Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Research: It's All About the Questions

I've been working on updating my research curriculum, starting with the handout, which was just a lot of boring text.  Face it, if it's not visually interesting, kids won't bother reading it.

More importantly, however, I wanted to refocus the lessons to put more emphasis on questioning strategies.  After three years of walking 6th-12th graders through the process (I used a modified Big 6), I realized many of the problem students encountered were a result of poor questioning skills (which may in itself may result from a lack of critical thinking. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?).

I realize Big 6 is the go-to model for the research process; it's touted as focusing on problem solving as opposed to "report writing," which is great.  However, whether it's the language describing the tasks or just the way it gets used, I feel the "problem solving" aspect gets buried and the whole process becomes too goal oriented:  Write your thesis, find the info, there you go!

Real research geared around real questions is a lot more messy, and I wanted something that kept the basic structure, but focused more on questioning strategies throughout the process.  Jame MacKenzie's
Questioning Toolkit was a good jumping off point, and I embedded some of his ideas into the Big 6 structure.  His article on The Research Cycle also informed much of my thinking on this.

I'm finishing up handouts on notetaking, plagiarism/citations and working with primary sources, which I'll also post.

As always, I'd love to hear any feedback, thoughts, critiques, etc!

Research Packet                                                                                                                                   

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