research 101

inquiry @ City-As-School

We at CAS believe in giving students choice to identify a problem + follow a line of inquiry, in combination with their lived experiences, to find a solution that will serve their communities.

I am available to help CAS students to develop research questions, to fact check, synthesize, draft/craft, edit, and cite sources for PBATs and LEAPs.

Sara Lissa Paulson (

the INQUIRY process

CAS Inquiry & Research guide playlist

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  • What interests you the most about your class or internship?
  • Drown yourself in the topic!
    • Britannica Encyclopedia – With this online encyclopedia, you can choose your level: Elem, Middle, High School and can listen while you read.
    • Find a book at the City-As library and use the index to read the pages that interest you
    • Watch videos at Khan Academy and Crash Courses.
    • Search Youtube and Vimeo. Add the search term “documentary.”
    • Read and follow citations the Wikipedia page 
    • Take a free course on Open Culture or CosmoLearning. 
    • Find a podcast on your topic.
    • Start collecting sources on CloudCite! It will create a works cited page for you.


What are the key players or experts saying about your topic? What questions do YOU have? Research is conversation.


  • Keywords & Search engines vs. Databases
  • Types of Sources
    • Primary sources are those made at the time of the event. All journal entries, interviews, and photographs or video that you take at your internships are primary sources. A science experiment that you conduct is a primary source. Primary sources for the COVID-19 pandemic include photos, news stories, and personal accounts from that time. Every today is history tomorrow.
    • Secondary sources are what people write or film after the fact. Articles, books, and documentaries are secondary sources.
  • Fact checking
    • Vet your sources by opening up another tab & ask, “Who is behind this information?” “What choices did this person make in presenting the information?”
    • Practice lateral reading.
    • Use sites like to fact check any information that is hate- or fear-inducing.
  • Taking notes
    • Use a double column note-taking format. 
    • Copy & paste the web address (URL) where you found the info.
      • In one column, record important statistics, quotes from experts, examples from case studies, and facts that help build your argument.
      • In the second column, record your own thoughts and questions, including how and where they could fit into your essay, or use this column for summarizing, like in Cornell notetaking.


What insights and connections have you had? These can inform the structure of your essay. Here is a graphic organizer for creating an ELA literary essay and a SS argumentative essay.

  • Are you including multiple perspectives or more than one point of view? What about the voices of under-represented groups? Youth? Immigrants? A Global perspective?
  • Have you viewed both liberal and conservative sources? Have you looked at the issues from all sides? From there you can develop a counter-argument.
  • What facts or stats could you use to build or counter your argument? See below for good sites to find statistics. Or use Opposing Viewpoints database.

If you are not writing an argumentative essay, how will you share your research? Are you going to tell it as a story or create a narrative essay? Describe a process? Create a documentary? a brochure? a slide show? an info-graphic? Did you storyboard it?


  • Do your paragraphs have your own thinking as well as quoted or paraphrased information?
  • Do your visuals tell the story you want told and add another layer to the words you carefully chose?
  • Did you cite your sources (incl. pics) in MLA8  or APA? Check out this webquest or these tutorials:.
  • Did you read aloud to edit for punctuation and capitalization?


  • Before you share your work:
    • What new questions do you have about your topic?
    • Did you change your thesis as you learned more?
    •  What will you do differently next time you have to do research?

Design Thinking Process Developed by the at Stanford

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