What makes for an effective topic?
Identify a topic that you either feel strongly about or wonder about.
Time To Complete
I Can Statements
I can choose a topic that
- promotes questioning and encourages my curiosity to learn more about the subject.
- is clearly and accurately defined and related to my current area of study.
- Is specific or narrow enough to support a manageable research process.
- requires critical inquiry and higher-order thinking, such as analysis, questioning, and evaluation.
I will know if my topic is of high quality if it:
- promotes questioning and curiosity to know more about the subject
- is something I feel strongly about or want to learn more about
- is clearly and accurately defined and related to the current area of study
- is specific or narrow enough to support a manageable research process
- requires critical inquiry and higher-order thinking, such as analysis, questioning, and evaluation
Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:
- Confer with students, asking probing questions about their topic to gauge how well the topic meets the quality criteria.
- Ask students to state their topic and explain (orally or in writing) how it meets the quality criteria for a high-quality topic.
- Ask students to self-evaluate their work after completing one of the activities below.
If students have complete freedom over issue or topic selection, you can model your own writing process by showing how you gather information about the world. Model how you connect to news and issues based on your prior life experience, your interests, and what you read. You might also ask students to preview newspapers, watch news segments, and tune in to radio news and discuss their connections.
Have students brainstorm several topics for their mathematical modeling and ask them to write, draw, or discuss each one for a few minutes. They can use writing partners, re-read their own work, or ask the whole class for advice on which topic is the “thickest”, most relevant, or most interesting.
If the topic and/or data is not given within the context of the performance task, teachers can brainstorm with the class about possible topics and research questions, including what kind of data would be useful to help address these questions. If the topic and data are given, teachers can still encourage students to brainstorm about different ways in which the data could be used. Teachers can provide a mini-lesson on the types of data that are often available on various issues, for example, census data, research data, and/or modeling on how to brainstorm the types of numerical data.
Ideas for Research Topics Suitable for Mathematical Modeling