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Research for Change: Topic Development

A research and materials guide for the Research for Change project. Check back often for updates and lessons.

Topic Development Schedule

Topic Development B Days

  • 10/16: Exploring Issues and how they connect
  • 10/20: Class Brainstorm for a topic 
  • 10/26: Viewing a Topic through a Lens
  • 11/1: Developing Topic Proposals and narrowing them down
  • 11/7: Elevator Pitches Classwork
  • 11/15: Elevator Pitches Presentation and Final Vote

Topic Matrix

Having a hard time thinking about your topic? Springboard your thinking from these general topics:

  • Issues in medicine and disease
  • LGBTQ Issues
  • Animal Rights
  • Media and Technology
  • Warfare
  • Disenfranchised Members of Society
  • Government Policy
  • Culture and History
  • Women's Issues
  • Environmental Issues
  • Crime and the Justice System
  • Ethics and Corruption
  • Mental Health
  • Youth Issues
  • Pop Culture
  • Scientific Research and Issues
  • Education
  • Financial and Fiscal Issues
  • Race and Class
  • Sports and Entertainment
  • Foreign Affairs and Policy
  • Civil and Human Rights
  • Workforce Issues and Rights
  • Aging and Family


Lesson Materials

10/16 Becoming the Change

Objective: We will determine how a social issue can have a personal impact by viewing and interpreting some examples.

10/20 & 10/26 Brainstorming Ideas (P.2, P.5, P.8)

Objective: We will compile a list of topics by conducting preliminary research as a class and determine if they fit within requirements of the project. By the end of the period you will select your top 3 topics.

11/1 & 11/7 Viewing Issues through a Lens (BLANK and SAMPLE)

Objective: We will develop inquiry questions by identifying one topic per group and develop a "lens" or focus for continued research.

11/15 Lesson 4: Crafting an "Elevator Pitch" and SAMPLE

Objective: We will persuade our class to vote by selecting one topic per group and developing an "elevator pitch" speech

11/21 Final Vote (P.2) (P.5) (P.8)

Objective: We will assess our top 5 topics as a class and evaluate their connection to the Research for Change project by casting a final vote and providing a rationale. 

Reflect on each elevator pitch: Why would this topic serve as a good project? Initial reactions (yes, no, maybe)?

Current Events and Local News

Helpful Sites

GALE Global Issues: VHS's Database on both national and international issues. You may search for specific topics or browse by main idea. Global issues is also cross-searchable with Opposing Viewpoints, a database that provides information on issues and varying perspectives or opinions on it. 

Google Trend: Latest trends, visualizations, and data from Google searches. Information can be seen by search term or geographical area.

‚Äč A project of the Independent Media Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting independent and alternative journalism.

Frontline by PBS: Award winning, compelling documentaries that are companions to the investigative journalism series. Provides documents and resources that connect to the films. 

The Choices Program: Brown University's database on historical and current issues. Some resources are paid, however, they provide an overview for many social issues. 

National Center for Policy Analysis: "The NCPA is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization" that "encourages individual rights, free enterprise and self-government." Their stated mission is "to seek innovative private-sector solutions to public policy problems."

PBS NewsHour: Some of the topical areas are politics, science, religion, the budget, and business. Frontline, a PBS public affairs television program, also has keyword searchable indexes to its documentary reports on controversial issues in foreign affairs, the government, criminal justice, and health, science, and technology.

Pro-Publica : ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

Public Agenda Online: Public Agenda is a "nonpartisan, nonprofit public opinion research and citizen education organization." Each "issue guide" published on their website provides an overview, a fact file, and three perspectives on the issue at hand, while the Public Opinion section reports and interprets survey and research results.

POV by PBS : A collection of acclaimed documentaries with a social message. Contains a searchable database by topic. Database on teen volunteerism based on cause and type of outreach. Great source to gather examples and ideas for your final project