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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Writing W.9-10.8

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

Helping students understand that not every source they come across is credible, unbiased, relevant, and accurate is important. In this standard, students will determine which sources are best to use in their academic writing, how to select information that pertains to their topics and ignore the rest, and how to incorporate that information into their work fluently while giving credit to the sources of information. This is the time to cover proper documentation and citation of sources, and it’s also important to discuss the rationale behind citation so students don’t view it as a bunch of silly rules that only teachers care about. Read on for an example of how students can begin to effectively select and incorporate their sources.

Example

Assignment Example

Your friends talked about the tsunami of December 2004 for a long time. You remember seeing YouTube videos of the huge waves, and the path of destruction and death left in its wake still comes to mind. Pounding the shores of Southeast Asia, this tsunami was one of the worst. This water disaster reminds you of the flooding of New Orleans in 2005 caused by Hurricane Katrina. Television programs showed people clinging for dear life on their rooftops. Debris was floating everywhere. The earthquake that crushed Haiti in 2010 also shakes you. You can’t imagine what it would be like to be buried alive under the rubble of a toppled building, waiting for help.

Your teacher has asked you to create an informational brochure or tip sheet about a natural disaster. Using many resources, such as the Internet, books, videos, newspapers, and magazine articles, you’ll research your selected topic to gather information. You decide to focus on the great tsunami because you just can’t get those videos out of your mind. First, you Google “tsunami of December 2004” on the Internet. You find many types of information, such as sites that define and describe a tsunami; videos showing automobiles and houses swept away; maps that illustrate areas most affected by the giant wave; and disaster relief websites that give basic facts about recovery operations.

Next, you head off to the library where you find a science book that explains what causes a tsunami and how it is formed. You particularly like the graphics in this source. Newspaper articles give tearful accounts of the disaster and many contain interviews with people who were there or people who lost a family member or friend. You check out the article in Discover magazine, and are shocked by the photographs you see there. This is bad, but good for your project; you’ve found a great collection of information about your topic, and you’re set to compose.

Stop! Before you start writing, it’s important to check the sources you want to use for your project. Not all resources, especially on the Internet, contain accurate and reliable information. Sometimes writers, photographers, and reporters, try to put their opinions into their pieces, and you can’t always rely on what they are saying. They might have a SECRET agenda, like selling you a life jacket that will protect you in a tsunami. BUYER BEWARE! These creators might be biased, or favor an idea that is not necessarily true though it might seem so. Make sure the information you are using is accurate and impartial. Check the author’s background, education, and knowledge about your topic. Also look into the publication and date to make sure the information is reputable and current.

Once you’ve got your research narrowed down to the credible stuff, you’ll want to make sure not to include information that really isn’t necessary. Stick to your topic. When you searched on the Internet, your request brought over...GOOD GRIEF, Charlie Brown…70,000,000 websites with information about the December 2004 tsunami to your fingers. That’s going overboard, don’t you think? Also, just because a source is really good doesn’t mean you should quote or summarize really long passages from it. You learned a lot from reading the whole source, but often just a sentence or two will be needed as part of your final product. Remember, in your assignment your writing should take center stage. Along the way you might find information about other tsunamis, but your project would get way too large. You’re writing a fact sheet, so limit your topic, and use only the information you find that applies to that topic. 

To organize your research, you might want to generate a list of questions that want to answer about your topic: What is a tsunami? What causes one? When and where did this particular disaster occur? What were the regions in Southeast Asia that were hit? How many people were affected or died as a result of the tsunami? How many people were listed as missing? What other effects came about due to the disaster besides so many deaths? What happened to the infrastructure of the towns? Who helped during the disaster, including relief groups? How does the area look today? What are the long-term effects on people and their ways of living? These questions will become the focus of your investigation and your final product.

As your answers come, be sure that you give credit to your sources since any idea, fact, quotation, paraphrase, or statistic really belongs to that source. You don’t want to steal, or plagiarize, in your work. That’s called cheating and would create your own PERSONAL, natural disaster, so cite your work. Use this website for proper citation rules: http://owl.english.purdue.edu.

In your writing, be sure to use proper transitions and attributive tags to help your reader move smoothly between your ideas and the source information. You might also use bold or colored headings and graphics, such as arrows, to ride the wave of understanding about your topic. Put your information into a brochure using your favorite design from your computer’s program or use glogsterEDU to make a poster . It’s fun!

Quiz Questions

Here's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.

DRILL:

In the blank, write the letter of the description that best matches the word given.

  1. _____ plagiarism

    Correct Answer:

    to use the ideas or words of another, passing them off as one’s own

    Answer Explanation:

    That’s considered stealing information; no good.


  2. _____ authoritative

    Correct Answer:

    clear, accurate, and knowledgeable

    Answer Explanation:

    This is what you want your sources to be.


  3. _____ biased

    Correct Answer:

    tending to favor a viewpoint or position

    Answer Explanation:

    If you are biased, it means you have an unfair prejudice for or against something, like how your grandparents were biased when they claimed that you were absolutely the cutest baby that ever lived.


  4. _____ citation

    Correct Answer:

    reference to a published or unpublished source

    Answer Explanation:

    This is how you avoid plagiarism; don’t pretend the info is yours if it isn’t!


  5. _____ research question

    Correct Answer:

    a clear, focused, and arguable topic for investigation

    Answer Explanation:

    A good research question is clear but not simple; it should lead you to genuine discovery through research.


  6. _____ print source

    Correct Answer:

    printed material

    Answer Explanation:

    Obviously.


  7. _____ digital source

    Correct Answer:

    Internet or other electronic supplier of information

    Answer Explanation:

    More and more sources are digital these days, so make sure you know how to properly investigate the source and reliability of digital information.


  8. _____ genre

    Correct Answer:

    a type or style

    Answer Explanation:

    It’s important to know a source’s genre before you use it as this will help you evaluate how reliable the information is.


  9. _____ transitions

    Correct Answer:

    words or phrases that connect one part of writing to another

    Answer Explanation:

    Transitions help readers understand how the information is all related.


  10. _____ integrate

    Correct Answer:

    to bring together or combine

    Answer Explanation:

    When you integrate sources into your writing, you combine the source information with your own ideas and interpretations.


Aligned Resources