Writerly Life

Be A Researcher

Happy New Year!

If you’re a teacher like me, you probably measure your years from September to June and everything else as summers. And so, when I say, “Happy New Year”, what I mean is more, “Are your lesson plans ready for tomorrow?”

I like this first day back from break, not just because I get a free Starbucks the whole month of January, but more because I get to see the smiles from the kids, who although they look tired and wanted to sleep more, are loud with back from Christmas excitement for friends and yes their teachers too.

I spent time, okay really about two complete days, grading research notes during break. Please, do not feel bad for me; I was at Starbucks, with their notes and my best friend. I had nowhere else to be, and nothing better to do than reflect. For three days before break, my students were in the library, and although I was very busy helping this student and that student, in general, the kids were down there on their own to research, reorganize, and keep going. We even made a wall chart about what researchers look like before we went down. It said:

 Be A Researcher

  • Focus
    • specific goals           
    • write down just the information you need
  • Write things down
    • in a planned, organized way
  • Use many sources
    • Internet, books, magazines, people, movies
  • Re-adjust when things don’t go as planned
  • Keep track of sources and Evaluate them for validity

In General, it looks like my kids did just that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some copied lists of facts that take up three pages i.e., Sports Team & Trophy Year OR Olympic Medal Winner and Year/Sport. I’ve also got some kids who completely copied text, Word for Word— hello small group instruction. But for most of them, it seems like they actually re-adjusted and found information on topics ranging from Mayan Culture to Miley Cyrus and beyond (if there is beyond on that one).

In the weeks to come, the kids and I will be studying good nonfiction writing and attempting to create interesting Feature Articles, wish us luck and focus, and perhaps a hint of learning too.