From the first research project in grade school to more complex reports assigned in middle or high school, report writing is a process that some students struggle to master. Whether it's about a book, historical topic, scientific inquiry activity or another type of report, students can divide the assignment into prewriting, prep, writing and revising.
Brainstorming and Research
There are times when a teacher gives a theme or topic, but expects students to come up with a specific focus on their own. For example, he may assign a report on great inventors of the 1800s, but not on a specific historical figure. If this is the case, or if you just need to narrow down the topic, begin with brainstorming and research. Brainstorm -- or list -- potential ideas. Review textbooks and library books and use the Web to research each potential topic before making a decision. Take and save notes while doing the research. Even though you won't use the notes from the topics that you didn't pick, it will save a step later when it comes to the focus that you do choose.
Write an Outline
Think of an outline as a road map that guides the flow of the paper. It should include everything that the report itself will include. For example, a book report outline may include the setting, characters, story sequence and the reader's own thoughts. A research report may include subheadings or subtopics that explain the theme or answer a question. If the topic is the plant life cycle, for instance, each subheading could include one aspect of growth, such as seed, sprout and bloom.
Introduction, Body and Conclusion
Start the report writing with an introduction. The first paragraph provides an outline for the rest of the paper, summarizing what the paper will say and why. After writing the introduction, expand upon each of the subtopics from the outline. Each section should include one or more paragraphs. For example, for a history report on George Washington, one section may have three paragraphs about his life before the presidency, the next section may have two paragraphs about his presidency and a third section may have two paragraphs about his impact on America. Students struggling to write sentences that make sense may have an easier time saying the words out loud first. At the end, conclude the report with a summary of the information presented.
Review the Report
With the introduction, body and conclusion done, the report is not necessarily finished. At this stage, you have a rough or first draft. Review the paper, reading it out loud. It can also help to have a friend or family member listen and read it as well. Ask if each idea is clear, whether the report follows a beginning-middle-end sequence and if it answers the paper's topic question. Make any changes that are needed.
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