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Research Methods


A Method to Research Topics Using the Raney School Library
Purpose:  The following research model used at Raney Intermediate introduces and reinforces research skills and writing using topics related to the curriculum.  Information literacy skills are taught throughout the curriculum and not in isolation.  The research activities also standardize student experiences in the Library.

STEP 1: Choosing a topic.  Pre-search topic through webbing or inquiry method.  Sharing of background knowledge.

STEP 2: Question development (open-ended, compelling)

STEP 3: Finding appropriate resources using the computers in the school library. Online search engines, electronic indexes and databases and the Internet.  Special reference books.  Table of contents and indexes.  Evaluation of materials for readability, relevancy, and bias/point of view. 

STEP 4: Gathering useful information.  Setting the focus of your report.  Note-taking, bibliography.

STEP 5: Defining audience and product.

STEP 6: Producing product.

STEP 7: Sharing and evaluating.  Presentation of report or product.

Helping your child with research is important
Why are research assignments important?
Research assignments provide students the opportunity to develop questions, gather and assess information, and synthesize the results into a product from their perspective.  Learning to research helps develop the critical thinking and processing skills students will need when making decisions throughout life.

Ways parents can help
  • Review with your child the requirements of the project including any deadlines.  Often research projects extend over several weeks and time management is important.
  • Help set up a timeline of important dates and display at home.
  • Examine any rubrics the teacher may have supplied to see how notes should be taken, the number and types of resources selected, etc.
How to help your child step-by-step on a research paper or topic
Choosing a topic
  • Have a discussion with your child about possible research topics if it has not been assigned by the teacher.  Do a quick online search together of databases to see if materials exist for your topic.
  • Once a topic is chosen, help your child understand the background information about this topic by having him read an encyclopedia article on it.  You can also use online encyclopedias for general information.
  • Assist your child in thinking about the key words associated with the topic.  For example, if she is doing a report on the planet, Saturn, what key words could she put in a database to get information?  Remember, correct spelling is crucial.  Some key words: Saturn, planets, solar system, astronomy.
Developing questions
  • The teacher usually assigns specific questions that she/he wants answered and these should be found first.  Often, though, students are asked to develop their own questions as well.  As they learn more about their topic, their questions may change.
  • Finding appropriate resources
  • Students can find information from various places:
    Books, videos, specialized encyclopedias.
    Corona Public Library
    Internet (caution: evaluate web sites carefully for authority, accuracy, currency, etc.)
  • When an entire class or team is doing a project, books will often be put on a reserve cart and will not be allowed to be checked out or possibly overnight only.  Students have time during class or lunch to access these materials.   Check-out rules are decided by the teacher and librarian.
  • Help your child assess the reading level of the resource to be sure she can comprehend what he or she is reading.  Help your child use the index to answer specific questions about her topic.
Gathering information
  • Once the materials are found, the next step is taking notes.  Find out ahead of time, how the teacher wants this done.  Teachers will always require bibliographic source information for each source used. 
  • In order to avoid plagiarism, students should not copy complete sentences from their sources.  They should jot down key facts only to jog their memory about what they have read (this applies to web pages as well).  This makes it less difficult to use the words of others.  Quotations should be placed around an author's exact words if needed.
Defining Your Topic
  • The teacher may assign a final product of a research paper, PowerPoint presentation, newsletter, debate, picture book, etc. or leave it open-ended.  Encourage your child to talk to his teacher about his ideas.  Keep in mind that the final product should be designed for its intended audience whether it's classmates, adults, community members or younger students.
Producing the product 
  • Help your child obtain the supplies he needs, encourage his progress and help him check to be sure he has fulfilled the requirements set up by his teacher.
Sharing and Evaluating What You Learned
  • Help your child celebrate his accomplishments and evaluate what he or she has learned from the experience.
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