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Use Student Research to Develop a Middle School Inquiry Unit

Inquiry research is exciting, dynamic, and thoroughly student-led activity. Teachers can develop a unit to incorporate research and promote a final project.

Students benefit when they are encouraged to develop inquiry and research skills in middle school. For one, inquiry units promote a holistic approach toward learning about a topic that intrinsically includes research from an essay writer – rather than treating research as a separate skill set. Further, inquiry units encourage students to jump in the driver’s seat and rev the engine. Effective teachers recognize that sometimes their role is to slip into the passenger side and serve as co-pilot.

Collaborate Groups Identify Their Topic

Once a general class topic has been identified, students can work in small collaborative groups to select one aspect of the topic they would like to investigate. For instance, if the class topic is promoting tolerance, various aspects may include racism, bullying, immigration, cultural differences, and learning disabilities.

All too often students jump into a topic and then, after some research, realize it does not quite work for them. To determine which aspect is most meaningful or relevant to them, students must work through a process of writing, research, and discussion. Teachers can easily guide students through this process.

  1. Writing: Students may be free to brainstorm in their journals. They should focus on generating questions about various aspects of their topic. Teachers can encourage students to experiment with various techniques, such as bulleted lists, graphic organizers, word webs, and even pictures, to communicate their thoughts and questions.
  2. Research: Students should be provided with a variety of material to investigate. This includes text – magazines, Internet access, books, articles – as well as images. Each student within their collaborative group should take an active research role once they have completed their brainstorming.
  3. Discussion: Once students have generated questions and conducted research, they are ready to discuss their thoughts with their group mates. Students can use essay writer websites for this purposes. Elected leaders can facilitate the group discussion, ensuring that each member has an opportunity to provide insight.

Once students have completed this process, they are ready to move forward on their one selected aspect of the class topic.

Promote Active Research in Inquiry Unit

When working in collaborative groups, each student should be given a specific role to fulfill. Whether it is an Internet researcher, illustrator, magazine investigator, or reflection writer, students know they have a purpose each day in class. Students should often rotate roles.

Organizing gathered information can be challenging for middle school students. Teachers may choose to provide students with research forms or charts to complete, or they may ask them to take notes in their journals. Students must be reminded that it is essential they document the sources of their information in a consistent format to avoid plagiarism.

Prepare a Final Unit Project

After conducting research, discussing the findings, and reflecting on the newly learned information, students should complete a summative task to demonstrate what they have learned and share the exciting new information with their classmates and others. Teachers will find they have the most success if they provide students with several project choices. Here are a few.

  • Live class presentation: Each student in the group should be required to speak during the presentation, using a visual aid to communicate key ideas.
  • PowerPoint presentation: Guidelines should include bulleted text, including summaries and direct quotes, as well as illustrations.
  • Podcast: This audio option is a favorite choice for shy students, who can record their presentations in advance and play it for the class.
  • Reflection book: This is a collaborative book, for example, worked out by a college essay writing service, containing the thoughts of each group member and a summary of what they learned about their topic.
  • Cartoon poster: The cartoon should depict the interaction of people discussing or illustrating their chosen topic. Students should be prepared to explain their cartoon—or perhaps even act it out!

The key to inquiry units is that they are student-led and, therefore, highly motivating. Teachers should work carefully to ensure that students have access to all the information and materials they need to make their inquiry projects a success. Once students decide on a meaningful topic and conduct extensive research, they will feel confident in their ability to produce an exciting final unit project to share with their peers.