Brent Johnston -- A Vision of Academic Excellence

The River Project

Teacher Resources
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River Project Notebook Template (Microsoft Word 2003)

River Project Notebook Rubric

River Journal First Draft Rubric

River Project Field Journal Rubric

Oral Presentation Rubric

Multimedia Rubric

The River Project Research Paper Checklist

Rock Creek Annual Results:

Water Quality Index and Benthic Macroinvertebrates Results


The students in the P.O.P.s program took place in the Illinois River Project that was developed through Southern Illinois University.( ) They conducted an environmental assessment of Rock Creek in Kankakee River State Park. The Students assessed the heath of the creek by testing for pollutants and looking at the macro invertebrates in the creek. They tested the creek for nitrates, phosphates, chlorine, pH levels, temperature differentials, fecal coliform bacteria, dissolved oxygen, biological oxygen demand, and the total solids in the creek.


Pick an environmental science topic and explain its significance?


  Write one or two paragraphs, discussing what knowledge, experience, or background you already have about your topic BEFORE having done any research.  A sample writing of “What I  Know” is available.

  Write one or two paragraphs’ of questions about your topic, questions you want to have answered. The key to organizing your paper is the questions you ask about your topic. The questions will help you focus your analysis. You should have a minimum of three questions about your topic. These questions will “set up” your paper by guiding you through your research and writing. Do not ask, “What happened?” this question will create a report, not an analysis. Ask instead, “What should have happened?” “Were our actions justified?” “Could the outcome have been different?”. A sample writing of “What I Want to Know” is available.

This assignment must be typed and double-spaced.


  Now is the time to look over your material, organize your ideas, and see what you have and what you need. The first part of this assignment is to create an Idea Map/Web that will map out the organization of your thoughts and research.

  Researching and writing the Analysis Paper involves a process of carefully gathering and evaluating information. This assignment requires that you evaluate a minimum of eight sources that contributed to your research, but will not necessarily be cited within your paper. Overall evidence of in-depth research is an important aspect of this assignment and your paper.  Use a wide variety of sources, including books, magazines, and the Internet.  Relying upon a single type of source does not indicate a depth of research. You will receive evaluation forms.

  This would be a good time for you to do an evaluation of your ideas, organization, and sources. Use the attached Self Evaluation questions to make sure your paper is on track.

The Self Evaluation is for your benefit, it is not an assignment.

Idea Web


Each resource (book, magazine article, Web site, etc.) gets its own bibliography card. Why? The citations on a works cited page are listed in alphabetical order. When you are done with your research and are preparing to type your works cited page, you will simply arrange your cards in alphabetical order and start typing. If you use You've Got Style (or the MLA Handbook) and wrote the citations in proper format from the beginning, all you will have to do is copy.

Each bibliography card gets a letter.

The note cards will get letters too. These letters will correspond to the bibliography cards. For example, every note that comes out of resource "A" will also get an "A" on it. Why? So you won't have to keep copying the bibliographic information over and over. You will know that every note card that has an "A" on it came from resource "A." Every note card that has a "B" on it came from resource "B." And so on, and so on, and so on.

Each note card will have a heading that corresponds to the outline of your research (see the Outline section for details). Do not write about more than one concept per card. Why? When you get ready to organize your notes into the paragraphs of your paper, you will group similar topics (cards with the same headings) together, and put them in the order of your outline.

Use key words and phrases on note cards only. Do not write full sentences unless you are directly quoting and giving the author credit. Copying constitutes plagiarism. Include page numbers (if available) and a source note (required by some teachers).

The following is a note card with all the parts labeled:






  The outline is the last step before writing your paper. The outline does not need to be written in complete sentences, but it must contain complete thoughts. You may write a sentence outline if you are more comfortable with that format. It is not necessary to cite sources in your outline.  Be sure to title your outline.

  This assignment must be typed. The format will be discussed in class. A sample of an outline is available.


Writing the Introduction

In the introduction you will need to do the following things:

  • present relevant background or contextual material
  • define terms or concepts when necessary
  • explain the focus of the paper and your specific purpose
  • reveal your plan of organization



Writing the Body

  • use your outline and prospectus as flexible guides
  • build your essay around points you want to make (i.e., don't let your sources organize your paper)
  • integrate your sources into your discussion
  • summarize, analyze, explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it
  • move up and down the "ladder of abstraction" from generalization to varying levels of detail back to generalization



Writing the Conclusion

  • if the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader
  • if prior to your conclusion you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to add your points up, to explain their significance
  • move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction
  • perhaps suggest what about this topic needs further research



Revising the Final Draft

  • check overall organization: logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion
  • paragraph level concerns: topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs
  • sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling
  • documentation: consistent use of one system, citation of all material not considered common knowledge, appropriate use of endnotes or footnotes, accuracy of list of works cited

  Works Cited:

  The Works Cited page should contain only those sources cited within your paper. Use the MLA guidelines for internal citations and the Works Cited page.  A minimum of eight sources should be cited.  Copies of all cited sources must be included with the paper. Make sure your copies are properly identified with MLA information.


  1.      The paper must be typed and double-spaced. Use normal margins, do not leave large spaces at the top or bottom of the page. Use 12 font (Times New Roman).

2.      Staple the paper at the top left corner.

3.      Paper clip or staple the copies of your sources. Also organize the copies.

4.      Most papers should be between EIGHT and TWELVE pages (not including the Works Cited page), but much of this will depend on the overall quality of your writing and the quality of your sources.




Your answers should be complete explanations. Do not use fragment sentences or ‘yes/no’ answers. Use one worksheet for each source. A minimum of four sources should be evaluated.  



 1.      MLA Citation:


  2.      What is the author’s authority?


 3.      Summarize the relevant material presented in this source.


 4.      Does the source express a specific viewpoint? Explain


 5.   List the references cited.



 1.      Are your questions related to the topic?

 2.      Are your questions clear?

 3.      Are your ideas organized? Logical?

 4.      Do your sources relate to your topic?

 5.      Do your sources answer your questions?

 6.      Do you see ‘gaps’ in your research?

 7.      Do you have complete source information for the citations?

 8.      Do your sources show a depth of research?



I.                    Introduction

A.     (Name the event)

B.     Describe the event

II.                 Question (write the question)

A.     (major point)

B.     (major point)

C.     (major point)

III.               Question (write the question)

A.     (major point)

B.     (major point)

C.     (major point)

IV.              Question (write the question)

A.     (major point)

B.     (major point)

C.     (major point)

V.                 Conclusion

A.     Summary

B.     What I have Learned




MLA Format Working Bibliography:  What to put on your Note card

Book with one author

Author. (Last name, First Name)
Title of Book
City of publication:
Publisher, date of publication.

  Rhodes, Richard. A First Book of Canadian Art.  Toronto : Owl, 2001.


Print Encyclopedia

Author’s name. (Last name first, if available)
“Article title,”
Encyclopedia title,
Edition or publication or copyright date,
Volume number,
Page number (s) of entire article

Kerr, D.G.G., “Diefenbaker,  Encyclopedia Americana, 1997, Vol.9, pp.94-95.


World Wide Web Sites@

Author’s name.  Last name first, if available.
“Article or Web page title,”
Web site title,
Access date, (date you accessed the web site)
City: producer. (city and producer are optional)

Lundberg, Murray.  “Diamonds in the Canadian Arctic,  ExploreNorth,, March 5, 2002 , Yukon , North West Territories. 


Newspaper Article

Author’s name, last name first. (if available)
“Article title.”

Newspaper title,
Publication date, including month, day, and year, (where applicable)
Section, (where applicable)
Page numbers of entire article.

Paul, Alexandra.  “The nasty flu bug finally hits Winnipeg .” Winnipeg Free Press, March 4, 2002 , sec. A, p.1&2.

As an Online Newspaper Article@

Paul, Alexandra.  “The nasty flu bug finally hits Winnipeg .”  Winnipeg Free Press Online Edition.  March 6, 2002 .


Magazine article

Author’s name, last name first. (if available)
“Article title.”

Magazine title,
Publication volume and issue number, (where applicable) including month, day, & year, (where applicable)
Page numbers of entire article.

  Armstrong, Sally.  “On Guard in Afghanistan .”  Maclean’s, Vol. 115, no. 9, March 4, 2002 , p. 22-27.



Performer’s Name. Last name first (if available). 
“Song Title."

Lyrics Writer.

Album Title

Metallica.  “Of Wolf and Man.   Hetfield/Ulrich/Hammett.  Metallica: The Black Album. Los Angeles , 1991.

Government Publication

Government Department.

Identifying number (optional)

Government Publication.

  Canada’s New Wind Chill Index.  Environment Canada .  August 2001.

World Wide Web Site@

Environment Canada .  “Wind the Chilling Facts.” Environment Canada ,, March 5, 2002 .  Ottawa  : Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada .