Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ramblings on Research and the 2nd Day Back

The first day back to school was…tiring.  It was the case of missing homework and a preoccupation with talking.  As far as days go, it wasn’t bad.  And it wasn’t good.  It was just a day.

The second day back was better.  Though talking was still an issue (talking is always an issue here), there was (almost) no missing homework.  Better yet, when teaching research to my advanced 7th grade class today, I was met not with blank, uncomprehending stares, but a genuine understanding of the task at hand.  When I gave them work time to take notes at the end of the hour, they were actually able to use the time—creating source cards and beginning to highlight their sources and take notes.  Yes, I thought, This is the way this unit is supposed to work.  Class today gave me faith that although there is a chance that some of the research papers I receive may be poorly written, riddled with unintentional plagiarism, and not  based on completely research-able topics, my papers from this particular class should give me something to look forward to when grading.  My students have chosen relevant, interesting topics, and have made a real effort to find scientific evidence to support their findings.

As one student attempted to make her source card for her website source today, she remarked, “Oh, this one doesn’t have an author.  Oh, this is a bad source!  I can’t use this!”  I was so proud of her.  Because she’s right—the article in front of her definitely did not look like it was based on fact or supported by research.  Another student called me over and explained to me that he wouldn’t be able to take as many notes from certain sources, because one was based more on opinion than on facts, so he really couldn’t use it as much.  I was proud of him too, especially since his thesis, “Dogs are better pets than cats,” made me a little nervous when he first brought it up.  I am glad he has found scientific studies which talk about the benefits of each as pets. 

Maybe my mood was also lighter yesterday due to the simple fact that two students stopped in to visit with me at recess, and we talked about Japan, and Mexico, and Alaska.  An entertaining, educational, non-school related conversation with a student can always make my day brighter.

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