Homeschool Highschool Podcast 144: Writing Research Papers with Kat Patrick
Kat has helped us out with an episode about homeschooling in the United Kingdom and the United States, she shared how to teach Shakespeare and enjoy it, and she shared tips for helping reluctant writers.
Kat and her family have lived in England for 25 years (where her husband teaches at Oxford). They recently moved to Texas, where Kat was born. Kat started Dreaming Spires Home Learning, a Charlotte Mason inspired online program. She offers lots of popular live courses in lots areas.
Kat is an expert in teaching writing skills. She began teaching research paper writing during her graduate studies at University of Delaware. (Interestingly, just a few miles from where the 7Sisters live, we just never met at that time.) Kat loves teaching the skills of research paper writing, especially in taking notes and noting sources.
As Vicki points out, teens often complain about writing research papers while in high school because they are a LOT of work! However, they often come back to her to thank her for that requirement, because in college they more easily earn top grades in their composition courses. Even non-college-bound skills benefit from writing research papers.
Life skills that all teens gain from writing research papers include:
- Building attention to detail
- Building stick-to-itiveness and organization skills for doing large projects
- Building patience for redos until things get batter
- Building research skills for life (such as products, trips or services teens will need in life)
- Building skills to evaluate sources (they can apply this to things they read on social media and elsewhere)
What are some resources Kat recommends?
- Books (usually more than one book, including more than one perspective)
- References from library
- Good Reads website
- Google Books
- Sources listed at the bottom of Wikipedia articles (the sources cited in the article), not the article itself
- Primary sources, including digital documents of out-of-print sources. (Simply Google search: *Primary source for…*). This is good because teens can begin to come up with some of their own thoughts by reading original docusments, rather than only discuss other people’s thoughts. (This is particularly helpful with MLA and Chicago-style papers that are thesis based papers.)
- Help teens understand: How long a quote can you use and how do you cite it? (Follow the guidelines for each paper style: MLA, APA, Chicago Style.) Teens in college can lose scholarships and fail classes if they plagiarize. Here is a post to help explain plagiarism to your homeschool high schoolers.
- Discuss paraphrasing and citing the paraphrase. (Developing this skills is one reason Kat loves Charlotte Mason’s traditional paraphrasing of books!)
Teach note-taking skills:
- Remind teens to research before they start the paper or even write a thesis. They need lots of information before they start writing their papers.
- Use index cards for note taking. Put quotes, statistics and other important information. Put citation information. Number the cards. Using card helps prevent accidental plagiarism.
- Mind map or spread out the cards on a table to help teens organize their thoughts.
Teach time management skills:
Work with teens with solid dates on when they start researching, finish their cards, complete the first rough draft, final draft, etc. 7Sisters freebie Scheduling Backwards can help with this. All of 7Sisters’ Research Paper Writing Guides are chunked out into day-by-day assignments to help homeschool high schoolers stay on track.
Kat suggests this order for writing research papers.
- Write the first draft of the paper
- Read the paper and find the gaps in the information presented
- Research to fill in gaps
- Check citations
- Edit for grammar, punctuation, etc
- Complete a final draft
Kat also includes these 2 fascinating requirements that truly help her homeschool high school students succeed as writers:
- Students keep a journal where they daily record what they have done on their research paper.
- At the end of the paper, she has her students write a *review* of the paper-writing process. It is a self-reflection about what they have learned about the process and the topic.
There are many styles of research papers, however, these are the most commonly used papers for high schoolers:
- Report writing (introductory paper writing). See 7Sisters’ FREEBIE for this type paper.
- MLA (thesis style, proving a point)
- Chicago Style (thesis style, proving a point). Click here for an excerpt of the Chicago Style Research Paper Writing Guide.
- APA (reporting style, non-bias)
Check out Kat’s online courses such as English Literature that includes writing extensions, including research papers as well as multi-genre experiences with Prezis and plays. She also has a research paper course! Also visit her at:
- Visit her at Dreaming Spires Home Learning.
- You can also watch a helpful introductory video from Kat.
- You’ll also love her friendly Facebook group.
Join Vicki and Kat for this fun discussion on research papers, your teens will benefit from the tips you learn!
For a in-depth discussion on goals and grading writing assignments for homeschool high school, check out this post.