Research Project Assignment Sheet Middle School


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Students will use scaffolding to research and organize information for writing a research paper. A research paper scaffold provides students with clear support for writing expository papers that include a question (problem), literature review, analysis, methodology for original research, results, conclusion, and references. Students examine informational text, use an inquiry-based approach, and practice genre-specific strategies for expository writing. Depending on the goals of the assignment, students may work collaboratively or as individuals. A student-written paper about color psychology provides an authentic model of a scaffold and the corresponding finished paper. The research paper scaffold is designed to be completed during seven or eight sessions over the course of four to six weeks.

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O'Day, S. (2006) Setting the stage for creative writing: Plot scaffolds for beginning and intermediate writers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

  • Research paper scaffolding provides a temporary linguistic tool to assist students as they organize their expository writing. Scaffolding assists students in moving to levels of language performance they might be unable to obtain without this support.

  • An instructional scaffold essentially changes the role of the teacher from that of giver of knowledge to leader in inquiry. This relationship encourages creative intelligence on the part of both teacher and student, which in turn may broaden the notion of literacy so as to include more learning styles.

  • An instructional scaffold is useful for expository writing because of its basis in problem solving, ownership, appropriateness, support, collaboration, and internalization. It allows students to start where they are comfortable, and provides a genre-based structure for organizing creative ideas.


Biancarosa, G., and Snow, C. E. (2004.) Reading next-A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

  • In order for students to take ownership of knowledge, they must learn to rework raw information, use details and facts, and write.

  • Teaching writing should involve direct, explicit comprehension instruction, effective instructional principles embedded in content, motivation and self-directed learning, and text-based collaborative learning to improve middle school and high school literacy.

  • Expository writing, because its organizational structure is rooted in classical rhetoric, needs to be taught.

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Product Description

Get your students excited about the college research process with this creative pennant project. Students select a college and conduct research about the school, using the research guide. Then, they use the information to create a pennant which can be displayed in the classroom or hallway.

I used 12x18 pieces of white poster board, and made one template for students to use as their pennant. Students then cut their own pennants, illustrating them with their college's logo and other required information. The pennants were then displayed in the hallway during the semester. It was a great way for students to begin the college research process and to learn about a variety of different colleges from the display. I used this project with my high school juniors, but it would easily work for younger grades, including middle school.

This bundle includes the assignment sheet, rubric, research guide, and pictures of sample student work. Both Word and PDF files are included.

Want more resources to help your students with the college process? Check out my bundle that INCLUDES this project:
College Application Essay, Recommendation Letters, Research Project BUNDLE

After students have researched colleges, have them research careers and majors using this fun, creative project:
Career Research Project with Worksheets and Sample

Help prepare your students for college-level writing and analysis with this product:
Common Core Text Analysis Passages and Writing Template

File updated 5/2016

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