How to Teach the Research Report
The Research Report: Many teachers dread teaching it, and many students hate writing it. There IS a way to take the pain out of this very difficult project. This book offers a step-by-step process for teaching one of the most difficult concepts in writing.
Overview of the Program
It has happened to me several times when I was a student. It has happened to my friends and even my own children. I'm guessing that it has happened to many of you reading this page.
A teacher assigns a research report. The student is given a vague checklist of steps to accomplish in order to complete the assignment. The lucky students may even be shown how to make note cards to collect their facts. However, for the most part, the students are left to flounder through the project wondering if they are doing it correctly. In many of these cases, the parents are left to do the bulk of the research, organization of details, and even some of the writing.
Here is our opinion on this process. If students cannot complete the research report on their own, without any help from the teacher or parents, they do NOT have mastery of the concept. The goal of this book is to teach the research report so methodically that the students will have the confidence to write research reports on their own with little guidance from anyone.
How Mastery is Achieved
Any experienced teacher will tell you that before a concept is taught, it must be broken down into small, manageable tasks, a concept known as "task analysis." Teaching the research report is a massive undertaking. Here are just a few of the concepts the student must already know before attempting the research report:
Mastery of the paragraph, including topic and conclusion sentences; mastery of essay writing, including how to write introduction and conclusion paragraphs; critical reading skills and the ability to discern which facts are important and which details should be ignored; organizational skills which includes the ability to identify key concepts on a topic, from multiple sources, and how to keep their notes on multiple concepts organized.
If students are weak in any of these areas, their chances for success are greatly reduced. One of the biggest problems with the research report is that most of what the students learn about research reports is forgotten by the time the students are assigned their next report. Therefore, the teacher needs to reteach the steps and guide the students through the report all over again.
The solution: Teach the entire process for writing research reports in several one-paragraph assignments. Teach the students to find main ideas, collect supporting details from multiple sources, organize these details, and write the research report in just one paragraph. The teacher can do all the steps required to write a research report in just a few days. Next, the students can practice these steps on their own under the guidance of the teacher. Finally, the teacher can even test the students on their research skills by assigning a one-paragraph research report. This process can take as little as two weeks for the average fifth grader. The high school student can do it in a week. Once the one-paragraph research report is mastered, the teacher can choose to practice the research report with the five-paragraph essay or assign the larger 3 to 5 page research report. The transition to these assignments is made so much easier having practiced the entire process on one-paragraph reports.
Perfect for Elementary School, Middle School, High School, or College Students.
Three Lesson Plans in One Book
The One-Paragraph Research Report
While high school students would benefit greatly with a two week review of the one-paragraph research report, the fourth grade teacher might spend a few weeks teaching this skill. The high school teacher would quickly advance to longer research reports while the fourth grade teacher would return to the one-paragraph report multiple times throughout the year. Thus, the fourth grade teacher would make excellent use of the first lesson plan in this book while the high school teacher would teach the skill and move on to the next two lesson plans.
The Five-Paragraph Research Report
When I was a fifth grade teacher, I taught the paragraph and the fiveparagraph essay during language arts. After the students mastered the paragraph, I spent two weeks in social studies teaching the one-paragraph research report. I selected eight topics relating to the causes of the American Revolution. I modeled the process for the first two topics, allowed the students to work with partners for the next four paragraphs, and finally had them write their own reports for the last two topics.
Because the students had mastered the five-paragraph essay during language arts and learned to write one-paragraph research reports in social studies, they easily transitioned into the five-paragraph research report. This time, I gave them three topics on the effects of the American Revolution. We completed one report together, they practiced one with their groups, and finally, they completed one on their own. Seventy-five percent of the students wrote excellent research reports with very little help from me.
The assignment described above is spelled out for you in this book. The image (above - right) is an illustration of a final draft my sixth graders completed which is also included in this book.
The Three to Five Page Research Report
The transition to the larger research report was incredibly easy. The process of this book is so methodical, the students saw how to write the larger essay before I even started explaining it. Many of these fifth graders could have written ten pages or more had they been given the time.
Middle and high school teachers should have even better success than my fifth graders. Even if these teachers choose to skip the first two lesson plans, the step-by-step guide for the 3-5 page research report will help these students reach a successful completion of the research report.
How It Works: The image to the right shows the basic structure for helping students master the research report. Think of a research report like this: All reports have a beginning, middle, and end. For the one-paragraph report, the students find one main idea for the report and research the beginning, middle, and end for just that one main idea. Because the report is only a paragraph, the students only need to find two details from each resource for the beginning, middle, and end.
Next, for the five-paragraph research report the students will find three main ideas which will become their three paragraphs. By adding an introduction and conclusion paragraph, they have their five-paragraph report. The three main ideas will be the beginning, middle, and end for the report. Since the students already know how to write a one-paragraph research report, they just follow the steps learned in this lesson three times. The only new skill learned here is to find three main ideas for their topic rather than just one.
Finally, the students are ready for the 3-5 page research report. This time, their beginning, middle, and end main ideas will be five-paragraph essays. Because the students have already mastered the five-paragraph research report, all they will need to do is repeat this process three times.
Topic: The American Revolution
Beginning: The Causes of the Revolution
Middle: Fighting the War
End: The Effects of the War
Beginning: The Causes of the Revolution - 2 Sentences
Middle: Fighting the War - 2 Sentences
End: The Effects of the War - 2 Sentences
Beginning: The Causes of the Revolution - One Paragraph
Middle: Fighting the War - One Paragraph
End: The Effects of the War - One Paragraph
Three to Five Page Research Report
Beginning: The Causes of the Revolution - Five-Paragraph Essay
Middle: Fighting the War - Five-Paragraph Essay
End: The Effects of the War - Five-Paragraph Essay
A Big Head Start
Teachers already using our books How to Teach the Paragraph and How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay have a big head start in teaching the research report. The process used to help students master the research report is identical to these two books. The students are taught to organize their thoughts using a powerful prewriting strategy. Students who have mastered this technique will find learning the research report to be the next natural step in the process.
If you do not have these two resources, I would highly recommend that you use them along with the research report. There is a bundle option which allows you to get all three books at a reduced price. Add Writing Tricks Plus and The Complete Writing Program, and your students will have amazingly organized reports that contain highly intelligent sentences. All bundle options are listed below.