This research writing unit of study is designed to guide your students through the research writing process.
This is a free writing unit of study from The Curriculum Corner.
This research writing collection includes mini lessons, anchor charts and more.
Mention the words “research writing” in an intermediate classroom and you might be met with moans & groans or perhaps even see fear in the eyes of some students.
In all seriousness though, writing can be intimidating for many children in our classrooms.
Guided and focused your mini-lessons can be helpful for students. Also, the more examples you can get students to interact with, the more they will understand the expectations. Finally, the more modeling that you do for them, the more they can view writing as less overwhelming.
Download the free resources to accompany this unit of study at the bottom of this post.
Lesson Ideas for Writing Research Papers:
Lesson 1: Noticings
- Begin by getting your students familiar with what research writing looks like.
- Have them work in pairs or small groups to read pieces of research writing. They will record their “noticings” about the writing.
- Then, come together in a community circle to discuss and create a class anchor chart.
- You will find a blank anchor chart and one with noticings already recorded.
- Here is a link we found that contains some student-created examples of research writing: Student Writing Models. Simply scroll through the grade levels for different samples.
Lesson 2: Opinion vs. Facts
- Begin with a brief review of opinions vs. facts.
- Use the six paragraphs we share in our resources to give your students some practice differentiating between the two.
- Each of the paragraphs contains both opinions and facts.
- Students will read the paragraphs and record the facts and opinions from their paragraph onto the recording page.
Lesson 3: Choosing a Topic
- We know that providing choice will allow for greater engagement and success. We want to help students to narrow their choices by giving them some guidance.
- Gather students and begin a discussion about choosing a research topic.
- Ask them to think of topics they already know a little about, have interest in or is important/relevant to their lives.
- You might pose the question “Why is that important in research writing?” and discuss their thoughts.
- For this lesson we have provided a page where students can individually brainstorm topics. You can circulate the room during this process to help students to narrow their topic.
- If you feel your class may need help to narrow their choices, think about giving them a broad topic, such as animals, and then have them choose a sub-topics from the bigger umbrella topic.
- If you feel like your students need an added level of support you might think about creating an anchor chart from a class brainstorming session about possible appropriate topics and then display this in your room.
Lesson 4: Where to Find Accurate Information about a Topic
- Help students to begin to understand where they might find accurate information about their topics.
- You might think about posing these questions:
- Where are the places you can begin to look for information about your topic?
- Why would the copyright date on a book be important in doing research?
- Is everything on the internet true?
- Why is it important for your research to contain accurate information?
- Where do you begin to look for information that will accurate
- One way to help students think through appropriate sites on the internet is to pass out the ten cards provided in our resources.
- Have students read the cards and discuss what kind of a website it is.
- Talk about whether they know or have heard of the sites. Would they consider the sites “trusted” enough to gain knowledge about their topics. Then have them talk about why or why not these sites would be trusted.
Lesson 5: Double Check Your Facts
- We want our students to get into the habit of double checking their facts. This will help ensure what they are learning is correct.
- To do this, you might want them to practice this skill. In this lesson use the page provided to have each student find and record a fact about a topic of their choice on the internet.
- The page then has students write where they found the fact, and also has them list a corresponding fact from a different source.
- Finally they determine if the facts are the same or different. You may have to further the lesson by discussing approximations. For example one site might say that an animal can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, while another might state that the animal weighs between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds.
- You will need to talk about how those facts might both be accurate even though they are stated differently. If they seem to check out, then help students generalize the information for a research paper.
Lesson 6: Taking Notes
- Sometimes giving students resources and a blank sheet of notebook paper can be too overwhelming. You have students who simply copy everything from the text or you have others who have no idea where to start.
- We need to guide them to read to pull out facts & relevant information.
- For this lesson we have provided various templates for note-taking. Whatever method or template you choose for helping your students learn to take notes, model it several times in front of the class Demonstrating for them how to write the notes as they read about a topic will be helpful.
- After initial teaching, you may find that you need to pull small groups for extra practice. Some might need a one-on-one conference.
Lesson 7: Paraphrasing vs. Plagiarism
- Students will need to learn how to paraphrase their research. This will help them avoid plagiarizing words from their resources.
- Discuss why plagiarizing is something that they shouldn’t do in their writing because it is “stealing” another’s words.
- Tell the students that there is a way to use another author’s ideas in an appropriate way without copying their words. First, they need to paraphrase and then they need to cite the source where they found the information.
- Display the anchor chart “What is Paraphrasing” and discuss the definition.
- Next, pass out copies of “My Own Words” to pairs of students. Explain that their task will be to find a paragraph or passage in a nonfiction book. They will paraphrase the author’s words, keeping the same ideas.
- Finally, gather students together to share their paraphrasing efforts. Each pair of students can read the paragraph/passage from the book and then the paraphrasing that they wrote. Discuss the words and decisions the students made in their paraphrasing.
Lesson 8: Word Choice in Research Writing
- To help students think about making their writing more interesting, have them brainstorm words that could add voice to their writing.
- After working independently on the word choice page provided, have them meet with partners. They can talk about nouns, verbs and adjectives that relate to their topic.
Lesson 9: Writing Sketch
- This graphic organizer can be used for students to plan their writing.
- If your writers are more advanced you might choose to skip this step, It could be a big help for students who have taken notes and have too many facts.
- Be sure to model how to write the facts & ideas from your notes onto your planner. Students will see first hand how to make sure to only add what is relevant and important to their writing.
- Some questions you can pose: What will be the focus of each paragraph in your research writing? What do you want to include from your notes? Why is it important to the research? What facts don’t quite fit into the paragraphs you’ve decided upon? Should you change some of the paragraphs so that they better support the research and what you want your readers to learn?
- Once the planner is finished, they can use it as a guide to help their writing stay focused.
Lesson 10: Writing Introductions to Research
- Teach students how to think about their introduction as a way to grab their readers’ attention.
- Our anchor chart has some ideas to get writers started. You might also extend the anchor chart to include ideas from your students. (We have included some blank anchor charts at the very bottom of the download.)
- Discuss the parts that need to be included in the introductory paragraph first. Then, move on to some of the ways that might engage readers. As always be sure to model how you would go about writing an introductory paragraph using your Writing Sketch.
Lesson 11: Developing Your Paragraphs
- Next, help students stay focused and develop complete paragraphs.The next graphic organizer will get them to think through the specifics of each paragraph.
- Again, this may not be needed for all of the students in your classroom, but it might be something to think about using with all of them for at least their very first attempts at writing research papers.
- Model how to use the Writing Sketch planner to develop their paragraphs more fully on this organizer.
Lesson 12: Writing a Conclusion to Research
Providing a solid concluding paragraph is also something that needs modeled for your students.
Use the anchor chart with ideas to get you started with the modeling of this as well.
***If you would like for your students to write their first drafts on something that continues to support organization for them, you will find guided lined paper.
Lesson 13: Research Rendezvous Celebration
We love ending a unit of study with a celebration.
For this particular celebration, you might invite students to bring in a visual to help illustrate their topic.
Invite parents and other special adults from your building to the celebration and think about providing a snack.
You can also print out our “Congrats Author!” certificates to give to each student during the celebration.
All the research writing resources described above can be found in one download here:
As with all of our resources, The Curriculum Corner creates these for free classroom use. Our products may not be sold. You may print and copy for your personal classroom use. These are also great for home school families!
You may not modify and resell in any form. Please let us know if you have any questions.