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I Search Paper Sections

Quarter Langauge Arts Project

You are about to begin a major science writing project, an I-search paper, for Science and English class. You will begin by conducting background research on a topic of your choice. Once you have background information, you will develop a question and hypothsis and try to answer the question with further research-- consider people as well as books or the Internet as sources. Begin with Gooru learning.


Suggested Topics:

Choose a science topic in which you are interested. Go to Gooru learning and type in topics until you find one you like.  

Read about your topic and decide on one part of that topic to research. What fact or claim interest you?

You may want to use Think Tank to help you outline your project and develop questions.

Possible Questions:

How intelligent are dolphins?

How do the ocean currents affect our weather?

What are black holes?


Questions must reflect analytical, synthesized, and evaluative thinking.

Thinking levels are:


Knowledge--recall of specific facts

Comprehension--understands basic information and can explain and interpret it

Application--uses understood ideas in new ways to solve problems, demonstrate use of knowledge, or construct models to incorporate all aspects of the ideas

Analysis--breaking down the ideas into parts to discuss, uncover concepts, and make connections

Synthesis--puts together the ideas into a whole concept to discuss, generalize, compare, contrast, and merge ideas into bigger ideas

Evaluation--judges the value of the ideas and methods for a given purpose by using standards and criteria; verifies judgement using the criteria based on evidence


We will follow this schedule (this will be updated for this year's project). Use it now as a guide.


February 3: Choose three topics so you can read about the topics you think you are interested in so you can make a final choice.


February 5: Final topic choice due.


February 12: Introduction due.


February 24: Background research and question due.


March 14: Research due.


March 26: Conclusion and Project due.


March 28: Reflection, Bibliography, and Presenaton due.

During February and much of March: In-class and at home work/research on the project you have chosen. I will provide materials and ideas for you; you will conduct the research and begin chosing your final projects. If you plan to interview someone, then interview questions need to be prepared; questionnaires need to be written and mailed or emailed; interview notes need to be transcribed; thank you notes need to be written. (All material to be mailed out or emailed must be approved by the teacher.) During February-March students may share with the teacher and classmates early drafts of their papers. (The paper is written as the student conducts the search. There is no need to wait until completing the entire search before starting the writing!) Note: Use Google Docs and Diigo as your research and writing tools. This makes the writing task much more manageable. We have computers in math and writing classes and a computer lab available.



The notes and paper should be contained in a two-pocket folder. One pocket holds all memorabilia from the search (rough drafts of letters sent, letters received, interview notes, pamphlets, business cards....) This pocket also holds early drafts of the paper. The other pocket holds the finished product. 


Use Google Docs and Diigo for research and note-taking. Share everything with your teachers.

Project format should be as follows, whether you use paper or digital formatting.


I. Introduction

Explain the topic searched, why you selected it, what you know about it before beginning the search, and what you hope to learn. This portion is written as the student starts the project. Its value is approximately 10% of the paper.


II. Background Research

The story of your initial search, the question and hypothesis, the projects, and findings. This portion is written while the initial research is conducted, to continue wondering and asking questions that will lead to a final project.

A. How did you begin? What did you wonder?

B. What were your sources and how did they help you? Were there sources that did not help? Why?

C. What did you learn? What new questions did you ask yourself?

D. Were people contacted (and why and how--interview or email)? (How the contact reacted to the interview request, the atmosphere of the interview, what was learned from the interview. Students are urged to show the personality of the interviewee.)

E. What did you learn? What new questions did you ask?

F. Also report dead-ends, unwilling contacts, disappointing avenues, as well as unexpected gold mines.

G. What did you learn?

H. What major question do you want to answer? What do you think the answer is (your hypothesis). I will help you devise a question and a plan to find an answer. This section is roughly 20% of the paper.


III. Research

The story of your final search to answer a major question about the topic and how you analyzed the information to find that answer.

A. How did you begin?

B. What were your sources and how did they help you? Were there sources that did not help? Why? Follow the format of B-F above.

C. What did you learn? What does your evidence tell you? As you gather evidence, analyze the information and write your ideas to answer your question. This section is roughly 20% of the paper.


IV. Conclusions--

A. What is your question? What was your hypothesis?

B. What is the truth according to your evidence? Explain clearly.

C. What project will you do to share your data? What is your plan for the project? Will you have pictures, graphs, a model? This section is roughly 20% of the paper.


V. Project --

Create a project to show what you have learned; this will depend on your topic. We will develop criteria together. This section is roughly 15% of your paper.


VI. Reflection--

How do you feel about what has been learned? Has your thinking changed? Have you made any unanticipated, secondary findings concerning the topic itself, yourself, or people in general as a result of this search? Roughly 10% of the paper.


VII Bibliography

The paper also needs a bibliography/references section to credit all sources.

Roughly 5% of the paper.


Turn in all work, notes, drafts, etc. Notecards can be put in a ziplock baggie.



Criteria for evaluation:


1. Evidence of effort:

Did the student truly "search out" answers to intriguing questions? Or did they simply look for one or two sources? Did they reflect on and analyze the ideas, or just recite or rewrite the information?


2. Thoroughness of search:

There is no such thing as an "unsearchable" topic as long as the student refuses to be defeated by a dead end. Instead, he redefines his topic and continues his search.


3. Effectiveness of the actual paper and project:

Does the paper contain the required sections? Is it presented in a thorough, interesting, well-written manner? Does the project explain the evidence and ideas represented in the paper? Does the paper and project seriously and throughly address the question? The final draft and project should be highly polished with no misspellings, fragments, run-ons, or grammatical errors.


4 Writing Process and Traits

The grade is based on your ability to explain the process of your search and the product--your question, hypothesis and conclusions. You should revise and follow the writing process (prewrite, draft, revise, revise, conference, revise, edit, publish) and the six traits of writing (ideas, word choice, voice, organization, sentence fluency, conventions). (see writing criteria sheet)


Of course this project develops writing and speaking skills, satisfies (or merely whets) curiosity, builds self-confidence, and makes for good reading.


The research project makes demands on you and requires that you do work at home, but it should be fun and of interest to you.


Enjoy your search.



Subpages (1): interview