Composition Focus: Research Report



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Unit 8

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Reporting Information

Composition Focus: Research Report

Language Focus: Prepositions, Conjunctions, Interjections, Phrases, and Clauses

Imagine that you are a scientist who has been asked to present information that will affect the health of the entire nation. You must be sure your information is accurate. You carefully research your topic to get the information you need.

Writers also do research to report information accurately. Author Russell Freedman, whose research report appears on the next few pages, enjoys doing research. His research has been published in books and has won awards. In this unit you, too, will gather information to write a research report.

WARMING UP

IN YOUR JOURNAL

Look through magazines and newspapers to find a picture of someone or something you would like to know more about. Tell what you want to know and why.



DICTIONARY SKILLS

Find the meaning of the word research. Use a dictionary to find the exact meaning of this word and of the prefix re-. Discuss your findings.



Russell Freedman writes books to inform readers about interesting historical topics.

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Reading with a Writer's Eye

Research Report

Ellis Island lies at the mouth of New York's Hudson River. Four out of every ten Americans have ancestors who had to pass through Ellis Island before they could be admitted to this country. In the nineteenth century, Ellis Island was the main point of entry for immigrants to the United States. Read Russell Freedman's report about Ellis Island and the immigrants who arrived there. Notice how he uses facts and quotations to give a sense of the people and the times in which they lived.



Coming Over

by Russell Freedman

Between 1880 and 1920, twenty-three million immigrants arrived in the United States. They came mainly from impoverished towns and villages in southern and eastern Europe. The one thing they had in common was a fervent belief that, in America, life would be better.

Most of these immigrants were poor, and many immigrant families arrived penniless. Often, the father came first, found work, and sent for his family later.

Immigrants usually crossed the Atlantic as steerage passengers. Reached by steep, slippery stairways, the steerage lay deep down in the hold of the ship. It was occupied by passengers paying the lowest fare.

Men, women, and children were packed into dark, foul-smelling compartments. They slept in narrow bunks stacked three high. They had no showers, no lounges, and no dining rooms. Food served from huge kettles was dished into dinner pails provided by the steamship company. Because steerage conditions were crowded and uncomfortable, passengers spent as much time as possible up on deck.

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The great majority of immigrants landed in New York City, at America's busiest port. Edward Corsi, who later became United States Commissioner of Immigration, was a ten-year-old Italian immigrant when ,--,e sailed into New York harbor in 1907. He wrote, "My first impressions of the New World will always remain etched in my memory, particularly that hazy October morning when I first saw Ellis Island. The steamer Florida, fourteen days out of Naples, filled to capacity with sixteen hundred natives of Italy, had weathered one of the worst storms in our captain's memory; and glad we were, both children and grownups, to leave the open sea and come at last through the Narrows into the Bay.

"My mother, my stepfather, my brother Giuseppe, and my two sisters, Liberta and Helvetia, looked with wonder on this miraculous land of our dreams.

"Passengers all about us were crowding against the rail. Jabbered conversation, sharp cries, laughs, and cheers-a steadily rising din filled the air. Mothers and fathers lifted up babies so that they, too, could see, off to the left, the Statue of Liberty. . . ."

But the journey was not yet over. Before they could be admitted to the United States, immigrants had to pass through Ellis Island, which became the nation's chief immigrant processing center in 1892. There they would be questioned and examined. Those who could not pass all the exams would be detained; some would be sent back to Europe. And so their arrival in America was filled with great anxiety. Among the immigrants, Ellis Island was known as Heartbreak Island.

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When their ship docked at a Hudson River pier, the immigrants had numbered identity tags pinned to their clothing. Then they were herded onto special ferryboats that carried them to Ellis Island. Officials hurried them along, shouting "Quick! Run! Hurry!" in half-a-dozen languages.



Filing into an enormous inspection hall, the immigrants formed long lines separated by iron railings that made the hall look like a great maze. First the immigrants were examined by two doctors of the United States Health Service. One doctor looked for physical and mental abnormalities. When a case aroused suspicion, the immigrant received a chalk mark on the right shoulder for further inspection: L for lameness, H for heart, X for mental defects, and so on.

The second doctor watched for contagious and infectious diseases. He looked especially for infections of the scalp and at the eyelids for symptoms of trachoma, a blinding disease. Since trachoma caused more than half of all medical detentions, this doctor was greatly feared. He stood directly in the immigrant's path. With a swift movement, he would grab the immigrant's eyelid, pull it up, and peer beneath it. If all was well, the immigrant was passed on.

Those who failed to get past both doctors had to undergo a more thorough medical exam. The others moved on to the registration clerk, who questioned them with the aid of an interpreter: What is your name? Your nationality? Your occupation? Can you read and write? Have you ever been in prison? How much money do you have with you? Where are you going?

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Some immigrants were so flustered that they could not answer. They were allowed to sit and rest and try again. About one immigrant out of every five or six was detained for additional examinations or questioning.

Most immigrants made it through Ellis Island in about one day. Carrying all their worldly possessions, they waited on the dock for the ferry that would take them to Manhattan, a mile away. Some of them still faced long journeys over land before they reached their final destinations. Others would head directly for the teeming immigrant neighborhoods of New York City. But no matter where they went, they all hoped to find the same thing: a better life for themselves and their children.



Respond

1. What information in the article do you find most interesting? Why does this information interest you?



Discuss

2. How do you think most immigrants felt on Ellis Island? What facts in the article show this to be so? How does the writer use quotations to support this impression?

3. What feeling do you have about Ellis Island after reading the article? How does the writer select and organize details to leave you with this feeling?

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Thinking as a Writer

Writer's Guide A research report

  • gives information about a topic.

  • draws facts from various sources.

  • has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

A research report presents information drawn from various sources such as books, magazines, and interviews about a certain topic. A research report has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Reread parts of Russell Freedman's report.

Coming Over

Between 1880 and 1920, twenty-three million immigrants arrived in the United States. They came mainly from impoverished towns and villages in southern and eastern Europe. The one thing they had in common was a fervent belief that, in America, life I would be better.



The title gives a sense of what the report is about.

The introduction identifies the topic and arouses interest in the subject of the report. Notice how the first sentence offers a striking statistic to catch the reader's attention.

Immigrants usually crossed the Atlantic as steerage passengers. Reached by steep, slippery stairways, the steerage (ay deep down in the hold of the ship. It was occupied by passengers paying the lowest fare.



The body gives specific information that the writer has gathered. Each paragraph in the body deals with a different main idea.

Most immigrants made it through Ellis Island in about one day. Carrying all their worldly possessions, they waited on the dock for the ferry that would take them to Manhattan, a mile away. Some of them still faced long journeys over land before they reached theii final destinations. Others would head directly for the teeming immigrant neighborhoods of New York City. But no matter where they went, they all hoped to find the same thing: a better life for themselves and their children.



The conclusion signals the end of the report and gives a sense of completeness. It may sum up the information given and draw a conclusion about the subject. Often, it leaves the reader with a desire to find out more about the topic.

Discuss

Why does a research report need an introduction? Why does it need a body? Why does it need a conclusion?

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Try Your Hand

A. Identify Parts of a Research Report All of the following paragraphs come from the same research report. For each paragraph, write whether it comes from the introduction, the body, or the conclusion of the report, and tell why you think so. Then write a phrase that identifies the subject of the whole report.

1. As we have seen, Ellis Island has served many functions over the years. It has been a fort, a storage depot, and a processing center for immigrants. Now Ellis Island is on its way to becoming a museum of immigration. In this land of dreams and opportunities, however, who knows what part Ellis Island may play in the future of the United States?

2. "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . :" These words by Emma Lazarus are written on the base of the Statue of Liberty. They are fitting words with which to begin a study of immigration to the United States.

3. Immigrants from northwestern Europe joined those from eastern and southern Europe. From 1890 to 1914, about 15 million newcomers from Europe and the Middle East arrived in the United States.



B. Identify Details Make a list of specific facts and details included in the paragraphs in A.

C. Write a Title Write a title for the research report that includes the paragraphs in A.

D. Read a Research Report With a partner, read aloud the research report on pages 344-347 or another research report about a topic that interests you. Identify the introduction, the body, and the conclusion of the report. Discuss whether each part is well written and why you do or do not think so.

Writer’s Notebook

Collecting Social Studies Words Notice social studies words such as immigration and commissioner in "Coming Over." List the social studies words in the article that you do not know. Use a dictionary to find out what they mean. Record in your Writer's Notebook the _words and their meanings. Watch for opportunities to use these new words when you speak or write about social studies topics.

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Thinking As a Writer

Connecting Ideas in a Summary

Writer's Guide

To write a summary, good writers

state the most important points about a subject.

retell a story or an article briefly.

use their own words without changing the meaning.

The following postcard summarizes a vacation.

I just spent three weeks camping from Yellowstone to Yosemite. Old Faithful is still gushing, but I didn't see many bears. We camped in a lodge in the middle of Yosemite and hiked to the top of a waterfall. See you soon.

Summarizing is a useful tool when you are taking notes for a research report. It helps you write only the main idea and the most important details from your reading.

Study how the information in the original source has been summarized. Notice that the summary includes the most important information in the original source.



Original Source

Though forty percent of all Americans can trace their ancestry to a relative who came through Ellis island, other ports of entry, located in Virginia and Texas, have also been important in American history.



Summary

Forty percent of Americans have an ancestor who passed through Ellis Island. However, Virginia and Texas have also been ports of entry.

When you take notes for a research report, summarize only the main ideas and important details from each original source.

Discuss

1. Look back at both the original source and the summary on this page. How else could the writer have summarized the information?

2. In the last paragraph of "Coming Over" on page 347, which sentence is used to summarize the immigrant dream?

Try Your Hand

Connect Ideas in a Summary Summarize the key steps in the immigration process described in "Coming Over." Compare your summary with a partner's. Discuss any differences between the two summaries.

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Developing the Writer’s Craft

Catching the Reader’s Interest

Writer's Guide Good writers

begin with a striking sentence.

use concrete details.

use quotations.

Good writers know that to inform readers, they must keep them interested. Therefore, writers often begin a research report with a striking question or fact to catch the reader's attention. They also hold the reader's interest by giving concrete examples, instead of stating general ideas. In "Coming Over;" Russell Freedman gives these facts to show that traveling as a steerage passenger was uncomfortable.

• Steerage passengers occupied dark compartments.

• They slept in narrow bunks.

• They ate out of dinner pails.

Details like these make information real for readers. Writers also convey information through quotations to make their writing more vivid. Russell Freedman used this quotation to show that immigrants approaching America were excited.

"Passengers all about us were crowding against the rail. Jabbered conversation, sharp cries, laughs, and cheers-a steadily rising din filled the air. Mothers and fathers lifted up babies so that they, too, could see, off to the left, the Statue of Liberty. .....”

When you write a research report, begin with a striking sentence. Use concrete details and direct quotations to catch and hold your reader's interest.

Discuss

1. Reread the opening paragraph of "Coming Over" on page 344. What makes the first sentence of this paragraph striking?



2. What other concrete details does Russell Freedman use in "Coming Over"? What does he convey with these details?

Try Your Hand

Catch a Reader's Interest Talk with someone you know about his or her family history. Then write a striking fact you learned from the talk, and give a direct quotation to illustrate the fact.

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