Research Reading and Writing


Research reading and writing exposes students to nonfiction topics. Have them investigate and report in writing to demonstrate comprehension.

The Role of the Educator Is: 

  • to use mini-lessons to teach processes
  • to teach about plagiarism and how to avoid it
  • to allow students to work in groups, pairs, or individually
  • to use the writer's workshop for documenting what is learned

What Observers Will See: 

  • use in all subject areas
  • educators use a process of mini-lessons, reading, writing, revising, and publishing
  • students engaged in projects they are interested in
  • documentation of students strengths and needs

How It Works

  1. Choose the right topic.
  2. Make a project plan.
  3. Start with what you know.
  4. Look for sources.
  5. Research, research, research.
  6. Organize and interpret.
  7. Give a great presentation.
  8. Learn from the experience.

Classroom Applications

The K-W-L procedure (Ogle, 1986) involves students in activating prior knowledge, asking questions to set purposes, and recording information that answer those questions.

For many research projects, the K-W-L works well to help students develop research reading and writing.

For example, if the unit is on Martin Luther King, Jr., the steps are:

  • Provide a graphic organizer that shows K for what we know about Dr. King, W for what we want to learn about Dr. King, and L for what we learned (after doing research).
  • Activate prior knowledge about Dr. King by having students brainstorm what they know about him, and write this on large white paper under "Know."
  • Using the information discussed, have students generate questions in the "Want to Know" column. Additional questions may be added as all read more information. For example, one student wanted to know more information on the person who killed Dr. King. 
  • As students read, they make note of the area to learn, and document what they learn on the large white paper.
  • After finding the information, students can work individually, in pairs, or in groups to write this information in a piece, using the writer's process to write, give feedback, revise, edit, and publish the writing.


True Stories: Nonfiction Literacy in the Primary Classroom
By Christine Duthie

Nonfiction Matters: Reading, Writing, and Research in Grades 3-8
By Stephanie Harvey

A Good Place to Start

Many non-fiction book and magazines, as well as Web sites, are perfect for research reading and writing. For a unit on Martin Luther King, Jr,, I would suggest books like America in the Time of Martin Luther King, Jr: 1948 to 1976by Sally Senzell Isaacs and The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. by R. Conrad Stein.

Good magazines include:

  • Cobblestones: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement
  • Footsteps: Martin Luther King, Jr: Morehouse Year
  • Kids Discover: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Supportive Research and Descriptive Literature

Allen, C. A. The Multigenre Research Paper: Voice, Passion, and Discovery in Grades 4-6. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, c2001.

Duthie, C. True Stories: Nonfiction Literacy in the Primary Classroom. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, c1996.

Harvey, S. Nonfiction Matters: Reading, Writing, and Research in Grades 3-8. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, c1998.

Rogovin, P. The Research Workshop: Bringing the World into Your Classroom. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, c1997.

Stead, T. Is That a Fact? Teaching Nonfiction Writing K-3. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers, c2002.

Welsh-Charrier, C. "Conducting Research-When the End Is the Means." Perspectives in Education and Deafness, 17:5, (May/June 1999).

Clerc Center Resources

Welsh-Charrier, C. "Conducting Research-When the End Is the Means." Perspectives in Education and Deafness, 17:5, (May/June 1999).

Research Reading & Writing (Odyssey, Summer 2000) (PDF)

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