The Expert Project: A Year-Long Inquiry into One Subject

Honors American Literature 11th grade

What is the Expert Project?

Almost anything is interesting if you dig deep enough and spend enough time with it. And as we begin to get older we begin to find things that interest us more often, because we have greater abilities to comprehend what is happening or they fascinate us since we find it hard to explain these concepts. This project invites you to pick a topic and explore it in great depth over the course of the year. You will be asked to collect evidence on your subject: examining a articles, books, and a wide range of media from different perspectives. Choose a subject you would like to be become knowledgeable about.


  • Choose a topic that fascinates you and will merit a year-long inquiry
  • Write a formal proposal about what you want to study, how, and why
  • Read / Watch / Listen to: articles, books, blogs, broadcasts, podcasts tweets, etc.
  • Keep an organized system of notes and resources.
  • Write regular blog posts about what you are finding, learning and next steps.
  • Write a final paper spring semester
  • Present your findings to the class and other guests

Areas to consider:


Money / Economics

War / Military


Religion / Faith

Technology Science

Law / Crime


Health Medicine

Politics / Gov


1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and implicitly and make logical inferences

2. Cite specific textual evidence

3. Determine central ideas of a text and analyze their development

4. Objectively summarize the key supporting details and ideas

5. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact

6. Assess how the author’s purpose and rhetorical choices shape content and style

7. Integrate and evaluate content in diverse formats (media, books, etc)

8. Evaluate the argument, specific claims, validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take

10. Read & comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently 

The Beginning

  1. Initial topic selection and begin a formal proposal about your topic choice.  A template for your formal proposal will be available.

Note: Consult with your teacher before becoming too attached to your topic. Teacher reserves the right to veto topics that are inappropriate for school, or do not merit a full year of study.

  1. Creation of a blog to post regularly about your progress, what you are finding, what you are learning, and what your next steps will be.
  2. Creation of your organizational system for tracking your sources and keeping your notes.
  3. Identification of sources to begin with.

Ongoing Expectations

You will gather information, monitor your topic through the media, and develop your initial ideas about it, which you explore in greater depth spring semester through the paper you write and presentation you will give. Each week you will

  • Learn more about your subject matter by reading, viewing, or listening to one of the following media (each should be visited once): article, book, blog, twitter feed, Facebook feed, or other source by an established person in that field.
  • Keep your list of resources in MLA format, and include your notes about each resource you read/reviewed. Add new resources as you find them.
  • Write regular blog posts about what you are finding, learning and next steps, include the advantages and disadvantages of the source you are writing about.
  • Discuss your subject and ideas about it with others when class time allows

Formal Write Up (June)

You will write a formal paper about your research subject.

  • summarize and synthesize your findings over the course of the year.  
  • explain your topic clearly using an academic tone
  • provide background information, current trends, and project future developments and implications.
  • include all works cited and consulted during your course of study
  • use appropriate MLA format

Additional information about the formal write up of the project will be provided in May.

Adapted by Point Loma High School from Jim Burke 2011