As a high school English teacher, I spend a lot of time grading essays. A lot. An eternity, really… But the hardest papers to grade, and to teach, are definitely research papers. And in 10th grade, proper research is not considered simply task, but more of a life skill.
Over the years I’ve seen the need for ethical research instruction grow more and more demanding. Every year I hear the horror stories from first-year college students about someone who didn’t cite properly and failed the assignment, or worse, the class, simply because of sloppy research. And then we hear the stories of students caught plagiarizing and face even worse consequences. I would pass these stories on to my students, but still struggled with finding ways to guarantee students were researching properly and ethically.
I looked around online and couldn’t find anything to my liking, so, being a creative teacher myself, I decided to design my own.
I wanted to create a resource that had the following components:
- Simplicity – Students should see it as a relatively quick task that doesn’t take long to complete
- Functionality – It should serve to assist them in conducting ethical research in an obvious way
- Habit-Forming – I wanted students to become so used to completing this as an act of research that they returned to them in later years
The result was: The Reseach Source Sheet
These little babies have been living in my classroom for the past few years, and the effect on my students’ research habits cannot be understated.
The front gives students a basic checklist to record any relevant information about their source. Then, using resources in my room about how to arrange this information, they create their citation as it will appear in their works cited page.
On the back, students only need to write three things. First, they should bulletpoint or list the main points they will use from this source. Secondly, they should record any direct quotes they wish to use from the source. Finally, they simply need to indicate where the source will be used, such as in the second body paragraph or their conclusion section.
Every year I introduce this assessment during our first research project. Students must conduct research in class and have a certain number of sources required in their assignment. I usually give them a few days to research, outline, and draft in class. After those days, these source sheets are due and I assess them for formative points, based on the accuracy of their citations and how much useful information they record on the backside.
I love these source sheets, obviously. But it’s not just that it helps students with citations. Let’s face it, there are a lot of websites that do that (I’m looking at you, Easybib). The main reason I love it is that it teaches students to record information as they find it. Too often students skim websites for quotes, or simply copy and paste information without reading the whole article. Even worse, many students put the research into their own words and skip citing it entirely! By taking these simple notes during the research process, students learn to record detailed information during the research process, and it helps them learn the ethics behind proper research as well.
As the school year goes on, we return to these source sheets with every research assignment. It has become common practice in my classroom, and I’ve even passed them out to other teachers who assess research projects as well. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve even had students return the following year later and request some source sheets voluntarily.
These research source sheets are available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store as a free download. Please download one for use in your own classroom, and feel free to customize them as necessary, as they are in an editable Word format. And please follow my store on TPT, and this blog, for more product updates and creative resources to use in your ELA classroom!