Brushing the Cobwebs Away

November 3, 2014

     In the words of Ross Perot in a quotation from “Life is like a cobweb, not an organization chart.”  The seniors see many aspects of life as a tangled “cobweb” and are trying to decipher these life issues through a variety of research methods.  Simply stated, “It’s research paper time for the seniors.”  The seniors in regular English 4 and College English I (through Nebraska Wesleyan University) have selected a topic of interest.  The one requirement for topic selection was the student had to find a person (regular English 4) and three to four people (College English I) to interview.  The topics the students have selected range from ebola to abortion to gay marriage rights to cancer to gun control and more.  Each topic is to be persuasive in nature.  The focus of research during the senior English classes is primary research.  Three types of primary research are used this year: interviews, surveys, and observations.  The observation is given as an alternative to the fourth interview for the College English I students.  The questions the students develop for the survey are some of the unique features of research.  Each student develops five (regular English) and ten or more questions to ask any fifty people about his/her topic.  We try not to barrage the school with surveys, so each student is limited to fifty people.  Once the results have been obtained, the students learn how to create a graph, chart, or table (hence the quotation above).  The students properly label and place the graph into the research paper, using both Microsoft Word and Excel.  As an example, a graph is shown with data from a survey over work completed during first quarter.  The students were asked about the effectiveness of Daily Oral Language or DOL’s.  The question was “Have you been learning how to write better by using the DOL’s?”  So, each day the students complete exercises in Daily Oral Language, learn a word of the day, do a lesson in ACT Coach, and, hopefully, learn more about the various nuances of the research paper.  Some of the cobwebs of life as a senior are brushed aside, and while life can’t necessarily be charted, they do learn how to graph some aspects of a topic they enjoy.