Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Teens Stymied by Writing Research Papers


Teen Space, the Internet Public Library, offers a website to help high school and introductory college students write research papers. A step-by-step guide in an easy-to-follow format is provided. Students can navigate the site on their own, but it would be a good idea for a teacher to introduce it and give an overview of what is available. Check the site. It might even have some applicability for students in the middle school. Let us know what you think and if you would recommend the site to other teachers.

15 comments:

Tony Ruiz said...

Absolutely a great site!!! I love it and I don't see wh it cannot start at the middle school level. Whe I was observing classes, some ELA teachers used the media specialist in the library. I have always stated that the librarian is the most important person in the school. Why? Because they have the key/link to a wealth of resources that opens mnay doors. It is imperative for teachers from whatever discipline to utilize their resources at school. Media specialists/librarians are great writers as well. It has always been my experience that they will point the researcher to the right direction. This together with the ELA teacher, Social Science teacher or whatever subject one may teach is a powerful combination.

This is a great resource and I highly recommend it.

Melissa J said...

Hello
I think this is a fantastic site and very infomative. As a teacher at the college level, I can definitely see its uses at this level. Tony, I do agree that the librarian is the most important person in the school. Our librarian speaks to our students each semester to make sure the students are aware of all the resources that the library and its staff has. Also, she is contstantly looking at new material to see what is new to keep all the resources up to date.
overall, this is a great website and I look forward to sharing it with ohters.

Sharon Kirby said...

The website is great! Students struggle so much with writing reasearch papers...I even have a hard time writing research papers! It's so complicated and there are so many places to find research now that it is so overwhelming to look at it all. Also, there is a lot of junk out there! I also think that librarians are a great resource. The difficulty with this resource is that usually you only have one per school. I really think that all schools should have at least 3 people in the library looking for information and working to find creditable websites that can be useful in the classroom. I really feel like they are the most devalued resource at any school.

mary beth said...

This topic, helping students to improve their writing skills, is one of the most important and valuable enhancements to college campuses that I have seen. I have used the CAE at SJC in recent years to enhance my papers and to improve my grammar, the development of my thesis, and to cite a paper accurately. It has made me a better writer and I feel better about my papers. This service was not readily available on college campuses 20 years ago. It has also occurred to me recently that this would be valuable at the high school level and here is the first example I have seen which does just that. My daughter would surely benefit from this site, in addition to the grammar girl site that you posted last month. In the past, I remember high school english or social studies classes focusing more on the reading or the research, than on writing. Writing was a means to an end. The end result was to show the teacher that you understood the themes of the book or lesson or research project. The writing component was almost ignored, or taken for granted that people could write. I think this new focus on the quality of the writing as an end in itself is a great idea. The "personality" of this website is also very inviting and will attract the high school audience.

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Martina said...

I loved the way the site laid out the steps in order. I think too many times students (including us) just want to get to the point where we are writing s paper and getting to the end product and we sort of run through all of the steps prior to that. However, I have found that with a good topic that is well researched and a good outline that the paper almost writes itself. I have worked with my girlfriend's kids on writing papers and they always want to find the information and throw it in the paper without synthesizing or summarizing what they found or even determining how it fits in their paper. These are high school kids. The two years I have worked with them span all four years of high school and I have not seen them get much better at the process. I will definitely share this site with them and their mother. Thanks for another great resource. The librarian is definitely your friend - Toni at the SJC library has been extremely helpful for me with finding information and keeping my research narrow and on track. The CAE also has great handouts on doing outline and identifying your thesis statement that have also been extremely helpful. When I took Saturday classes with the PrimeTime students, many sessions were done just about every Saturday. Being someone who had been away from school, I found them to be extremely helpful and having them, right after the Saturday classes - pizza and papers - was a great incentive to stay and learn new stuff that was very useful.

Barbara Jarosz said...

This is a great site! I think it would be valuable to introduce it to students at the middle school level.

I find that 7th and 8th graders struggle with writing, and this website makes the overwhelming task of writing a research paper manageable. I like how it breaks the entire process down into steps. It also does a good job of acknowledging the feeling of being overwhelmed while writing by citing different studies that show that many students feel the same way.

I personally did not learn how to write well until I got to college! I utilized my writing resource center at BU a lot and in the process learned how to become a better writer. But I was already 18 years old!! I would have loved this website in middle school or high school to help me improve my writing skills along the way.

I agree with you, Tony. The librarian is the best resource in the school building. The librarians at SJC were the ones that taught me how to conduct academic research at the college library. While I was writing my thesis proposal for EDUC 515, the librarians showed me how to use academic searches to locate peer-reviewed research relating to my topic. I learned a great deal from them.

I also agree with you, Mary Beth. I think this website has a great "personality". It will definitely appeal to the early adolescent because of its casual tone, and the links that bring you to the next step make navigating the website very easy. It reminds me of a webquest! I think this website is a valuable resource for students to improve their writing skills.

Margaret H. said...

This site looks great!! Research papers are always hard for students to write. Many students don’t know where to start and then how to put everything together. Due to this I find that many students plagiarize information without realizing what they are doing. I feel this site would help with this problem. Even though they say this site is meant for high school students I think it could be used for almost all students or adults that are writing research papers. I feel that if I were writing a research paper this site could help me. Everyone should know about this site.

Alicia H said...

This is a beneficial website to students of all ages and levels of schooling. I still use a book I've had since middle school to help in citing sources, etc! In a time where so much information is being handled through technological means, this is a site that could really help students improve their writing, through a medium they relate to. Writing is an essential task as it is something that will be used in the future for all ages and basic mistakes and such are noticeable and can cost you even a job interview. I think using this site as a source to help develop writing skills is a great tool, and students, I think, would respond well to it!

Lisa T. said...

Those dreaded words...'research paper' still brings back the nightmares I had in high school when those words were uttered by mt teachers. Oh, how times have changed!! This site makes completing a research paper less threatening with not all the anxiety. What a wonderful idea!!

Mike said...

I think that this website would be a huge help for high school social studies teachers. More often then not when students are assigned with research papers for my class. We are forced to constantly go over the proper format and the best methods for writting. This takes away from precious classroom minutes that we cannot afford to lose. Writting well is such an important part of learning and i feel that students do not have the proper mechanics to write effective research papers. I agree with Tony who stated " he did not see why this could not start in the middle school level" the younger we start teaching these kids how to write, the better writers they will become and the more time classroom teachers will have to focus on content.

Colleen said...

I think this website offers a more interactive way/mode to introducing the dreaded research paper. After student teaching my cooperating teacher introduced a research paper to 11/12th graders and they are completely unmotivated to embark on the project. I have since heard that only 4 out of 25 are staying "on top" of deadlines and requirements and others are falling by the wayside. Perhaps having them use this website might keep them more on track, motivated and engaged in the project. I suppose anything is better than having a teacher harp and give disappointment lectures. I have added this to my list of favorites and will use it as a springboard for introductions into research papers in the future.

Michele said...

I agree with Barbara. Having just finished my student teaching in a 7th grade language arts class I did find that many students are overwhelmed when presented with a writing project and the way that this site breaks it down shows it's natural progression and makes it more manageable. I also agree with Tony that the librarian is so valuable. One things that helps in some schools that have one librarian is to have volunteers to help him/her. The librarian can guide these volunteers.

Anonymous said...

As scary as this sounds, I can remember getting to college, having my first research paper assignment of the semester, and freaking out because I was never properly taught how to do the research...which I happen to think is the toughest part. When I went to the library on campus, I couldn't believe how immensely helpful the librarian could be. I had no idea what knowledge they held...especially when searching for journals and articles on the web! Thankfully I have come long way from my frosh. year in undergrad, but I do think this program is helpful in assisting step by step. My only suggestion is that maybe the site might be a little less busy! Other than that it's great!

Molly said...

sorry the anonymous was from Molly
Still learning I guess:)

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