MiddSouth Innovates

Issue #8 2018-2019

Thesis Papers Reimagined

It's thesis paper time in the school. Students swarming the library trying to find research, documenting sources, and figure out how they are going to successfully defend this idea they have in their head. While Mrs. Carty and Mrs. Oliva's students are enduring the same task, they are accomplishing it in a totally innovative way.

The purpose of the thesis paper is to have students develop a thesis, conduct research to defend that thesis, and cite their sources. Students found assistance in developing their thesis by first starting with a Thrively self-assessment. Once they determined areas of interest and passions, they began the research process. Using books from the Library and information from EBSCOhost, they organized everything they found in Google Keep. The students found it easiest to label their research by area of interest and then color coded the Notes in each area by the source it came from. Google Keep completely replaced notes on index cards and made it far easier to rearrange their ideas for the outline than they could have in Google Docs. And, since Keep is entirely web based, students can't lose their notes, nothing needs to be written by hand, and it is far easier to stay organized.

Once they have all of their research, it is time to develop their thesis defense. Traditionally this would all be done in written form usually several pages in length. But Mrs. Carty wanted something different from start to finish. Instead of writing a lengthy paper, students will be creating digital presentations (using some of the tools below) and then presenting their thesis to small groups of their peers. Basically, the students will be giving mini-TED Talks to their peers. Good TED Talks use all the same elements of a good thesis: create an argument, defend the argument with research, create in-text citations.

Mrs. Oliva commented that she has worked with students doing thesis papers using traditional methods and she is finding her students are more engaged, more interested, and more vested this year than she has ever seen them. By choosing a thesis that was personal, based on their passions, students are eager to work every class.

Paper!? Where We're Going We Don't Need Paper.

In this age of ever-shrinking budgets we need start making concerted efforts to reduce paper. Many daily classroom activities can be easily be digitized or altered to allow for less paper consumption. Here are a few tools and techniques for helping you go paperless.

Google Classroom--Classroom provides numerous methods for helping you automate your class. All handouts can be posted to the stream for students to view or copy into their Google Drive. Since students are already typing their papers, collect them through Classroom and grade them in Google Docs. Comments on specific areas of the writing can be left in the document, and longer comments left in Classroom on the submission. Even your Do Nows and Exit Tickets can be completed using Classroom's Question feature.

Padlet--Think of Padlet like a digital cork board that never ends. Students can use it as a brainstorming space for project ideas, an organizational chart for thesis papers, a planning space for long-term projects, an ice-breaker activity, or even a way to gather feedback about an assignment. Notes can be text, pictures, links, audio clips, videos, and even a doodle.

Whiteboards--not all ways to reduce paper need to involve technology! Quizzes, HW, classwork need not have to be written on paper every time. Turn your desks into whiteboards and have the students write their work out on the desk. Grade it on the spot and students receive immediate feedback on their work. If they don't finish during class, they can take a pic and pick up where they left off. You can also purchase melamine board from a hardware store and have them cut down to an appropriate size. Don't like those options? Laminate a piece of paper or use a sheet protector with a white piece of paper in it. Have students use that as their scrap paper.

There are TONS of ideas to help you spend less time in the copy room and more time planning amazing lessons.

We highlight Senior Kie Antone's work as a voice over specialist. You can see a clip of his work above. If you have a student who you think should be highlighted in an upcoming MiddSouth Shines, please reach out to Marc Seigel.