English Graduation Project Ideas
By Martha Mendenhall,
One of the most important factors to access in the graduating high school English student is his/her ability to complete a research paper. As Susan Wise Bauer comments on the blog called The Well-Trained Mind, "[t]he research paper isn't a dreadful rite of passage demanded of all high school English students. Rather, it's a tool for the student to use as he explores one of the content areas of the curriculum --- something he's interested in." With this in mind, teachers should encourage their seniors to create relevant and meaningful research topics that allow them to showcase the research skills learned throughout their school career.
Which College or University is the Right Fit?
Students preparing to graduate from high school spend much of their time considering their post-graduation options. Have your class engage in a research project that helps them choose the right college or university. Students can use the resources available through the College Board or their state equivalent agency (The College Foundation in North Carolina, for example). These websites aim to assist students in identifying the distinguishing aspects of their goals, background and personality to identify a few good college fits. Students can then follow through and research each recommendation in more detail, arriving at one or two top options as the college(s) of their choice.
The History of a Hobby
Your students likely have hobbies in which they are enthusiastic participants: horseback riding, performing in musical theater, sewing, playing video/computer games and collecting any sort of object, for example. Have them research their passion for their English graduation project.They could investigate the activity's history and development, analyzing the changes their hobby has undergone over time. This project provides a perfect opportunity to combine writing with an oral presentation, with an in-class demonstration (when appropriate) of the student's hobby.
High school English students often already have a well-developed writing talent in fiction, poetry or drama. Have your students choose a novel, short story, group of poems, play or author from any of these genres to use as the jumping-off point for creating their own "homage" piece of writing. If a student read "Waiting For Godot" and was smitten by Beckett's style, for example, have him create his own short play using Beckett as the model. Students become enamored of all sorts of writers -- Shakespeare, Hemingway, Twain and Plath, to name a few -- and using the work of a famous author as a model can afford each student opportunity to analyze a chosen work of literature critically and exercise her own creative talents.
The senior year is an ideal time for students to look back on the lessons they have learned about coping with any learning differences they might have faced and what skills or tools proved effective.Students with dyslexia or ADHD can analyze the strategies they attempted and determine which of these proved effective. Students can broaden their investigation to take into account the statistics concerning a learning difference and the strategies that, statistically, have proven most effective. Combining the general with the personal can give these students a sense of their "place" in the larger scheme of education.