What in the world is an argumentative research paper?!
An argumentative research paper is harder than researching a topic and presenting findings. In this class, students learn to research an event and then come up with their own argument about the significance of that event, based on the facts. They learn to follow the facts and to present their findings in an argumentative research essay. Students begin by learning the steps of research: how to get organized, ask research questions, search smart to find resources online, read informational texts, and take notes so that they avoid plagiarism. Then they learn to synthesize it all together into a research essay with an annotated bibliography page. This class includes workshop time, which we have found increases student success in writing the paper.
High Expectations in a Supportive Community:
In this class, the instructor works to build respectful relationships with each student and to build an online community. We establish a supportive and encouraging environment. This class has a high level of student interaction–students will answer questions and use the chatbox regularly. If we don’t hear from a student, we ask them if everything is okay. We push students to improve their writing, both for function and style. Further, we pull up their essays as they write and give feedback on the spot. Since our goal is to keep their minds engaged, to keep them writing, and to learn new skills, we encourage students (but don’t force them) to keep cameras on. Quieter students will do fine because they engage with their teacher in the chatbox. We want to honor the investment parents make in this class and the time students spend. The goal is to build skills and learn! That means students are working, thinking, and writing.
The Way We Roll:
Student Motivation & Accountability–Learners participate in interactive lessons during their homework time, which includes competitive quizzes. This class utilizes competition in the first couple of weeks, which is highly motivating for many. For those that don’t enjoy competition, they can sit back and watch. It’s all okay! We use “workshop time” in class so students will write while the teacher “visits” them on their Google Document. Once we started using this method, we saw nearly a 100% completion rate in student essays!
Homework–Students can expect to have homework after each live class. They will work 15-45 minutes, depending on the assignment and how quickly they work. Students receive authentic and constructive feedback from the instructor that helps students correct their mistakes and fine-tune their skills. We integrate grammar in all aspects of instruction, and we hold students to a high standard of academic writing. We achieve this through daily mini-lessons and practice with sentence writing and using various sentence starters.
Graphic Organizers–Students need graphic organizers to help them see the structure of a paragraph or essay and the writing process. This is how they learn to develop coherent ideas. They don’t figure out how to do this magically; the graphic organizers and the intentional, explicit teaching help them learn the skills!
Student Mastery--Each class includes explicit, direct instruction with teacher modeling. Students are guided toward mastery of multiple writing skills and understandings so that they grasp the concepts and become independent. Students are held to a high standard of academic writing, including the use of grammar and the construction of sophisticated sentences.
Teacher Feedback–The back-and-forth work between a student and teacher significantly benefits a student if it is done well. We follow best practices in this area with how we design class time, assignments, and routines. According to Pennington Publishing, • effective writing feedback (or grading) is:
• Specific, not general
• Immediate, not postponed
• Routine with a revision / feedback cycle
• The right amount
• Targeted to the most critical issues
• Varied (written, audio, and video comments)
• Holding students accountable
Day 1: AN INTRO TO HISTORICAL RESEARCH–Students will learn how to get organized for historical research. Students will learn the difference between primary/secondary/tertiary sources. Teachers give students a list of topics, and they can choose what they want to study. They can come up with their own ideas as well, but their teacher must approve their topic, so they will have success and be able to finish their essay without weeks of research. This is an introduction to historical research so that they learn the process. We start with an informational text to build some background knowledge. After reading their first article, they start to ask research questions that guide their efforts.
Day 2: HISTORICAL RESEARCH & NOTE TAKING–Students learn how to choose a reliable source and how to explore their topic further, answering basic questions about their topic. This includes how to search smart and how to evaluate sources for bias and reliability. During class time, students will find two more sources. Then, they will learn reading strategies and tips on how to read their sources while taking notes. Avoiding plagiarism, they will take effective notes, cite sources, and paraphrase their information. They will work to decipher what information is important. We devoted some class time to independent reading and note-taking, so the instructor can guide students to make sure they are on track, reading well, and taking quality notes. Students also learn how to write an annotated bibliography and how to do this as they progress with their research.
Day 3: Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 4: Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 5: HISTORICAL CONTEXT–Students will research the important people involved with the topic, create maps, and construct a timeline. Students understand what historical context is and begin studying the historical context of their topic using accurate and appropriate references to the time period by specifying the political, economic, social, and cultural influences—events, ideas, people, places, and objects. They gain a historical perspective and begin to think about the causes and consequences of an event or the relationship of a local topic to a larger trend or event. They write a body paragraph about the historical context.
Day 6: Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 7: DEEP RESEARCH— The instructor teaches the importance of doing balanced research, where they look at all sides of an issue to understand other opinions, points of view, and controversies. For example, they will ask questions such as: who suffered? Who benefited? What about women? Children? Men? People from other racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups? What about people in other geographical areas, those with different values and motivations? They will choose the strongest point of view and then write a paper countering those arguments. They will begin to answer their research questions. Students write a paragraph about what they discovered in their balanced research.
Day 8: Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 9: Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 10: ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION–This is when students begin asking and answering “why?” and “how?” questions on their topic to think deeper and discover more. Students will explore the historical impact on a deeper level and write the rest of the essay. They will research and communicate answers to these questions: How did your event impact history over time? Why is this event important in history? Third, they will begin to develop their historical thesis statement. Students will write multiple body paragraphs that support their thesis.
Day 11: Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 12 Workshop Day so students have their instructor to guide them along in the hard work of research.
Day 13: Students learn how to write the introduction & conclusion, and they do it in class with teacher guidance and support.
Day 14: Last, they learn to create a separate annotated bibliography page and how to revise and edit their entire essay. For homework, they fine-tune their essay and turn them in for final teacher feedback.
The Lemons-Aid Way: Our Approach to Teaching & Learning is Explicit!
Explicit teaching is a method of instruction students desperately need! Instead of leaving students to magically figure out how to write an essay, we teach explicitly, which is backed by a large body of evidence, and it’s how Mrs. Lemons teaches her undergraduate and graduate teacher candidates in college to teach! We do it this way because it’s how kids learn.
Explicit instruction is “a structured, systematic, and effective methodology for teaching academic skills. It is called explicit because it is an unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures. Explicit instruction is characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved.”
-Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching by Anita L. Archer and Charles A. Hughes.
Anita Archer trained Mrs. Lemons in workshops, and it changed her teaching. All Lemons-Aid courses follow this philosophy in the form of I DO, WE DO, YOU DO. We move students forward toward mastery of skills.
High School Writing Series:
This class is part of a series that prepares students to do dual enrollment college classes or are entering college. The series gets progressively more difficult and are scheduled in order. You can still jump in whenever you’d like! Completion of all of these classes, which takes about 6 months will cover all necessary high school writing! They make up a complete high school writing plan.
- Course 1:
Live: Foundations of Essay Writing (5 weeks/10 classes)
Self-Paced: Essay Essentials (4-6 weeks at your own pace/no live classes)
- Course 2:
Live: Assert, Reason, & Counter: The Argumentative Essay (5 weeks/10 classes)
- Course 3:
Live: Pen to Paper: The Literary Analysis Essay (3 weeks/6 classes)
- Course 4:
Live: This, That, & The Other: The Historical Research Essay / Term Paper (7 weeks/14 classes)
- Course 5:
Live: The College Application Essay (4 days)
- Extra Practice with Teacher Feedback
Self-Paced: Essay 911