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Recycled Research Project: Assignment Prompt

Cartoon image of Professor Walker with the words "Research Time" positioned above her head.

The last essay of the semester is a RESEARCH assignment where you will pick one of the two essays you have written for this course (Wild Mind or Book of Joy) and develop it with RESEARCH.  Yep, that's right, it feels a little like cheating.  But, guess what? It's not because YOU already did the work.  Now we'll take the learning fun to a whole new level by exploring the subjects you are interested in learning more about and by making connections to the real world. The objective of this research project is for you to learn to gather research from a variety of places and use it to develop and deepen your thinking process in writing. As Goldberg says, go further


TO DO (please bust out your journal and scribble some notes in it while reading this research project prompt)

  • Pick essay #1 on Wild Mind or essay #2 on The Book of Joy
  • Read over the essay you picked & practice the Talking to the Text OR pointing technique with it.  This is where you circle or highlight lines or ideas from your writing that stand out to you. See provided image/sample.
  • Find a variety of sources that are in conversation with each other or are discussing your topic(s) from various perspectives (film, newspaper, book, journal, blog, YouTube, etc.)
  • Build and deepen your conversation with your source, like to define concepts or offer alternative views (from the bible from a religious/spiritual perspective, scientific perspective, artistic perspective, etc.
  • Revise your old THESIS to be updated with your new information.  For example, if your thesis was "Forgiveness is a God given emotion that can heal us in miraculous ways".  Then, after doing some more research, you might re-write it to say: Forgiveness is a God given emotion that can heal us in miraculous ways, it can enhance family relationships and help us to break dysfunctional family patterns, and it can also teach us to cultivate compassion in our lives for the benefit of all. 
  • Get your readers thinking about and engaged in the conversation that unfolds by sharing interesting facts and information from a variety of sources.

TO DO for this discussion:

1.)  Pick either your essay #1 on Wild Mind or essay #2 on The Book of Joy to recycle for your research project.

2.)  Read over the essay you picked & practice the Talking to the Text OR pointing technique with it.  This is where you circle or highlight golden lines or ideas from your writing that stand out to you and write ideas and questions in the margins. See provided image/samples below.

3.)  POST a picture of you talking to the text of your essay here in this discussion

4.)  Look at classmate's pictures of talking to the text and respond with comments about what you notice.  What things did they circle or what questions did they ask?  What got you thinking in response to their picture annotation post? What do you find interesting? What would you explore more if that was your essay? Help your friend generate more ideas and meaning together.

Essay Formatting Options

For your recycled research essay, you have options on how to format it.  The first is the traditional research essay format.  The second is the research essay with headings or sections.  Please choose whichever one makes sense to you and go with the flow. 

  • Option 1--you will write a traditional 6-8 page research essay on a problem with at least 7 sources. This essay would include an Introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Each paragraph will connect to the one before and after it with transitions and flow. 
  • Option 2—Similar to above, except you will write a research essay following sections 1-5 below (or one with headings). It still has 7 sources, will be 6-8 pages long and each section is labeled or given a heading.

1.)  Introduction: An introductory paragraph where you share the problem/topic and discuss it briefly to define or explain it to your reader.

2.)  Thesis: a thesis paragraph set up template for your essay 

3.)  Summaries of research sources: a paragraph summary for EACH of your sources using TSIS verbs and templates for sandwiching quotes (at least two quotes per source).

4.)  Conclusion: the result of your findings in a paragraph or two where you discuss the possible solutions and where we can go from here.  Please leave us with something to think about and connect back to your so what and who cares.

5.)  Works cited: a works cited page with your sources cited properly in MLA format in alphabetical order

GRADING Checklist 

Whichever path you choose, I am still looking for the following when I grade it:

  • 6-8 FULL pages (not including the works cited page)
  • a works cited page with your sources listed alphabetically in proper MLA format
  • a solid, thoughtful THESIS statement and an introductory paragraph or two that sets up the conversation on your problem.
  • 4-6 outside sources sources (a variety of them and a counter point if needed)
  • your ability to summarize each source using power verbs and summary moves (X argues, X asserts, X claims, X points out, etc.)