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Senior Project Guide




     Created and compiled by
      Karen Cusolito, NBCT
         September 2009
                       TABLE OF CONTENTS

                       ADVISORY GUIDE
                    GRADE 12 SENIOR PROJECT

Part 1       Welcome to Your Senior Project                     Page

     1.   Do It Yourself: The Ultimate Independent Project……………….. 1
     2.   Senior Project Speak: A Vocabulary List………………………… 2
     3.   I Need Help: Getting the Support You Need…………...………… 3
     4.   FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions (and answers)………………..4

Part 2       Your Senior Project Letter of Intent               Page
     1.   I Need a Topic…………………………………………………….5
     2.   Breaking Down the Letter of Intent………………………………6
     3.   Letter of Intent Format……………………………………………7
     4.   Sample Letter……………………………………………………..8

Part 3       Your Research Paper                                Page
     1. Research Paper Guidelines………………………………………….9
     2. Guide to Sources, References, Work Cited Page………………….10
     3. Research Paper Format Guidelines………………………………..11
     4. Avoiding Plagiarism from Bedford/St. Martin’s…………… ……12
     5. Senior Paper Rubric……………………………………………….13

Part 4       Your Senior Product                                Page
     1. 20 Hour Time Sheet…..…………………………………………...14
     2. Senior Product Rubric…………………………………………….1.5

Part 5       Your Senior Presentation                           Page
     1. Senior Presentation Guidelines……………………………………16

Part 6       Consent Form                                       Page
     1. Senior Project Consent Form……………………………………...17
                     PART I: INTRODUCTION
DIY: Do It Yourself (The Ultimate Independent Project)
For the past 11 years of school, teachers have probably told you what to
write about, what to create, what to tell the class about. Have you ever
wanted to pursue what interests you? Now you can.

Your Senior Project is completed as part of the curriculum in Expository
Composition, that is, writing that explains. Your English teacher will guide
along the way, but the most important decisions will be your own. You will
choose a topic, design a product, find a mentor.

If you choose a topic you are truly excited about, your Senior Project can be
fun, exciting and challenging. If you choose a topic that doesn’t really
appeal to you, your Senior Project will be boring, stressful and difficult.
Students are encouraged to select topics that accomplish one or more of the

   maintain interest and enthusiasm
   lend themselves to active participation
   demonstrate problem solving
   stretch the student intellectually
   solve a community problem
   relate to a societal issue
   involve a volunteer work
   connect across the curriculum
   relate to a future career

The Senior Project acts as a bridge between high school and college and/or a
career. Each student is expected to write a research paper on a chosen topic
and apply the knowledge they gain in a 20-hour independent project. At the
end of the semester, students present what they learned to a panel of judges
and turn in a portfolio of work to their teacher.

The following pages are designed to guide you through the Senior Project,
one that will make you say, “Finally, a chance to do this,” instead of “I guess
this will work.”
                                                                  Page 1
           Senior Project Speak: A Vocabulary List
Some of the following terms may be new; some you may already be
familiar with. Let’s take a look.

Annotated Work Cited Page: a list of sources you used, and how you
used them. (How you used them makes it an annotated Work Cited Page)

Citation: shows the reader where you got your information

Evidence of Research: notes taken from your sources on note cards, to
be available any time your English teacher requires

Fifth-year Senior: what you will be if you don’t complete your project!

Letter of Intent: a business format letter that describes your Senior

Mentor: an adult with expertise in your area of research who helps you
through the rough patches (this does not include friends or relatives)

MLA Style: Modern Language Association is the style used in college
English papers

Plagiarism: intentionally or unintentionally using the words or ideas of
another as your own. This occurs when you fail to cite your sources
properly, or worse, cut and paste from the Internet.

Portfolio: consists of your research paper, 20-hour project log,
presentation evaluations and any other artifacts you wish to include

Research Paper: a 7-10 page paper, analytical or argumentative in

Senior Presentation: a 7-10 minute oral presentation that allows you
to explain what you learned to an audience of interested adults and

Senior Product: a hands-on learning experience that you design and
spend 20 hours outside of the classroom physically learning about your

Time Log: where you keep track of the hours spent on your Senior Product

                                                                     Page 2

             I Need Help: Getting the Support You Need
The many tasks associated with the Senior Project may seem daunting, but
there are many people at Hollywood High School who are willing to assist
you. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help.

    You advisory teacher may have ideas about finding a mentor or
     researching your topic. Your advisory teacher will also regularly
     check on your progress.
    Your mentor is a valuable asset. Ask for guidance when you get stuck,
     but don’t overwhelm him or her or you run the risk of becoming a
    The school media specialist (also known as the librarian) can also help
     you find information for your research.
    Other teachers and staff, particularly within your Small Learning
     Community, may be a source of ideas for finding mentors, researching
     topics or preparing for presentations.
    Your family members may also provide a new set of eyes for looking
     at your project. Be sure to let them know what you are doing.
    After-school tutoring may be available. Stay tuned to announcements,
     flyers and the school bulletin for updates.

While there are may people available to help you, it is ultimately your
responsibility to meet deadlines and complete tasks as required by your
                                                                       Page 3

               FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Senior Project required?
Yes, every senior at Hollywood High School needs to complete a Senior
Project in order to graduate. Those enrolled in AP English Literature will
complete their project after the AP Exam is over in May.

Why should I want to do a Senior Project?
This is your chance to become an expert in something that you are curious
about. Every Senior Project includes a research paper, a product (a self-
designed application of what you’ve learned from your research paper) and a
presentation (a chance to share your experience with others).

Where do I start?
You start in your Expository Composition class (English 12A) under your
teacher’s instructions. You may do some brainstorming activities in class or
for homework. Once you’ve firmly decided on a topic, you will write a
Letter of Intent, a business-format letter that outlines your plans. The
following pages include details and an example to get you started.

When will I find the time?
We know seniors are busy with school, sports, jobs, and other
extracurricular activities. That’s why time management is key. Your English
teacher may give you calendar copies for you to keep track of deadlines, or
you may use your agenda issued in advisory class.

What if I fall behind?
The best way to keep up is to attend class every day. If you are out of school
sick and find yourself struggling to keep up, talk to your English teacher.
You may be able to catch up during your advisory or after-school tutoring.
I still have questions. Who can I ask? If your English teacher is not
available, you can ask your advisory teacher or your guidance counselor. If
they don’t know the answer, ask them if they can find out.
                                                                      Page 4

                  PART 2 SELECTING A TOPIC

Selecting a topic

Answering the following questions will help you
select a topic for your Senior Project:

    What are your goals in life?
    What careers are you interested in pursuing?
    What political issues do you feel strongly about?
    What changes would you like to see in your community, country, or
     the world?
    What organizations interest you?
    What are your talents and hobbies?

Still unsure about a topic? Trust your interests and passions. If you had one
million dollars, what would you do with it? Now downsize that into
something that would work for your Senior Project. Your English teacher
can help you narrow your topic.

Sample Paper/Projects

Creationism vs Evolution/Presented findings to six biology classes
Musical arranging/Wrote original song for an orchestra
Funding techniques used for charities/Raised $6,000 for Make a Wish
Feminism in the 21st Century/Started a feminist club on campus
Evaluation of running as a form of physical conditioning/Completed a
The success of Latinos in LA politics/Campaign for a local Latino politician.
The impact of pesticides on vegetables/Plant and harvest an organic garden.

                                                                           Page 5

                Breaking Down the Letter of Intent*

Paragraph 1:        Describe the general area of interest and why you have
                    chosen this area. Explain what you already know or have
                    accomplished in this area.
                    Explain why you are interested in this topic. Do you
                    have any experience related to this topic? If your
                    experience is extensive then this might not be a good
                    topic for you.

Paragraph 2:         Include the specific research your paper will focus on
                     some of the ideas you hope to include and what will
                     be possible resources.
                     How will you learn more about this top and what will
                    your paper focus on? What questions do you want to
                     answer as you complete this paper? What sources will
                     you use (books, articles, interviews, websites, etc)?

Paragraph 3:        Begin with a transitional sentence showing the relation-
                    ship between your paper and your product. Then de-
                    scribe your product, who’s involved, potential costs,
                    potential time spent and possible resources.
                    How will the research you do on your paper relate to
                    creating your product? List any supplies and possible
                    people that you will need help from. Will creating this
                    product challenge you?

Paragraph 4:        Explain your understanding of plagiarism and the reper-
                    cussions of such an act.
                    Describe plagiarism in your own words and vow that you
                      will not plagiarize!

*Adapted from Santee Education Complex Senior Project Student Survival Guide
                                                                           Page 6
                            Letter of Intent Format
Your Street address
Your City, State, Zip
Today’s Date

Senior Project Committee Member
School Street address
School City, State, Zip

Dear Senior Project Committee Member:

Paragraph 1:          Describe the general area of interest, for example:
                      history, music, art, and why you have chosen this
                      area. Explain what you already know or have
                      accomplished in this area.

Paragraph 2:          Include the specific research your paper will focus on,
                      some of the ideas you hope to include and what will
                      be possible resources.

Paragraph 3:          Begin with a transitional sentence showing the relation-
                      ship between your paper and your product. Describe
                      your product, who’s involved, potential costs, potential
                      time spent, and possible resources.

Paragraph 4:          Explain your understanding of plagiarism and the reper-
                      cussions of such an act.

Your Name (typed)
                                                                                   Page 7

                                      Sample Letter
600 S. McCadden Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
October 12, 2008

Hollywood High School
1521 North Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Dear Senior Project Committee Member:

My dream is to go to New York and study journalism, and one day work for a prestigious
magazine. My passion is writing and expressing my opinion and personality in my writing. I
am an effective communicator and I am able to socialize with different kinds of people. I
want to major in journalism, and have a bachelor’s degree in public relations. I am currently
the Editor-in-Chief of The Crimson Chronicle, our high school newspaper, and already I have
made positive and practical changes that will add to the credibility and efficiency of the
newspaper. I am a natural leader, and I will always strive for what I want to accomplish in
my life.
Unlike other seniors, the Senior Project is not something I dread, but rather it is something I
look forward to, I was able to choose a topic right away because I am excited about this, and
already I have so many ideas. My Senior Project topic is a chance for me to put together my
talent in creativity, journalism, and effective marketing. Every time I buy a magazine, I
notice that every model is skinny and that some of the merchandise (clothes, jewelry, make-
up, etc.) is expensive, and things most girls are not able to afford. My physical project will be
to put together a magazine that appeals to all teenage girls, regardless of their physical
appearance, personal type, or social status. I want to know what these girls want to see in a
magazine, so I plan to conduct surveys in different areas, and ask girls what their ideal
magazine would contain, and the things they do not like about the magazines that are
currently in circulation. I plan to do all the photography myself, I will include models that are
thick, thin, tall, short, etc. A magazine should be able to elevate a girl’s self esteem regardless
of her body, and communicate with them at personal level. I am well aware that my project
will take time and hard work, but I am willing to do it all because not only will I enjoy it, but
I will make a difference by communicating with teenagers who live in the same world as I
do, and have the same questions and fears I have.
My research paper will focus on the influence magazines have over today’s youth, and the
unhealthy and superficial image that these magazine categorize as normal. Simply flipping
through some of the most popular magazines can automatically make a girl feel insecure and
depressed. The reality of my generation is that we are materialistic, and magazines only
enforce this idea. I guarantee that I will not plagiarize, and that all the work I will present will
be original, and will be a result of my own ideas and beliefs.

Anastasia Gulaff
                                                                                  Page 8
                   PART 3 YOUR RESEARCH PAPER
Researching overview

   1. Determine your topic, making sure it is not too broad or narrow. Determine if
       your paper is Argumentative (Thesis Statement) or Analytical (Research
           1. OWL - Argumentative (Thesis Statement) or Analytical (Research
           2. Graphic Organizer - KWL Chart for Senior Project
           3. Developing a Research Question (A comprehensive website)
   2. Pre-search - Familiarize yourself with your topic. Read an article from an
       encyclopedia to get an overview of the topic.
   3. Determine your sub-topics. Review encyclopedia articles, or books to see how the
       topic is broken up to help you determine your sub-topics
   4. Select your resources. Remember you are never committed to one and can delete
       or add a resource at another time
   5. Read and take notes
   6. Organize your notes
   7. Write your rough draft and revise
   8. Word process your final draft
   9. Write a work cited page
   10. Submit to teacher

Thoroughly understand what you are being asked to do and define your topic to meet the
requirements of your assignment:

      Understand the assignment
      Find a topic and brainstorm ideas
      Narrow and/or broaden the topic as necessary
      Get an overview to help determine key names, dates, and concepts
      Decide whether or not the assignment will be Argumentative (Thesis Statement)
       or Analytical (Research Question)

Different Types of Paper (Argumentative & Analytical)

   1. Exploratory/ perspective - indicates an informative, exploratory perspective,
      representing a variety of viewpoints related to a particular issue.
   2. Persuasive (supports a conclusion) - makes a forceful statement using proof to
      persuade the reader of a particular viewpoint. This type of paper requires
      objectivity, honest portrayal of evidence, and support for the position advocated.
   3. Comparison/ Contrast - compares and contrasts one 'thing' to another.
   4. Problem/ solution - informatively addresses a problem, previews several
      solutions, and then endorses one.
   5. Parallel - draws an inference or prediction based upon similarities of events or
      conditions.                                                                 Page 9

              Guide to Sources, References, Work Cited

When you are searching for information on your topic, you can access a
variety of resources that can help meet your needs. The two types of formats
that are available are Print and Non-Print (Electronic) sources.

      Print formats: books, references, magazines, newspapers, maps,
       charts, etc.
          o ACCENT (HHS Online Book Catalog)
      Non-Print (electronic) formats: online/electronic resources, videos,
       software, etc...
          o Digital Library (Electronic Databases)

Citing Sources, Plagiarism & Copyright

Don't forget to cite your sources! When you paraphrase an author or quote
an author directly, you MUST credit the source. You must also cite another
person's work if you use his or her ideas, information, data, evidence or style
of presentation. When in doubt, CITE!

Citations should be a mixture of summary, direct quotation and paraphrase.
Follow your English teacher’s directions on this.

Any source cited in the research paper must be listed on the Work Cited
page. No source may be listed on the Work Cited page that was not cited in
the paper.


*OSLIS Middle and High School: MLA Citation Maker
*Son of Citation Machine: Citation Machine

UCLA's website offers a nice little tutorial on Citing Sources.
                                                    Page 10

     Research Paper Format Guidelines

Use MLA Format only

     1. Some key rules in formatting
           1. Font: use standard, easy to read font (e.g., Times
               Roman or Courier) and size (12 point)
           2. Standard, white 8 x 11 inch paper.
           3. Leave only one space after period or other
               punctuation marks.
           4. Print only one side of paper.
           5. Double-space the text of your paper.
           6. Set the margin of all sides to 1 inch.
           7. For more comprehensive information, use this link
               - The OWL at Purdue
     2. Sample 1 Source: Diana Hacker (What the paper should
        look like)
     3. Sample 2 Source: Dallas County Community Colleges
        (What the paper should look like)
     4. HHS Student Sample
Page 11
Rubric for Research Papers
D - Novice                      C - Intermediate           B - Proficient            A - Distinguished
 Weak introduction             Introduction is         Introduction is well     Introduction is unique and
                               evident                  written & interesting     effective

 No argumentative thesis       Weak argumentative      Argumentative thesis     Focused, well developed
statement                      thesis                   evident                   argumentative thesis
 Minimal idea                  Unelaborated idea       Idea development         Depth and complexity of
development, limited           development;             supported by relevant     ideas supported by engaging,
and/or unrelated details       unelaborated and/or      details                   and/or pertinent details;
                               repetitious details                                evidence of analysis,
                                                                                  reflection and insight
 Few references                Some references         Use of references        Use of references shows
                                                        shows ample research      substantial research

 Incorrect or lack of topic    Simplistic &/or         Controlled & varied      Variety of sentence
and/or transition sentences    awkward sentence         sentence structure        structure and length
poor sentence structure        structure

 Incorrect &/or ineffective    Simplistic and/or       Acceptable, effective    Precise, rich language
language use                   imprecise language       language

 Errors in grammar &           Some errors in          Few errors in            Control of format features,
format (e.g., spelling,        grammar &/or format      grammar or format            grammar and
punctuation, capitalization,   that do not interfere    relative to length and       punctuation, etc.
headings)                      with communication       complexity

 Random or weak                Lapses in focus         Logical organization     Suitable organization
organization                   and/or coherence

 Conclusion is weak or         Conclusion is           Conclusion appropri-     Conclusion is convincing
nonexistent                       adequate              ate & well written

 Limited awareness of          An attempt to           Focused on a             Establishes & maintains
audience and/or purpose.       establish and maintain   purpose; evidence of      clear focus; evidence of
Writer’s voice not evident     purpose & communi-       voice and/or suitable     distinctive and appropriate
                               cate with audience       tone. Writer’s voice is   tone. Writer’s voice evident
                               Writer’s voice weak      evident                   throughout
 Only one side of              Limited pro and con     Pro and con              Pros and cons presented
argument presented             argument                 arguments presented       and proved or disproved

 MLA format is not             MLA format used in      MLA format used          MLA format is perfect
followed                       part of paper

 Length requirement not        Close to length         Length requirement       Length requirement met or
met                            requirement              met                       exceeded
Page 13
                                Physical Project Log

Task #    Activity Location   Date    # of Minutes     Description of Activity   Verif. By


                                 Senior Product Rubric

             High Distinction        Distinction        Meets Expectations           Needs Work

              Multiple            Some evidence        Evidence               No tangible
             evidence             provided showing      provided of finished    evidence provided
Product      provided showing     progress from start   product                  No evidence of
Evidence     progress from        to finish              Evidence of           completion – not
             start to finish       Evidence of         product shows           eligible to present
              Evidence of        finished product      completion
             finished product     shows time and
             shows significant    effort
             time and effort

Product-      Topic of            Topic of paper       Topic of paper         No relationship
             paper and product    and product           and product             between topic of paper
Topic        directly related     somewhat related      marginally related      and product

              Demonstrates        Demonstrates         Vague awareness        No apparent
Learning     significant          some personal         of personal growth      personal growth
Stretch      personal growth      growth                 Vague idea of          No use for product
              Significantly       Demonstrates        future use of product   after presentation
             demonstrates         product’s use to
             product’s use to     individual or
             individual or        community

                                                                                Page 15
                 PART 5 YOUR PRESENTATION

Senior Presentation Guidelines*

The purpose of the Senior Presentation is to tell the story of the Senior
Project by synthesizing what was learned from the product creation with the
information from the paper. It is your chance to describe what you learned to
a group of interested adults and peers.


 The student should explain the process of creating the product and
writing the paper. There should be an introduction, body and conclusion.

 The presentation must include visual or auditory aids such as PowerPoint
or iGoogle.

 The presentation must be 7 to 10 minutes in length including a question
and answer period.

 The presentation should be rehearsed in front of an audience at least three
times. You may use note cards or PowerPoint presentation as prompts.

 This is a formal presentation. Students should dress in business attire.

*Adapted from Santee Education Complex Senior Project Student Survival Guide

                                                                     Page 16
                                           Student’s Name: ______________________


        The undersigned does hereby consent for the student under my care to
participate in the required Senior Project in Expository Composition (English

        I do hereby waive any claim against Hollywood High School or its
employees or agents for responsibility concerning any damages or injury
resulting from this student’s participation in the Senior Project. It is my
understanding that this student will complete all of the required components of
the Senior Project for a grade credit and that all components of said project must
be completed in accordance with the established time constraints and guidelines
in order to receive a grade. Any failure on the part of the student to complete the
components of the project will result in a grade of “F” for that part and, if not
amended by such date as deemed appropriate by the Advisory Committee, will
prohibit any student progress and result in a permanent Fail in Expository
Composition (English 12A). I also understand that this course is a graduation

        In addition, I agree that any financial responsibility incurred by the Senior
Project is the sole responsibility of the aforementioned student. I further agree
that, in order to receive maximum credit, this project must demonstrate and
observable “learning stretch” showing evidence of educational development and
an extension of this student’s existing knowledge in the pursuit of his/her Senior
Project. Understanding these conditions, the student under my care has my full
support of his/her participation in the following project:

Research Paper Topic: ___________________________________________

Physical Product: _______________________________________________

_______________________________________________ ____________
Parent/Guardian Signature                       Date

_______________________________________________ ____________
*Student Signature                              Date

_____________________________________________________ ____________
Teacher’s Signature                                   Date
*Legally emancipated students and students over 18 must show documentation of emancipation or proof of
age, respectively, in order to participate in the Senior Project without parental approval. Those students are
also required to sign and submit this form, thereby accepting the above conditions .

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