Monday, June 2, 2014


Do you like to dig in the sand? Or dig in the dirt in your backyard garden?
When I visit schools, I share research tools that I use as a writer and how I enjoy digging for facts before sitting down to write. I ask students I meet how to research a topic, and the first answer is usually something like this: “Go on the computer,” or “Google it.”
We all rely on our computers for information today, but research is more informative and much more enjoyable, if you step away from the computer and dig deeper to learn about your topic before ever writing a word.

Summer is almost here, so let’s keep this writing exercise as fun as a day on the beach.

Digging Deep: Read, Research, Write

  1. Choose your favorite summer activity to do outside. It might be swimming, playing soccer, or going to the beach. My activity example for this writing exercise is hiking.
  2. Look up five facts about hiking on the computer. Example of one hiking fact: In Australia hiking is called "bush walking" and known as "tramping" in New Zealand. 
  3. Go to your school or town library and find at least three books about your topic. Find at least one new fact you didn’t find in your computer search.
  4. Visit a locale where you can do this activity. I hiked at Bear Mountain when writing my new book These Rocks Count! I also spoke to numerous geologists about rocks.
  5. Talk to an “expert” who knows about your activity. If you love swimming, talk to a swim coach or a swimming instructor at a local pool. For hiking, experts might be trail guides at my local camping store or a forest ranger at a hiking spot in a national or state forest.
  6. Ask this expert if they agree with the facts that you have researched.
  7. Ask them to share something that you might not know from your previous research and helpful advice about your topic. Example from a trail guide about hiking: Always hike with a First Aid kit, packed with extra band-aids for blisters.
  8. Gather your computer, book, and expert fact research. You know much more about your topic now and you are ready to write (a little or a lot) about your favorite summer activity.
Now it’s time for me to swim, hike, dig in the sand, and read lots of books. Whatever you enjoy doing; I hope you have a wonderful summer!

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