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What is developmentally appropriate for 10th grade research paper

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#1 mooooom

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:30 PM

My kids all wrote history research papers this year, and I was feeling pretty good about them. My brother teaches at a pretty prestigious university and I asked him if he would read over them - he has taught freshman writing classes before. He says that they all write well, but that they need to spend less time spouting out information that they have researched and more time linking it with ideas of their own, and need to work on cross reseaching (linking their history ideas w/ whatever comes into their own theories, like human psychology, anthropology...etc.) I asked him if they were as good as he would expect of incoming freshman, and he said not were he teaches, although he's definitely seen worse.

So, I get what he is saying and what we need to work on next year, but I'm trying to figure out if the work they produced this year is developmentally appropriate. Should 10th graders already be able to do what he is describing, or is a research paper, with a self developed thesis, that is well researched, grammatically correct, well written (with a good flow and able to hold interest) right where they should be? I have absolutely no idea how to grade them. I know they are a lot better than anything they produced last year.

Thanks for any ideas.

#2 Susan C.

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:48 PM

I'm sure you will get a variety of opinions. I have two sophomores, one high school, one college. Ds in college lives at home, he was homeschooled through 12th grade. Through talking to him and attending all of the beginning college meetings, it looks like the higher level of reasoning is expected more in college papers. Ds is an English major, and the teachers keep saying "not plot summaries like you did in high school." I think it is a good idea to head for what your brother is saying, but not all kids in 10th grade will be able to do that. I'm not sure you should grade down for the lack of what he said that young.

HTH

#3 Rebecca VA

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Posted 25 April 2010 - 07:54 PM

Wow, what a great resource you have in your brother! I'd get him to send some sample college papers (ones that he thinks are well-written) to you so that you can show them to your 10th grader. He needs to think about what to be aiming for, even if he's not "there" yet.

#4 mooooom

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 06:22 AM

nt

#5 MIch elle

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 06:33 AM

but he's not homeschooled. He's handing in his 10-15 page world history paper today based on the book Hitler, A Study in Tyranny, Bullock.

I think what your brother is suggesting is a higher level skill than 10th grade. They SHOULD be working toward that goal in 9/10th grade. It's an 11/12th grade or higher skill, based on MY high school experience. I'll wait until my ds gets his grade on that paper, read it, and then know if I'm correct in my assessment.

Edited by MIch elle, 27 April 2010 - 09:43 AM.


#6 Jean in Wisc

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 07:29 AM

I have a 10th grader, a freshman in college, and a senior in college. My 10th graders have never done that kind of reasoning. In fact, in my home, no matter how I taught and how much I expected of them, they fell short of that kind of paper. My oldest child didn't write a nice paragraph until high school--you know, the one with a 4.0 in college.

Somewhere between their senior year and their college freshman year they got serious about writing papers. Some of that may be their having to hand their work into someone other than mom. Some of it is, no doubt, maturity. My middle child's papers are held up as great examples in his freshman class--he didn't ever turn work in like that for me. LOL!

But no. That is the type of paper my kids blossomed into as they entered into college.

Jean

#7 Yolanda in Mass

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 07:53 AM

:iagree:There's a world of difference between a 10th grader and a college student so far as reasoning and synthesizing abilities. Someone who is not used to dealing with kids in the midst of puberty (and 10th graders still are in that zone), really can not fairly gauge what they are capable of. There's so much maturation that occurs during the late teens and early 20s. I'd worry more about proper citation in a research paper, at this point, than cross-curricular thinking skills.

Yolanda

#8 LisaK in VA is in Italy

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 08:49 AM

Just to say, that type of reasoning isn't expected, but a very small number of 10th graders can produce this type of writing. By the end of high school, most college-bound students should be able to write a paper like that.

It's about frame of reference, and being able to merge concepts. Some children can "see" the connections more easilly than other, and some children read a lot more, have been exposed to more IRL than others, and have a larger frame of reference.

You can build this skill using the Socratic method (asking/guidiing) their words, and things YOU know they know. In the end, the paper is still theirs, you are simply helping them to see the "connections." Also, you can build this skill through shorter essays, vs. larger papers.

I'd thank your brother for his insights, and let him know you are working toward that as a goal.

#9 Jim Gilbert

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:26 AM

Everyone: In my experience, I have seen 10th grade students across the board produce critical thinking papers that involved reasoning, good structure and acceptable grammar. In fact, helping students with these papers is a part of what I do for a living (I work as a tutor at a college prep Christian school). The jump in the mind's ability to process such techniques seems to occur during the fall of the freshman year. Even slower students can get the picture, if they are given enough guidance. The key is practice along very clear guidelines for the first year or two.

The best guidelines, IMO, involve a strict eight sentence format to each body paragraph. The first sentence is the topic sentence of course, followed by a relevant quote from a resource. The next two sentences are commentary by the student on the quote and its meaning. This is followed then by another quote followed by two more sentences of commentary. The last sentence is just a restatement of the topic sentence.

The really cool thing is to watch a student mature in his writing skills using this method. Once they get the method down, they can tweak or change it and still produce coherent copy. Hope this helps! -Jim

#10 ereks mom

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 03:47 PM

:iagree:There's a world of difference between a 10th grader and a college student so far as reasoning and synthesizing abilities. Someone who is not used to dealing with kids in the midst of puberty (and 10th graders still are in that zone), really can not fairly gauge what they are capable of. There's so much maturation that occurs during the late teens and early 20s. I'd worry more about proper citation in a research paper, at this point, than cross-curricular thinking skills.

Yolanda


:iagree:

#11 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 04:25 PM

My kids all wrote history research papers this year, and I was feeling pretty good about them. My brother teaches at a pretty prestigious university and I asked him if he would read over them - he has taught freshman writing classes before. He says that they all write well, but that they need to spend less time spouting out information that they have researched and more time linking it with ideas of their own, and need to work on cross reseaching (linking their history ideas w/ whatever comes into their own theories, like human psychology, anthropology...etc.) I asked him if they were as good as he would expect of incoming freshman, and he said not were he teaches, although he's definitely seen worse.

So, I get what he is saying and what we need to work on next year, but I'm trying to figure out if the work they produced this year is developmentally appropriate. Should 10th graders already be able to do what he is describing, or is a research paper, with a self developed thesis, that is well researched, grammatically correct, well written (with a good flow and able to hold interest) right where they should be? I have absolutely no idea how to grade them. I know they are a lot better than anything they produced last year.

Thanks for any ideas.


I see high school as the time where they are transitioning from "reporting" to "arguing." So,in that sense I do agree with your brother. I don't expect them to do it on their own without any guidance, though.

My kids have to bring me their theses for different papers for me to help them evaluate whether or not it is appropriate. A thesis that is simply going to require factual reporting like they have done throughout their schooling is not acceptable at this point. It has to be something they are attempting to prove, compare/contrast, demonstrate cause/effect, etc.

My goal is to have the research paper, with a self developed thesis, that is well researched, grammatically correct, well written (with a good flow and able to hold interest) accomplished by 8th or 9th grade. The rest of high school is spent on developing rhetorical skills......which initially can often result in a paper that does not make sense and makes their writing sound like it has stepped back several yrs. :tongue_smilie:

I wouldn't say my 10th graders are writing research papers that sound anything like a college freshman's. However, they are attempting incorporating their own views and developing rudimentary rhetorical skills.

For example, last yr in 9th grade my dd wrote a research paper arguing that the estrogens being excreted into water supply are negatively impacting male fertility. This yr she hasn't written a research paper yet but is in an online class preparing to write one. However, her essay assignments have all been position papers such as Dante's levels of hell give reasonable punishments for the crimes committed. :lol: (that one was a doozy!)

#12 Rebecca VA

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 04:43 PM

Jim Gilbert, do you recommend a particular writing program?

#13 April in CA

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 05:49 PM

I wouldn't say my 10th graders are writing research papers that sound anything like a college freshman's. However, they are attempting incorporating their own views and developing rudimentary rhetorical skills.

For example, last yr in 9th grade my dd wrote a research paper arguing that the estrogens being excreted into water supply are negatively impacting male fertility. This yr she hasn't written a research paper yet but is in an online class preparing to write one. However, her essay assignments have all been position papers such as Dante's levels of hell give reasonable punishments for the crimes committed. :lol: (that one was a doozy!)


Hello 8FillThe Heart,

It sounds like your daughter is doing some interesting things in her writing class - could you tell me what class it is and any other details that might be valuable to know about it? My younger son will in 11th grade next year and I am trying to arrange a few outside classes for him. Thanks!
Blessings,
April

#14 Hunter's Moon

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 07:03 PM

I am a sophomore in public school and actually have a research paper due in May. He is taking is step by step with us, giving us deadlines for each little part of the paper. The first part was the thesis. Second, we had to a cited source page. Third, we needed an outline. Fourth, we will need to do a first draft. Last, the actual paper. I am doing the Oxfordian vs. Stratfordian argument, whether Shakespeare or Earl of Oxford is the actual author of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.

Anyways, I think what you mentioned is acceptable for them to be able to do. What he said is true, being able to link their ideas with the research is good to do, and my teacher actually is making us do that with this paper. I cannot remember what type of thesis we had to write but it wasn't a normal one. It was a thesis that had to have actual evidence behind it but could be argued either way. Not really an opinion, but something that could be argued. I think that has really helped me be able to connect my research to my thoughts because I think--- Okay, I found this out today, now let me look at my thesis and see how I can tie it in.

#15 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:27 PM

Mostly I teach my kids writing directly. This yr, though, I have farmed out the research paper b/c I am just swamped.

I am using Homeschool Connections Online for the research paper. This is a fairly new online school. It is Catholic but has classes like the How to Write a Research Paper that would appeal to the broader homeschooling community. It is unique in that the teachers are all college professors and the classes only average 6-8 weeks. They also have a subscription option where you can pay $30/mo and have access to all their previously recorded classes for viewing (w/o teacher support.) They seem to be having trouble with their site tonight b/c I couldn't pull up the course description of the class my dd is in, but here is a link to a list of former classes http://moodle.homesc...ionsonline.com/

#16 35dn

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 12:45 AM

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#17 Nan in Mass

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 07:06 AM

Would you be willing to give an example of a paragraph of this format? I think the tricky part is "commentary by the student on the quote and its meaning" and I would find it helpful to see a few examples of that. My son is struggling now (9th) to make the switch between a plot summary and commentary, so this is a helpful. Thank you for posting it.
-Nan

#18 emubird

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 07:23 AM

I am a sophomore in public school and actually have a research paper due in May. He is taking is step by step with us, giving us deadlines for each little part of the paper. The first part was the thesis. Second, we had to a cited source page. Third, we needed an outline. Fourth, we will need to do a first draft.


That about sums up how to write a paper. The only difference when I write is that I do most of this in my head. However, I can see where it would be helpful to write all the steps out the first few times through the process.

Thanks for the info.


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