Research Projects that Reduce Copying and Pasting

Regurgitated Encyclopedia Britannica/Wikipedia research...  You know you've struggled with it in your classroom and maybe even you were guilty of it in your own early research efforts.  Even changing the format of the assignment from an essay to something more authentic like a travel brochure or poster often results in the same problem.  Elizabeth Allen from L'Anse Creuse Public School System and Melinda Kilk with presented some great research ideas at ISTE for reducing that common student temptation to copy and paste research. 

You can watch Elizabeth's presentation here and download the pdf with lots of great examples of the work.  They modeled the lesson using Tech4Learning's software, but it could be done with other presentation and drawing programs. Since this was a model lesson session, we were tasked to create samples of some of the lesson ideas, too.  Here's an example I created:

Associative Letter Report - the student chooses a letter out of a hat, or teacher can assign letter.  Then, the student writes facts or paragraphs explaining and illustrating how that letter fits the topic.

I was doing this on the fly in the conference session, so I didn't cite any sources for my research.  Students would need to include that on a separate piece of paper or as a digital attachment.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the other type of projects that fit the model:

The If Report - a cause and effect poem where the student finds three facts that distinguish a person, animal, or event.  The poem would work like this:

  If it didn't have a eight legs,
If it didn't spin webs,
If it didn't work at night,
It wouldn't be a spider.

Geography Riddle - describe a place in brief statements for others to guess 

Mystery Report - Create questions and number them for clues.  Students can play these games as they present their research.

Fact of Fiction - create a fact or fiction booklet.  The front page asks the question.  The back page answers the question.  This would be great with genres in the library.

Never Ever Report - present a subject based on what should never be associated with it or happen around it.  Students can also include what you definitely could do as a conclusion.

Fortunately/Unfortunately - this is like the Zen meditation on good luck/bad luck.  Students begin with a fortunately statement, followed by an unfortunately statement until they present all the needed information. 

Five Senses Poem - describe a subject using all their senses.

If, but Report - Begin with If I was... and list facts and details about the subject.  Then change to but I wouldn't... and list facts about another related subject that demonstrates understanding of how the two are different.


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