It's Saturday afternoon, cold and gloomy, typical Ohio weather first week of November. Winter is knocking on our door and letting me know it's right around the corner. Grocery shopping is done. Laundry is started. Dinner is almost ready for the oven, and I'm anxiously awaiting The Ohio State game tonight. It's time to delve head first into grading the first round of persuassive essays. There are 23 of them in a pile stapled together with their rubric, rough draft, peer editing, revisions and parent signature as the final editor.
First I read through them all quickly to get a feeling about the final paper. I have conferenced with every student at least once and most of them twice on this piece of writing. It is considered a short piece with a strong lead and a strong paragraph with research to support their claim. We have already focused on research earlier in the year and created a persuasive poster with several different types of research. The lead was the focus for this piece and for most students their leads were excellent. Their research not so much.
Knock me over please (with a feather) I have preached and sermoned and explained and restated and what ever else I could say that research is NEW learning. The focus word NEW. Not something you already knew. Research involves NEW facts that support your claim or can support what you thought you knew about your topic. Stating the source is important. As I finished grading, I realize where I need to begin next...with their own essays as their own mentor text. Giving them back their own writing and start with the same focus question: What is your NEW research? What didn't you know prior to writing this topic? Hopefully they will knock me over with new insight about what research really means? Any suggestions - I would love to know how you help your students with this issue.