Research Papers and Projects
Research projects enable students to pursue in-depth investigations into a topic of their interest. In so doing, they learn how to identify reliable references, take notes, and synthesize information from different sources. Their investigation culminates in writing a research paper, which teaches students how to form an introduction, answer
essential questions, frame an argument, support key ideas, and craft a conclusion. In this process, students practice writing in complete sentences, using transition words effectively, and creating well-organized paragraphs. Once the papers are written, the students present their work to others in a clear and innovative way. For instance, the third grade students presented their research projects on famous pioneers by staging a living museum, whereby the student dressed and acted as the explorers they researched, painted a background to provides context for the exploration, and answered questions and gave information to parents and fellow students who visited their stations.
Second through fourth graders conduct their own research projects once a year. Each grade uses a theme that guides their research, which is often based on the science and/or humanities curriculum. Examples of past themes include the California Gold Rush, changemakers, national parks, and San Francisco landmarks. Typically, students will choose from a range of options given by their teachers that fit the grade level theme. Though more than one student may have the same topic, students conduct their research and write their papers independently.
Although research papers are written individually, the project presentations may be performed in groups. That is, students may work independently or in groups to create interactive games based on their topic, create slideshows, dioramas, or other visuals