Help! My Reluctant Writer Can’t Do a Homeschool Research Paper!

A Research Paper Writing Guide for the Reluctant, Remedial, Can’t-Do-It Teen

Research Papers for Reluctant Teens

Help! My Reluctant Writer Can’t Do a Homeschool Research Paper!

 

Sometimes young homeschool high schoolers freak out over the “R” word. They insist they CAN’T do a research paper!

This may be because:
-their self-confidence is low
-they are inexperienced
-they are disorganized
-they are simply reluctant writers

Whatever the cause, reluctant writers in homeschool can’t escape writing research papers in high school.
To help you know how big a paper to your reluctant writer should produce, here is a link to our homeschool umbrella school’s requirements for research papers (according to age/grade and academic level).

http://mtsophia.com/diploma-program/how-to-earn-credits/ .

(Here is a link to our post on determining academic levels:

http://7sistershomeschool.com/recording-levels-on-a-homeschool-transcript-tips-from-a-20-year-vet/. )

If you have a reluctant writer in your homeschool who has NEVER written a research paper and is TERRIFIED to start one, here is an easy step-by-step guide for a remedial-level paper (for instance, a Level 2, 9th grade, 5-page paper).

This paper will NOT concentrate on:
transition sentences
stylistic details
expertise of wording

Instead, it will help the reluctant writer in your homeschool have a successful first paper. You should plan on 5-10 weeks for this paper (according to the ability of your homeschooler).

Note: This format will never do for a second paper, but for reluctant and remedial writers who are stymied by the process, this is a good place to start developing skills. Next year, he/she should definitely complete a real MLA or APA style paper. See 7sistershomeschool for user-friendly research paper writing guides in both formats. http://7sistershomeschool.com/products-page/research-writing-curriculum/

I. Have your student pick a topic he/she REALLY likes that can be divided into 4 parts.
For instance: types of objects in space (planets, moons, stars, comets); types of dogs (hunting dogs, tracking dogs, shepherding dogs, house dogs); women’s fashions in the 1800’s (early 1800’s, the Romantic Era, Civil War Era, Golden Age Era).

Your homeschooler will write one page on each of the 4 topics- but don’t start writing yet!

II. Have your student check out 1 book from the library on the topic.
Look for a readable book.

III. Have your homeschooler write a 1-paragraph summary of each chapter AND one quote from the chapter (something he/she liked or something someone famous said) on an index card or piece of paper. Include citation (name of book, author, date of publication, publisher, and city of publication).
Have your homeschooler HAND WRITE this (this is a useful plagiarism-prevention tool for novice research paper writers).

Don’t know much about plagiarism? How about “ACCIDENTAL plagiarism”? Give Sabrina’s vlog a view and help your student learn how to avoid these common mistakes.

IV. Have your student read 4 internet sources (NO wikipedia or other wikis).
It is usually best if the website is sponsored by an organization or the author lists his/her name.

V. Have your homeschooler write a 1-paragraph summary of each website AND one quote from each site. Include citation (name of article, name of website, author or organization, link address).
Handwrite (again, this is for anti-plagiarism).

VI. Sit together and read the notes and quotes. What has your high schooler learned from his/her sources?
Have a relaxed and pleasant conversation. What are the main ideas about each of the 4 topics of the paper?

VII. Using a graphic organizer such as on my Pinterest board, capture the main ideas on paper.
http://www.pinterest.com/vickitillman/graphic-organizers-for-research-papers/
If your student has not done this before, work on this one together. Next year, he/she should be able to complete this individually.

VIII. Have him/her turn this into an outline.
If your homeschooler has not done this before, work on this together. Next year, he/she should need little help. Here is a link to my Pinterest board on how to write outlines: http://www.pinterest.com/vickitillman/how-to-make-outlines-for-papers/

IX. Now it is time for your homeschooler to start writing, using his/her outline. He/she should begin with writing the introduction paragraph for the paper. It should:

A. Start with a grabber sentence (some interesting fact, joke, or quote about the overall topic)
B. Include a filler sentence (because you need at least 3 sentences for a paragraph). Perhaps tell why you are studying this subject.
C. Discuss what the paper will cover, for instance: “This paper will discuss different kinds of bodies in space such as stars, planets, moons and comets.”

reluctant writer homeschool
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X. Now following the outline, have him/her write a page on topic 1 of the 4 topics of the paper.
Try to put a citation at the end of each paragraph, showing where he/she got the information from. For this paper, it can take any format but should be consistent. In high school, he/she must follow the rules for MLA or APA citations. See 7sistershomeschool.com Research Paper Writing Guides for help: http://7sistershomeschool.com/products-page/research-writing-curriculum/ .

XI. Now following the outline, have him/her write a page on topic 2 of the 4 topics of the paper.
Try to put a citation at the end of each paragraph, showing where he/she got the information from. For this paper, it can take any format but should be consistent.

XII. Now following the outline, have him/her write a page on topic 3 of the 4 topics of the paper.
Try to put a citation at the end of each paragraph, showing where he/she got the information from. For this paper, it can take any format but should be consistent.

XIII. Now following the outline, have him/her write a page on topic 4 of the 4 topics of the paper.
Try to put a citation at the end of each paragraph, showing where he/she got the information from. For this paper, it can take any format but should be consistent.

XIV. Your high schooler should now write a conclusion paragraph. It should:

A. State something like, “This paper has discussed…(then list the topics mentioned in the intro paragraph”.
B. Write 2 sentences stating your opinions or a call to action.

reluctant writer homeschool
Click image for full product description.

XV. The last page should be a reference page. Have your student give it a title “References” or “Bibliography”.

Alphabetized by author’s last name or website name, write a reference list.
You may follow any format you choose for reference formatting on this paper. However, when your homeschooler works on an official MLA or APA paper next year, he/she will need to follow those formats.

Here is one way to do it:

Acme, Arnold. (2006). The Complete Guide to Planetary Objects. New York: Spacey Publications.
Bigpaper, George. (2009). Space Facts. Retrieved from: http://spacefacts.com
Interplanetary Society. Space, the Final Frontier. Retrieved from: http://interplanetaryspace.com

XVI. Have your homeschooler print out a copy of the paper. Read it over together.
Circle any glaring spelling or grammar errors. Make sure there are citations at the end of each paragraph.

XVII. Have him/her make changes and print a final draft.

Now share the paper with friends or family. Enjoy the success of your formerly reluctant, remedial writer. Next year, he/she is ready for real MLA or APA papers!

http://7sistershomeschool.com/products-page/research-writing-curriculum/
When your high schooler’s first paper is finished, you might still have a reluctant writer in your homeschool, but at least he/she will be more confident!

reluctant writer homeschool
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Click here for ways to help your teen avoid plagiarism.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

4 Replies to “Help! My Reluctant Writer Can’t Do a Homeschool Research Paper!”

  1. This is a great plan for attacking the very important challenge of writing a research paper. The step by step plan is very systematic, doable, and repeatable! I do have one disagreement, though. IMHO, I believe it is of utmost importance to avoid the “This paper will …” trap. It is much more effective to go right to the main point (your thesis). The reader will know what the paper addresses by the thesis. “These four major types of bodies can be found in space: stars, planets, moons, and comets.”

    • Excellent point, Maureen. If you begin with the statement: “This paper will discuss…” you will have the rudiments of a beginning APA paper. If you begin with a thesis like the one you suggested, you will have the rudiments of a beginning MLA paper. 🙂

  2. Excellent article! Very practical and do-able for reluctant writers and those with learning differences.

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