Yesterday I whined about research papers. But I think I’m starting to get this research thing dialed in a bit.  It all starts with the right questions. Here’s the list from yesterday. We’re trying to decide which ones would be good research-type questions.

1. Why are flamingos pink?
2. Who invented the car?
3. What was the first video game?
4. Is global warming real?
5. Should I buy an Apple or a Windows computer?
6. What other explanations are there for UFO sightings?
7. How many rides have they had in the history of Disneyland, and what are they?
8. Why is the sky blue?
9. Does watching violent media make kids act more violently?
10. Why did the Titanic sink?

The Answers:

1. No Dice, Cheese Slice. They eat shrimp. 30 seconds on Google, and etc. No thesis here, let’s move on.
2. Nyet, nyet, Soviet. See #1, except for the shrimp-eating part.
3. Oh Noes! Pong. I had it. It was boring. Still no research questions yet.
4. That’s what I’m talking about. On the surface, a yes/no question, but the research you need to do to come to that answer!
5. Yessss. Again, like #4, it looks like a one-sentence answer, but there is a lot of research between you and that answer. Software? Price? Upgrade-ability? Service/Reliability. You see what I mean.
6. Three in a row. Easy to write a thesis. Fun to research. Win-win.
7. God, I hate papers like this. Sorry.
8. 30 seconds on Google. (Like #1, this one always fools ’em.)
9. Another beauty research question. (“How many of your little brothers or sisters watch Power Rangers? What do they do as soon as the show is done?  I thought so.”)
10. Winner winner, chicken dinner! It was all the captain’s fault. No, the designers. No, the…

We spend quite a bit of time having this discussion before we ever get to the library. If they have a good topic with an actual thesis, both the process and the final product are so much better. The question format also gives them a structure for their notetaking and their paper’s organization.

More tomorrow.

Update: Still oblivious. Somehow I was oblivious and included the word oblivious again on the vocabulary list last week; we had had the word before. And during the vocabulary pretest, I used a sentence that said:

  1. Often, third period is ___ when I am giving directions, so they miss out on a lot of clues that would help them. a) cavort  b) fervent  c) sublime  d) oblivious  e) tremulous

A girl raised her hand and asked,

“Why do you always use our class for sentences like that?” There were several yeahs and whatnot, and it started to get a bit loud. After I had quieted them, a girl sitting next to the one who had asked the question raised her hand and asked,


General hilarity ensued.

“That’s why Lori.”