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I have not mastered the research paper yet, but when I work on the skill, I just do a persuasive essay, but with properly documented resources. I use persuasive essay rubrics. I think I make better progress with more, but smaller projects.

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We use MFW and there is one big high school research paper in high school, in 10th grade. In elementary/middle there were 2. (Lots of small essays in high school and narration/notebooking in younger years.)

 

I agree with Hunter that smaller papers are better for working on writing skills.

 

MCT is someone I respect as far as writing goes, and here is his take on research papers. Note that he uses several short ones rather than one long one. And especially note his last page, which shows how his definition of a research paper is probably more like my definition of an essay:

http://www.rfwp.com/samples/about-research-papers.pdf

 

Julie

Edited by Julie in MN
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Thanks for your responses. I really like the persuasive essay thought since we are focusing on those next year!!

 

For clarification: MFW? Probably an easy one, but I'm new here....haven't been doing this all along.... I'll check out the link. Thanks!!:)

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MCT is someone I respect as far as writing goes, and here is his take on research papers. Note that he uses several short ones rather than one long one.

 

I heard him talk at a conference in SC this year and I was very impressed with his specific, helpful advice. I remember him saying that the same mistakes are made in a short research paper that are made in a long research paper -- so rather than assigning one big research paper during a school-year, assign several smaller research papers. It will be a greater help and reinforcement, as they learn from their mistakes. I'm sure this is a Duh! to most -- but the huge research paper seemed like an annual rite of passage to me. No so much now. :rolleyes:

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For high school,

 

One major research project in science or history per year. Nine page minimum for 9th grade, 10-12 pages for 10th grade, 13-15 for 11th grade, and 16-20 pgs. for high school graduation. The longest paper dh and I ever had to write for our under-grad work was 20 pgs. so we figure that they should be well prepared. Each paper is required to contain at least five direct quotes so that they will be comfortable with the footnoting/endnoting process by graduation.

 

Most of the high school history exams I create are essay exams and all 11th/12th grade literature exams are blue book with several writing prompts to choose from. Additionally, the kids have to write an essay on "joy", two other persuasive essays, and an essay defending their faith by the end of 12th (Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle is our last rhetorical writing/logic program and is completed the senior year.)

 

I do not grade the literature blue book exams. I have a dear friend who is the principal of a private school and is a published education author. She grades them for me so that the kids have input besides mom and dad.

 

I grade the other research papers. I give two grades, one for content, one for writing style/grammar/etc. I usually weight content for history and science heavier than style/grammar/punctuation, etc. usually 60/40 and then average the percentages together. A ten page research paper cannot contain more than 20 errors or it automatically loses a letter grade right off the top. All errors are circled in red-ink and the student must edit, print again, and resubmit within 24 hours unless some extenuating circumstance is at play, sickness, pre-planned travel, emergency, etc. I also give narrative grades and not just letters and percentages. This way they know exactly how many points were deducted for failure to adequately support an argument, document a source, or making grammatical errors.

 

I wish I could describe my grading technique in more detail. I had two absolutely amazing English/Writing teachers in high school and so I think I instinctively grade the way they graded my assignments and I find myself making the same comments they made. Dh grades the Logic/Classical Rhetoric with Aristotle essays and he's TOUGH! His dad was a published author, his grandfather was a poet, and his dad taught essay writing. The man was hard on his kids in this area when they attended school and as a result, dh and sibs are very adept essayists.

 

The above assignments do not take into account the writing our kids do for 4-H projects. Yesterday, our 5th grader wrote a two page report on Red Pandas as part of his entry in zoology. I required him to read and take notes from four sources and taught him the rules of bibliographies. This project was more along the lines of direct coaching and hand holding through the process. He will be graded by the judge at the fair. Our 7th grader just produced a three page paper on Komodo dragons, again for 4-H. He is still struggling to produce a Bibligography without errors. I have not allowed him to use any direct quotes at this point. I'll introduce footnoting/endnoting next year.

 

Through the middle school years, the boys probably produce (though I haven't counted) 4 or 5, 1-3 pg. reports with bibliographies. Many times these are on their favorite science and history themes. Major research begins in 9th grade and I spend the entire year helping them get from point a. "Where do I begin?" to z. the finished product. The grade is normally a 90% or higher because they've had so much coaching in order to teach them the process. By senior year, I'm completely hands off until grading time, though I do have to admit, if the topic is especially interesting to me, it can be difficult for me to only consult when asked directly...it's hard for me to not snoop! But, I try very hard to keep my nose out of it so that I know they can produce a research project without my assistance. Dd's senior research project was technical enough that I did bring in an outside opinion on the content just to make sure she was accurate.

 

My one suggestion is to be very careful how tough you are on your kids in the grading department during their first two years of writing projects at the high school level and especially if you are a natural born writer and it comes easily to you. DD, who became a great writer, was not the natural that dh and I were at that age. She was pulling a lot B's and C+'s on her history exams and generally frustrated with the resulting dip in her GPA. Dh suggested that I get an outside opinion to confirm my grades so that she would work harder to improve. I took six of her history essays to another friend who is retired from teaching English at a pretty well-reputed LAC. I had not realized that I was really grading her on a college level though she was only 13. This was a good kick in the hind end for me and I adjusted her grades accordingly. I also think it was invaluable to have that outside opinion. As my dear friend put it, "Writing is a process and it isn't as black and white as say, adding and subtracting. It's also intensely personal and much like voice lessons, students can be crushed easily. More coaching and less "tonto, jump on it'!" I learned my lesson.

 

So, no matter how you arrive at your grading criteria, remember...."More coaching, less tonto jump on it!" :D

 

Faith

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Faith,

I am hsing a High school sr. next year and I hope that we can work through your whole process in 1 year. I do not think we will reach anything close to a 20 pg. paper. I will aim for a 10 pager. Establishing the process before college seems so important.

I too graded very hard our first semester this year (our first ever homeschooling) but, in our case it was good. Dd took the whole enterprise much more seriously. My school is so much harder than the public school she went to. Gradually, the writing has gotten better, especially the "test" essays. She still gets bogged down when asked to submit a typed project-style paper. I find that nurturing her thru the outlining process seems to set an optimistic tone.

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I find that nurturing her thru the outlining process seems to set an optimistic tone.

:iagree:

I think this makes all the difference, too. Once the "road map" is established, it becomes less of a "chore" -- less of an academic exercise and more of an exploration. I just love it when my ds comes to me with snippets of research and shares "Mom, did you know . . . ." Helping my ds move beyond that initial outline "speedbump" disperses the tension around our house. :)

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I was never able to get dd to do a research paper when she was at home, but if I manage to keep someone else at home for high school, I plan to do it the way dd is doing one for ps English now where she has mulitple deadlines, one for a summary of the short story (the students are all doing different ones), one for an anotated bibliography, then for an outline, a rough draft, and the final draft. Each part of this gets so many points out of the total, and 5 points are awarded for having every part in on time (there's also 5 points for library behaviour, but I wouldn't include that!)

 

Sure, I know that this isn't how it's done in college, but it's a good way to teach dc the steps. I might modify it by allowing my dc different ways to do the outline as they do different projects, but still would do that.

 

For those that don't know me, my eldest is unusually stubborn and challenging. The fact that she's doing most of her work now that she is in ps is a major blessing and achievement in my life, even though it's not as challenging as what we were doing at home in some of the classes because she refuses to do all honours courses, and given her reluctance to do homework, I don't push it.

Edited by Karin
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  • 2 weeks later...

One research paper a year..with many varieties of essays (persuasive, compare/contrast, timed, etc.) thrown in.

 

This past year I taught IEW SWI/SICC and their final research assignment had requirements from a stylistic point of view. There were over 250 requirements and yes, I had to count each one! But, it encouraged the children to know that it was highly possible to earn an A if they completed the required elements. As a result, their end product was miles above what they started doing before I taught the program.

 

This next year, we're moving it up and focusing more on content/improved structure...while still requiring the stylistic components, more instruction will be spent on paragraph and thesis development and sentence format. I think I will grade them half on stylistic requirements and half on content...but it will be a step process (parts to whole).

 

I pull from many sources to create my own schedule/syllabus...

IEW Elegant Essay

IEW High School Essay Intensive

Jensen's Format Writing

Starting Points by Quine

Writing with a Purpose

 

We are focusing on C.S. Lewis' writings and the nature of man v. nature of God in literature (using several classics to demonstrate these comparisons).

 

I have found that one particular program does not quite 'hit' all the points I want to make, most of these children are repeat students but for those new ones, if I only have them for one year, I want to make sure they leave with a complete resource to pull from either in secondary studies or homeschooling. We tend to write an essay a week..the 'research paper' at a minimum is essentially 2 essays with a separate super introduction and super conclusion (IEW style)..so at the minimum 12 paragraphs which done in MLA format usually makes 6-7 pages.

 

I absolutely LOVE Purdue's OWL (online writing lab) for many of my sources as well! That is a must for any of my students to get to know well!!

 

HTH!

Tara

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For high school,

 

One major research project in science or history per year. Nine page minimum for 9th grade, 10-12 pages for 10th grade, 13-15 for 11th grade, and 16-20 pgs. for high school graduation. The longest paper dh and I ever had to write for our under-grad work was 20 pgs. so we figure that they should be well prepared. Each paper is required to contain at least five direct quotes so that they will be comfortable with the footnoting/endnoting process by graduation.

 

 

Wow, anyone else having blown away feelings? LOL I mean I'm all for doing a good job, but wow. I didn't write that much at ANY of the high schools I attended, and frankly I didn't write that much in college. So was your progression something you came up with? Or does it match something you've seen others doing, either in hs or ps/cs?? Just wondering. Definitely it's possible for us to unmoor so much we don't realize where we should be heading.

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Wow, anyone else having blown away feelings? LOL I mean I'm all for doing a good job, but wow. I didn't write that much at ANY of the high schools I attended, and frankly I didn't write that much in college. So was your progression something you came up with? Or does it match something you've seen others doing, either in hs or ps/cs?? Just wondering. Definitely it's possible for us to unmoor so much we don't realize where we should be heading.

Same here. I did write a few long papers in university, but not in my first year. That said, I did write a couple of very long reports, but bear in mind that back then high school work was almost invariable handwritten, so it took more pages.

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Wow, anyone else having blown away feelings? LOL I mean I'm all for doing a good job, but wow. I didn't write that much at ANY of the high schools I attended, and frankly I didn't write that much in college. So was your progression something you came up with? Or does it match something you've seen others doing, either in hs or ps/cs?? Just wondering. Definitely it's possible for us to unmoor so much we don't realize where we should be heading.

 

Not the PP, but I wrote one long research paper each year in high school, with a long list of sources and extensive endnotes. I can't remember exactly how many pages, but I'm thinking at least 10+ pages? I was in the "advanced" classes (we didn't have honors or AP). I loved those papers - they were the highlight of my year.

 

I also wrote tons in college. My last semester senior year was 100% papers - I didn't have a single exam. And I went to a state university, not some exclusive place.

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That said, I did write a couple of very long reports, but bear in mind that back then high school work was almost invariable handwritten, so it took more pages.

 

Huh - I'm pretty durn old, but all my papers in high school had to be typed. I had a manual Smith Corona with no correcting tape or anything, but I typed them all. I didn't even learn how to touch type till senior year, so it was mostly with one finger!

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I think it will depend on your major. My nephew just graduated with a business degree and only had to write a couple of short papers in college. I was a Biology major and had to write a 20 page research paper on fruit flies for my genetics class.

I am requiring one per year for my kids. This year my 15 ds wrote a 1000 word research paper for his lit/writing class. Next year it will be a bit longer. The WTM has recs for page length.

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Huh - I'm pretty durn old, but all my papers in high school had to be typed. I had a manual Smith Corona with no correcting tape or anything, but I typed them all. I didn't even learn how to touch type till senior year, so it was mostly with one finger!

Really? Not where I lived; not every family owned a typewriter, and only kids who took typing typed on the ones at school. This wa sin BC, Sask & California. I went to 4 high schools in the 1970s. When I went to university, some prof's required typing for everything other than exams, but not all; it was understood that your grade went down if the assignment was handwritten. Term papers had to be typed. I got my first typewriter when I was in university and used the hunt and peck method. I took a typing course after I finished university.

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When I went to university, some prof's required typing for everything other than exams, but not all; it was understood that your grade went down if the assignment was handwritten. Term papers had to be typed. I got my first typewriter when I was in university and used the hunt and peck method. I took a typing course after I finished university.

 

What a stroll down memory lane! Anyone else have to put quarters into the typewriter at college to type their papers?!

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Really? Not where I lived; not every family owned a typewriter, and only kids who took typing typed on the ones at school. This wa sin BC, Sask & California. I went to 4 high schools in the 1970s. When I went to university, some prof's required typing for everything other than exams, but not all; it was understood that your grade went down if the assignment was handwritten. Term papers had to be typed. I got my first typewriter when I was in university and used the hunt and peck method. I took a typing course after I finished university.

 

I went to a parochial school in MA from '78-82. Our typewriter probably dated to the '60s. :D It's true that our everyday short papers were handwritten, but term papers had to be typed.

 

When I went to college, I got a nifty little electronic typewriter that had a one-line screen before it typed the line on the paper. Didn't I feel cutting-edge! :tongue_smilie:

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I went to a parochial school in MA from '78-82. Our typewriter probably dated to the '60s. :D It's true that our everyday short papers were handwritten, but term papers had to be typed.

 

When I went to college, I got a nifty little electronic typewriter that had a one-line screen before it typed the line on the paper. Didn't I feel cutting-edge! :tongue_smilie:

Okay, I'm guessing it was because you went to parochial school. I went primarily to public school, but did spend one semester in a Christian school (not parochial.) And, of course, I graduated from high school in 1978.

What a stroll down memory lane! Anyone else have to put quarters into the typewriter at college to type their papers?!

No, I don't remember typewriters like that at my university. I had a manual typewriter that my parents gave to me as a present. I remember that after I finished university, took a typing class and got a job that the word processor showed part of one line at a time on a screen. I'm definitely an electronic typist rather than a manual keyboard typist, but make a lot of typos (I fix most of them, but many still slip through.)

Edited by Karin
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