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Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy

Grade 9-10

Writing WHST.9-10.7

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

Set the Stage

Research is key in this standard, and students should be able to do a few things with it:

  • Conduct both short and long-term research projects, budgeting their time and resources appropriately.
  • Use research to answer a question (either given or self-generated) or to solve a problem.
  • Adjust the scope of their research as needed, broadening their search if the information is sparse and narrowing it if the information is non-specific.
  • Synthesize multiple sources or bring together different pieces of information to show how they are connected in context.
  • Use research to demonstrate a thorough understanding of their subject, including different perspectives or sides of the issue if applicable.

You can help your students master this standard by designing a variety of projects that incorporate research in different ways. Let’s take a look at one example.

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Teaching Guides Using this Standard

Example

Dress Rehearsal

Everyone knows about the pleasures of summer and few forget its aggravations, like the bugs and all their itchy bites. City or country, mosquitoes are everywhere. What does modern man do about this age old problem?

That’s the subject of your assignment in biology. You generate your own question on the topic: What are the most common approaches used to control insect numbers? You have been given one day in the computer lab for study and another day to write your report. You decide to create a graphic organizer to point out major ideas and details as you research.

You begin your research with an Internet search for insecticides and discover there are three common types: inorganic, botanical, and chlorinate hydrocarbons, better known as DDT. You think you should be reading the material at arm’s length. You know… just in case. Insecticides have gotten a LOT of bad press.

The first website explains the inorganic insecticides. These are compounds of arsenic, one of the oldest ways to handle pests. Unfortunately, you learn, these can be quite toxic to humans and animals and may remain in the environment for years. No good.

A website on insects describes the use of botanicals, or natural compounds taken from plants in order to deal with mosquitoes and their ilk. And don’t they deserve it? The use of these substances sounds better to you since they don’t harm other organisms outside the targeted insect, and unlike inorganic insecticides, they break down easily. They’re expensive though.

Next, you research another website to find information about DDT which came into use during World War II. This insecticide is based on hydrocarbons with chlorine atoms replacing some of the hydrogen atoms. DDT is effective against the mosquitoes that cause malaria and fleas that cause produce the plague. It also fights against insects that destroy farm crops.

Your research on this site explains the drawbacks of DDT. The compound does not easily break down and stays in the environment for a long time, eventually entering into the food chain of smaller organisms. Also, insects can become resistant to DDT’s effects. Those little buggers are strong.

You chart your findings and conclude that, while there are a number of ways to handle insect populations, some of those ways can have detrimental effects to the environment, and they vary in their effectiveness and cost. Your columns might be titled: Type/Name of Insecticide, Composition, Use, Effect, Advantages, Disadvantages. On schedule, you hand in your graphic to your teacher, complete with a bibliography section to give credit to your sources.

You’ve gathered information from a variety of sources, brought the concept and details into one document, and met your two-day deadline in order to answer your research question. Now, let’s imagine that your teacher wants to take the idea of insecticides a step further.

You now have an entire week to prepare your report. You are asked to expand your inquiry to include other, less familiar ways to handle the creepy crawlies. Back to the research lab you go. You find a number of websites that enlarge your list of products. These practices include the use of bacteria, organophosphates, carbamates, and growth regulators. Say what?

You learn that different types of bacteria from one insect can be used to kill the insects that feed on them. Organophosphates act similarly to nerve gasses that interfere with nerve function, and carbamates also inhibit nerve utility.

Finally, growth regulators interrupt the evolution of insects in a variety of development stages. The effects and advantages/disadvantages of these types of insecticides vary. For example, some types must be ingested to work, and others can have serious, harmful outcomes.

Your research of various websites and your textbook has offered detailed information about each insecticide. Synthesizing, or combining, all this information together in a thorough chart provides answers to your original question. You’ve had more time for research and more time for drafting and revising your graphic organizer. Now you’re ready to write your report in essay format. No problemo.

That’s a Wrap

Your students have demonstrated their ability to research, both in a limited and extended way. They’ve answered a self-generated research question in a science course through the use of multiple sources in order to analyze information and draw conclusions. They’ve shaped their conclusions through the creation of an accurate, fact-based chart as well as an essay. That’s nothing to scratch at!

Quiz Questions

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

Matching

Match the letter of the description to the correct word.

  1. ____ research

    Correct Answer:

    to conduct a systematic investigation to establish facts and draw conclusions

    Answer Explanation:

    Research is like detective work. You have to start with the facts (evidence), but ultimately you’ll synthesize and interpret those facts do draw your own conclusions.


  2. ____ sustained

    Correct Answer:

    prolonged for an extended period of time

    Answer Explanation:

    Sustained research is research that takes place over a longer period of time; the expectation here is that you’ll dig deeper and discover more sources.


  3. ____ self-generated

    Correct Answer:

    occurring without an outside cause

    Answer Explanation:

    Self-generated questions are those you come up with yourself, as opposed to assigned questions.


  4. ____ inquiry

    Correct Answer:

    the act of seeking information

    Answer Explanation:

    An inquiry is any act that seeks information. It can refer to research, interviews, or observations.


  5. ____ broaden

    Correct Answer:

    to expand to include more

    Answer Explanation:

    Broad is like wide. When you cast a wide (or more general) research net, you’ll get more information.


  6. ____ narrow

    Correct Answer:

    limit

    Answer Explanation:

    Narrow is like, well, narrow. When you narrow your topic, you limit your search results and/or the information you include.


  7. ____ research question

    Correct Answer:

    what is to be described/explained in the research process

    Answer Explanation:

    The research question is the purpose, and your research process should seek to answer that question. Good research questions will help direct your research to your specific topic.


  8. ____ sources

    Correct Answer:

    the origin of information

    Answer Explanation:

    A source of any kind is a point of origin. A source of water, a source of pain, etc. In research, your sources are the origin points for your information.


  9. ____ synthesize

    Correct Answer:

    combine into a unified whole

    Answer Explanation:

    To synthesize is to bring together in order to reach a new understanding. This is what you need to do in order to draw conclusions from your research. What new understanding does all this info add up to?


  10. ____ investigation

    Correct Answer:

    a systematic study

    Answer Explanation:

    Much like a crime investigation or a scientific investigation, a research investigation is a systematic study of a particular set of information.


Aligned Resources