Research Projects for High School Students
By Karen S. Poole, Rosary High School, Fullerton CA
Research projects enhance the learning of the student in any subject. Below are some ideas I use when teaching the American Revolution:
(1) "Comparing the American Revolution to the Vietnam War"
As students are learning about the American Revolution in class, have them do research (either individually or in groups of 3 to 4) on the Vietnam War, which they will study later in the school year. There are many similarities between the two conflicts that students can discover. Students should create a chart that compares the two conflicts and delineates what they find. Then, students should write a 5 paragraph essay comparing the American Revolution to the Vietnam War. Essay and chart should be typed, double-spaced. Grading should be based on content and creativity of presentation of chart. Charts may be posted in the classroom for all students to see.
(2) "A Soldier's Journal"
Have students create a journal of a rebel soldier basing their 20 entries on 5 battles of the American Revolution, including: Lexington & Concord, Long Island, Trenton, Monnmouth (N.J.) and Yorktown. Students should include not only facts about each battle and its outcome, but also their thoughts and feelings as soldiers going into battle, about George Washington as a leader and about war in general.
(3) "The Writing of the Declaration of Independence"
Place students into groups of 3 to 4 and have them research the writing of the Declaration of Independence and one of the committee members who took on the challenge, including: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman and, of course, Thomas Jefferson. What were their backgrounds? How did each feel about writing the Declaration? Were they afraid? Have each group present a role play of their subject to the class. Grade on the basis of the following criteria: research notes, script, costume/makeup, role-play presentation (dialect, language, content). Each group should be prepared to answer any questions the class might have.
(4) "Lord Dunmore's Proclamation"
Have students research Lord Dunmore's Proclamation and the Battle of Great Bridge, fought in Virginia in December of 1775. Then, have students imagine they are slaves working hard for their masters night and day. After examining the pros and cons of Lord Dunmore's invitation, have students write a 5 paragraph essay on why they would or would not choose to fight in "Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment". Then, have students take sides in a classroom debate on the issue and debrief.
(5) "The Boston Gazette"
In groups of 5 to 6, have students research the Stamp Act (1765), the Boston Massacre (1770) and the Boston Tea Party (1773). Then, have each group prepare a front page news page entitled The Boston Gazette. They should include facts about the story, eyewitness accounts, political cartoons relating to the event, opinion statements and a poem or song, either published or original. The front page should be made from posterboard, and its design and implementation should be left to the group and its imagination. These can then be displayed in class and referred to during class discussions.
(6) "Seeds of Revolution"
Using their textbooks, have students research the following events and activities that inspired the American Revolution:
Navigation Acts (1651) Enumerated Commodities Act (1660) Staple Act (1663) Writs of Assistance Proclamation of 1763 Sugar Act (1764) Currency Act (1764) Stamp Act (1765) Townshend Acts (1767) Boston Massacre (1770) Committees of Correspondence (1772) Boston Tea Party (1773) Intolerable Acts (1774) Continental Congress (1774) Committees of Safety(1775)