Created by Cathy Nelson, Teacher-Librarian, NBCT

The following “end products” are listed here as a suggested alternative to the standard written research paper. The ideas shared here do not eliminate the need for your typical research process, including the citation of sources. Teaching the research process can become boring and tedious for both the teacher and the student. By approaching the required standard, consider alternatives to the written research paper. Using varied end products can get students interested in their topic and give them knew and innovative ways to demonstrate concept mastery.

There is a need for collaboration to make these effective projects. Please consult your collaborating teacher for student requirements and a rubric. It is highly recommended that the rubrics be planned together, and the two (or more) collaborating teachers take on different aspects of the assessment piece. Perhaps the requirements and rubric can be agreed upon in a consultation with your teacher before committing to a project type.

Some of these lend themselves to being done alone as a stand alone project, while others may require you select two or three to put together for a project. It is suggested if students get to “pick” and “choose” they are required to get plans approved first.

The list below includes helpful links, examples, or links to develop the project. Remember all content used should be copyright friendly or fully cited.

Project Ideas to use individually or in combination:

PowerPoint - A Favorite Project Choice

Students need to be taught effective Powerpoint skills. The following resources are from my own teaching toolbox for how to have an effective presentation. Slides and content have been borrowed from many educator friends to pull together this presentation, and it is a guide of what too do and what NOT to do. The concepts here can be applied to other presentation vehicles as well. In teaching effective presentation techniques to classes, I emphasize that teachers teach it, model it, and then assign it. This is true for all components of the research process.

Performance Alternatives:

Comic Strip / Poster

Presentation Solutions

  • Microsoft Office PowerPoint (available at most schools school)
  • Present.me - a web service that lets you create effective presentations through your PowerPoint files. Read more about it here.
  • Google Docs Presentation (free online; requires a Google account; will export to PowerPoint) see an example
  • Prezi -The zooming presentation editor. Requires a free account (login/password);
  1. Student example 1;
  2. Student example 2;
  3. Example that compares Prezi to PowerPoint
  4. Beginner's Guide to Prezi video here to see a Youtube video outside school
  5. Other examples Sample 1 Sample 2 (use to show "what not to do")

Make a Movie Windows Movie Maker (use video, still images, or a combination of both; add effects, transitions, sounds, etc to enhance the final video.)

Capture video footage from copyright friendly material --StreamlineSC comes to mind --or your own original video from your cell phone. Use online converters to get it in a pc-friendly format (.wmv).

Read about green screen technology here.
Some types of movies to consider:

  • Documentary
  • Public Service Announcement/Commercial
  • Interview
  • Green Screen Technology to put yourself in your video

Animated Video

Other Digital Projects:


Mash-up of Wordle and PowerPoint

Low-Tech Solutions:
  • Paper Bag Report
  • Facebook Poster (note this can be high tech too.) There is a template that opens in PowerPoint available for download here.
  • Trifold Display Board
  • Three dimensional art piece

Ideas to work in:
  • Copyrighted materials, particularly images and music
  • Define Fair Use and “transformative use” as teaches and not just enhances
  • Explain Creative Commons and using copyrght friendly content
  • Justify the need for teachers and students alike to include citations for all content that doesn’t belong--educators should be modeling citing sources in the digital age.