[Essay Prep: Research and Citation is part of a three-class series. The other two classes are Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking and Essay Prep: Reading the Essay. This series is based on the former class Kidswrite Intermediate.]

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose. —Zora Neale Hurston

The best essays come from a spark in the writer's mind. They ask, What if? How? What now? Why? The stage that follows from this ignition of interest is often overlooked in discussions of the creative process: research. This essential next step allows an idea to evolve from a pinprick of a notion in the writer's mind to a finished piece of work ready to share with readers.

While we've come to think of research as something particularly grown up and laborious, children, when they are small, live in this enthusiastically curious state all the time. They naturally do research every day as they explore and learn about the world. They're passionate about monster trucks, princesses, or insects. As we grow older, this inquiry becomes more complex and formalized as our research is evaluated, recorded, synthesized, and shared.

It seems a big leap for the child who was obsessed with pandas as a child to now write an essay on whether it's ethical for them to live in zoos. This class offers teens guidance in the fundamentals of research at a high school level. It will be especially helpful for those who aren't sure how to get started with research or what to do with the 3,457 search results that popped up on Google! Research requires sifting through a plethora of texts at high reading levels, picking out accurate information, and ultimately relating it in the proper form. After we discuss and practice the different elements of research and citation over four weeks, students will emerge from this class with added confidence in this process.

This class provides exposure to the formalized system of research and citation without dampening the natural instinct for exploration and reflection. We aim to teach students how to use research and citation techniques as a compliment to their innate curiosity. Students will gain experience doing effective research and incorporating their findings into their written work by engaging in the following activities:

  • asking interesting questions
  • using inquiry as the basis for writing
  • researching using search engines and local library databases
  • evaluating the credibility of a source
  • fleshing out ideas through observation and freewriting
  • taking efficient notes
  • summarizing, quoting, and paraphrasing
  • planning and writing a research project
  • citing sources using MLA format

In Essay Prep: Research and Citation, we create a safe space for teens to explore their stance on controversial issues as they share opinions and clarify their thinking on topics that matter to them. These skills form an essential foundation for the kind of academic writing they'll encounter in high school and beyond. The culminating activity is a portfolio-worthy research project on a topic of a student's choosing.

Essay Prep: Research and Citation is designed for 8th to 10th graders or older high school students who've had little experience with academic writing. The classes in this series are designed to be taken in any order, and we recommend taking the full series before enrolling in Expository Essay.

Learn more about the content of our three Essay Prep classes and how they complement each other by watching this 30-minute video. Please contact us with questions.

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

Class Structure Description #

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.