Introducing Back In the Day

posted Feb 20, 2012, 7:05 AM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Feb 21, 2015, 1:13 PM ]
What is It?
Each year we write a research paper called "Back in the Day". Each student picks a parent and does research on what life was like "back in the day" when that parent graduated from high school. This is a "snapshot" of that parent's graduation year, focusing on the end of May to mid-June when most high schools have their graduation. Students gather and organize several pieces of information into a 3-page paper, properly citing three or more sources they use. The paper is topped off by an interview with their parent 
who graduated in that year. The interview also counts as one of the bibliography sources. This is a fun activity for the whole family and for the class. One year, we had graduation years spanning 4 decades, from the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s!

Photo Credits: WikiMedia Commons

Basic Outline of Research Paper
  • Introduction and Thesis; Introduce Parent and His/Her Background
  • Current Events from parent’s graduation year
    • News
      • National
      • International
    • Entertainment
      • Movies
      • Music
      • Trends
    • Pick another area you would like to research 
  • Compare/Contrast Current Year to Your Parent’s Graduation Year; Share Your Opinion: I would rather grow up (now -or- back in the day when my parent graduated)
  • Conclusion and Restated Thesis

Bibliography and Citations
We don't want to spend all our time on the Bibliography and on citing our sources, but we DO want to give credit to our sources for the information we used from their books, websites, etc. To keep it simple, use one of these tools to properly cite all your sources:
You can use this site for each of your sources. I found it helpful to register with easybib. The only information required to do this is your email address and a password. You can use whatever password you like. I recommend you use the same one you use to login to your school email so you don't have to remember another one. Don't put any information in any of the boxes except the ones that are required (marked with a *). Then, you can save your citations right in easybib and keep the whole list until you're done. I was able to save my "works cited" (bibliography) right into a new Google Doc using Easybib. I was already logged into my Google Docs, and the bibliography page was automatically created once I gave Easybib permission to do the work. Try it!
You may also use this. It works like easybib and does pretty much the same thing. Either tool will get the job done.

Page listing all the Steps for Back in the Day (no due dates)

Google Document (including this year's due dates)
This document is a shared Google Doc, available publicly, which mirrors the Steps for Back in the Day link above. You can "make a copy" and then change the copied document any way you want. Or, leave it the same and if anything changes (due dates, items added or subtracted, etc.), the public Google document will change. The page linked here is mainly for parents who want to keep up with this year's Back in the Day project due dates.
This is a whole page of websites by decade (90s, 80s, 70s, 60s) to get you started on your web-based research. From here you can branch out and "dig deeper" into the current events from the year your parent graduated.

Rubrics for Back in the Day (How your work will be graded)

What To Write About and Where To Find It (right-click to download video)

This is a three-part video. See the explanation below. You can watch it here, or download it (as a single video) to your computer. Spend a few minutes here and save yourself some time later on!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

If you do not have Internet access at home you can download these videos as one, large video and save it on your computer by right-clicking, then choosing "save as" or "save target as" (or something similar). This video will give you a general overview of what you need to write about, how to find the best information about what happened "back in the day", and where to look for that information. Watch this video with your parent, because it will help him or her to help you!

Research Tips (video)

This video talks in detail about Alta Vista, a search engine similar to Google. It also talks about how to avoid website resources that are written by "regular" people who may not be experts on the topic you're looking for. Finally, there's a section that talks about our local Lee County Library System where you may want to look for paper-based resources like books, magazines, encyclopedias, and more. I recommend you watch this short video with your parent, as this will help them to help you with this research project. 

Using Alta Vista and Lee County Public Library

Tips on Making Bibliography Cards & Notecards from Research Sources

Making Bibliography and Notecards from Paul Schwan on Vimeo.

Using Your Notecards to Write A First Draft

This video walks you through the process of going from cards to paragraphs.