Monday, September 22, 2014

Beginning the Research Process with Sixth Grade

The middle school English language arts' teachers and I have been really working on developing our method for teaching the research process over the last few years. When the sixth graders arrive at Patrick Taylor, we know that they have not had a lot of experience writing research papers. They may have written a report in fifth grade but not much more, and I am hoping with the Common Core standards that this will change over time. For now, the students need to be taken step by step through the process with the teachers and myself holding their hands. 

Using the ISBN on the book to create the citation in Easybib

As I reflected over the steps that we took last year to teach the process, I decided to change my tack and begin with the bibliography. Our school pays for each student to have an Easybib account. We thought that by starting with the bibliography, we would be breaking down the process to the smallest bits and make it easier for the students to handle. The 6th graders had read Flush by Carl Hiasson, and the teachers have a grant for service learning in conjunction with this novel and also have a cross curricular component connected to it. The students take a field trip to wetlands in our area to take water samples and study the environment with juniors taking AP environmental science. 

Print sources are easy cite
I pulled resources both print and electronic for research on water pollution, oil spills, conservation, the environment, etc. Then I created a slide show with the directions to use Easybib and seven task slides for students to complete using those resources. In one period of 90 minutes, I introduced Easybib and demonstrated how to create citations. and then we asked the students to complete four of the tasks and print out a completed bibliography in correct format. This process meant the students didn't have to juggle finding sources, reading and taking notes and create citations at once when they had never really done that before. All they needed to do was access the resources and make a bibliography. 

Sample task for students to complete
I also walked around the room and checked everyone's bibliography before printing so that every student would be submitting a flawless document. Actually, the students did not have to print their final bibliography. They just submitted to their teacher electronically so no trees were harmed in this process. 

Finding electronic sources

For the next step, I am going to print out a bibliography that I created. I want the students to take different colored highlighters and mark up the bibliography designating the author, title, publisher, database, etc. I am not sure when they create their citation in Easybib if they really understand what components need to be in place. We might even do this electronically also. There really is no need to print out the bibliography for 100 students. They can highlight the sheet in Word. 


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