Note Taking For Research Papers Middle School

Overview

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

 

OVERVIEW

Students will use scaffolding to research and organize information for writing a research paper. A research paper scaffold provides students with clear support for writing expository papers that include a question (problem), literature review, analysis, methodology for original research, results, conclusion, and references. Students examine informational text, use an inquiry-based approach, and practice genre-specific strategies for expository writing. Depending on the goals of the assignment, students may work collaboratively or as individuals. A student-written paper about color psychology provides an authentic model of a scaffold and the corresponding finished paper. The research paper scaffold is designed to be completed during seven or eight sessions over the course of four to six weeks.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

O'Day, S. (2006) Setting the stage for creative writing: Plot scaffolds for beginning and intermediate writers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Research paper scaffolding provides a temporary linguistic tool to assist students as they organize their expository writing. Scaffolding assists students in moving to levels of language performance they might be unable to obtain without this support.

  • An instructional scaffold essentially changes the role of the teacher from that of giver of knowledge to leader in inquiry. This relationship encourages creative intelligence on the part of both teacher and student, which in turn may broaden the notion of literacy so as to include more learning styles.

  • An instructional scaffold is useful for expository writing because of its basis in problem solving, ownership, appropriateness, support, collaboration, and internalization. It allows students to start where they are comfortable, and provides a genre-based structure for organizing creative ideas.

 

Biancarosa, G., and Snow, C. E. (2004.) Reading next-A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

  • In order for students to take ownership of knowledge, they must learn to rework raw information, use details and facts, and write.

  • Teaching writing should involve direct, explicit comprehension instruction, effective instructional principles embedded in content, motivation and self-directed learning, and text-based collaborative learning to improve middle school and high school literacy.

  • Expository writing, because its organizational structure is rooted in classical rhetoric, needs to be taught.

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SUMMARY:

  • Taking notes is a key part of the research process because it helps you learn, and allows you to see your information in a useful visual way.

LINKS:

Once you’ve gotten a group of high-class sources, the next thing to do is go through them in detail. When reading through your sources, it’s important to be taking notes. Not only does the note-taking process help you learn the information, the notes themselves are an important visual aid in your paper-writing process.

There are as many ways to take notes as there are people. Everyone has a slightly different method. Some prefer to type notes on a computer, some choose to use notecards, and others like a good ‘ol pen and paper. The specific tool you use to take your notes isn’t as important as the notes themselves. Choose the method that’s the most comfortable for you.

Here are the things that all good notes systems will allow you to have:

  • Information about the source so you can find it again – You’ll want to write down the author, title, date published, publisher, and URL (if it’s a website).
  • A way to group notes – You’ll want to be able to organize your notes in a visual way so you can arrange them in an order that makes sense.
  • Spaces for you to write down quotes (direct text straight from the source), comments (your thoughts and questions), and paraphrasing (information from the text in your own words).

When taking notes, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Skim your entire source before you read it in detail. Skimming will help you understand how the document is laid out and what the main ideas are.
  • Search for the subject headings in the material you’re reading and write them in your notes. They’ll help you find relevant information faster, and they’ll provide you with reference points when you review your notes later.
  • Write down every fact or note that may be of use to you in your paper. Don’t write down things you already know or would never include in your finished work.
  • Break down the text into small groups of paragraphs. Read each group one-by-one, taking notes between groups. Breaking up the text into smaller, bite-sized pieces will help you process the information.
  • Don’t write down information from the text word-for-word. This takes too much time and prevents you from using your higher brain functions to filter out and process important information.
  • If a source is too dense or has too many dates, don’t feel like you need to write every bit of information down. Make a note of where the dense parts are and move on.

In the following sections, we’ll cover some specific note-taking tools. Remember to choose the one that matches your style the best.

 

1) Using notecards

SUMMARY:

  • Using notecards is a great way to arrange research information visually.
  • Have a “bibliography card” for each source.
  • Have notecards for every major idea that the source discusses.

LINKS:

Notecard methods:

Within the method of using notecards, there are many different formats to take notes. Again, the keys are to have a system that 1. works for you, and 2. includes all of the information you need.

Here’s a note-taking system that we like:

  1. Create a bibliography notecard for each source you use. It will serve as the “title notecard” for each stack of notecards dedicated to a particular source. On the bibliography notecard, you’ll want to include every piece of information you’ll need to cite your source. Here’s an example of a great title notecard for a book:
  2. Using the general principles of note-taking outlined in the earlier section, write note cards (one for each main idea) with bullet points. Here’s an example:

 

2) The Cornell note-taking method

SUMMARY:

  • The Cornell note-taking method is a great way to manage notes for a lecture or any type of source.
  • The Cornell system helps you commit information to memory.

LINKS:

The Cornell note-taking method can be applied to taking notes for research. The method helps you retain information.

The Cornell system is done on regular notebook paper that’s divided up into four sections:

Here’s an example of a notebook page:

 

3) Other note-taking tools

SUMMARY:

  • There are a variety of electronic note-taking tools out there.
  • If you like taking notes electronically, check out some of these tools.

LINKS:

ToolDescription
EvernoteMulti-platform (computer, mobile, and web) note taker for to-do lists, image archiving, and more.
SpringpadMulti-platform note taker for the busy person to edit, tag, and view notes.
Microsoft OneNoteSoftware with ability to create organized to-do lists, tag notes, bring in images; works well with Windows
SpringnoteCloud tool where you can generate text documents and share them with people.

 

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