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What does it mean to be an American?

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Assignment for Conducting Credible Online Research

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True research happens when people have questions that are difficult to answer: ones that require thought, information that must be searched out, and consideration of differing viewpoints.

Research is NOT a report on a subject. A report is a product. We will be learning the process of research (see state TEKS) this year and you will have a choice of several products to share what you've learned.

You must make good use of your time in order to complete this project. Research ALWAYS takes longer than you think it will. You have NO time to waste. Keep your calendar handy and consult it often.

Hopefully, as you have studied American literature and history this year, you have been thinking about what it means to be American. Questions that concern us as Americans are addressed in many movies, stories, poems, essays, and nonfiction books. Examples of these questions are listed below.

What really defines an American family?

How does America define its role in the world?

Who and what define women in America ?

How do issues of class define us as Americans?

How much do we need to give up our individualism to live in a democracy?

What is the power of place in creating an American identity?

How does race matter in America ?

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Requirements for Research Unit (Handout # 1)

•  Research Log (70 page spiral notebook) This log will be where you record your research xxxxxquestions, sources as you find them, answer questions, reflect on what you are learning, record interview notes, write your reflective paper, etc.)

• One Finished Product (You may choose to create a PowerPoint presentation, web pages,
xxxx or edited video)

• Bibliography of sources typed in proper MLA format

• Minimum Sources:

6 magazine, newspaper, or journal articles

1 book (Relax—you won't read the entire book.)

1 poem

1 song

1 short story

1 movie

1 interview

Step one

Select one of the broad questions (listed above) around which you will center your research. Write a one-page journal entry in your log about your question. Why does it interest you?
What do you hope to learn? What do you already know about this issue? How does it relate
to you personally?

Once you have written your journal entry, you must generate at least 50 "relevant, interesting, and researchable questions (TEKS 13A)” that you want answered. These must be recorded in your learning log; they will be your second entry. For help coming up with 30 questions, see handout "Learning to Ask the Right Questions." You will also use the INSPIRATION program to create a web of your questions that you will convert to an outline and print out (third entry
in your research log).

Step two

Perform both simple and advanced searches at Google, Teoma, and Vivisimo. Copy and paste a minimum of five promising links from each search engine into a word document and save to server folder. Print out copy to staple in research log.
Select three Web sites you might like to use as sources and complete a thorough evaluation of them, recording results in your research log. Choose one of the Web sites to post to the class discussion board, along with several sentences describing what the reader will find there and why you believe it is trustworthy.

Step three

Discover what sources are available in our library on your topic. You will record your findings in your log. Use the library’s OPAC to find books on your topic; write down titles, authors, and call numbers.
Next, go to the stacks (shelves) and browse through the books in the area that fits your topic (consult the DeweyDecimal list). Write down any additional books you find. (Step 2 will be entry 4 in your research log.) You will make note cards of the information you find from your book(s) you use.
Use online

library data bases to locate a minimum of six articles to read. Save the articles to your server folder. You will highlight and make marginal notes on a printout of one article, as well as give a short summary of it to the class. Staple the printout of the article in your log. More on this step later.

For your other sources, you will record the citation information for each book or article at the top of a new page in your log, along with notes on what you've learned from reading that article.

Step four

Find someone locally that you consider knowledgeable on your issue to interview. Generate at least 20 interview questions for them, conduct the interview and record your notes in your log. You will need to record the interview either on audio or video tape so that you can transcribe it. Read this interviewing guide developed by National Geographic.

Step five

Find a Hollywood movie that deals with your issue. Consult the list of movie titles for your topic. Also check the Internet Movie Database online at www.imdb.com  to find out about the movie’s rating so that you can make an informed choice. Do not choose a movie that you or your parents would consider inappropriate. Rent the movie and watch it, thinking about your research questions while you do. I will give you a handout to guide you on what to record in your log about your movie. You will also write a review of this movie.

Step six

Find a short story, a poem, and a song that address your issue. Read them and complete an analysis of each of them in your log. There is a handout which explains what you must include.

Step seven

Compile and type a bibliography of your sources that you recorded in your log. It must be complete and follow proper MLA format. See handout on MLA format. One copy of your bibliography will be stapled into your log as entry #13.

Step eight

You will write a reflective paper in your log about your research and the process you used. Do not attempt to complete this step until you have found answers to your questions using at least the minimum sources listed above. You will have a handout which explains what must be included in this paper.

Step nine

Think about how you want to share what you’ve learned. You may make a slide show, a website, or an edited video. The laptop computers have the programs you need to make Power Points, videos or websites. The MC grant computers have a more advanced video editing software, as well as Dreamweaver (Web sites).

Step ten

Present your product to the class. You will complete a self-evaluation of your product and your peers will also complete an evaluation after viewing your product.



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