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English 8 Current Culture Research Project: Home

Imagine it is 2077, and a group of 8th graders at Westminster are beginning to discuss their summer reading text. Now imagine that their text is a work you have read recently. What will that text mirror about our current culture of 2017?


Current Culture Research Project

Image result for current culture

"Current Culture." Just Between Us. Just Between Us, 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Current Culture Research Paper

Driving Questions:

How do texts tell stories about the cultural values of their time? How do these stories influence our culture, and what might these stories suggest about our values and beliefs?

Set up:

Imagine it is sixty years from now, and a group of 8th graders at Westminster are beginning to discuss their summer reading text. Now imagine that their text is a work that has been published recently, a text you have “read.” You will look at this text as a way of answering the driving questions mentioned above.

Preparation Steps:

Step 1: Read and evaluate student sample papers. Determine differing qualities in last year’s work based on the writing traits. Gain an understanding of how to and how not to organize this research paper.

Step 2: Watch Mr. Meyer’s screencast to learn about Researching Tips for this project.

  • How to use Current Culture LibGuide links
  • How to use different search terms to yield different results
  • How to review original search results to find the best research for my paper

Step 3: Follow the Directions for Individual Research below
A. Learn about NoodleTools notecards and outline from Ms. Matteson in the GWL.

  • How to organize research data into notecards
  • How to evaluate research sources
  • How to use notecards to make an outline

B. Pick any modern (2000 and beyond) text that you are familiar with. Your text must be AGE appropriate. Your parents will need to approve your choice. (Get letter signed by parents for approval.) Text can be a movie, television show, video game, fiction book, music (album), advertising campaign, Netflix series, broadcasting/social network, blog, podcast. ***You need to pick a famous or popular text so that there will definitely be criticism/commentary about it.

C.  Research your text to decide on two issues presented in your “text.”  According to modern critics, what values does your text reflect about our culture?
NOTE: You must choose four sources to use in your paper. However, you will make notecards for 7-10 sources before you decide on which four are the most useful/fruitful for your paper. You may use more than four in your paper if needed.

D. Use NoodleTools to make notecards regarding your sources. Document the bibliography information, bullet point your notes, and copy verbatim any quotations that you want to use in their entirety. Again, you will have notes from more sources than the required four. I will be monitoring your progress on research days in the library and you will receive a grade for staying on-task.

Step 4:  Write the Research Paper

Consider these questions: What does your text reflect about our culture for someone who is not in it?  What would an 8th grader from sixty years from now think our current culture values based on what is promoted or devalued in your text?  What trends and values would the 8th grader see that hold steady over time?  Why do you think those values hold true or not?

Sample thesis: The Dark Knight discusses the issues of violence to protect the innocent and society’s yearning for an artificial hero.

Note: You must use proper MLA format for the heading, header, and title. You must use parenthetical citations and have a Works Cited page. Just like in your Critical Response Paragraphs, you should use the literary present tense, avoid dead words, and be cognizant of punctuation usage. 

Approximate Due Dates:


Choose Topic                                      

Intro to Research/Notecards                            

Research Days                                                 

Outlining/Writing Day(s)                                            

Seven Notecards Due                                      

Introduction and Topic Sentences Due                                    

Peer Editing of Entire Draft                            

Final Paper Due                                                          


Grading Procedures:

1) Seven Research Notecards               Reading Category                                Counts once

*This includes your notecards with direct quotes, paraphrasing, and connection to ideas.

Completion/Effort Grade

2) Introduction Paragraph + TS’s         Work Habits Category                          Counts once

*This includes a complete draft of the entire paragraph, including attention-grabber, background info, and thesis.

Completion/Effort Grade

3) Peer Editing                                     Writing Category                                 Counts once

*This includes your peer’s paper printed with your four comments about each of the 6 Writing Traits (24 total).

Editing Rubric

4) Final Paper                                      Writing Category                                 Counts as two grades

*This includes the final paper complete with works cited page and citations.

6 Trait Rubric

5) Research                                          Writing Category                                 Counts as two grades

*This include the final paper with works cited page, citations, and notecards.

Research Rubric graded by Mrs. Kaplan/Ms. Matteson

Mr. Meyer's Research Screencast

"The Dark Knight Rises." Graphic. HD Wallpapers. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.

Click Batman to see Mr. Meyer's sreencast on best practices for research for this project.

Contact a Librarian

We are your librarians and we look forward to working with you. We are generally available in our offices for drop-in help before school, during lunch or after school. 

Terri Kaplan
Head Librarian
Addie Matteson


Monday to Thursday
7:30 am - 3:45 pm

7:30 am - 2:45 pm 

Closed weekends and school holidays

Hours subject to change in accordance with the school calendar