- Research information about a state
- Write a formal report with proper structure
- Discovering the United States: Student Research and Writing Tips Handout printable
- Computers with web access
- Nonfiction books about the United States
Copy a class set of the Discovering the United States: Student Research and Writing Tips Handout printable.
Step 1: Ask students for interesting facts about different American states. Obvious facts might include state capitals or colors on a state flag. More interesting facts might include that the lowest point in the United States is in California in Death Valley, at 282 feet below sea level. Or perhaps that an average of 1,018 people live in every square mile of Rhode Island. Or perhaps that Oklahoma’s state bird is the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
Step 2: Tell students that they will be writing a report on a state of their choosing. Tell them that the key to writing a good report is to find interesting facts. Emphasize that these facts are not difficult to find with some basic research skills. It is also important for them to organize their information well and to write in a compelling way.
Step 3: Encourage students to include a variety of information in their reports. Possible areas of research include a state’s population characteristics, climate, landscape, history, and culture. These facts will often be found in different sources. For example, population statistics could come from the U.S. Census Bureau, while geographic information might come from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Step 4: Distribute the Discovering the United States: Student Research and Writing Tips Handout printable. The sheet lists basic research skills, as well as guidelines for writing their essay. Remind students to keep good notes and to record all of their sources. These are crucial skills for writing.
Step 5: Provide class time for students to complete their research and write their reports.
To add depth to students’ essays, have them add visual elements. These might include photos, maps, and other relevant images.