Research Essays

I sometimes forget that kids today don’t do research. In 5th grade I wrote a paper about sloths. It was a laborious one-card-per-fact sort of paper. By the end, I had more slothy knowledge than most people with ever need unless they are some sort of zoologist who specializes in sloths. To this day, I can give you facts about giant, three-toed, and two-toed sloths. I can tell you about legends. I can tell you about biology. Most of all, I can tell you that nothing beats going to talk to a person who loves sloths when you’re writing the mother of all research papers: a year-long 50 page paper Bout these funny lazy creatures that share our planet.

I tell my students that they needs to look at research from a variety if sources ans source types.

Their response: You mean…like…books and movies and things in magazines?
My response: Exactly so.
Their response: Why do we need to do something other than the Internet?
My response: Because I’d like you to be informed individuals who can think through problems and figure out how to solve them. This is all a part of critical thinking. You’ve got to figure out what other well-informed people think, whether or not you agree with them, and then give your reasons why.
One student’s response: That’s a lot of work, Ms. K. (Everyone else nods)
My response: I know. You can do it.

They think sites like Wikipedia count because it’s got all the information on it, even though they don’t know who wrote what. Don’t get me wrong, Wikipedia is often very accurate, but the idea for a research paper is to see what someone smarter and more knowledgable than you thinks and as you don’t know whether it was Einstein or my little cousin, it doesn’t count. They’ve never had to do research so they don’t know the joy of the hunt, the quest to gain knowledge, or have the skills to apply it to their lives. My job now, to get them there whether they want to or not. I think I can…I think I can….

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