While this Learning Experience will continue on as students re‐write and re‐draft to work toward their final piece, the class will cover new material while reviewing and revisiting the research paper in order to support students in this ongoing assignment. The first draft will be due on the class after the sixth day, the second draft will be due the following week, and the third and final draft will be due the following week. Resources: The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008. Web. 5 December 2010. This comprehensive family of sites provides valuable examples, tips, and formats for citing sources for research papers written in MLA style. The information can either be printed out and given to students, or students may use the entire site to reference throughout the research and writing process. Persuasive Speech. Voice Masters, 2006. Web. 5 December 2010.
This website provides examples of persuasive speeches as well as techniques to achieve a persuasive speech. Students can listen to these speeches to evaluate what creates a persuasive argument. While the site focuses on speech, students will learn different dimensions of communicating an argument effectively. The homepage states, “One must always be aware that what may seem important to you, may be irrelevant to your audience” (Persuasive Speech). Students can see how learning how to convey an effective argument correlates to many real – life careers, such as acting, presenting to a group, and many other options. Through engaging in this site, students will make connections between their own research question and thesis and real – world arguments that have been proven or disproven. Prusa, Andrea Romana. “Expressing cells in human amniotic fluid: a new source for stem cell research?” Oxford Journals: Human Reproduction (2003): n. pag. Web. 5 December 2010. This article comes from an online journal, and there is an abstract provided. This site serves as a reliable source, and students can peruse other articles from this online journal. The teacher will show this as an example of a scholarly source, and will point out the elements of the site that prove it as such. “Stem Cell Research Pros and Cons.” Capitalist Shrugged: What would happen if producers shrugged the world from their shoulders? (2010): n. pag. Web. 5 December 2010. This article comes from a personal blog. There is a lot of personal bias and opinion written into the blog article, and the teacher will use this as an example of an unreliable source for research writing. While the blog brings up some useful questions to consider about stem cell research (a popular research topic), the information is fragmented and inconsistent. Students will examine sources like this one and analyze why a blog might not be considered a scholarly source. We will need to use the school library’s databases in order to conduct research. Instructor will introduce the power of expository language in order to convey a point or effectively engage in an argument. The students will utilize computers and the Internet as well as printed resources, and they will need to have ample in‐class workshop time in order to produce focused, guided work that is peer reviewed and teacher guided through organized peer review activities where students can work in effective collaborative environments. I would also provide these digital resources in the classroom in order to provide equal opportunities for students who may not have access to computers and the Internet outside of school. Instructional/Environmental Modifications: To facilitate inclusion of learners with special needs, I will pay close attention to the checkpoints and formative assessments and use those as indicators of students who may be struggling with the pace or content of the LE. I will also use regression strategies to make sure that before we continue on to a new concept, we first review the older concepts and create a scaffolding experience where students can build their knowledge from prior knowledge. I will take careful attention to support each student throughout the process, with after‐school workshop hours as well as workshop time in the classroom. For students with potential physical disabilities, I would make arrangements for laptops to be brought into the classroom, the students to be able to use other methods of recording rather than typing or writing. Blind students would need assistance dictating and recording their findings and
writings, deaf students would need more visual aids and written and shown instructions, and students who are bound to a wheelchair would benefit from working on a laptop. Time Required: For this LE, I will create 6 lessons based on a 50‐minute block of time. This LE will take between 15 and 17 hours for the teacher to prepare (an hour or more per individual lesson). Reflection: I chose to write this particular Learning Experience, because I feel that research skills and writing skills, when developed fully and completely, will carry the learner through his or her collegiate academic experience, as well as through his or her career prospects and life experiences. As a student who had strong and effective instruction in the realm of researching and writing for a formal audience, I have witnessed the worth that these skills possess in all disciplines. Through spending a lot of time on this LE, my hope is that students will become confident and proficient in their research and writing skills. My hope is that I would be able to extend this unit throughout the curriculum in a way that would support research and writing skills long after the final draft of this particular Learning Experience has been evaluated. This Learning Experience is important to me because I hope to dispel the myth that research papers are something to be feared; rather, I would like to make this process one of discovery with limited frustrations, valuing the student’s personal writing process while introducing strategies to learn by and to be guided by. My wish is that students would carefully choose a topic that will keep their interest and motivate their research throughout this Learning Experience.
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