To Kill A Mocking Bird

A Research Paper for Juniors

“The JRP”

Gunnery History Department

Official Handbook for Students


The ultimate goal of this project is to evaluate the extent to which each junior at The Gunnery can apply key research strategies in order to write a paper that examines a major historical theme or event through a literary lens.


One of the history department’s goals is to create history students who are schooled in research strategies and who can apply those strategies to examine historical issues, trends, problems, etc. Further, it is essential that in conducting research, students can work with a variety of sources and can consider a multitude of perspectives. The purpose of this research project is to both educate and evaluate students on their ability to consider one particular historical theme through different perspectives—literary and historical, secondary and primary – to ultimately come up with their own perspective on the matter, which culminates in their writing of a 6– 8 page paper. This project will ask students to apply research strategies, think like a historian, and receive personal feedback on their work.



Students will be able to:

1) Write a paper that utilizes best research techniques and strategies

2) Identify the role that different and crediblesources play in studying elements of the     past and developing an original argument

3) Analyze a work of literature within a historical framework

4) Develop and articulate an original argument through the form of an interdisciplinary    thesis statement which is proven throughout a well organizedresearch paper

5)Gain a deeper understanding of a particular aspect of United States History and what             role that theme or event played in shaping our nation. Recognize the relevance of this        period in history today.


This paper is a major part of the junior year curriculum for the history department and it is required that each student pass this project (receive a 60% or above). If the student submits a paper that does not pass the “yes test” the paper must be resubmitted, fixing the problems that previously existed. An INC will be given to that student until the paper is resubmitted for a passing grade. The paper counts as the final exam for all juniors in US History; therefore, it is imperative that each student take the submission or resubmission process very seriously. Failure to do so could result in a 0 for the final exam grade.

It is required that each student will:

1) Write a 6– 8 page paper

2) Select a novel from given list as well as a general area of study

3) Read one of the primary literary sources from the history department list

4) Utilize a variety of sources from both the historical and literary disciplines

5) Demonstrate a proficiency in citation


          Each paper will be read and graded by an individual teacher. That teacher is the classroom instructor who has worked with each student to help them hone and develop the finished research paper.

The grade for each student’s paper will be determined by the attached rubric. This rubric was developed with the ultimate goal of the project in mind and will help the history teachers properly evaluate the extent to which each student has met the requirements of the project. Teacher training and collaboration on the rubric ensures consistent grading of papers across classes. Each student should carefully review the rubric before beginning the project; in most occasions the rubric will be used in the class on another assignment before the writing of the JRP. Additionally, the rubric will be discussed in each history classroom and students should recognize that it is their job to ask their teachers for further clarification if they are confused about any parts of the rubric.

The final grade for each student’s research project will count for 20% spring grade (this is the same amount that all history final exams count for). With the JRP serving as the spring final exam, the final exam has been moved to the winter term (this will be a two term exam that is given during the last two long blocks of the term).


This project will be discussed with each history student throughout the school year in their history classrooms. There will be ample opportunities to become familiar with the rubric and the requirements of the paper before the formal process of the paper begins during the spring term. The placement of the project at the end of the spring term has been deliberately selected in order to allow both teachers and students enough time during the school year to become familiar with a more substantial amount of American History. It is important that students pay close attention to the project timetable and the specific deadlines in order to prepare themselves appropriately for a strong finished product.

It is required that students select their novel before they head off for March break; whatever reading they can accomplish during this time will greatly help the students when they return for a busy spring term. During the last three weeks of the term, the students will begin the formal process of research, writing, and discussion. The timing of this project is also beneficial for the AP US History classes as the formal process of the project will not begin until after the AP exam is completed in early May. The formal process is as follows:

(Phase I: Reading phase: March break) (Phase II: Research and Writing: May 6 – 28)

Phase I:

1) February: Discuss novels and topics with students; go over handbook        inclasses; examine sample JRPs from last year and become familiar with the rubric

2) March break (5th – 25th): Read novel and take notes in relation to your historical            focus; AP students in particular MUST complete their novel over vacation (there will not     be sufficient time to read the novel at the end of the spring term)

*the month of April and early May will be spent wrapping up the class curriculum with     only references made to the JRP. Do not plan to have time during this period to dig in to   your JRP. After the reading phase (March break) you will put your novel on hold for a             bit until you return to the JRP in its writing phase; this part of the JRP process concludes      the project and the school year*

Phase II:

1) April 27–May 1: fully engaged in collecting sources and gathering resources. Preliminary Works Cited should be completed by the end of the week.

2) May 4 – 8: Analysis; discussion groups; organization. Thesis statement and rough    outline should be completed by the end of the week.

3) May 11-15 : fill in the gaps (additional research and analysis). Rough draft due at the          end of the week for peer editing in class.

4) May 22 (last day of class): final paper is due.

Novels, Topics, and Reading Levels

The history department recognizes that no two students are the same, and thus, there are a variety of reading and conceptual levels that exist amongst our US History students. The topics and novels listed below were selected after careful consideration and discussion. Each student must select one novel and the corresponding topic (which serves only as a general starting point) from the list below—there will be no exceptions made from primary literary list. Students will notice that the list below is broken down into three tiers. These tiers are based on reading difficulty levels with conceptual concerns also being taken into account. Students will work with their teachers to determine which reading tier is most appropriate for the given student. Students in AP US History are required to select a novel from Tier III.

I–The Crucible, Arthur Miller                                                               (McCarthyism)

I—To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee                                      (Race and Gender)

I—Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck                                       (Great Depression)

I—Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs               (Slavery)


(4 options)


          ~Tier II~

II—Maggie: Girl of the Streets, Stephen Crane                          (Immigration/Industrialization)

II–Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe                                    (Slavery)

II—Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk , Ben Fountain                 (Iraq war: U.S. Veterans)

II—Farenheit 451, Ray Bradberry                                                        (Censorship—1950s)

II–The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison                                                        (Role of Black Women—late

20th century)

(5 options)

          ~Tier III~

III–On the Road, Jack Kerouac                                                           (Beat Generation)

III–Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut                                              (Anti-war—mid 20th cent)

III—The Plot Against America, Philip Roth                                           (politics, race issues, and anti-semitism)

III–The Sun also Rises, Earnest Hemingway                                         (Lost Generation–WWI)

III—One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey                            (Counter Culture)

(6 options)


This rubric was selected and further developed by the Gunnery history department for the purposes of this project. It will be discussed with the students through classroom instruction and individual questions/concerns. It is essential that students become familiar with the format of the rubric, the major expectations, and the language used before they begin writing the paper. It will be expected that each student fully understands how they are being evaluated on this paper before they begin writing the paper. The classroom teacher will help guide them through this process and will work with the rubric in class before the project is implemented.

Research Paper Rubric

Student Name: __________________________        Teacher Name: __________________________

Yes Test: You must receive all “yeses” for your paper to be scored. Any “no” will stop the process. If a “no” is received the student then has 1 day to fix any errors and resubmit the paper. For each day the paper is late following after that deadline, 10 points will be deducted from the final grade.

Yes No Basic Requirement
1. Paper typed, 12 point font, Times New Roman, with appropriate margins
2. Thesis clearly stated in introductory paragraph and referenced in the conclusion
3. Correct documentation style used in text
4. Citing evident, in proper format
5. Minimum 5 sources, including literary and historical (primary and secondary for both)
6. Works Cited/Bibliography or References accurate and correctly formatted
7. Paper meets minimum length standard (6 – 8 pages, excluding title page and Works Cited/Bibliography or References)
8. Evidence of consistent and conscientious editing

Once the Yes Test is met (giving an initial 16 points), grading will begin, rating each section as follows:

 The Grading Scale:

4Clearly a knowledgeable, practiced, skilled pattern (appears consistently        throughout the paper (fewer than 3 errors if applicable)

3Evidence of a developing pattern (skill set has not yet been fully mastered, but there                                                        is positive evidence of achievement and understanding (4 – 8 errors if applicable)

2Superficial, random, limited consistencies (skill set has not been mastered     effectively; too many errors distract the reader; (8 – 12 errors exist if applicable)

1Unacceptable skill application (there is no evidence that the skill set has developed;     errors far outweigh correct usage or skills; (13 – 15+ errors exist if applicable)


Skill application demonstrates use which represents à

4 3 2 1
Usage/Grammar (no run-on sentences; no sentence fragments, etc.)
Correct paragraphing, includes clear introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion
Written in formal style, not informal or conversational (no first person, no contractions, etc.)



Skill application demonstrates use which represents à

4 3 2 1
Introduction engaging and clearly defines thesis
Thesis makes a challenging and focused argument
Content connecting to thesis is clarifying, exploring, explaining, developing
Text organization flows sensibly and smoothly with clear transitions from one paragraph to the next
Mixture of personal voice interwoven with research (commentary/interpretation)
Conclusion thoughtful, engaging, and clear



Use of Sources

Skill application demonstrates use which represents à

4 3 2 1
Enough outside information to clearly represent a research process
Demonstrates use of signal phrases, paraphrasing, direct, and indirect quotations, properly applying citation ethics (credits all ideas that are not your own)
Information connects to the thesis


Information Literacy

Skill application demonstrates use which represents à

4 3 2 1
Evidence of thorough research (sources represent variety and types)
Evidence of sorting and selecting appropriate material
Evidence of importance of author’s (the writer of the paper) credibility and validity
Research offers non-biased, fair research perspective from which a conclusion is drawn
Research information goes beyond surface information



Skill application demonstrates use which represents à

4 3 2 1
Full integration of interdisciplinary sources, used properly in support of the thesis
A coherent argument, consistent throughout the paper, centered around the thesis
Demonstrates consistent and logical adherence to thesis throughout the paper
Thesis is proven



Total Score: ________/100



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