For the past several weeks, the students have been involved in researching their topic, narrowing down their focus by developing key concept questions and now they are writing the research paper highlighting what they have learned, the answers they’ve found and the action plan they will develop or put into place.
It’s interesting to see the different approaches the students have taken. Some groups developed their key concept questions, and then all members decided to research each one by using a variety of resources, ranging from websites, to books, to magazines and to interviews. In this manner, they are all more knowledgeable about the issue they’ve chosen and will be more capable of presenting the whole issue to visitors the day of the Exhibition.
Other groups divided the key concept questions and only researched the ones they were responsible for. The knowledge they gained may be deeper for the specific questions they answered, but their overall understanding of the issue may be less developed. This is where collaboration between the group members is key in sharing the knowledge gained.
Now, what I am seeing is students trying to write a research paper from all their notes...and for the most part, having a difficult time at it. Their first drafts really were rough, for some just a rendition of the notes they took when exploring the topic. I know for a fact that time was spent in class on how to structure their essay, that the homeroom teacher had conferences with students and developed a skeleton outline for their research essay. Unfortunately, the students did not use that help to their advantage and turned in very rough drafts. They show lacking summarizing skills and difficulties with structuring their essay with a main idea and supporting idea. Now, the students are faced with looming deadlines and they are feeling the pressure.
Tomorrow they are meeting with their mentors and have to submit a second draft of their essay, which means that a lot of work will need to happen between this morning and tomorrow when they meet. I’ll keep you posted!