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Laurel School

Upper School: English 9: This I Believe Project

Assignment Description

What is “This I Believe”?

The “This I Believe” project is a chance for you to consider what issues are important to you and learn more about these issues.  Over the next few weeks, you will choose a topic that is meaningful to you.  Next, you will thoroughly research your topic.  Finally, you will craft a personal essay and speech that explain the main facets of your topic and indicate your position.  Your speech should be persuasive – your job is to convince your classmates that your position is the correct one!

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a Topic

Your “This I Believe” topic should have local, national, or international significance.  In addition, it must be debatable – for example, one cannot debate “I love animals”; however, one can debate “Vegetarianism is a better option for those who love animals.”  Pick a topic that allows you to choose a side.


Your topic should be something you’re deeply interested in.  It is also important that you be eager to learn more about your selected topic.  Attached is a list of topics to consider from the Opposing Viewpoints in Context site, which can be found on the Crile Library resources page.


You must choose your topic by Monday, December 1st. I recommend choosing a strong topic that interests you from the very beginning.  Spend some time discussing potential topics with your family and friends over Thanksgiving break. Do research to see what sources are available.  Explore potential stands you might have on a specific topic.  Do not choose a topic with the assumption that you’ll be able to easily change at a later point in the process.

Research Process

The Research Process

As you research, you will use NoodleTools to take notes from each source.  This is non-negotiable – note taking and accurate paraphrasing are essential skills to develop in ninth grade.  NoodleTools makes note taking and citing easy and accurate.


You must have at least 5 sources cited on your Works Cited page.  The type of source can vary; however, it is important that you use reliable and trustworthy sources.  This means, of course, no Wikipedia!  In addition, think about bias as you find strong sources.  We will work with Ms. Rosebrock-Hayes throughout the research process.  She will spend some time with us at the beginning of class to help us learn to use Crile’s extensive online sources.


Personal Essay Component

Your research paper should explain, in detail, the main issues surrounding your topic.  It should also articulate your stance on your topic.


Persuasive Speech Component

Your speech should be an adaptation of your research paper.  It should persuade your reader to take your side on the topic you’re covering.  You must also create a visual aid to accompany your speech.  This can be a 2 or 3D object that helps other better understand your topic or stance.



November/December – Choose a “This I Believe Topic.”  Conference with Ms. Moury about the appropriateness of your topic and discuss your stance.  Your topic is due by December 1st.


January/February –  Complete thorough research on your topic.  You should have 5 – 7 sources, including newspaper articles, websites, and books.  An annotated bibliography is due Friday, February 6.  All NoodleTools notecards are due Monday, February 23rd.


March/April – Write your personal essay.  Transform this essay into a speech.  Create a visual aide to assist you when you give your speech.  A rough draft of your research paper is due Thursday, March 12thA final draft of your research paper is due Monday, April 6th.


May – Present your speech in front of your class.  Speeches will take place from May 11 – 15, 2015. 


Step 1: Proposing Your Topic

The first step on your “This I Believe” journey is to craft a proposal for your topic.  Your proposal must include three elements:

  1. A brief overview of your topic.
  2. Your personal stance on your topic.
  3. A short explanation of why you chose this particular topic.
  4. At least two sources you’ve already found that are pertinent and useful to your topic.

This proposal is due Monday, December 1st.

Possible Topics