R is for Research

Thursday, May 1, 2014
brought to you by Lori

Friends, I'm tired. Seriously. And lately whenever I'm tired, I hear a bit of Pat Benetar in my head. 
We are strong
No one can tell us we're wrong
Searching our hearts for so long
Both of us knowing
Love Writing is a battlefield.

[This song is awesome. So...you're welcome.]

That may or may not be a paper chain counting down to the last day in my office.

Like you, part of the reason that I'm so dog tired is that we've all been busting our hump to grow the young and eager little minds seated before us. And many battles have been spent on writing--trying to get our kids to generate specific examples. Let's just pretend that you inventoried the famous people examples that your students generated. Here is a good smattering of what I typically see.
  • Martin Luther King (Ok fine. But you wrote about him last week.)
  • Rosa Parks (Awesome. 12 other people also wrote about her.)
  • Hitler (?!)
  • Helen Keller overcoming her obstacles (WHAT?!)
Kids are truly getting better knowing that they should use famous people from history as examples, but sometimes it is a woefully unfortunate choice. 

I've been doing lots of thinking about next year and things that I want to do differently, and after listening to several ideas from really smart teachers on my campus, I've decided that I want my students to research famous people throughout next school year so that they have a growing bank of famous people that they can go to and use as solid and meaningful examples in their writing.

Enter my new favorite graphic! Isn't he cute? I like this graphic because it would allow for quick research over important details. Students are encouraged to work from the bottom, up. His feet include a space for notes over time and place. His hands are reserved for specific actions, while the heart requires some inferencing as kids explain what that person values.  You could require your students to work their way through the alphabet--one famous person for each letter of the alphabet. This is a great way to provide student choice and continually incorporate our research strand into your lessons. 

The best part is, it's so simple and multi-disciplinary. Give the little guy a try!  Click here to grab a digital copy of him.

And hang in there friends. We're so close!


  1. Thank you for the idea! We will definitely be doing this next year in English II. I can see this helping the students out quite a bit!!

    1. We've been pleased with how well it has worked! Before our research project, students read three biographical poems and plugged the info. into the graphic organizer. That way they had these as a mentor while working on their own research.

  2. I would love to read any other ideas you have concerning research papers/ projects! Is it alright to admit that I LOVE to hate research paper time? Yes, I know hate is a strong word.

    1. Lauren, girl you know are not alone! Last year, I used an AP synthesis prompt. It's very tidy which I definitely appreciate. All of the sources are in the same place, and it's easy to organize. Best of all, you're still teaching the same skills. You can find lots of them on the College Board website.

  3. That is great! The Curly Classroom to the rescue again ;) Thank you for sharing your strategies!