Today in class, we focused on another issue that I noticed in the happiness essays. Many students struggled to find enough information about their essay topics. The root of the issue was not in the topics that were chosen. Rather, the issue was that many students didn't have very many research techniques at their disposal.
So, today, we focused on research techniques that involve breaking a topic down into its smaller component pieces and researching each component individually. For instance, if my topic for the happiness essay was pets, and I researched the topic generally, I might come across a site like this one.
Based on the information I found on this site, I could further break down my topic into three component pieces:
1. Pets improve physical and emotional health
2. Pets connect their owners to a social community
3. Pets increase the amount of exercise their owner gets
After breaking the topic down into its components, I could then research each component individually. This would give me much more material to research and write about. I could research how pets increase physical and emotional health, I could look into how being a part of a community makes people happy, and I could look at how exercise increases one's happiness and well-being. In the course of the body paragraphs of my essay, I would then be tying these sub-topics back to the overall topic of pets bringing happiness.
The assignment in class, and as homework if you did not complete it, is as follows:
We are revisiting the process of the happiness essay since it is familiar. We are not actually writing an essay; this is only for practice with breaking a topic down, researching it, and citing sources.
Here are the steps:
1. Your sample topic is: social relationships make people happy.
2. Break this topic down into three smaller topics and research each one individually
3. Find one online source for each smaller topic and cite it in MLA format as you would for a works cited page.
4. Your completed assignment should have 3 sub-topics and 3 sources cited in MLA format.
Chris Trompas - English teacher at the Learning Choice Academy in Chula Vista and La Mesa, CA.