One rite of passage for seniors is the dreaded research paper/project. My district has minimum requirements for this at present, but the mode of writing does not meet CCSS in that it is an expository essay rather than an argumentative essay. For that reason, I elevate the classroom requirement to the level of argument.
Moreover, the district--to meet state requirements--also requires a presentation to accompany the project. Rather than use class time for the presentation, I organize a Senior Project Presentation Night and invite parents and community members. I require seniors to use a Pecha Kucha format, which is a Power Point with 20 slides set to a 20 second time for each slide.
I introduce students to the project and the requirements in the first lesson of the unit. Additionally, I give students two options for the classroom requirements: a traditional argumentative essay or a multigenre research project.
We begin with the foundation, the argumentative essay. For two weeks, our attention is focused on the research unit and the basic argumentative essay. Later, I'll teach additional lessons that focus on using the argument to construct a multigenre research project, which essentially gives a creative twist to the traditional research paper.
In today's lesson, we do the following:
Although I don't use it for this lesson, I do distribute Check Sheet to students so that they know the additional requirements for the project, including the specific format their presentations will take and the additional requirements for the multigenre option.
To introduce students to the senior project and both the district and class requirements, I show a Pecha Kucha I created: Senior Project Paper & Presentation.pptx.This both explains and models the presentation format. This year I recorded my presentation:
After the presentation, I tell students that they should not be afraid of the Pecha Kucha format. To help them understand this, I remind them that they have already created Power Point presentation. I Pecha Kucha is a Ppt. It has 20 slides. The presenter shows each slide for 20 seconds. They want to know how that happens. The Ppt. is on a timer set at :20 (20 seconds). It is a chronological presentation based on the essay students write.
To introduce students to the traditional research paper and district requirements, I direct them to the Senior Project Handbook on my district's website: Senior Project Handbook May 2012 (3).pdf. I tell students that they can print copies for themselves, but i do give them copies of the check sheet from the project.
Students know what the traditional research paper looks like. They have more difficulty understanding the multigenre project. To assist them, I show them some projects on the internet that Tom Romano has posted on his website. Tom Romano is the creator of the multigenre format and the writer of Blending Genres and Fearless Writing.
The multigenre project doesn't have to be a research project, as the examples on Tom's page show, but within my district and state, students must meet some minimum requirements. Thus, I have adapted Tom's approach so that it functions as a creative project within the parameters of the traditional argumentative research paper.
Additionally, I show students a couple of projects from previous classes. These are hard copies, but as technology evolves and becomes increasingly easy to use, so do the creative options students have.
*In the next lesson I provide students the Check Sheet that lists all the project requirements and which I'm including here for informational purposes as distributing it to students on the day the assignment is introduced is certainly an option.
**In a subsequent lesson, I'll present specifics about the multigenre option in more detail.
To assist students in understanding both how to choose a topic and how to narrow a topic, I present a Power Point that addresses these issues: Choosing and Narrowing a Topic.pptx.
The slide on stasis is difficult for students to understand. It helps to explain it w/ a metaphor. For example, two boxers in the ring clash w/ one another. Stasis is the point at which there is a clash, a point of disagreement.
An example of trivial topics includes questions of taste. For example, whether or not one thinks skiing is better than snowboarding is a matter of taste. Topics advocating a belief in a conspiracy theory is a trivial topic for several reasons: These rarely have reliable (credible) research available; they reside in the realm of hypotheticals. I tell students we're not channeling our inner Oliver Stone, so I want topics that elevate our knowledge rather than diminish or trivialize it.