Those Ever-So-Important First Weeks

Students and mentors alike have often discussed that the most difficult or frustrating part of the process is coming up with a workable Research Question. During the first 6-10 weeks, this is the most important goal. We’ll be introducing Skill Builders for students to share with mentors to spur discussion and though as well as the monthly check-ins to support subject-specific markers.

To that end, here’s a week-by-week timeline that might help.

It is not mean to be prescriptive, but to help frame the general sequence for completing the assignment. In the end, you’ll use your own judgment on what pace to set to meet the school’s internal and external deadlines.

Week One: Introduction and How Do You Do’s
Students should introduce themselves to you during that first week. This isn’t necessarily a work session, but to meet and talk about their interests and go over what to expect over the coming months.

Week Two: Finding What’s Important
During the second week, a more formalized meeting is important to talk about what topics within the subject area are being considered. We’ve adapted an exercise from the I.B. and created a Skill Builder #1 (The English Literature specific form is HERE) that will help students form their thoughts at this early stage. By the end of the second week, we’re aiming to have a narrowed topic of interest.

Weeks Three-Four: Thinking and Reading and Working and Reading and Thinking
Generally this falls around the March Break. Students should be reading/investigating as much as they can about their narrowed topic of interest and following up with the mentor as needed.

Week Five: Contract and Finding the Question
At this point, a conduct contract with a refined R.Q. is completed. That question/topic might still change, and that’s ok. At this point, we’re into the research instead of trying to figure out what to research. A working Research Question is agreed upon.

Week Six: Reflection and Formal Meeting
At this point, the first mandatory reflection session takes place. The student is to have the Reflection submitted to Managebac by April 6th. Ensuring that the Research Question is one that can be answered in a 4,000 word paper and meets the subject specific guidance is the priority.

Weeks Seven-Ten: Subject Specific Activities
In mid April,  students work on a second skill builder and the April Check-In. Both are designed to help support subject-specific skills and timelines. During this point, changes to the question and specific topic can happen as students realize the limitations of topics.

The Rest of the Spring: Approaching Initial Writing and Supplementary Research
Students have some Check-Ins to work on and opportunities for lots of research and writing time with the end of their IB French classes. Their goal should be to arrive at some form of structure/writing/labwork before the start of Summer Vacation. Mentors are encourage to use their judgement in terms of what that means for each student; but if they are prepared before the Summer; they will produce a higher quality of work in the Fall.