My second grader came home the other day and announced he needed to do some research. He was working on an informational book about basketball, he explained. Who am I to stand in the way of a researcher?? He plopped down and got to work. Soon, he had a document filled with all of the things he wanted to know:
Once again, the power of choice and interest was on full display. He was highly motivated because he was researching with a clear purpose: he had lots of stuff he wanted to know about basketball. But that’s not what this post is really about. Watching him, I realized I was watching a researcher at work. I was watching a writer who was using research as a tool to support his writing.
I think that’s a shift we need to help our students make sometimes in their writing. Depending on their experiences with research writing, many of them have learned to be students who write research papers or complete research projects. Instead, we need to position them as writers who use research to support their writing. It may not seem like a big difference, but I think it’s an important shift if we want them to leave our rooms ready to be adult writers who can apply research skills in different situations. The problem with that shift is that it takes a lot of flexibility on our part.