Beyond the term paper- alternative research paper

Students can acquire subject knowledge and develop information-management skills through many creative activities.  These activities may foster practical and transferable skills students should develop using technology.  The following is a list of some enriching assignment ideas for classes.  For any research products, consider how technologies like videotape, desktop publishing, or multimedia authoring might enhance students' communication of the knowledge they have gained.
  1. Annotated Bibliography:  Students search for a variety of materials on their topic and evaluate them for relevance, scope, point of view, and credentials of the author.  Their bibliographies may be useful for future researchers.

  2. Multimedia stack:  Students prepare interactive resumés for historical figures or interactive travel brochures advertising a country or period in time.

  3. Newsletter:  Using a desktop publishing program, students set their newsletters in another time or place.  They create classified ads, theater and book reviews, sports stories, and business information.  This is a perfect collaborative project.

  4. Debate:  Choosing two historic figures and an issue, students "duke it out."  Videotape the debate for later discussion.

  5. Brochure:  Using a desktop publishing program, students create three- or four-fold flyers to advertise a product they have developed or a place they have researched.

  6. Resumé:  Using a desktop publishing program, students creat professional-looking resumés for a famous person and attach a cover letter.  They might simulate interviews of the historical figure applying for a job at a university or business.  Students present the resumés and "sell" their characters.

  7. Database:  Students collect and organize facts on any topic with an eye toward comparing information for patterns.  They create a chart or graph to illustrate conclusions.  For example, the topic of Italian Renaissance artists could be presented through charts to compare style, training, colors used, and subjects of paintings.

  8. Family tree:  Students design a tree for a character in a novel.  They can make the boxes large enough for illustrations and character descriptions.

  9. Press conference with famous people of a time period:  Select a group of famous people to be interviewed and have the bulk of the class prepare questions.  Students being interviewed should prepare well enough to imagine what their famous person might have said.

  10. Trip itinerary:  Students studying countries or states prepare a detailed itinerary listing sites of importance, what to pack, money exchange, temperature for the season, where to stay, how to get from place to place, special events, etc.

  11. Detailed diary entry:  For a fictional or historical character, students imagine what a real day would be like and include interaction and quotes from family and friends.

  12. Mock trial for a controversial historical figure:  Bring Napoleon, Hitler, Socrates, Lee Harvey Oswald, or Richard Nixon in front of a well-prepared class made up of jurors, attorneys, witnesses, and a judge.

  13. Board game:  Let an event in history or a novel inspire a truly playable game.  Host an hour of game playing in the classroom as your evaluation.

  14. Web home page:  Web pages can advertise fictitious businesses, invented products, or present electronic resumés.

  15. Visit by a person in history to the school (ala Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure):  Students plan an entire visiting day and record the visitor's reactions to gym, lunch, your classes, the mall, etc.

  16. A day in the life of plant/machine/disease/person:  Students prepare an essay or speech in first person to give the class a better idea of the history and daily life of the AIDS virus, for instance.

  17. Awards event:  Students plan a science fair for famous scientists; Grammy awards for classical musicians.  Students write detailed acceptance speeches and plan the entertainment.

  18. Dinner party:  Students invite people from a particular period and plan what to serve and who will sit next to whom.

  19. Historic experience simulation:  Try a Civil War battle or a day at Ellis Island.  Assign each student a role.

  20. Skit:  Stuidents represent a typical day at a job for a career project or a major historical event.

  21. Postage stamp for a person or event in history:  Students attach the desktop-published stamp design to a three-paragraph essay describing why the subject was important enough to deserve a commemorative stamp.

  22. Rap song:  Students use rap to explain a concept or event.

  23. Picture book:  Students explain a concept or event through pictures and captions.

  24. Phone message or telegram:  Students write a message from one historic character to his or her spouse or other contemporary about an important event.

  25. Interview an actual person by phone, email, or in person:  One way to find an expert is to find an appropriate listserv or mentor on the Internet.  Students locate a good home page and email its Webmaster.

  26. CD or album cover:  Students design a cover to represent an event and plan the songs with descriptions.  They decide who would be the producer and musicians.

  27. Baseball card:  For a historical figure, students prepare a card-like poster including statistics and quotes, and use the border effectively.

  28. Crossword puzzle or word search:  Students use related vocabulary.

  29. Petition:  Students lobby for or against an issue they have researched.

  30. "This is your life" television show:  Students videotape or enact the show complete with guests, illustrations, and special surprises.

  31. Epitaph and obituary or eulogy:  Focusing on a person in history, students write epitaphs for tombstones, write newspaper obituaries, or deliver eulogies.

  32. Recipe:  What ingredients and conditions would students need to create an American Revolution?  How would they prepare and cook their recipes?

  33. Photograph album:  Students label all the pictures in their albums and share personal anecdotes with the class.  Could be creatively extended to be the album of a disease, animal, or invention.

  34. Political cartoon:  Students satirize a political or historic person or event.

  35. Monologue:  More dramatic students may opt to create a scene from the life of a famous person or a person caught up in an event.

  36. Want ad:  Students compose an ad requesting personnel to solve a problem in history.

  37. Time line:  Making a wall-sized, annotated, and illustrated time line, students include important quotes.

  38. Soap opera based on a historical event:  Students can add lots of drama and interesting characters.

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