To culminate a unit on The Art of Racing in the Rain, my 9th graders write an "iSearch" paper in which they track the history, origin, and development/evolution of a single word across many different sources and mediums.
Students must investigate the origins of an abstract noun (such as "friendship" or "loyalty"), and then track this word's usage throughout various sources including the novel itself, the Shakespearean concordance, Concordance to the Bible, poetry, nonfiction, and others.
Students write the essay on not only the content, but also on the research process itself. What do they like? What frustrates them? They discuss these positives and frustrations within the actual paper in a very structured format that allows them to really investigate what it is about research that makes them cringe.
A different take on the traditional research paper, the iSearch paper takes students on a tour of many different sources and bibliographical citation practice, but also allows them to explore the ups and downs of research itself.
Can be used in out-of-novel vocabulary study, or within any novel study. I will also include a comprehensive rubric/peer revision sheet for free upon request.