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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Writing W.9-10.7

Conduct short as well as 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.

In this standard, students will complete brief or extended research in order to answer a question that you, or they themselves, pose. Students might use one source, or they might dig a little deeper on the topic and use several sources that they will synthesize in order to answer the question. A key skill here is knowing how to narrow or broaden the scope of their research as needed, so you’ll want to give students some strategies for finding more specific and more general information.

Another key skill is time management depending on the time frame of the research. Help students create a backwards plan for research and writing, beginning with the due date, and setting incremental goals for the different tasks they must complete. After deep and critical thinking, students will show that they have a thorough understanding of their discoveries. They might give a presentation, write a paper, complete a multi-genre project, or lead a small group discussion on their topic to show what they’ve learned. Keep reading for an example you might use with your class.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example

Assignment Example

You’ve just read “The Scarlet Ibis.” Through your tears (YES even tenth grade boys cry), you try to picture the terrible storm Doodle and his brother just ran through. Somehow this reminds you of what your teacher meant when she mentioned that you’d be asked to answer this question: How does the setting of a story impact the plot and characters of a story? You imagine what it would be like for the character, Doodle, living as a physically-challenged child in the South during the World War I. You imagine a place where everything might create problems for such a character. Probably, life is filled with tension, hardship, and fear.

You can’t imagine why, but your teacher insists that you to some research before answering the question. What, your imagination isn’t a good enough source? Confused, you head for the computer lab where you will look into the factors involved. You know the time period is about 1911-1919 when the First World War was occurring. You know this because President Wilson is mentioned in the story. Information about Wilson and World War I is a must. From your inquiry, you learn that several battle sites of that war are referred to in the story: Amiens, Chateau Thierry, Soissons. Those battles would be worth discussing. 

You have lots of clues that the story takes place in the South: hurricanes occur, Doodle enjoys going to Old Woman Swamp, and Dix Hill is mentioned. You decide to Google “Dix Hill” and discover that it is an institution in North Carolina. Now you’ll be able to find out even more about the specific climate and weather. To narrow down the setting even further, you believe that Doodle’s family lives in a rural area since the swamp is near his house. There is also a barn loft where Doodle’s coffin is kept and mention of a landing and a creek. It is a place “where across the fields and swamps you could see the sea,” and a boy spent time “flying kites” and “climbing vines” while wearing a “big straw hat.” The narrator also often uses descriptions that sound rural: “stream of love” and “seed of destruction.” 

You note in the story that, time and again, the narrator refers to many types of flowers, insects, and birds common to the southern part of the country. You type some of these in your search bar: bleeding tree, magnolia, oriole, Scarlet Ibis, five-o’clocks, palmetto, toothbrush tree, doodlebug, screech owl, nightshade bush, ferns, and bayflowers. These details help create the atmosphere of the rural South.

You write your essay, inserting Internet links to your main points, and, just for fun, adding pictures of the plants, bugs, and winged beasts you’ve discovered. You could continue your research, but the time frame selected by your teacher is one class period. You’ve completed the first part of the question, so your time management plan says it’s time to move on. WAIT, THERE’S MORE?

Like most research questions, your assigned topic has more than one part. The next chunk is analysis, or separating the parts of the whole, and synthesis, bringing together all the parts of your research to create meaning. Using your critical-thinking skills, you’ll need to figure out how all of these elements affected the characters and plot. 

Looking at your research and notes from the text, you realize that the time period of the war and the resulting deaths of young people from Doodle’s area act as symbols for the dying Doodle. The hurricanes and terrible storms that are weather events in the South foreshadow the destruction of Doodle. Old Woman Swamp, a lush and overgrown bog, was Doodle’s favorite place on earth where he could see only beauty, and the flowers, sometimes described as beautiful, become faded and die just as Doodle does. All of those factors put together drive what characters do, think, and say. See? Your teacher was right about the research being helpful.

Drill 1

Use the words below to fill in the blanks.

Part Short Critical-thinking
Sustained synthesis Self-generated

The time frames allowed for research in this standard are (1)_______________ and (2)_____________________.
A research question in which the student selects the topic is called a (3)_____________ question.
(4)_____________________ is the act of bringing together the information from multiple sources to create meaning.
Building knowledge infers that you are using your (5)________________ skills rather than just memorizing facts.
Most research questions are made up of more than one (6)_____________.

ANSWERS:

1. Short – You might do research in a day or a few days and only look at one or two sources.
2. Sustained – Sustained research might be a week or several weeks, enough time to do in-depth reading of many different sources.
3. Self-generated – You know, you generated or created the question yourself.
4. Synthesis – This means you can read many different and even conflicting texts and make sense of how they all add up.
5. Critical-thinking – Critical thinking means you are analyzing and evaluating information instead of just knowing what a text says.
6. Part – Good research questions are too complicated to be answered in one part.

Aligned Resources