We’re at the halfway point in the research process; one week in, one week to go. You can tell how exciting this past week has been by the lack of snappy posts.   There are still about a dozen shmarties who basically haven’t started, but most seem to have something going on. The Titanic is having quite a renaissance this year, clocking in at 20+ kids interested in giving me lists of the many amenities the ill-fated ship offered.

Another biggie this year is global warming, at 18+. UFO’s; Are they spaceships? has about 15 backers. And now that there’s the excuse of the initiative on the November ballot here in California, legalization of ____ is also a hot topic, also with about 15. (I don’t need those kinds of ads appearing, thank you very much.) I always tell them, “As long as Mom knows and approves…”

Most of them have a bare-bones outline, and some notes…

But you all know that seventh graders and actual research –skimming, reading, note-taking, etc– are like oil and vinegar. You have to do a whole lotta shakin’ to get them together. And then, if you let ’em sit for awhile, you hafta shake ’em up again. And again. I’m straining my metaphor, but I think you know what I mean. You have to be constantly putting things in front of their faces, and reminding, and sometimes even practically taking their hands and helping them write a note or two, to prime the pump, so to speak..

“Wait, why’d you click back? That was a perfect site for your topic.”

“I didn’t see anything about my questions.”

“How could you? All you did was wiggle the little scroll-wheel, and then click the back button. You couldn’t possibly have read any of it.”

“Uh huh!”


I swear, those mice with the little scroll-wheels should be banned in junior high. All they do is click-wiggle-wiggle-scroll-click-wiggle-scroll-scroll-click-repeat.

One of the more savvy ones did turn me on to a jewel of a site for one of the other pains in the Heineken about this project: the dreaded works cited page.

Go here:


and all your works cited issues will go away. You can even create an entry for a book by entering the ISBN number. It’s a beautiful thing, and will save you a load of pain and suffering. It even passed muster with our old-school librarian. It’s especially useful for citing websites.

After a few days of riding herd on them in the library (“What are you doing over there? You have a stack of books on your table you haven’t even opened yet, and a magazine that has to go back tomorrow. What are you doing? Sit! Stay!”), I’m ready to buy a class set of these babies. Too bad they’re out of stock. Set that sucker for 54 minutes, and lock ’em in. It weighs about 20 pounds, so I might need two for the bigger ones; one for each leg.

The link is here.