In our district, 4th Quarter is research quarter in ELA. Now really, every day is research day anymore, but this is where we do the deliberate instruction of skills for an extended project. In past years, students did a traditional research paper; last year, I added a digital presentation to that paper and honestly, those were more fun to review than the papers.
This year, my co-teacher and I decided to skip the paper (though it is an option for anyone who wants to take it; it hasn’t gone away for good) and do an “extended research project.” A new step for the students is creating an annotated bibliography for their sources.
What a packed assignment! Finding sources, initially analyzing for usefulness, taking notes on ones that pass the first step, summarizing the source, and putting it all into APA format takes a lot of work. Once that is done, the next step is to make a useful project out of the information to answer whatever research question the students self-selected.
Our goal, particularly in middle school, is to have students test out a variety of ways to “show what they know” so that as we more completely move into the personalized learning initiative our district has (thankfully!) embraced, the kids have skills to really personalize.
As an example, this annotation relates to the read aloud the middle school is doing, The Wild Robot Escapes. It’s a little short; it could be two paragraphs with the second one relating more about how the source relates to the (undisclosed) research question.