Our class has completed many research projects throughout the year. I have introduced various forms of research and note taking (Cornell Notes Color Coded Note Taking, FINDS Research), so students already have a strong foundation in research. I begin by showing video clips of students explaining the various types of research we have done. The videos are embedded in my Research Flip Chart. I suggest teachers document student learning from the beginning to end to show a longitudinal progression of what was accomplished. Embedding their videos into my presentation is an effective way of reminding them how much they have learned. Also, students take pride in their work when they know it is being documented and presented to an audience.
Now that we've reviewed how much we know about how to research, we discuss ways to use research. I ask students to discuss the purpose of research. Students brainstorm ideas as I jot them down. Students came up with various purposes such as: learning more about a topic of interest, finding out how to stay healthy, research places to go on vacation, learn how to do something, commercials say that research show their product is the best, etc. Ultimately, we discussed ways to use research to support a claim or belief. Research can be used as a persuasive technique.
This activity supports Common Core writing by encouraging students to support their opinions in written work. Students provide valid reasons through the use of persuasive techniques to sustain their opinions. Therefore, students must use relevant and sufficient evidence to support their claims or opinions.
I ask a student to explain to me why research is important to persuade someone to believe something. During this Student Discussion, one student decides to use the example on the flip chart to draw a sample topic: "students who watch television are less likely to do well in school." This student took the data and drew inferences from it that can be used to defend this claim. From his explanation, the student grasped the concept of extracting relevant ideas from research to support his claim about the association of watching television and limited school success.
With practice, and exposure to various strategic methods on using research in combination with other persuasive techniques, student will develop more sophisticated reasoning and inferencing skills. The ties to Common Core in this section of the lesson focus on the process not the product of learning. Authentic learning needs to be relevant in its application to real world situations. The student in the video is not just regurgitating content taught, but relating the content to what he knows about his school experiences. He is developing skills through self-motivation and inquiry, that will enable him to tackle complex tasks.
I model the process of extracting relevant ideas from research to support a claim by using the Cornell Note Taking System. The Cornell Note taking guides students to locate text evidence that supports their claim. The acronym SQR3: S-Survey, Q-Question, R-Read, Recite, Review is in itself a sequential 5 step process for reviewing sources for the purposes of note taking:
I referred students to previous lessons on research that we have conducted to use as their entry points. This lesson builds on the knowledge of previous research experience gained from those lessons. Now, we are using this research skill to persuade, not just to inform others, but to persuade them into seeing our perspective.
This section is the most difficult part of this lesson. It is where all the pieces are put together for the very first time. This lesson is a culmination of all the previous persuasive strategies that work in conjunction with research. It is selective note taking because the relevant information is only the ones that support your claim. With some guidance from me, I ask students to find research that supports animal rights. Then, students are to use that research to support the claim that a stray pet should not be returned to its owner. I relate it to a novel they read, Shiloh, which the protagonist is conflicted whether he should return a dog he found to its abusive owner. I remind students that is one case. They also need to investigate other cases that support keeping the stray pet. We go back to our Cornell Notes and highlight only the text evidence that is relevant or supports the this claim. I model this approach to students by highlighting one example from my notes that supports the claim that stray animals should be returned to owners.
Students work in their cooperative groups, and I supply students with articles I gathered for this purpose. The articles are mixed with some students supporting returning the pet to its owner and some supporting keeping the pet. It is important at this beginning stage to guide students in the research by organizing the materials for them until they get better at it. In this case, I did challenge students to weed through the articles and only find evidence relevant to their claim. We decided to use the Cornell Note System to document our findings. Students also highlight the information they find pertinent to their claim. Student Animal Rights research Sample indicate a good understanding of the persuasive purpose of this type of research.