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Teaching the Research Paper Review by Kathy Gelzer

Robin Finley
Analytical Grammar
3810-201 Lunceston Way
3810-201 Lunceston Way

So the time has come for you to teach your student how to write a research or term paper. Breathe a sigh of relief. Here is just the tool you need.

Teaching the Research Paper is a month long supplementary teaching unit from Analytical Grammar. It is a 31 page three-hole punched packet of papers ready to go into a three ring binder. It also comes with an audio CD. (Unfortunately, the one I received had nothing but white noise on it.)

Every part of the research paper is broken down into eight days of teaching, with specific student assignments to be done between teaching days. I can't begin to describe to you how easy this material makes the task of teaching someone how to write a research paper. Author Robin Finley is confident about the results you will see using her method. From understanding the requirements of the paper (which are spelled out down to the number of pages and font) to choosing a topic, to note taking and outlining to rough and final drafts, every detail has been specified for you, the teacher, to make your task easier. The author's tone is anything but stuffy or overly serious. Her humor and encouragement immediately put you at ease.

The first nine pages are written to the teacher, with step-by-step instructions for the actual teaching, student expectations, and suggested time frames for completing the individual steps. The remaining pages are handouts, examples, and rubrics. Everything you need is in this packet of papers. Nowhere in the materials or on the website could I find what age or grade this curriculum is for, but I think you could use it successfully with as young as fifth or sixth grade, depending on the student. Certainly, it is appropriate for eighth grade and above.

The author has written this for the homeschool parent, and she suggests you back off on some of the other academic tasks while taking the time to work with your student on this month long project. As would be expected with a curriculum teaching how to write a term paper, plenty of time is given to quotations, citations, paraphrasing in ones own words, and proofreading. I wish the author had taken more time and words to talk about the severity of plagiarism in terms of the actual offense and the likely consequences.

I particularly liked the detailed suggestions for evaluating or grading at each check point. Formal writing exercises can sometimes be overlooked in the homeschool. As author, Robin Finley, writes, "Writing a good research paper is one of the culminating achievements of a well-prepared student." When you are ready to teach your student how to write a research paper, you will find this material indispensable.

Product Review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009