The interest study is a time-tested, time-honored Bixby writing tradition. Essentially research papers, interest studies give students the opportunity to dive deep into personally captivating topics. The process is more intricate than the smaller projects we work on throughout the year, but students are receptive to it because they have the opportunity to explore their greatest curiosities.
We begin interest studies by choosing topics and subtopics. The tricky part is choosing a topic that isn’t too wide or narrow, but in the “Goldilocks Zone” fit for a 5-10 paragraph essay. This is a critical step in the often-overlooked but fundamental Organization trait of writing. Each paragraph embodies a subtopic or category. Students then create a folder filled with envelopes for each of their categories for taking notes.
Then it’s on to research – from books, encyclopedias, and the convoluted but compulsory internet. Navigating the web is tricky, but it affords limitless learning potential to those who learn to harness it. It’s stunning to see how skilled 4th and 5th graders already are on the net – and how quickly their navigational skills develop.
The final step is the actual writing of the papers. Students are encouraged to dive into the body of their papers, using topic sentences to introduce each paragraph before revealing the hard-earned details from their notes. Introductions are actually written after the body, like preview trailers for movies. Conclusions, sources, and title pages are then drafted before editing and revision.
Completed interest studies are steadily flowing in and can be read on the Bixby Writer’s Blog.