The ability to clearly and accurately inform and communicate findings through writing is a valuable skill that students will need in many areas of their lives. The lesson guides students through the process of writing a research paper. The lesson suggests the teacher makes an outline on the board of what should be included in each paragraph of a research paper, choose a topic, and fill in the outline as a class. Then the students may brainstorm their own ideas, and work in groups to find sources. Some resources to help students find reliable sources are included. After students gather facts about their topic, they begin working to put their facts into an outline, then rough draft, and finally a complete paper which they will share with the class.
Sample Classroom Procedure/Teacher Resources:
- Bring students together in the front of the room for a discussion. Ask students what nonfiction topics they are interested in. Ask questions such as “What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite thing we learned in science or history? What topics do you still have questions about?”
3. Listen to responses. Say, “All the things you mentioned provided great topics for a research paper.
4. Ask students if they can describe a research paper, or if they’ve ever written one. Listen to responses. Clarify or explain that the purpose of a research paper. A research paper is written to provide factual answers and explanations about a nonfiction topic. It may answer a question about a specific topic.
- Choose one topic to model creating a research outline on the board. For example, write “The Octopus” on the board.
Model the steps of creating a simplistic research outline on the board that relates to your topic. Your outline should look like this:
Hook (an interesting statement that makes readers curious to read more)
Transition to paragraph topic 2
Transition to paragraph topic 3
Conclusion- restate the main topic and what you’ve discussed.
Final statement- end with something memorable that ties to the information you shared, or a call to action- something you want your readers to do.
7. As a class, fill in the outline as best you can according to your topic. Depending on the topic, there may be more than three facts or none at all. If there are many, you can model creating a second paragraph as listed above. If there are a only a few facts, explain that this where research comes in.
8. At this point, let your students independently complete a brainstorming session to choose a topic they would like to research. While they write, walk around the class and ask for students to share topics with you. Redirect or suggest different topics or subtopics if students are choosing something too difficult or broad to research in a few days. . Bring the class back together. Ask for volunteers to share a few topics.
10. As a class, vote on a topic and select one, or select several if you plan to work with students in groups.
11. Ask students how a student should research a nonfiction topic. Since this may be new to some students, you should find out what students know. Ask “What sources will we use to find information? What should you focus on?”
12. Discuss reliable sources, choosing multiple valid sources, and how to take information without plagiarizing. If students are not familiar with navigating online research, tips for finding reliable sources can be found here: http://eduscapes.com/tap/topic32.htm.
13. Explain that students will need at least three unique, reliable sources to find facts and information about their chosen topic. Students will need to create a simple citation page or bibliography for all research papers. Ask students put webpage title, article title, and author, or book title and author, etc. If this is a new concept for students, here is a link which provides examples. http://www.kyvl.org/kids/p3_notes/bibliography.html
Common Core State Standards:
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2.A, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.2.B, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6.2, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.9
Class Sessions (45 minutes): 4-5 class sessions
Want more language arts resources? Check out our other Language Arts Lesson Plans!