Last semester, the kids worked on their first mini-research paper. They hadn’t done a project like this before, so I took them step-by-step through the process of finding books and Internet resources, creating a bibliography, taking notes and writing a paper. They had a “due date” and I graded their paper and gave them feedback on what they could do better next time. I wanted them to have the experience of doing the project from beginning to end.
For years I taught history both on the high school and college level. I found that many of my students could not write well and I really want to make sure my kids build the skills they need to be skilled writers. To be honest, their papers were not stellar, but it’s a starting point.
This is a glimpse of the packet I made for my kids. They did the research paper first. Then we took time off and at the end of the semester DD begged to do the wanted poster project as well. If you are interested you can download the biography research paper packet by clicking on the link below:
Here are some of the the steps they took (I go over this in more depth in the packet above)
- Choose someone you want to learn more about.
- Check out at least three books from the library. Write down the bibliographic information in proper format.
- Context: Before you start doing too much research, find out when this person lived and jot down some of the major world events happened at the time your person was alive.
- Research and take notes on your person’s life and accomplishments
- Early life
- Character traits
- Significant events
- Interesting stories/anecdotes
- Lasting influences
- Follow the 6 writing traits
- Before you begin writing your biography, pull out some quirky, interesting facts and tidbits about your person. Jot down all those memorable facts and ideas you’ve learned and think about how you want to organize your paper. Perhaps draw the reader in with the setting, time period and a short anecdote. Do you have a “secret to share”? That technique can intrigue your reader… Many people think that… but really…
LD did his paper on Rasputin while DD did her project on Van Gogh:
All in all, we spent about three weeks on this project because they didn’t work on it every day (and because we were fitting in multiple trips to the doctor’s because of my ear/health problems).
Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #1 — How/Why we needed a change in our writing program
Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #2: Creating a Writing Workshop Area and Materials to Have on Hand
Creating a Writing Workshop Post #3: This post is about Mini-Lessons during writing time, mentor texts and includes reviews of 8 or 9 writing books that you might find helpful.
Writing Resource Pack: This is a post about the 30-page pack I made for our writing workshop. Reference pages on the 6 +1 Writing Traits, Mini-Lessons, the types of writing, creating a powerful beginning, techniques for ending a story/paper, and so forth. (These writing resources are free to download.)
Writing Workshop: Dr. Seuss Style: The kids and I had fun writing in the style of Dr. Seuss!
Practical Pointers for Working with a Reluctant Writer (or any writer!) — The writing workshop model has been working well for us — especially for my reluctant writer. I wanted to share some things we’ve learned about making writing time a success (actually for all of us, not just for my reluctant writer!)
Animal Portfolio Project: This is another research project… just with a different twist. There are writing, art and geography activities that go with any animals… With many activities to choose from. Writing activities include both fiction and non-fiction suggestions such as
- Write a speech or a letter to the president on why your animal needs protection in the wild.
- Menu: Create a humorous menu at a restaurant where your animals would like to eat.