I find this very important because all too many times, students are asked to complete assignments for which they are unprepared. Teaching students the steps the need to go through in order to write a research paper will prepare them for future classes where these skills will be needed in spades. It will also lesson the possibility of plagiarism because students will have practiced paraphrasing and summarizing passages of information in their own words, making the information their own without claiming sole ownership.
This activity is one that Ms. P has borrowed from one of her many student teachers and involves each of the students being assigned the identity of a person involved in the Holocaust. Similar in many ways to the experience exemplified by the Titanic museum in Branson, this activity allows students to step into the shoes of the victims of the Holocaust and become personally involved as they read through the novel. Afterwards, they will write the name, date of birth and death, and one word to describe their person on a star, which will be hung on the walls of the classroom to commemorate those involved.
We also discussed, as we ate lunch, any observations I had made while watching the students as Ms. P read aloud. Her honors students read the book at home, but the regular class will read the entirety of the novel during class time. Today, they read through the second part of Chapter One and all of Chapter Two. During this reading, a few people had questions and so the reading was interrupted as Ms. P answered the students and tried to keep the conversation relevant. Normally, she says, there is not a problem with students asking questions in the middle of reading aloud, but it has been a while since they have read a longer book and the students may be out of practice.
I find this interesting because, just from observing him to today, it seems that he likes challenge and learning, but for some reason does not feel that he needs to take an extra step and try a little bit harder. He obviously reads and studies outside of the classroom and has additional knowledge--more so than his classmates--but he does not feel the need to go the extra mile. I look forward to watching this particular student as the weeks progress, especially in how he relates to his fellow classmates and they to him.