Last updated on: 2/27/2015 | Author:

Research Speed Skill Builder – Lesson Plan Idea


Research Speed Skill Builder – Overview


Use the homepage to help students build research skills such as skimming and summarizing.

Grades: 9-12

The Activity


To work on research speed, direct all students to the homepage. Tell them they will write a one paragraph position statement that answers any of the main questions on the websites for the controversial listed on the home page. This paragraph must take a clear stand (no ‘on the one hand…’) and should include as many distinct arguments in support of their position as possible. They will have only 20 minutes to both research and write the paragraph, so skimming and summarizing is a must. After the paragraphs have been produced, give students a short explanation of how to count the distinct arguments using an example from the class. Then instruct students to give their paragraphs to another student for scoring (you may need to assure them that you will double check these scores before the winner is announced). Finish with an unofficial poll to determine the class average for number of arguments.

——————————– Topics: Any. See full list of controversial issues.

Subjects: English / ELA / Language Arts, Communication, Composition, Social Studies

Common Core Anchor Standards: CCRA.R.8, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.4, CCRA. W.6, CCRA.W.7, CCRA.W.9, CCRA, L.1, CCRA.L.2

Common Core Content Standards: RI.8, RI.10, W.1, W.4, W.7, W.10, L.1, L.3, WHST.1


Make the lesson easier 

  • Increase the amount of time allowed for the activity. Students can have as long as 40 minutes while still feeling urgency in the task.
  • Divide the time between research and writing to increase focus.
  • Provide more guidance about question selection, limiting students to micro sites that more directly lay out the arguments.

Make the lesson harder 

  • Limit students to standard sites that approach one question from many different angles and sub-questions, making students process more information to get to the arguments
  • Repeat the activity but reduce the allotted time each round, ending with a 5-minute lightning round.
  • After peer-scoring, allow students 5 minutes of revision time to amend or re-write in an effort to increase their scores.
Related Links


  1. Lesson Plan Ideas with Common Core Correlations
  2. Teachers’ Corner