While my website is intended to support a homeschool writing curriculum, you will find that whether your child is home-schooled, in the publics, or attending a private or parochial school, the research paper is an inevitable part of a writing curriculum and like a force of nature, it takes no prisoners.
Being able to write a traditional research paper will build a student's confidence, but not knowing how to arrange, set to music, or upload a video research paper leaves some gaps too. Here's an example of what I mean:
I saw this video posted on Facebook. Cute, right? But what really impresses me are the last few seconds- the documentation.
This video is well-organized, educational,entertaining, and most importantly, documented.
The list of sources cited validates the video. Imagine watching this video without those last few seconds of video? Sure those things are information, but are they true? The documentation adds authority to the video or the research paper.
I remember my adult sister, who having written her first research paper for her community college class, brought her paper over to me for one last proofread ( I had been teaching the research paper for about 10 years in high school by then.) before she turned it in to her professor the next day.
She came over “early” (about 8 P.M.) and finally went home at about 5 in the morning. She had no idea she had missed so many things. She just kept repeating how hard she had worked on it.
I kept saying for most of the morning, “Don’t worry about it, Darlene; I know you’ve done a lot of work on it. It’s difficult to catch all these details the first time around. It’s okay, really.”
A couple of weeks later when she got her paper back, she drove over to my school, interrupted class –no, she couldn’t wait—to show me the “A” she had gotten on the assignment. Hers was the only “A.”
A homeschool writing curriculum will be the same as in most schools.
A research paper isn’t written until the 11th grade or the junior year, which is the grade level I taught for about 17 years.
It's the reason most teachers avoided teaching juniors. About a decade ago in my district, it was suggested that the paper didn’t really have to be written at all.
Here's the logistics of the research paper. A high school English teacher has about 150 students.
If each student wrote a minimum 2,000-word paper, then the teacher has to read, edit, and comment on 300,000 words, or the equivalent of about 6 novels. This grading, of course, has to be done at home after works hours.
I disagreed with that decision though. It only made students even less prepared for college, and a 2,000 word essay isn't that long, but because the research paper is so important, it's worth the effort.
Keep Your Ducks in a Row
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Success in writing a research paper can be as easy as keeping your "ducks in a row." Make sure your child has plenty of time to read about her topic, to write her notecards, quiet time to learn the MLA format, and time to organize, outline, and write the paper.
In about eight weeks or more, she will have produced something of which she will be very proud -- her first research paper.
The truth was that the research process was challenging to teach and very difficult for the students as well. I remember the Dean saying something like “so long as they get the idea of the notecards, they can learn the rest in college.”
I never really knew if this move was done for the benefit of the teachers or the students, but as usual, the students (and parents) would be the ones to suffer eventually.
The research paper wasn’t taught well in schools, and I doubt that it’s any better today.
That said, however, I think that homeschooling parents can make the process a rewarding experience for their children.
They can help their children save money and tears, frustration and anxiety during their college years.
If your child is in the public schools, you will have to help her follow the schedule that her teacher sets,
but if you help your child stay on top of her deadlines, she should do okay as well.
If your homeschooler is in high school today, this homeschool writing curriculum, which includes the research paper, probably will be difficult for her. To ease the process, the steps can be spread out over a couple of months.
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Encouraging your teenager to maintain a positive, “keep your eye on the prize” attitude toward this process will help immensely to insure her success.
When the paper is finally polished and ready to turn in, be sure to print several copies and share with family members. Then, make sure that they read it, and comment positively on it.
A good homeschool writing curriculum builds a child’s self-esteem. Completing a gargantuan project like this will go a long way to building your child's self-esteem. Make sure that other, significant family members know this.
If your homeschooler is in elementary school, she can begin learning the basic steps now, so it will not be so overwhelming in high school. This is the way it should be taught, bit by bit. It is still a big task in high school, but much more manageable.
Like the turtle slow and steady wins the race.
This is not one of these decisions where you say, “I want to research airplanes," and go to the library, check out a bunch of books on planes, jets, and aviation, etc.
This homeschool writing curriculum process begins by listening to your child’s conversations throughout the year, discussing (briefly) ideas with her, and casually exploring more about the topic through reading books, magazines, talking (interviewing) to people.
Remember: Slow and steady wins the race.
Dear Parents, many of the links below are "live" now, as the research paper is scheduled in the homeschool writing curriculum to begin in the second half of the year.
While I plan on having more and more pages published daily and long before you will need them, please click on the orange RSS feed or sign up for an email alert to keep up to date on the homeschool writing curriculum pages. To learn more click on the links below.
Learn more about buying and using the MLA stylebook.
Learn how to write the first rough draft.
Learn how to edit the rough draft.
Learn how to proofread the research paper.
Learn how to put everything together.
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