Friday, April 2, 2021

Nonfiction Writing Tips: Sources Students Can’t Copy

When it's time to write nonfiction, most students turn to books and the internet for information, but as you’ll discover in Nonfiction Writers Dig Deep, professional writers know that these sources are just the tip of the iceberg.

For us, gathering research is like a treasure hunt—a quest for tantalizing tidbits of knowledge. It’s an active, self-driven process that requires a whole lot of innovative thinking. We want our books to feature fascinating facts and intriguing ideas that no one else has ever written about. To find that information, we think creatively about sources. We ask ourselves:

Who can I ask?

Where can I go?

How can I search in a new or unexpected way?

Unfortunately, most students don’t bring this same creative spirit to their research, and that’s why they often find it boring.

Research should be as varied and wide ranging as possible, and it should include sources that can’t be copied, such as firsthand observations made in person or via webcams. Students can also watch documentary films, examine artifacts, and interview experts.

While the idea of asking students to conduct interviews might seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be if your school takes the time to develop a community of experts.

Everyone is an expert in something. By surveying parents at the beginning of the year, the school can build a database that includes what parents and staff members are passionate about and whether they’re willing to answer questions from a child doing a report. You can also identify community workers who are willing to assist students.

By interviewing the experts right in their own backyards, children will gain a stronger understanding of how professional writers go about their work. And because students develop their own questions and record the answers, the information they collect will be imaginative and original. When students do this kind of research, there’s no chance of plagiarism.

No comments:

Post a Comment