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Writing A Research Paper In The Middle School


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Students will use scaffolding to research and organize information for writing a research paper. A research paper scaffold provides students with clear support for writing expository papers that include a question (problem), literature review, analysis, methodology for original research, results, conclusion, and references. Students examine informational text, use an inquiry-based approach, and practice genre-specific strategies for expository writing. Depending on the goals of the assignment, students may work collaboratively or as individuals. A student-written paper about color psychology provides an authentic model of a scaffold and the corresponding finished paper. The research paper scaffold is designed to be completed during seven or eight sessions over the course of four to six weeks.

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O'Day, S. (2006) Setting the stage for creative writing: Plot scaffolds for beginning and intermediate writers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Research paper scaffolding provides a temporary linguistic tool to assist students as they organize their expository writing. Scaffolding assists students in moving to levels of language performance they might be unable to obtain without this support.

  • An instructional scaffold essentially changes the role of the teacher from that of giver of knowledge to leader in inquiry. This relationship encourages creative intelligence on the part of both teacher and student, which in turn may broaden the notion of literacy so as to include more learning styles.

  • An instructional scaffold is useful for expository writing because of its basis in problem solving, ownership, appropriateness, support, collaboration, and internalization. It allows students to start where they are comfortable, and provides a genre-based structure for organizing creative ideas.


Biancarosa, G., and Snow, C. E. (2004.) Reading next-A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

  • In order for students to take ownership of knowledge, they must learn to rework raw information, use details and facts, and write.

  • Teaching writing should involve direct, explicit comprehension instruction, effective instructional principles embedded in content, motivation and self-directed learning, and text-based collaborative learning to improve middle school and high school literacy.

  • Expository writing, because its organizational structure is rooted in classical rhetoric, needs to be taught.

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Requirements For Writing A Middle School Research Paper

The main requirements for writing a middle school research paper are put in place to ensure middle school students are adhering to the proper rules and standards of research writing.

Annotated Bibliography

To avoid plagiarism, all sources need to be properly credited with a bibliography according the following:

  • Must be written in MLA format
  • Must contain citations and brief summaries of the source
  • Needs to include the thesis statement
  • Needs  to include brief summary of chosen sources 
  • Source Card

Students need to provide between three and six Source Cards for teacher provided References

  • Book
  • Encyclopedia
  • Internet
  • Magazine
  • Newspaper
  • Scholarly journal
  • Note Cards

Students need to complete between 5-12 Note Cards 

  • 3 direct quotes from each of the 3 sources
  • 2 paraphrases from the direct quotes
  • 3 summaries of paragraphs


  • The length of the paper should first be considered in order to choose a topic that can be narrowed down and written about specifically to make sure the topic is not too broad.
  • Once a few topics have been chosen, preliminary research should be considered to ensure there is enough information available about the chosen topic.
  • The writer should select a topic that is interesting to them to encourage them to learn more about it and essentially make researching and writing more fun.

Main Idea

  • Once a research topic has been chosen, a list of resources should be written to make sure there is enough information to write a main idea for the paper.
  •  A maximum of three questions should be written than can be answered in the research paper.
  • One of those questions should be selected to guide the main idea. The question should be re-written as a statement and used for the thesis.
  • Using the main idea, an outline needs to be created in order to organize the thoughts and create the body of the research paper.
  • The main requirements for middle school research papers can potentially vary depending on the grade level. There are slight variations of the main requirements between 6th -8th grades. The higher the grade level, the more specific and detailed the research papers are required to be and the more input and creativity the students are allowed to show. The main focus of the research paper is to show students how they should give credit to others’ work in their writing and how they should properly write their papers to ensure this is the case. When evaluating the main requirements of a middle school research paper it is imperative to take the school’s particular standards into careful consideration. By doing this, you can ensure the proper rules are followed and all of the necessary requirements have been met. Other way is to use custom writing agency.

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