Skip to Main Content

Laurel School

Upper School: English 10: English 10 Research Topics


Research: Practice, Process, Present 

Due: Friday 5/26 (60 pts)


This project will come out of an idea or question that has been raised for you during any one of the units we studied in class this year. Though there will be a written component for this project, the focus will be on the initial steps of research (reading widely, engaging with new ideas, narrowing a focus, designing a good question, making connections) rather than on the full-blown paper that typically completes research work.


By zeroing in on these early steps, you’ll gain familiarity and comfort with a part of the research process that is abstract, nuanced, and complex–and that is often passed over in the rush to find sources, take notes, outline, and produce a final paper. Taking the time to let an idea emerge, reading widely in order to engage your curiosity rather than to find support for something you’re already looking for–this is the research version of “seeing rather than looking” (in Mary Coin terms), making space for multiple perspectives and truths rather than reinforcing what you already expect to find. 


In order to accomplish all this, you’ll follow several steps. Each major step is outlined below, and you’ll get detailed instructions that go along with the steps in separate handouts. This, though, is your big-picture checklist to help you make sure you’ve done all the major required pieces.

  • STEP 1: Browse resources

  • STEP 2: Create a focus question (5 points)

  • STEP 3: Locate and read 3 articles/essays

  • STEP 4: Create works cited page (10 points)

    • STEP 4B, HONORS ONLY: Annotated Bibliography 

  • STEP 5: Write “Class Connections” response (20 points)

  • STEP 6: Write “They Say/I Say” page (20 points)

  • STEP 7: Present to the class 

    • STEP 7B: Respond to peers’ presentations (5 points)





Refer to the LibGuide Ms. Rosebrock-Hayes has created for this project. Begin using the approved websites and databases to read around in a variety of areas - don’t limit yourself to one topic or textual connection just yet. 




Look over the suggested topics below for each unit. Choose one of these or propose your own topic to build a focus question around.


Suggested Questions (starting point only; pitch me yours if you have another!)


From Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?

  1. How are events referenced in the memoir still impacting the city and its surrounding suburbs today? (choose one - for example, Black Nationalist movements, race relations and uprisings in the 1960s and 70s, busing, housing)

  2. What educational opportunities are available in NE Ohio (public and private)? To whom are those opportunities open? How might it be useful to recognize and distinguish between formal and informal education? What might that help us understand in terms of:

  1. value? 

  2. power? 

  3. institution? 

  4. Resistance?

From the poetry unit:

  1. How have American poets used poetry as a vehicle to address issues of identity and/or social justice? (narrow your focus to a group of poets from a particular poetic tradition, or a group linked by a common purpose - like our national Poet Laureates, or poets writing with a focus on ethnic or religious or racial issues)


From The Heroic Slave:

  1. The role Cleveland played in the Underground Railroad, including its legacy today.

  2. Frederick Douglass’s contributions to the abolitionist movement (his relationship with white abolitionists, with Black enslaved and liberated people)

  3. The connection between historical events and their fictionalizations (as with Madison Washington)

  4. Harriet Jacobs’ contributions to abolitionism (the role of gender, Jacobs’ life after liberation, the overall impact of her memoir)

From Bread Givers/Immigrant Experiences

  1. Immigrant voices and communities right here in Cleveland (choose one area of focus - an ethnic or racial identity, for example, or a region of the city)

  2. How does the fictionalized depiction of New York Jewish immigration experiences in the novel compare and contrast with nonfiction accounts from the same time period (1920s) in New York and/or in other major American cities?

From Native American Voices

  1. How do visual images of Native Americans and Native life may perpetuate, comment on, and/or push back against mainstream assumptions about Native Americans?

  2. Native American representations in popular culture and media

  3. The history of Native American experiences in NE Ohio specifically 

From Mary Coin

  1. The impact of “Migrant Mother” when it was first published (Dorothea Lange’s career after)

  2. Choose another iconic American photo and research it - who took it? What is the story behind it? What was it intended to convey? How did it land originally, and how (if at all) has its interpretation changed over time?

  3. The ethics of photography (consider specific communities, political angles, etc)

***Once you’ve articulated your focus question, take the following steps:

  • Consider how your question relates to ideas we have already begun to explore and/or texts we have already read

  • Consider how researching your question will extend your learning - what are you hoping to find out? Why?

  • Write a short, ½ page, double spaced paragraph, explaining your focus, your central question, any sub-questions that you want to further explore, and sharing why you want to learn about this particular topic

Due: end of class, Thursday, 5/11 (5 pts)