Seventh-grade teachers often assign research papers to help their students learn to locate, analyze and document research material. Ask your students to select a research topic in a specific area, such as literature, science, history or technology, if you want to stress a particular subject. Or, allow them to choose a topic from your list of suggestions, such as "how to" or "pros/cons" papers. Research topics should tie into your seventh-grade curriculum so students gain a deeper, broader understanding of relevant subject matter.
Ask your students to choose a current events topic so they learn how to conduct research in newspapers and on Internet news websites. Ensure they have access to reputable newspapers, magazines and online resources. Suggest local, national or international news stories that cover major events, political issues, crimes or pop culture.
Encourage your students to select debatable, highly informative or thought-provoking current events; daily weather reports and sports scores are too basic. The goal is to help them learn to distinguish fact from opinion and locate reputable information. Set a requirement that they must consult a specific number of resources, such as two newspapers and two online news websites.
Opt for a "how-to" theme if you want your students to research key steps in a process, according to the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Tell your class that the topics must relate to social studies, science, history, literature, technology or business. You don't want students researching overly familiar topics, such as how to ride a bike or how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Suggest plausible topics -- how a bill becomes a law, how to open a savings account, how to take care of a chinchilla, how to become president of the United States, how to write a poem or how a magnet works. Encourage your students to choose a "how-to" topic that they currently know little or nothing about. They can research information in books, textbooks, encyclopedias, academic journals and on reputable websites.
"Pros and Cons" Papers
Encourage your students to select a research topic that covers both the pros and cons of a particular issue, according to the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. Seventh-graders must learn how to analyze both sides of an issue to avoid bias, evaluating a variety of resources to draw logical, well-supported conclusions. Suggest possible topics, such as the advantages and disadvantages associated with the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, positive and negative effects of the Crusades, benefits and drawbacks to having metal detectors in schools or the pros and cons of texting as a form of communication.
Instruct your seventh-graders to research social topics, such as violence in schools, drug or alcohol abuse, animal rights, homelessness, police brutality, illiteracy, teen suicide or eating disorders, recommends the Linden Public Schools in New Jersey. They must use statistical data, commentary from professionals in the field and research from medical or psychological journals to back their findings. Encourage them to address opposing views in their papers, providing reasons why those angles are wrong or misleading. Provide research materials, such as periodicals, books, EBSCO computer services and Internet access to help them locate viable information.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Research -- Where Do I Begin?
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: Enlish Language Arts Standards -- History/Social Studies -- Grade 6-8
- Sidwell Friends School: Research in 8 Steps
- University of California, Irvine: The History Project -- 7th Grade Curriculum Resources
- Linden Public Schools: Research Paper Reference Guide -- Grades 6 Through 8
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