Teaching The Research Paper

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It was here that another fellow, Mike Larson, introduced me to his alternative to the traditional research paper.

For this project, which Larson called The Living History, his students combined research and history to create a written description of a historical event as if they (their narrators) had taken some part in or witnessed the event as it happened.

The paper was to be written in first person and approached from the perspective of the character, real or imagined, recalling the event in the past tense.

One restriction was that the character could not be a major player in the event.

Suddenly a news report I remembered hearing during the time the Wall actually fell came to mind, and I decided to use it as the basis for my story.

The report told of an East Berlin woman who made it a point to cross the Wall to meet the West Berlin baker she had seen set up his shop every day from her apartment window for the past twenty-three years.

Other teachers ask students to write family histories as a way of understanding the nature and methods of historical research, or nudge them to supplement their research with costume, dance, photographs, art, and film.

All these and similar efforts share with Heckenlaible's Living History the likelihood that students will be much more prone to engage with their research and writing and much less prone to cut, paste, and plagiarize from other sources.

Another pitfall each year is the widespread plagiarism.

Whether it's blatant or unintentional, plagiarism occurs far too frequently.


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