Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PARCC Prep: Research-Simulation Task

This time last week, I did a post on the Literary Analysis task for PARCC.

After the hardship that was literary analyses, my students and I moved on to the research-simulation task. Because I had been told that students had written research papers in the past, I actually hadn't budgeted that much time for lessons on research writing. The PARCC was four weeks away when I asked my students to tell me what they knew about research papers.

Imagine my surprise when utter silence was the only response they could give me.

Apparently my authoritative source was highly mistaken: my students vehemently denied having any knowledge or experience with research writing.

I panicked, thinking to myself "Research writing is so complex! How am I going to get them ready for writing a research paper in less than four weeks when it took four months to do literary analyses?" That is when my eye caught on the "Bare-Boned Basics of Literary Analyses" I had written on the board the day before, and it hit me: literary analyses and research papers are basically the same thing, just with a different focus.

Both have a thesis statement, both require concise summaries in the intro, both need a strong body with support. The only real difference is where literary analyses focus on the text, research papers focus on the topic.

I went to the whiteboard and made a compare/contrast table for literary analyses and research papers. I walked my students through the differences, probing them along the way to get them to tell me how the two were similar. After about five minutes, we had a workable chart they could copy into their notebooks and study.

Students found this method of comparison to be very beneficial in terms of understanding research papers. Once they could see the similarities between the two types of writing, they were able to take all of the skills they had developed in the four months of studying literary analyses and adapt and apply them to research papers.

Below is an adapted general layout for research papers.

What do you think about my comparisons between literary analyses and research papers? Leave me a comment below.

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