Grades 9-10: Writing Effective Research Papers for English Language Arts

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COMMON CORE STANDARDS

Writing

W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

W.9-10.1(a) Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

W.9-10.1(b) Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

W.9-10.1(c) Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

W.9-10.1(d) Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

W.9-10.1(e) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Language

L.9-10.3(a) Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

DESCRIPTION OF UNIT

This Grades 9-10 unit titled “Grades 9-10: Writing Effective Research Papers for English Language Artsfrom the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education contains 6 lessons, approximately 120 minutes in length. The unit is designed to extend over a period of time to allow for developing, drafting, revising, editing and completing a research paper. The unit does not specify any topic, so it can be adapted to the themes of the course in which it is used. The instructional plan focuses on the process for writing research papers. The lessons guide students through the process of selecting a topic, developing a thesis, and cultivating sources to provide support for their claims. The culminating authentic performance task is the creation of a well-crafted and properly cited research paper.

CAUTIONS

Connecticut teachers are cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. Prior to beginning this unit, it will be important to select or develop a timeline for completion of the research paper, since some of the steps require considerable time for students to accomplish. Depending on the intent of the unit and the variability of student learners, three time options are provided. While some accommodations and supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities and/or read below the grade level are provided, it will be important to make adaptations as necessary. An additional time consideration is how much work is completed in and outside of class. If the work is assigned as homework, unit planners suggest keeping a computer lab open after school for students with limited access to a computer. The primary resource for information on research papers and the handouts used in this unit is titled,” Teacher and Student Guide for Writing Research Papers.” It is available for download in the curriculum units listing once you sign in.

RATIONALE FOR SELECTION

The unit is an exemplary example of how to take students through the steps of writing a research paper. It includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. Lessons are designed to gradually remove supports, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities. Lessons include formative assessments with aligned rubrics to inform instruction for each step of the research process. The unit’s performance task elicits direct observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the major targeted grade level CCSS standards and also includes an aligned rubric.