Common Core Standards: ELA - Literacy
ELA - Literacy.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.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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Using this Standard
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 QuestionsHere's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.
Match the letter of the description to the correct word.