How to Use This Tool

To explore the Research Writing Skills Progression, use the links in the sidebar to the left. You can view the Progression one grade level at a time, or you can focus on one skill area at a time (e.g., “Identify and Research) and see what this skill area looks like for several grades side by side.

Navigating by skill area: In the left sidebar, click on a skill area of your choice. On the next page you will then be able to view the concepts and sub-skills for that one skill area for several grades side by side. A nice features of this side-by-side display is that you can choose to read down the page to see all the sub-skills for a single grade, or you can read across the page to see how skills build from one grade to the next.

Navigating by grade level: In the left sidebar, click on a grade level of interest. On the next page, you will then be able to click on tabs for “Identify and Research,” “Develop an Informed View,” and “Create a Product” to explore the sub-skills for just that grade level.

Finding lessons: On all the pages you visit, you will see links you can click to jump directly from a particular skill or sub-skill to a classroom-ready lesson specifically written to develop that skill or sub-skill.


Watch a 2-minute orientation tour:


Get the big picture:


We hope you enjoy exploring and using the Research Skills Progression! Please use the “Contact Us” link below if you have any questions or feedback.

Identify and research a topic


Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.
  • Select information from teacher-provided or vetted sources
    • Compare relative relevance of source to topic/research question by skimming and searching for key words and concepts
    • Evaluate source credibility
      • Authorship & time of publication
      • Purpose & audience
    • Record source citations

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Determine purpose and identify a research question

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Determine purpose and identify a research question

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Determine purpose and identify a research question

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.

Develop an informed view

Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Use teacher-selected strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Sort information into categories based on a theme or pattern

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Use provided structure to make connections between information and ideas (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that relates to the claim/central idea and points to the importance of the piece for self and/or others.
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Use teacher or self-selected strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories based at least one theme or pattern
  • Develop further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Use provided structure to make connections between information and ideas (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that relates to the claim/central idea and points to the importance of the piece for self and others
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Use teacher or self-selected strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories based at least one theme or pattern
  • Develop further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Use provided structure to make connections between information and ideas (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that relates to the claim/central idea and points to the importance of the piece for self and others
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Select a strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories and subcategories based on themes and patterns
  • Revisit and refine information categories as needed
  • Develop and pursue further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Consider how audience and medium affect structure and content (e.g. Prezi, video, website, blog post)
  • Use provided structure or determine and generate a structure (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Avoid over-reliance on any one source (mastery at 11/12th)
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that points to the broader implications of the information to self, others, and/or experts
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Select a strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories and subcategories based on themes and patterns
  • Revisit and refine information categories as needed
  • Develop and pursue further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Consider how audience and medium affect structure and content (e.g. Prezi, video, website, blog post)
  • Use provided structure or determine and generate a structure (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Avoid over-reliance on any one source (mastery at 11/12th)
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that points to the broader implications of the information to self, others, and/or experts

Create a product to inform an audience

Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim/central idea if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim/central idea if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim/central idea if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information, logic or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Publish and self-assess
Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information, logic or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Publish and self-assess

6th Grade


Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.
  • Select information from teacher-provided or vetted sources
    • Compare relative relevance of source to topic/research question by skimming and searching for key words and concepts
    • Evaluate source credibility
      • Authorship & time of publication
      • Purpose & audience
    • Record source citations

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Use teacher-selected strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Sort information into categories based on a theme or pattern

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Use provided structure to make connections between information and ideas (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that relates to the claim/central idea and points to the importance of the piece for self and/or others.
Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim/central idea if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

7th Grade


Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Use teacher or self-selected strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories based at least one theme or pattern
  • Develop further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Use provided structure to make connections between information and ideas (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that relates to the claim/central idea and points to the importance of the piece for self and others
Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim/central idea if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

8th Grade

Determine purpose and identify a research question

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Use teacher or self-selected strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories based at least one theme or pattern
  • Develop further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Use provided structure to make connections between information and ideas (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that relates to the claim/central idea and points to the importance of the piece for self and others
Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim/central idea if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

9th & 10th Grades

Determine purpose and identify a research question

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Select a strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories and subcategories based on themes and patterns
  • Revisit and refine information categories as needed
  • Develop and pursue further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Consider how audience and medium affect structure and content (e.g. Prezi, video, website, blog post)
  • Use provided structure or determine and generate a structure (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Avoid over-reliance on any one source (mastery at 11/12th)
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that points to the broader implications of the information to self, others, and/or experts
Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information, logic or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Publish and self-assess

11th & 12th Grades

Determine purpose and identify a research question

Activate prior knowledge*
*Review and refine research question as needed following this process.

Find & Evaluate Sources*
*The key difference between middle and high school is the number and complexity of sources students will use.

Generate & Evaluate Data*
*When appropriate to the nature of the project/assignment.
Process, sift, and sort
  • Review research question to determine reading agenda
  • Preview to determine key sections related to research question
  • Annotate while reading closely to identify info that answers the research question
  • Select a strategy to take notes to paraphrase or quote and organize important information, noting citation info for each note
  • Compare sources on the same topic with differing information or perspectives
  • Sort information into categories and subcategories based on themes and patterns
  • Revisit and refine information categories as needed
  • Develop and pursue further questions for inquiry - more focused or broad as appropriate

Analyze information to generate a claim or central idea*
*The complexity of the claim or central idea will vary depending on the writing task and grade level/skill of the writer.

Synthesize and Organize to Draft a Product*
*Note this order of writing process steps is only a suggestion. Students should be encouraged to approach drafting component parts in an order that works best for their thinking.
  • Consider how audience and medium affect structure and content (e.g. Prezi, video, website, blog post)
  • Use provided structure or determine and generate a structure (outline or graphic organizer)
  • Draft body segments (paragraphs, storyboard segments, script sections, slides, etc.)
    • Select the most credible and effective evidence to support the claim or central idea via quotation and paraphrase; include citations to avoid plagiarism
    • Avoid over-reliance on any one source (mastery at 11/12th)
    • Analyze the information to explain how the facts connect to the claim or central idea
    • Refute counterarguments as needed or appropriate
    • Transition between sentences, paragraphs or segments
  • Review organizational choices
  • Draft an introduction that includes the claim or central idea
  • Draft a conclusion that points to the broader implications of the information to self, others, and/or experts
Reflect and Revise
  • Review and reflect on the product to develop a revision plan
    • Revisit the research question to reflect on how thoroughly the question has been answered
    • Determine if more research is needed by identifying gaps in information, logic or argument and return to research process as appropriate to fill these gaps
    • Refine claim if necessary
    • Revise structure and content as needed
  • Thoroughly edit the product to ensure a smooth reading/viewing experience for the audience

Publish and self-assess