Researching and writing reports is a complex task that requires higher order skills like analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing. Assigning a topic for the students to research and telling them to write a report in their own words without providing sufficient scaffolding is a recipe for disaster that usually results in a lot of inadvertently plagiarized written reports in beautifully decorated construction paper covers.
I've always used graphic organizers and differentiated reference materials to support students whenever I assign a research project, but I haven't been completely satisfied with the results. I recently came to the conclusion that my students needed even more support. I wanted to provide my students with an explicit strategy for sorting through reference materials.
A long internet search eventually led me to a note taking strategy called "Treasure or Trash". I took the idea and developed a PowerPoint presentation to introduce note taking to my students. The catchy title makes the strategy easy to remember, and the technique is easy to use so the kids can apply it independently after only a brief introduction.
It's as simple providing students with a series of questions to guide their research, a graphic organizer for recording their notes, and instructions to read through their sources sentence by sentence asking if each sentence contains an answer to the guiding questions (treasure) or not (trash). Treasure is recorded on their graphic organizer and trash is ignored.
We are using the strategy right now to research the dances we learned in Dancing Classrooms. The research is still painstaking to some extent, but the children are looking at their sources with a discerning eye. Something my students in the past have had a very difficult time doing. As I walked around the room yesterday I heard students saying things like, "Don't write that down. It's trash.", "My treasure is a lot of names and dates.", and "You don't get too much treasure from an article."
If you think you might like to purchase my PowerPoint for use in your classroom, visit my TpT store and check it out. OR you can leave a comment below and sign up as an email subscriber to my blog and I'll email you the PowerPoint and the graphic organizer I used for FREE :)