The first time I taught research to my seniors was five years ago. (Remember that the first 13 years of my teaching career was spent teaching students with IEPs in a self-contained classroom. My students were classified as mentally retarded, so we focused on life skills--filling out job applications, reading bills, paying bills, going on job interviews, etc.) As I started the research process, I was terrified. I mean, I knew how to WRITE a paper myself, but I didn't have a clue about how to TEACH someone else to write one. Writing is, after all, not a process that has only one correct way. What works for you may not work for me. As a matter of fact, until I started teaching the research process, I had never actually followed an actual "process." I had always just done it my own way. And it certainly wasn't the most logical or easy way. LOL
Over the last five years, though, I have learned how to teach the process. I do tell my students that as they begin their college careers, they may develop their own style that is completely different from the style that I teach them, but at least they will have an idea of what does or doesn't work for them. One thing that I realized Monday is that I was actually looking forward to starting research. Whaaaa??????????? When the heck did THAT happen????? Now, the thing I do NOT look forward to at all is the grading. I am doing something different this year, though, that I hope will help some.
In the past, the other senior English teacher and I have gone through the process of teaching the students how to write bibliography cards. Over the last couple of semesters, I've had people question why in the world I was still teaching students how to write bib cards. And I started thinking about it. Why was I doing this? In colleges all over the place, students are using online resources, such as easybib.com, to generate working bibliographies which are then turned into the works cited page. So...if colleges were allowing students to use resources like this, why shouldn't I? After all, times have changed since 1985 when I was a college freshman. Technology has changed. I needed to change with it. So this year, I'm having my students create a working bibliography on easybib. My colleague is still doing it the "old" way, though. I think once she sees how much easier it should be to grade a working bibliography, she'll change her mind. Plus, it won't be nearly as hard to bring 85 pages of working bibliographies home as it would be to lug around a minimum of five bibliography cards for 85 students. (Do the math. That is a minimum of 425 cards!!! And those 3x5 cards do get heavy.)
I am still having them write note cards. I haven't figured out a good way to simplify that process, but I am open to suggestions!!!! They have to turn in 20 note cards the first go round (1700 cards) and then those same 20 plus 20 new ones the second go round (3400 cards...HEAVY!!) So please, send any ideas!
We're going to the Mac lab tomorrow for them to get started "playing" around to find sources and to begin building their working bibliography. I'm looking forward to a day of not having to talk all day long. My voice is tired. :)
Guess that's it for now. Have a GREAT day!
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