Promoting Student-Directed Inquiry with the I-Search Paper

Promoting Student-Directed Inquiry with the I-Search Paper

About this Strategy Guide

The sense of curiosity behind research writing gets lost in some school-based assignments.  This Strategy Guide provides the foundation for cultivating interest and authority through I-Search writing, including publishing online.

Research Basis

Strategy in practice, related resources.

The cognitive demands of research writing are numerous and daunting.  Selecting, reading, and taking notes from sources; organizing and writing up findings; paying attention to citation and formatting rules.  Students can easily lose sight of the purpose of research as it is conducted in “the real world”—finding the answer to an important question.

The I-Search (Macrorie, 1998) empowers students by making their self-selected questions about themselves, their lives, and their world the focus of the research and writing process.  The strong focus on metacognition—paying attention to and writing about the research process methods and extensive reflection on the importance of the topic and findings—makes for meaningful and purposeful writing.

Online publication resources such as blogging software make for easy production of multimodal, digital writing that can be shared with any number of audiences.

Assaf, L., Ash, G., Saunders, J. and Johnson, J.  (2011).  " Renewing Two Seminal Literacy Practices: I-Charts and I-Search Papers ."  English Journal , 18(4), 31-42.

Lyman, H.  (2006).  “ I-Search in the Age of Information .”  English Journal , 95(4), 62-67.

Macrorie, K. (1998).  The I-Search Paper: Revised Edition of Searching Writing .  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann-Boynton/Cook.

  • Before introducing the I-Search paper, set clear goals and boundaries for the assignment.  In some contexts, a completely open assignment can be successful.  In others, a more limited focus such as research on potential careers (e.g., Lyman, 2006)  may be appropriate.
  • Introduce the concept of the I-Search by sharing with students that they will be learning about something that is personally interesting and significant for them—something they have the desire to understand more about.  Have students generate a list of potential topics.
  • Review student topic lists and offer supportive feedback—either through written comments or in individual conferences—on the topics that have the most potential for success given the scope of the assignment and the research resources to which students will have access.
  • After offering feedback, have students choose the topic that seems to have the most potential and allow them to brainstorm as many questions as they can think of.  When students have had plenty of time to ponder the topic, ask them to choose a tentative central question—the main focus for their inquiry—and four possible sub-questions—questions that will help them narrow their research in support of their main question.  Use the I-Search Chart to help students begin to see the relationships among their inquiry questions.
  • Begin the reflective component of the I-Search right away and use the I-Search Chart to help students  write about why they chose the topic they did, what they already know about the topic, and what they hope to learn from their research.  Students will be please to hear at this point that they have already completed a significant section of their first draft.
  • Engage reader’s attention and interest; explain why learning more about this topic was personally important for you.
  • Explain what you already knew about the topic before you even started researching.
  • Let readers know what you wanted to learn and why.  State your main question and the subquestions that support it.
  • Retrace your research steps by describing the search terms and sources you used.  Discuss things that went well and things that were challenging.
  • Share with readers the “big picture” of your most significant findings.
  • Describe your results and give support.
  • Use findings statements to orient the reader and develop your ideas with direct quotations, paraphrases, and summaries of information from your sources.
  • Properly cite all information from sources.
  • Discuss what you learned from your research experience.  How might your experience and what you learned affect your choices or opportunities in the future.
  • At this point, the research process might be similar to that of a typical research project except students should have time during every class period to write about their process, questions they’re facing, challenges they’ve overcome, and changes they’ve made to their research process.  Students will not necessarily be able to look ahead to the value of these reflections, so take the time early in the process to model what reflection might look like and offer feedback on their early responses.  You may wish to use the I-Search Process Reflection Chart to help students think through their reflections at various stages of the process.
  • Support students as they engage in the research and writing process, offering guidance on potential local contacts for interviews and other sources that can heighten their engagement in the authenticity of the research process.
  • To encourage effective organization and synthesis of information from multiple sources, you may wish to have students assign a letter to each of their questions (A through E, for example) and a number to each of their sources (1 through 6, for example).  As they find content that relates to one of their questions, they can write the corresponding letter in the margin.  During drafting, students can use the source numbers as basic citation before incorporating more sophisticated, conventional citation.

How to Start a Blog

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Teaching with Blogs

  • Content is placed on appropriate, well-labeled pages.  The pages are linked to one another sensibly (all internal links).
  • Images/video add to the reader’s understanding of the content, are appropriately sized and imbedded, and are properly cited.
  • Text that implies a link should be hyperlinked.  Internal links (to other pages of the blog) stay in the same browser window; External links (to pages off the blog) open in a new browser window.
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This tool allows students to create an online K-W-L chart. Saving capability makes it easy for them to start the chart before reading and then return to it to reflect on what they learned.

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Explore Resources by Grade

  • Kindergarten K

Quarter Langauge Arts Project

You are about to begin a major science writing project, an I-search paper, for Science and English class. You will begin by conducting background research on a topic of your choice. Once you have background information, you will develop a question and hypothsis and try to answer the question with further research-- consider people as well as books or the Internet as sources. Begin with Gooru learning.

Suggested Topics:

Choose a science topic in which you are interested. Go to Gooru learning and type in topics until you find one you like.  

Read about your topic and decide on one part of that topic to research. What fact or claim interest you?

You may want to use Think Tank to help you outline your project and develop questions.

Possible Questions:

How intelligent are dolphins? How do the ocean currents affect our weather? What are black holes?

Questions must reflect analytical, synthesized, and evaluative thinking.

Thinking levels are:

Knowledge--recall of specific facts Comprehension--understands basic information and can explain and interpret it Application--uses understood ideas in new ways to solve problems, demonstrate use of knowledge, or construct models to incorporate all aspects of the ideas Analysis--breaking down the ideas into parts to discuss, uncover concepts, and make connections Synthesis--puts together the ideas into a whole concept to discuss, generalize, compare, contrast, and merge ideas into bigger ideas Evaluation--judges the value of the ideas and methods for a given purpose by using standards and criteria; verifies judgement using the criteria based on evidence

We will follow this schedule (this will be updated for this year's project). Use it now as a guide.

February 3: Choose three topics so you can read about the topics you think you are interested in so you can make a final choice.

February 5: Final topic choice due.

February 12: Introduction due.

February 24: Background research and question due.

March 14: Research due.

March 26: Conclusion and Project due.

March 28: Reflection, Bibliography, and Presenaton due.

During February and much of March: In-class and at home work/research on the project you have chosen. I will provide materials and ideas for you; you will conduct the research and begin chosing your final projects. If you plan to interview someone, then interview questions need to be prepared; questionnaires need to be written and mailed or emailed; interview notes need to be transcribed; thank you notes need to be written. (All material to be mailed out or emailed must be approved by the teacher.) During February-March students may share with the teacher and classmates early drafts of their papers. (The paper is written as the student conducts the search. There is no need to wait until completing the entire search before starting the writing!) Note: Use Google Docs and Diigo as your research and writing tools. This makes the writing task much more manageable. We have computers in math and writing classes and a computer lab available.

The notes and paper should be contained in a two-pocket folder. One pocket holds all memorabilia from the search (rough drafts of letters sent, letters received, interview notes, pamphlets, business cards....) This pocket also holds early drafts of the paper. The other pocket holds the finished product. 

Use Google Docs and Diigo for research and note-taking. Share everything with your teachers.

Project format should be as follows, whether you use paper or digital formatting.


I. Introduction

Explain the topic searched, why you selected it, what you know about it before beginning the search, and what you hope to learn. This portion is written as the student starts the project. Its value is approximately 10% of the paper.

II. Background Research

The story of your initial search, the question and hypothesis, the projects, and findings. This portion is written while the initial research is conducted, to continue wondering and asking questions that will lead to a final project.

A. How did you begin? What did you wonder?

B. What were your sources and how did they help you? Were there sources that did not help? Why?

C. What did you learn? What new questions did you ask yourself?

D. Were people contacted (and why and how--interview or email)? (How the contact reacted to the interview request, the atmosphere of the interview, what was learned from the interview. Students are urged to show the personality of the interviewee.)

E. What did you learn? What new questions did you ask?

F. Also report dead-ends, unwilling contacts, disappointing avenues, as well as unexpected gold mines.

G. What did you learn?

H. What major question do you want to answer? What do you think the answer is (your hypothesis). I will help you devise a question and a plan to find an answer. This section is roughly 20% of the paper.

III. Research

The story of your final search to answer a major question about the topic and how you analyzed the information to find that answer.

A. How did you begin?

B. What were your sources and how did they help you? Were there sources that did not help? Why? Follow the format of B-F above.

C. What did you learn? What does your evidence tell you? As you gather evidence, analyze the information and write your ideas to answer your question. This section is roughly 20% of the paper.

IV. Conclusions--

A. What is your question? What was your hypothesis?

B. What is the truth according to your evidence? Explain clearly.

C. What project will you do to share your data? What is your plan for the project? Will you have pictures, graphs, a model? This section is roughly 20% of the paper.

V. Project --

Create a project to show what you have learned; this will depend on your topic. We will develop criteria together. This section is roughly 15% of your paper.

VI. Reflection--

How do you feel about what has been learned? Has your thinking changed? Have you made any unanticipated, secondary findings concerning the topic itself, yourself, or people in general as a result of this search? Roughly 10% of the paper.

VII Bibliography

The paper also needs a bibliography/references section to credit all sources.

Roughly 5% of the paper.

Turn in all work, notes, drafts, etc. Notecards can be put in a ziplock baggie.

Criteria for evaluation:

1. Evidence of effort:

Did the student truly "search out" answers to intriguing questions? Or did they simply look for one or two sources? Did they reflect on and analyze the ideas, or just recite or rewrite the information?

2. Thoroughness of search:

There is no such thing as an "unsearchable" topic as long as the student refuses to be defeated by a dead end. Instead, he redefines his topic and continues his search.

3. Effectiveness of the actual paper and project:

Does the paper contain the required sections? Is it presented in a thorough, interesting, well-written manner? Does the project explain the evidence and ideas represented in the paper? Does the paper and project seriously and throughly address the question? The final draft and project should be highly polished with no misspellings, fragments, run-ons, or grammatical errors.

4 Writing Process and Traits

The grade is based on your ability to explain the process of your search and the product--your question, hypothesis and conclusions. You should revise and follow the writing process (prewrite, draft, revise, revise, conference, revise, edit, publish) and the six traits of writing (ideas, word choice, voice, organization, sentence fluency, conventions). (see writing criteria sheet)

Of course this project develops writing and speaking skills, satisfies (or merely whets) curiosity, builds self-confidence, and makes for good reading.

The research project makes demands on you and requires that you do work at home, but it should be fun and of interest to you.

Enjoy your search.

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The I-Search: Guiding Students Toward Relevant Research

Adapting a four-step process, a motivating theme, active learning, intriguing questions, a panoply of resources, assessing stage by stage, risks and rewards.

BOOM! You're sitting in the movie theater and all of a sudden a car blows up. Or you're quietly munching your popcorn while your favorite bad guy gets shot and almost simultaneously starts to bleed. Did you ever wonder how these effects are created? I certainly have. Sometimes I get so involved in figuring out how a special effect was accomplished that I lose interest in the movie. That is why I chose special effects for my I-Search topic.
Finally, each student poses an I-Search question to guide his or her inquiry. For example: Submarines helped find the remains of many ships, and also expanded our knowledge of the giant body of water that we call the ocean. I have wondered about the ocean ever since I was young. In this report I will show you what I have learned. My search question is: How do submarines expand our knowledge of the ocean?
  • plan their units to engage students;
  • coach students to take ownership of the inquiry process;
  • incorporate a variety of materials and resources , including technology; and
  • assess student work on an ongoing basis.
  • What impact does technology have on our lives?
  • How do job descriptions change as technology changes?
  • How do the rapid changes in technology affect individuals and society?
  • Why must people consider ethical issues when developing technology?
Because of their careful planning, teachers will be better able to help students connect seemingly isolated ideas and larger themes. The theme and concepts form a sort of umbrella, under which students will identify their own personally meaningful, researchable I-Search questions. In the technology unit, for example, one student framed her question this way: The reason why I chose animal treatment is because I was curious as to why they give certain things to my animals when they get sick. My question is: How has technology affected veterinary care? Now I know about some of the medicines they give our animals. I feel much better when the vet prescribes medicines that will make Lilly Mary Margaret better.
  • to help students discover what they already know about the theme;
  • to build background knowledge and deepen students' understanding of the theme and overarching questions;
  • to model for students a variety of ways to gather information;
  • to have students learn by doing; and
  • to encourage students to take responsibility for their own inquiries.
The goal is for students to generate I-Search questions that they feel passionate about. Students recognize how important this is. When we asked them what advice they would give novices embarking on an I-Search process, one boy replied, You better find a question you really care about because you will be working with that question for six weeks.
  • read books, magazines, newspapers, or reference texts;
  • watch videos, filmstrips, or television shows;
  • use CD-ROM reference tools;
  • interview people or conduct surveys;
  • conduct an experiment or engage in a simulation; or
  • go on a field trip.
Modeling the interviewing process has been especially important. As one student reported, For my interview I called five hospitals to find an oncologist and finally I got one at Sloan Kettering.
During Phase 2, students design their search plan by working closely with the library media specialists to learn how to use the school's resources. The students' I-Search papers convey how they actively apply their research skills: I started my I-Search process by writing a business letter to a company....At first I used the computers in the library.... I looked under diabetes and there was too much information so I looked under diabetes and technology and I found a lot of good information. After the computers I went to the SIRS.... Then I finally went to microfiche and that's where I found all my information. So far that's my best source.When I first set out to research I wasn't sure where to start. I decided to use the UMI system on the school library's computer to find citations for magazines that had articles on special effects. I had never used this system before, but I soon found out it was quite simple to use. I got a list of seven or so citations in the time period I had on the computer.Walking back to my seat to look at my list I got distracted by a book I saw on the shelf. It proved to have excellent information on everything I needed and I would later find out it would be my best source of information.

The I-Search: Guiding Students Toward Relevant Research-table

Teachers also encourage students to assess their own work, a process that often reveals insights that exceed a teacher's expectations. For example, one student wrote the following in the section of the report on “What This Means to Me”: This work will be a great influence on how I act and think toward people because with this project I was able to work with other people who had a similar topic to the one I had. I had to be nice and really communicate with that person or else we wouldn't get along. I am now used to being this way with other people and not just with that person.
It is a testimonial to the teachers' coaching that students appreciate being able to pick their own topics and generally exercise independence. Said one student with learning disabilities: In this project (I) learned a lot about myself because I did this project all by myself but sometimes I needed help. I feel that I did very good. Another 7th grader told how she developed as a researcher: I learned to use the computer to gather information, which I had never attempted before because I was scared to. I no longer shy away from large books, because I learned to take things slowly, and one paragraph at a time. I also learned to not get frustrated or become overwhelmed. I also realized that if you try your best, it will be satisfactory, and you don't always have to be the absolute best.... I was surprised that I took the risk of changing my topic, but even so I am extremely glad that I did because this is what I really wanted. Other students' comments: I've learned that in every job, big or small, there are many difficulties and at the same time, moments of triumph.I learned about a subject that I knew almost nothing about and that gave me a great feeling of accomplishment.I enjoyed researching information about my topic. The most fun part was when I did my interview.I appreciate myself as a researcher and a writer because I am able to make my own decisions. I also appreciate myself because I don't have to take that many orders from teachers and other people and I am able to take risks.

Macrorie, K. (1988). The I-Search Paper . Portsmouth, N.H.: Boynton/Cook Publishers.

Zorfass, J. (1991). Make It Happen ! Newton, Mass.: Education Development Center, Inc.

i search paper for middle school

Judith Zorfass has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

Harriet Copel has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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I-Search Papers

Ditching the traditional research paper.

Contact author

What is an I-Search paper?

  • It's usually less formal than a traditional research paper
  • You choose a topic relevant to your life--like an interest, a hobby, or something related to your future career
  • You will often first write what you know from your own experience
  • You will usually use first-person when writing the paper (for example, "I want to know more about...")
  • Other guidelines will be explained to you by your instructor

i search paper for middle school

Why Use I- Search?

The largest objection from most teachers about research assignments at the middle school level is that younger students produce poorly written plagiarized versions of Google searches. "Watching students surf the Internet in recent years has made me even more doubtful that a research project would develop real understanding; I suspected that it would instead represent superficial cuttings and pastings from dubious sources."

How I-Search Works?

Starting an i-search paper.

Also, here is a sample of an I-Search paper that can shared with students as they negotiate their own I-Search paper.

Don't Forget About Nepris!

Dana Fitzpatrick , M.Ed.

Dana Fitzpatrick , M.Ed.

i search paper for middle school

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I-Search is "an approach to research that uses the power of student interests, builds a personal understanding of the research process, and encourages stronger student writing" (Joyce & Tallman, vii). The key element of this approach is that students select topics of personal interest. This model also stresses metacognitive thinking. Students are asked to keep a log of their action, thoughts, and feelings as they move through the process. In addition, students are asked to reflect on their previous research experiences to set the stage for an appreciation of the research process.

Based on Ken Macrorie's 1988 book entitled, The I-Search Paper , I-Search proposes an alternative to the traditional research paper. Often used by middle and high school students, the inquiry-based approach can also be used with elementary or college students. According to Ken Macrorie, the key to I-Search is that students work on meaningful projects.

In the 1990's Marilyn Joyce and Julie Tallman adapted Macrorie's approach for use in the research process.

Four Tasks of I-Search

I-Search is a process that includes four general steps:

  • Selecting a topic - exploring interests, discussing ideas, browsing resources
  • Finding information - generating questions, exploring resources
  • Using information - taking notes, analyzing materials
  • Developing a final product - developing communications, sharing experiences

Connecting Writing and Research through the I-search Paper (Sept/Oct 1995, Vol. 23, Issue 1, p 20, 4p) (IUPUI password required)

English 52: I-Search Paper

I-Search: Guiding Student Toward Relevant Research from Educational Leadership (Sept 1995, Vol. 52, Issue 1, p48). (PDF document, IUPUI password requires)

I-Search Paper from Delta College

I-Search Paper Format Guide from EnglishWorks! (Contains samples)

Joyce, Marilyn Z. & Tallman, Julie I. (1997). Making the Writing and Research Connection with the I-Search Process . How-To-Do-It Manuals for Librarians, Number 62. Neal-Schuman.

Macrorie, K. (1988). The I-Search Paper . Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers.

Making the Curriculum and Instructional Reform Happen: A Case Study in Peabody Journal of Education (1999) (IUPUI password required)

Researching the I-Search Paper - a student paper about I-Search

ScienceQuest: Literacy Development Within an Informal Science Education Initiative by Judith M. Zorfass & Jennifer Dorsen in Reading Online.

  • life-long learning
  • inquiry - overview
  • Big6 & Super3
  • noodle tools
  • research asst
  • research process
  • pathways to knowledge
  • research cycle
  • composition
  • scientific method
  • information fluency
  • scientist-specialist-lab

Collection: Organizing Tools

Supporting students with learning disabilities: integrating technology into an i-search unit.

REFERENCE: Zorfass, J. (1994). Supporting students with learning disabilities: Integrating technology into an I-Search Unit. Technology and Disability, 3 (2), 129-136. It is reprinted here with permission of the publisher. �1994 Butterworth-Heinemann. Keywords: Middle school; learning disabilities; technology integration; curriculum
Article contents
The I-Search Unit Integrating Technology into the I-Search Unit Case Study Teachers: The Key to Successfully Integrating Technology in to the We-Search Unit References

The goal of this article is to show how technology can be integrated into an I-Search Unit to support students with learning disabilities in mainstream, middle school classes. The article has three major sections. The first section provides an overview of an I-Search Unit; an inquiry-based interdisciplinary curriculum unit that has four phases. In Phase I, students become immersed in the unit's theme (such as ecology or justice) that is socially relevant and personally motivating to early adolescents. In this phase, they engage in varied activities to elicit prior knowledge and to build background knowledge. Students pose personally meaningful I-Search questions to investigate by the end of the phase. In Phase II, students develop a search plan that details how they will gather information by reading books, magazines, newspapers, reference materials; watching videos, filmstrips; interviewing people or conducting surveys; or carrying out experiments, doing simulations, or going on field trips. In Phase III, they gather and integrate information. Phase IV involves writing an I-Search Report that has the following sections: My Search Question, My Search Process, What I Learned, What This Means to Me, and References.

  • gather information
  • organize, analyze, and relate information
  • convey what they have learned

One technology application, the Search Organizer, is currently under development at Education Development Center, Inc.(EDC). Running on the Macintosh PowerBook, the goal of this software is to provide scaffolding to students through the four phases of the I-Search Unit.

The third section will present case materials illustrating how students with disabilities actually used technology to successfully participate in an I-Search Unit being implemented across regular education classes. The illustrative examples are drawn from middle schools around the country who are working with the Education Development Center as part of research and training projects.

Acknowledgment: Many thanks to Midian Kurland of EDC. He is the designer of Search Organizer, a key member of the research team, and a contributor to this article.

This article was prepared with the support of U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs; grant number H180E20011. The contents of this article do not necessarily reflect the policy of the Department of Education and no official endorsement should be inferred.

[ top | bottom | Article contents | Organizing Tools Table of Contents ]

The I-Search Unit

An I-Search Unit is a curriculum unit carried out by a team of teachers in middle schools. The teachers, usually representing content areas such as, language arts, social studies, mathematics and science, For man interdisciplinary team. The goal of this type of interdisciplinary curriculum unit is to promote inquiry-based teaching and learning. Teachers help the students learn how to become inquirers, researchers, or explorers of information (Macrorie, 1988). Lasting approximately eight weeks, an I-Search Unit has four phases of instruction (as shown in Figure 1).

Figure 1. Four phases of instruction (Source: Macrorie (1988). The I-Search Paper, rev. ed. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers ) {click on image to view larger}

  • Provide thematically based instruction that allows students to link prior knowledge to what they already know
  • Provide students with a concrete, step-by-step process for carrying out research
  • On an ongoing basis, assess students' performance in order to provide specific support based on particular needs
  • Encourage and help students in the gathering of information to use a variety of resources and materials that match their learning strengths and styles
  • Guide students to work cooperatively with their peers to gather, share, process, and convey information
  • Use a variety of technology tools to support gathering, integrating, and conveying information

Integrating Technology into an I-Search Unit

There are four effective ways in which technology applications can enrich and enhance an I-Search Unit to support students with learning disabilities. First, technology applications can provide access to information that goes beyond reading, often a source of difficulty for students with disabilities. Applications such as videos, simulations, databases, CD-ROM encyclopedias, and laser discs, provide students with information through both visual and auditory channels. This is particularly helpful during Phase I when students become immersed in the unit, and during Phase III when they are gathering information. A second supportive way is that technology provides tools to help analyze, organize and manipulate the information being assembled. For example, databases, spreadsheets, and graphing programs all serve these functions. The third way is to help students convey to others what they are learning, not only via text, but also through graphics, video and sound, integrated within multimedia compositions. The fourth way is particularly relevant for students with learning disabilities. Technology can provide scaffolding for the search process. The EDC is currently developing a software program, the Search Organizer, that guides students through each of the four phases described above. The Search Organizer is used on the Macintosh PowerBook, a laptop computer that can easily be transported from classroom to classroom. This mobility is an important feature for participation in interdisciplinary instruction across content area classrooms in middle schools.

The purpose of the case study is to show how technology can be integrated into a We-Search Unit to support students with learning disabilities. A We-Search Unit, a variation of the I-Search, is so named because it emphasizes cooperative learning. The case below illustrates how cooperative groups of students, including students with learning disabilities, can use PowerBooks that run the Search Organizer software. Students also use other technology applications and media. Examples used in this composite case are drawn from two middle schools. One is located in Indianapolis and the other in suburban Boston. Both schools are participating in a three-year federally funded project. The goal of the project is to study the impact of the We-Search process, supported by the Search Organizer and other software applications, on students with mild disabilities who are in the mainstream. Both schools have access to the same videos, interactive videos (e.g., The Great Ocean Rescue [Tom Snyder Productions]) and simulations (e.g., Decisions, Decisions: The Environment [Tom Snyder Productions, 1991]). The Boston school has access to the PowerBooks with the Search Organizer and ClarisWorks (Claris Corp., 1991). ClarisWorks integrates word processing, data base, spreadsheet, and graphics programs. The purpose of the case is to provide an illustration of what is possible, using a combination of real and hypothetical events from the two schools. The case is organized into four parts that parallel the four phases of the We-Search Unit.

  • In language arts, they viewed a video on the Rhine River to understand the causes and impact of polluted rivers.
  • They used the computer simulation, Decisions, Decisions: The Environment in social studies. This generated interest in the social, economic, and political implications of water pollution. This program generated heated debate about how to clean up a local pond, including one of the students with learning disabilities who was usually reluctant to participate.
  • Students took a field trip to the city's nearby water treatment plant.
  • In social studies, they interviewed a guest speaker from the water commission
  • In mathematics, they continued using spreadsheets to chart their own water usage during a week's interval.
  • In science, students engaged in a simulation that showed how water came into homes and where it went afterwards.

Students worked in cooperative groups of three to five students, carefully arranged by teachers to account for diversity in gender, academic ability, and other factors. Each cooperative team of three to five students had a PowerBook. In order to move the PowerBooks from classroom to classroom, they were placed on a cart. Atop the cart was a printer and stationary computer (see Figure 2). One advantage of the cart was that as the PowerBooks fit into their "parking places" they could be recharged.

Figure 2. Printer cart and PowerBooks setup. {click on image to view larger}

Throughout Phase I, students used the Search Organizer in each class to record their emerging thinking about what they were learning and what interested them. This kind of processing was particularly important for Aaron, a student with learning disabilities who needed both a strategy and tool to capture his interests and organize his thoughts. One screen helped students to pose their questions and explain why it interested them and how it related to the overarching concepts (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Students select and justify their search questions. {click on image to view larger}

Students regularly printed out their work, filing these printouts in the group's three-ring binder notebook, used as a portfolio. During the teachers' team meetings, teachers would collaboratively review the portfolios to determine if intervention was needed, and how individual strategies for students would further support students with learning disabilities.

Figure 4: Search Organizer provides a list of available materials and resources. {click on image to view larger}

Figure 5: Students are helped in processing their information. {click on image to view larger}

In Phase IV, students produced We-Search Reports with the help of the Search Organizer which provides students with an outline for the report (see Figure 6). As the student advanced to this step, they found that the outline already had considerable information filled in. Prior work was pulled from different sectors into the report outline as it was created. Students with disabilities, often overwhelmed with the task of organizing information into a report can begin the report writing phase with a first draft available to them. This first draft can be downloaded into ClarisWorks for further drafting, revising, and editing. In addition, students can supplement the text by using graphics and graphs from ClarisWorks.

Figure 6: Search Organizer provides students with an outline for reports.

The unit's culminating event was a Parents/Friends Night. Students displayed their reports; publications complete with covers, title pages, table of contents, and references. In addition, some students wrote, directed, and starred in skits which were videotaped and played on a VCR that evening.

Teachers: The Key to Successfully Integrating Technology into the We-Search Unit

  • creating a four-phase unit that provided students with a structure for inquiry
  • carefully designing and sequencing instructional activities that helped students construct meaning over time
  • providing a context for cooperative inquiry in the classroom
  • providing scaffolding to support individual students, particularly those with learning disabilities
  • assessing students' ongoing work to intervene as needed
  • integrating technology into the unit's activities in real and meaningful ways

Research on the effective use of technology consistently points to the key role of the teacher (Zorfass, 1992, Sheingold and Hadley, 1990). Teachers must be actively involved as part of the technology-student-teacher partnership. To foster the active involvement of teachers, the EDC has developed a systemic approach called MAKE IT HAPPEN! This approach guides teachers to design, implement, and evaluate an I-Search Unit that integrates technology. Schools around the country are finding that this approach can support students with disabilities in regular education classes. As one eighth-grade New Hampshire student with disabilities said at the end of her I-Search Unit: "On behalf of the class, I want to thank the teachers. This was the best part of the year."

Decisions, Decisions: The Environment [computer program]. Cambridge, MA: Tom Snyder Productions. Macrorie, K. (Ed.) (1988). The I-Search Paper, rev. ed. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers. Sheingold, K., and Hadley, M. (1990). Accomplished teachers: Integrating computers into classroom practice . New York: Center for Children and Technology; Bank Street College. Zorfass, J. (1992). Promoting successful technology integration through active teaching practices. Teaching and Learning: Journal of Natural Inquiry, 6 (3), 46-63. Dr. Judith Zorfass, associate center director at Education Development Center, Inc., directs research, training, product development, and dissemination projects focusing on special education and technology. She is currently co-principal investigator of the National Center to Improve Practice, which focuses on improving the use of technology, media, and materials with students with disabilities. She frequently presents at national conferences and is the author of many chapters and articles.


Judith Zorfass, EDC, 55 Chapel Street, Newton, MA (800) 225-4276. Web:

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i search paper for middle school

English: Writing An I - Search Essay

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I - Search Research Assignment (scoring guide/sample essay included)

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I Search Essay - A First Person Research Essay

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Baby Literary Essay Writing Bundle (3rd grade)

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No prep lesson- Day I was born web search for middle/high school students

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i search paper for middle school

Essay Assignment: Who am I , Really?

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Unit: I - Search Research & Inquiry Project

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1984 Critical Thinking Questions and Essay Prompt

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I - Search Folders

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Fruit - Informational Text, Essays , Facts

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I SURVIVED THE NAZI INVASION, 1944: Common Core Aligned

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Quilt of a Country: An Essay - (CROSSWORD PUZZLE)

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Vegetables - Informational Text, Essays , Facts

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Nuts - Informational Text, Essays , Facts

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Introduction to Artificial Intelligence - Essays to Read & Discuss

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I - Search Paper Sample: Format & I - Search Component Checklist(Editable&fillable)

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Body Paragraph Outline for Research/ I - Search Paper

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Presidents' Day Activity | Word Search | ABC Order | Writing Essay | Maze Game

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12.5 - Document lesson: How do I do research using a search engine?

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I - Search Research Paper Writing Instructions Handout for Students

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3 Puzzle The Call of the Wild,Jack London,Word Search ,Crossword,Math Essay

i search paper for middle school

Student Log: Part 6: I - Search Research & Inquiry Project

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  5. I have draw two drawings in my search paper note #youtubeshorts #youtube #artandcraft #angle

  6. World search, paper drawing 🔍😍💫#viral#short#Art#diy#@MehakArtCraft


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    ... paper? If so, credit goes to a team of teachers in Lawrence (New York) Middle School. They successfully captured this 7th grader's interest

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    research assignments at the middle school level is that

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    ... Search Paper, I-Search proposes an alternative to the traditional research paper. Often used by middle and high school students, the inquiry-based approach

  10. Bringing Passion to the Research Process: The I-Search Paper

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