Research based report writing deals extensively with the organization of information and ideas. That’s a VERY, VERY important part of what “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” teaches! After using “Pattern Based Writing: Quick and Easy Essay” your students will easily be ready for these “Fifteen Steps to Fantastic Research Reports!” (I’ve outlined the “Quick and Easy Essay” writing program for you on the homepage. It connects to what you will read here…)
Deciding on and Giving the Assignment
Step 1: Spend time on the computer clearly outlining the assignment. You may want to include a rubric detailing how the report will be graded and detailing what is expected. Give detailed directions on how you expect students’ sources to be cited and exactly how you will determine what you consider to be plagiarism. Be sure to discuss exactly what the report must cover along with the formal style that you may expect. Give each student a printed copy of this.
Researching Main Ideas and Sub-Topics
Step 2: Have students find sources of information for their subject. (Library, internet, encyclopedias, textbooks)
Step 3: Students now quickly skim and scan their resources getting a quick overview of their entire subject. Students need to learn the information as they research the material. Writing the report in their own words is hard to do if they don’t understand the material. (Teach students how to avoid plagiarism while they are young. Learning the material as students research helps students write their report in their own words.)
Step 4: Have students use a separate sheet of paper for each of their sources. At the top of each sheet of paper have students write the bibliography information for one source that they will be using.
Step 5: Students now skim and scan each source writing important big picture main ideas and main sub-topics which they feel they could build a report around. They should put a strong focus on headings, chapter titles, and table of contents. Have them write these ideas down in their own words by paraphrasing.
Outlining and Organizing
Step 6: Have students look over their sheets of paper that have all their big picture main ideas and sub-topics. Have them decide which main ideas and sub-topics they will want to build their report around. (Continue to urge students to learn the material.)
Step 7: Now students build a perfect puzzle of main ideas and sub-topics which will outline their report. In other words, they create an outline of what they want to focus on in their report. (It’s okay if they decide they need to change some of their main ideas and sub-topics as they continue to research their subject.)
Researching for Facts
Step 8: Now students research and take notes. They can continue to use the same sheets of paper that they have their main ideas on, OR they can use an index card for each main idea or sub-topic. If you use an index card with the main ideas you need to be sure to mark which source you got your information from. Students do not write their notes in complete sentences. Have students write their notes in “Frankenstein Writing.” (Nile River – 4185 miles long – longest river in world) Sounds like Frankenstein, doesn’t it? Frankenstein writing is fast, and it makes sure students will later write their report in their own words.
Writing the Report
Step 9: Students follow their outline and use their notes to write their report. Students can research more if needed, but no using books when writing the report. Make sure students understand how to give credit to their sources of information. Students should also understand how to write a proper introduction, body, and conclusion for their report.
Step 10: Students create a bibliography page giving credit to all of their sources of information.
Proofreading and Editing
Step 11: For proofreading and editing, it’s best to give a short cooling off period so students will be able to look at all of their hard work objectively. If students hold off for 1-3 days, they will do a much better job.
Step 12: Students proofread and edit their report.
Step 13: Recopy for a fabulous report! (This may not always be a great use of time. However, sometimes it’s good for students to see a fantastic final copy on nice white paper.)
Sharing and Displaying
Step 14: Share! Students read their entire report to at least one other person. Also have an “Author’s Chair” where students can read a part of their report to the entire class.
Step 15: Display! There are lots of ways to display reports. You can put them up on the bulletin board. You may want to put them in a binder to create a class book or have students create a cover for their own report and you have a classroom library! You may want to show them off when it’s time for back to school night, parent conferences, or open house. Consider all this before you send them home.