Reports are made up of several paragraphs that work together, informing the reader on a topic of interest. Teens write reports in science, history, Bible, and other classes. Often academic in nature, they should still be enjoyable to read. Your teens learns about a topic and shares the information in a report. My teens enjoy writing reports on other countries, historical figures, and Bible topics.
The first step in writing a report is to choose a topic, research that topic, and then narrow the topic down small enough to be the subject of the report. The biggest mistake students make is to choose a subject that is too broad. A narrow subject makes for a focused, interesting report that doesn't ramble all over the place.
For reports, essays, and research papers, I recommend using the MLA formatting that most universities us for footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations, and the "Works Cited" page. Then, they won't have to relearn everything you teach them when they start college. If children learn to cite information they are quoting or paraphrasing from other authors, they will avoid plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a pitfall to avoid for teens as they move into more specific information and more detailed research. Plagiarism is the worst form of cheating! It happens any time your teenager claims that another author's work or ideas is his own. Does your student go online and copy someone's website data, turning it in to you as his paper? That is plagiarism! Even to come across someone's intellectual ideas, like them, and duplicate them in a paper in your child's own words is plagiarism. With research, it is fine to quote other authors and duplicate their ideas--just teach your teens to document it!
Once research is completed, a report is laid out in a methodical way. Begin with an opening paragraph that introduces the topic and encourages the reader to plunge in and read. The body of the paper is next where the research is presented in an interesting way, targeting the audience of the report. Finally, there is a conclusion at the end of the paper summarizing the main points of the report. Writing an outline first makes the report easier to write for your teenager. If they do not know how to write an outline, take a few hours with your teen, showing her how to formulate an outline for her report.
When your teen gets stuck at some point in the report writing process, help her out by having her speak about the information and read aloud what she has already written down aloud. This will bring clarity to what she is trying to communicate in her report.
As always, "publish" your child's writing. Reports can be presented at a Science Fair or Geography Fair. A report can also be passed around the family or homeschool coop to be read by various homeschooled students and parents. Reports can be made into pages on your teen's website. Lavish your budding report writer with well-deserved praise when she does a good job.
Until next time, communicate on paper for the glory of God!
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)