This semester you will be researching an American figure of your choosing between the years of 1400 – 1900. Your goal is NOT to repeat, recite, regurgitate, or recopy common information that is already easily accessible through secondary sources such as Wikipedia and textbooks. Rather, as a historian, you will seek to find primary sources that will allow you to develop your own personal commentary and interpretation, create primary and secondary questions to guide your research investigation, and use technology to help you organize information, cite sources, and present your research to a larger audience.
8A I Am Project List
8B I Am Project List
8C I Am Project List
8D I Am Project List
Sample Page

Phase 1: K-W-L Paragraph

Photo by: e-magic
First, we need to take an assessment of the pre-existing knowledge we already have on the figure we are about to research. To do this, we're going to ask ourselves the following questions and record our responses to them.

1. What do I already know about my historical figure?
2. What more do I want to learn?
3. Where can I go to find out more information?

Next, you need to become more familiar with the general life of your historical figure. Complete the "Famous Americans" handout below using information from at least 3 different sources.

Your research in Phase 1 should have given you a general overview of the life of your historical figure. Now take a moment and reflect upon what you have learned up to this point and decide which part of their life you were most interested in or inquisitive about. If you find that there was little in the person’s life to personally motivate you to do further research upon them, then I suggest that you choose another American historical figure and begin the process again at Phase 1 (NOTICE: See Mr. Armstrong to confirm changes to your historical figure first).

Phase 2: Historical Question

Photo by: ksaad
If you are satisfied with your historical American selection after becoming more familiar with them, the next step is to create a good “historical question.” A good historical question is broad enough to keep and maintain your interest, narrow enough so that you can find a persuasive answer in the time you have been allotted, and is complex enough so that it can not be answered with a simple yes or no. Good historical questions also try to explain “why” someone did something.

Phase 3: Primary Sources

Photo by J.A.L.E.X.
Now that we have made ourselves familiar with our historical figure, identified various events that were occurring in American history during the time they were alive, and formulated a primary question that interests us, the next step is to find what primary sources are available that can help us better answer the question we seek to find.

We all know that as information gets told and passed from one person to another, it tends to become less accurate and hence, less trustworthy. Certain details may be left out, false or less important details included, and some details will become more enhanced and imagined. This is why as a Historian, you must make every attempt to find and obtain firsthand accounts of evidence and information so that you may be better able to interpret your own meaning and form your own opinion.

Use the following sites to try and find primary resources related to your subject:

Determine the category under which the primary source you found should be placed (audio, video, visual, document, quote, etc.) and create a under the appropriate category on your Am…” wiki page. See the "Sample Page" for an example.

Phase 4: Secondary Sources

Photo by Caitlin
Finding reliable and accurate secondary sources that will allow you to expand your knowledge and better your ideas is the primary objective of Phase 4. Since we will be conducting a majority of our research from the web, it is important that we pay attention to who is authoring the content we are reading and carefully select the information we choose to use for the purposes of our research. For this phase, you are going to create a list of reliable online secondary sources that provide content you can use to solve your primary historical question.

To assist us in the research phase of our project, we are going to take advantage of online tools such as Diigo, Google Notebook, and Zotero. Learning to use each one of these online tools will help you to better utilize information you find on the web. Once again, it is imperative that you take the time to evaluate your web pages with a critical eye. There is plenty of misinformation on the web that is inaccurate, misconstrued, or purposely false.

Evaluating Internet Sources

Part I
  • Create your own personal Diigo account.
    • Add the Diigo toolbar
    • Place your Diigo username and password into your Google Doc
  • Join the Armstrong-History group.
    • In the search menu, choose "group" from the drop down box and search "Armstrong"
  • Take a moment and search other Diigo community members to see if someone may have already started research on your "I am.." person.
  • Find online secondary sources that can be used to help you and tag them. Use the following tags:
    • "secondarysource"
    • "last name" of your I am person.

Part II
  • Create a section in your Google Notebook for you primary historical question (
  • Begin to record research information in this section that you may be able to support your primary historical question

Phase 5 : Thesis Writing

Thesis Requirements:
  • Cover page
  • 500 word minimum - 1000 word maximum
  • Use of writing skills from English class
  • Varying punctuation & vocabulary, sentence structure, spelling
  • 3 citations (minimum) from a variety of information sources (books, online, etc.)
  • MLA format with in-text citations
  • Bibliography
Check your paper for plagiarism.

Phase 6 : Oral Presentation

The Task

Give a 5-minute presentation of your famous American historical figure to the class. Each presentation WILL include the following:
  1. Introduce your American figure by dressing up as them and acting out that person for 1 minute.
    1. Who is your historical figure (background information).
    2. Why are they significant?
  2. Reasoning for your historical question.
    1. What historical question did you have with regards to him/her?
    2. Why did this question interest you?
  3. State your thesis.
    1. What is your point of view?
  4. Prove your thesis.
    1. How did you solve the question?
    2. What evidence do you have to support your thesis (primary/secondary sources)?
    3. Refutation

Presentation Rubric

In-Class Presentation

For the in-class presentation, you are free to use the “stage” to present the information, as you feel best. This includes having access to the white board, the use of props, and the use of the overhead projector. It is important that in your presentation, you cover each of the four points listed above and that you finish within the 5-minute time limit. Make sure to practice, practice, practice your presentation beforehand and be sure you can come across as being knowledgeable, competent, and confident.

K.I.S. School Presentation

You are the designer. How you choose to set up your display space is entirely up to you. You will be able to use the floor and wall around you to add whatever props or documents you would like to use as long as they are within the allowed space and do not interfere with the display space of another student.