Research sources should include quality books, magazines, newspapers, web articles, and an interview. These resources blended together will help your teen produce a quality research paper.
Searching for this wide range of sources will teach her how to gather information, and the task of combining them into a finished research paper will develop her thinking skills that few other tasks can.
My suggestion for the first research paper would be to choose five research sources to include a book, a magazine article, which will probably be from an online source, a newspaper article (also online), an encyclopedia article, and an interview.
Your teen should go to the library to find the book. I would highly recommend trying to find an article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which she can find online too.
There is a technique for increasing one's success in finding good information on the internet. It's called a Boolean search. She should use this as part of her education. It will come in handy throughout her studies.
Secondary and college research papers require students to use the MLA (Modern Language Association) Stylebook for all bibliography cards, notecards, in-text citations, and the Works Cited page. This has been the standard go-to book for decades.
Having a hard copy of this book in your teen's arsenal of research papers tools will make it easier for her to find the information and become familiar with the MLA format.
Before we continue, I want you to understand that the research paper can fry your teen's brain.
I say this based on grading more than 3,000 research papers over a 20-year period. I found that most teenagers really tried their best, but the research paper was usually first introduced during the 11th grade, and it was really too much for most of them to master. Writing smaller, limited papers earlier in their studies would have helped them succeed more often.
I found that the students usually procrastinated, didn't fully understand instructions, couldn't find sources, and experienced a myriad of challenges that was very stressful for them.
While I believe that homeschooling advances students' critical thinking skills, the research paper is still daunting. It requires these tasks and skills:
And let's not forget that this 1,000 word (more or less) research paper must be written with correct grammar, punctuation, and reflect some type of writing style.
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You've heard the joke about how to eat an elephant -- one bite at a time.
You can take steps that will help ensure your teen's success. These include
For example, during the time period that she is writing the paper, you can honestly eliminate
The research paper will cover all those areas.
Having your teen choose a research topic in the social studies or sciences will also allow you to reduce or eliminate daily work in one of those subjects as well.
In truth, with all the research sources they will have to read to find useful information, they shouldn't miss out on learning anything.
In order for your teen to find the information she needs, she's going to have to scan and read hundreds of pages of information. Here are some suggestions for making that process easier:
How To Read a Chapter:
Before writing ANY notecards, she may find the information she needs elaborated on better some place else in the book.
I have always thought it is disingenuous to tell someone that something is easy, when it's not, to casually tell them that they are so smart, it will be a piece of cake.
The research paper, done right, is NOT a piece of cake.
However, I offer this for encouragement.
When your teen is finished reading the many research sources, creating the thesis statement, making the outline, learning MLA style, and writing and revising the many drafts needed to produce a quality research paper, she will feel darn proud of herself.
Writing the research paper is a monumental task, but the knowledge she will gain through it, will raise her self-esteem unlike any other project.