One way that I found to ease the tremendous stress of a research project was to break it into manageable chunks for my students. Upon introducing the topic or subject of writing we began by creating a list of everything we knew about the topic and then sorting and categorizing that list. From there, students decided what they wanted to know more about or what we only had a little information about. This focused our research in a way that students could feel successful right away. Instead of researching “The Ocean,” as a whole topic students focused on one aspect of that very big idea. Some students chose a particular ocean animal, others wanted to learn about the tides, while still others had an interest in learning about the coral reef.
Our journey into the research then became much easier to manage. Students focused on one aspect of the big topic and then began to notice several smaller main ideas that matched each focused area. Students found information about the main ideas and then it was time to write. The following piece of exposition is a result ofbreaking the writing process down into small chunksand writing one section of the piece each day for a total of seven days (see the Expository/Informative Writing Summarizing Framework.) In the real world, authors do not just write in one big blur, or what some might call flash drafts. They in fact write a section, reflect on that section, and revise it as they go. That is exactly what my students were able to do quite successfully.
What really works in this piece:
Organizational structure – the pillar
Word choice – word referents
Distinct Main Ideas
The use of research: quote, amazing facts, anecdote
The voice and tone
Empowering Writers has a proven methodology, specific strategies, and lessons to teach each of these skills.