Lesson of the Day: The Great Depression and Of Mice and Men Research

For an English teacher, there are few things more annoying and soul-breaking than assigning and working on and grading research papers written by 9th graders. I say this only because I was once rushed to the hospital with intense eye pain after reading 23 research papers one afternoon. The doctor claimed my eyes appeared as though they had been raked by a salad fork repeatedly and doused with rubbing alcohol.

There had to be a better way to teach research.

Here’s a basic research assignment for The Great Depression and Of Mice and Men.

This simplified research assignment covers quite a few Common Core Standards.

  • RI.9-10. – Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.
  • NV 4.12.4 – Analyze the influence of historical events and culture on an author’s work.
  • W.9-10.7 – Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  • W.9-10.8 – Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
  • SL.9-10.1 – Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • SL 9-12. 2 – Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

Don’t do anything until you download this Research Template

Let’s get some research done.

  1. Instruct kids to sign up for 3 resources. Resources can be found here and here or you can create your own page.
  2. Hand out the research template. I recommend going double-sided and giving each student two. I recommend watching a video in class and having students fill out one side of one of the research templates for practice. You can watch one of the short videos or you can show a full length documentary on The Great Depression. I strongly recommend America: The Story of Us, Episode 10. It’s available on Amazon Instant Video.
  3. The research can be done at home or in a computer lab. You know what will work best for your class. Do that.
  4. On the day the assignment is due, conduct a class discussion based on the research. Use this discussion rubric as part of the assessment.
  5. Collect the research templates.
  6. This can be the end of the research assignment or you can use it as a launching spot for an actual research paper. Good luck.
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