American Identity and Rights Research Paper 7th Grade Humanities 2013 As the new nation developed, Americans faced many challenges, problems and opportunities. The formation of a dynamic American identity was the result of the decisions that leaders and ordinary people made as they dealt with new situations. In this research paper we will learn more about the foundation of that American identity and the developing nation by studying historical events through the lens of human rights. In addition, we will analyze those events, keeping in mind the impact of power and prejudice on the actors in the event(s). You will choose an event, movement, or historical figure to research and then analyze to come to a conclusion about the importance of your topic in American history. These key questions will guide your research, note taking, and writing: Did the people involved act responsibly? Did they take into account human rights? Did they follow the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence? How did the event contribute to the developing identity of the American nation? In terms of the legacy it left for the future? Did the event(s) negatively or positively affect certain groups of people? Who were the “winners” and “losers” in the event? (You may choose to focus on ONE of these questions as you research and write.) One of the most important research skills you will learn during this process is how to narrow a topic. The purpose of writing a research paper is to conduct an in-depth study and analysis of a topic. If your topic is too broad, you will not be able to ask and thoroughly answer appropriate and significant questions about one key aspect of your subject. Also, you will probably discover that there is a lot of information to read, and you may become overwhelmed by the number of sources you need to sort through. On the other hand, if your topic is too narrow you may not be able to find enough information. You could become frustrated with your efforts to uncover a variety of viewpoints and to produce enough to say about your topic. The key focus of this paper is your position and argument. This means that you have to gather evidence that will support your points. In gathering evidence, you might find contradicting opinions. You will have to evaluate the opinions, consider the point of view of the author, and come to your own judgment. Whenever possible, you should try to use primary sources that you can interpret yourself. Once you have your research topic, you should spend some time conducting general research to learn basic facts about the people and events involved. As you conduct this background research, keep an eye out for how your event helped shape the factors involved in American identity and arguments you might like to make about that connection. You can use the various texts from class this year, Facts on File, online encyclopedias, and the resources of the middle school library (especially in the reference section!) to begin finding information about your topic. If you are having trouble narrowing your topic, see your teacher for help. Writing a research paper is a valuable process that will help you to bring together all of the different skills that we have worked on this year. Do not be afraid to ask questions and to put in the time and effort to make your paper excellent. Good Luck!