How to Research a Topic Online

Online Research

We taught our kids to tie their shoes by tying them for years in front of them, then with explicit teaching and supervision.

We taught them to load the dishwasher, brush their teeth, run a load of laundry, and buckle up in the car the same way.

When it’s time to learn how to research a topic for writing, you can use the same tactics!

  • Model what it looks like to do an online search.
  • Show them how criteria changes the search results.
  • Discuss how to differentiate reliable and unreliable sources.
  • Look at viewpoints in conflict with each other.
  • Discuss the key ideas that each source wants to convey.

Each of the search ideas below shift the focus slightly to seek and include more data from a variety of sources.

Search Terms

  • [topic] data
  • [topic] experts
  • [topic] interview
  • [topic] vocabulary
  • [topic] eyewitness
  • [topic] controversy

Try this exercise even if you aren’t working on a writing assignment. The practice of conducting these searches, even with topics like “Yu-Gi-Oh cards” or  “swimming” or the “Olympics” will call up controversy and aspects of the topic you and your kids have never considered.

See what you find!

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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Friday Freewrite: Washing Dishes

Friday Freewrite

ZAP! After dinner, your family is suddenly only a few inches tall, but the regular-sized dishes still need washing! Explain how you accomplish that.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

The Essential Skill: Collaboration


Let’s face it. We’re used to being the ones in charge. 

So much of parenting is rule-based at first. Don’t cross the road alone. You have to hold hands in a busy airport. We don’t jump on Grandma’s couch. 

But somewhere along the line, it happens. They turn nine, then double digits. Paradoxically, maturity increases, but “instant cooperation” tanks. 

If you look—really look—can you see it? You’ve got a PERSON on your hands! (Wild, right?) 

Enter this essential skill: collaboration! 

Collaboration requires two or more people to:

  • Be aware of how their behavior affects others
  • Negotiate to sustain positivity 
  • Engage in respectful communication and dialogue
  • Respect each other’s ideas

Most parents don’t know how to help their older student revise without coming down like a sledgehammer—smashing all the positive qualities of a partnership.

Collaboration is the essential way you interact with your child over their writing. 

  • You get the most writing from a child whose writing voice and ideas are respected and valued.
  • You get the best writing from allowing them to capture original thoughts before mechanics.
  • You get the most trust from your child when you respond to their ideas, not just their mistakes. 

When you model gentleness and respect over a piece of their work, they learn how to work in a team, grow ideas and exchange thoughts non-confrontationally. 

Oh yeah, and they’re learning how to write too!

Now you know why Brave Writer’s latest core class involves YOU, the parent

In Brave Writer 201: Kind, Dynamic Revision, we put you, the parent and Head Writing Coach, in the driver’s seat in our classroom.

You’ll apply the empowering techniques our coaches use to your student’s writing.

Then you’ll watch your kids bring that new vision to their writing!

Our expert instructors will give you “feedback on your feedback,” training you to be the warm, supportive writing coach you want to be, much in the same way we train our own staff.

What to say AND how to say it.

What’s easier than that? 

Brave Writer Online Classes

The Homeschool of My Dreams Is…

Dream Homeschool

You get to have the homeschool you choose. In fact, you already DO have the homeschool you choose.

A little zen thinking for you on this Monday morning. You’re welcome.

Make a list of what you wish your homeschool would be like. What might it include? Get as clear and detailed as you can.

The Homeschool of My Dreams Is…

Ask yourself:

  • how close is the homeschool you have to that vision?
  • how much of that vision is dependent on my children?

To have a wonderful homeschool requires one key ingredient: YOUR passion for learning. That’s it! If you have that, and you go after it, you will have a homeschool that is both satisfying and effective for everyone.

For instance, if you want to teach your child to read, you can either implement a program regardless of how your child feels about it, OR you can get really interested in learning how to read. You can invest the heart and energy to learn about reading, to learn about how kids learn to read, you can test theories and explore practices with your kids looking for their feedback. Reading can be an adventure of learning for *all* of you.

When parents complain about their children’s lack of motivation or willingness to cooperate, I know the parent has lost interest in learning. They are putting attention on getting kids to perform. Then they lament that their homeschool is not magical or natural.

But if you turn your fascination to whatever the topic (motivating kids, learning to spell, mastering math facts, becoming a goal setter), you will have a home that is all about learning all the time.

Give yourself to the things you care about, identify the issues you face, and LEARN about them. Before you know it, your homeschool may look a lot more like the vision you described to yourself.

This post is originally from Instagram and @juliebravewriter is my account there so come follow along for more conversations like this one!

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Friday Freewrite: Ice Skating Dragon

Friday Freewrite

Your pet dragon wants to learn to ice skate. Describe how that goes.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.