The Research Paper II

So.  13…no 14 days later and we are still working on the research paper.  Actually, today is their last day.  They have done the research.  They have written the outlines.  They have learned MLA citations.  They have learned how to place headers in their papers. They have learned how to spell "Works Cited…"

Okay, well, maybe not that last part.

But one of my classes is currently happily typing away on gosh knows what…I say this because they seem to be pretty confident, but I’m
hoping that I don’t get the papers on Tuesday only to go WHAT DID YOU THINK THIS WAS and watch them tear up because they really thought they were doing the paper properly.  Or worse…watch them shrug because they knew they weren’t doing it properly and they didn’t care.  At least with the one’s who care, I can help them learn from their errors.  Maybe.

Back to typical child, today:
TC: Mrs. Whitley, I need help getting started.
Me: Yesterday you wrote your introduction and your conclusion.  Start by typing that, and I’ll come to you to help you with the body. Remember your outline?  Start with the outline you created.
TC: Yeah, I didn’t really finish the introduction yesterday.  I finished the conclusion though.
Me: Okay, start typing that.

I go away to help the other kids that are yelling for me.  Yelling things like "Mrs. Whitley, how do I capitalize this?"  "Mrs. Whitley,
how do I put this in italics?"  "Do I underline or italicize this?" "Where does the period go after the parentheses?"  I come back when
TC raises her hand.

TC: Okay, where should I start typing the conclusion.
Me: What do you mean, where?  On the page….  You can add the rest later on top of that.
TC: Great.
Me: Do you have the rest of your stuff?
TC: My notes?  From yesterday?  It’s in my binder.  At home.
Me: It’s not doing you any good at home.
TC: Yeah, I know.
Me: Well, can you remember your thesis statement?
TC: What’s that.
Me: Your argument
TC: Swine Flu.  I’m writing about Swine Flu.
Me: That’s not an argument, that’s a topic.  What about your "guiding question".
TC:  Oh yeah, "What is Swine Flu?"
Me: That’s not arguable…what did you come up with yesterday.
TC: Well, I wrote it down…but I don’t remember it.  It was good though.
Me: . . .  . . .
TC: Oh, yeah…should we be concerned about Swine Flu taking over like other viruses have in the past.  And what should we do about it.  And
if we should help other countries out if they have Swine Flu problems.
Me: Awesome.  And now, answer those questions.
TC: Yes.
Me: Yes?
TC: That’s the answer to those questions.  Yes.
Me: Answer them in a complete sentence.
TC: Yes, we should be worried about it spreading because it has happened in the past and we should help other people.
Me: Why? Why should I care about other people?
TC: Why what?  Why should we help others? Mrs. Whitley! You don’t care about dying kids?
Me: No, not really… Here, pretend I’m a cranky old man, yelling at people to get off my lawn.  *In cranky old man voice* Why do I care if they get sick and die?  Serves ’em right for living in Mexico!  Blargh!  Less population to breath up my oxygen and get me sick!  Yargh!  *back to teacher voice* that’s what your paper has to tell me, why I should care.
TC: Well, if they get sick, you’ll get sick.
Me: Good, there’s your thesis.  Just don’t use the word "You"

Ten minutes later.  Raised hand.

TC: How do I write the thesis without using the word "you"?
Me: Actually, you know what, just type it however you want, and we’ll revise it after you get done with it.

And so, the self-inflicted hair pulling continues.  I’m just waiting for another printer to break.  Another computer to flip out.  And just ONE student to tell me that they don’t have their paper, printed and ready to go, on Tuesday, May 26th at the beginning of their class period. Because I’m so done.  I love them…and I know that they’re trying…but I’m tired.

I need a better method…something that will have them helping each other instead of having me running to all of them.
Better method…anyone?  You!  You have your hand up over there.  Yes?  …Oh…you were just stretching…oh, okay…


About alburnet

New mom, new natural, and..for the last year...still a new teacher!

Posted on May 22, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. did you have them write practice papers on topics they care about? ie the jonas brothers?

    • The Jonas Brothers
      They’ve written so many practice papers, and writing test papers, and quarterly assessment papers, they’ve got it down to a science. Well, most of them. It’s just that, for some reason, when you throw in all the rules about plagiarism they get freaked out and think that things that are unimportant are important…and things that are important are unimportant. And then they give up and cheat.
      Although, I did have one student who said “Oh…so this is just like writing a normal paper, but with citations. I still gotta make an argument and e’erthang…” Actually, he said “story” I think. For some reason, he’s been asking me about writing his “story”…and I keep stressing that research papers should not include “stories”. Hm.

      • Re: The Jonas Brothers
        I forgot to add: Thanks for the suggestion, though. :-p
        That last reply wasn’t very…appreciative…I don’t think.

      • Re: The Jonas Brothers
        Maybe they should have to write papers on why they should pass your class. Then they can come up with an arguement…

  2. this sounds like my classroom. you should come on a writing workshop day where they try to write thesis statements.
    we play the pass around game where the students sit in a circle and pass their thesis statements around – their classmates then edit and give comments. it’s a fun game to play 🙂
    only 2 weeks left.

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