Lesson: Choose topics

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Lesson Objective

Students will select topics they are interested in to begin the research process.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Yesterday you all noticed many characteristics of research writing.  We were able to read examples of papers that discussed many different topics.  Today, we will spend some time discussing how to choose topics for research writing. 

Active Engagement/Teach (10-12 mins): Researchers choose topics they are interested in to write about.  It is important to remember that as researchers we will be finding facts about our topic of choice and teaching others about this topic.  To help you narrow down your choices, the topic for your research paper must be a famous person today or in history. 

Watch me as I show you how I select research topics.  I know I have been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln during our social students unit but I still have many questions about his life.  I think it would be interesting to learn more about how he made his political decisions and why he decided to run for president.  I will write that a possible topic. 

Teacher writes on chart paper the following sentence.  I would like to research Abraham Lincoln because I want to find out more about his decision to run for president and I am interested in his decisions as a president. 

Although I have one topic I am interested in so far, it is important to have options because I want each of you to have a different topic.  It is also important because the information I want to know may be difficult to find which would require me to switch topics. 

If I had to choose another topic, I might focus on Susan B. Anthony.  I know that she was a huge leader in women’s rights.  She was really famous and I’ve heard her name many times but I don’t know that much about her.  I am interested in learning more about her life. 

Teacher writes on chart paper the following sentence.  I would like to research Susan B. Anthony because I want to learn about her life and how she changed women’s rights.

You all did a great job watching as I modeled what I expect of you.  Now take a minute to think of one topic you might like to research.  Turn and tell your partner a person you would be interested in learning about and why.  Students should turn and talk. Teacher has a few students share out responses. 

Great job researchers! You may return to your seats.  While you are at your seats I will hand each student a note card.  On this note card I want you to write three topics you would like to research.  Remember your topic must be a person, and you must explain why you are interested in this person.  If you need help look at our class chart for a sentence starter. 

Workshop Time (15-20 mins): Students should write three sentences with topic choices on a note card.  I encourage students to discuss potential topics with their group mates before beginning to narrow down their choices.  I also try to push students to choose historical people rather than famous people today.  Teacher should conference with students and offer suggestions when necessary. 

Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins):  The note cards will be collected at the end of the lesson.  Teacher should use these cards to assign each student a topic.  I ask that students list three topics to ensure each student has a different topic.

Reflection:  This can be a difficult lesson for some students who struggle with explaining their thinking.  In past years, I have provided a list of optional topics and allowed students to choose between those topics or use their own.  For example, I might provide a list of 20 historical figures for students that may not have the knowledge base to list three topic ideas.  However, the goal is for students to explain why they are interested in researching their particular person.  I assign students topics based on the best explanations. 

Lesson Resources

Choosing Topics Template/Exit Slip  
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