Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

AHS Subject Guides: English: Student Interest Project

This guide includes print and online resources for English: Courses include: English Literature, Communication, Expository Writing, Creative Writing, Journalism, Humanities, Reading, etc.

Narrowing a Research Topic

Narrowing a Research Topic and Developing a Research Question


Objective: To understand what a research topic is and how to develop a research question.


How to develop a research question

    1.a. Watch video.

    2.b. Review template and share exemplar

    3.c. Student practice: Students work through template to narrow the scope of their research project to develop a research question.

Online Sources for Research

Student Instructions

Clark, K.

Expository Writing

Introduction to Online Sources (updated 5-2018, R. Musco)

Information literacy topics covered

  • Determining the best sources
  • Searching strategies for information
  • Evaluating sources
  • Using technology tools


1. Objective: To distinguish between different formats of research materials available online and judge the reliability of information, and to develop and practice searching strategies for relevant information.


2..Discussion: What are the different types of online databases sources available? (Find through Amity’s  Library Databases).  Notes are included at end of instructions for reference.

2.a.  Specialized Academic Databases (usually paid subscription $$$):

  • EBSCO’s GreenFILE (available free through ResearchIT CT with library card)

2.b. Multi-disciplinary Academic Databases (paid subscription $$$).

2.c. Library “Aggregators”.

2.d. Open Web Sources


3.a. Discussion:  Multi-disciplinary Academic Database:

EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete : (available free through ResearchIT CT with library card)


3.b. Practice search

EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete, and find a relevant article that addresses your topic.

Use tools to search for topic, play around for a few minutes.

  • Take note of your surroundings:  
  • Use Advanced Search
  • Limit to Full Text.
  • Use other limiters for KIND of material.
  • Follow subject leads.
  • Save results.
  • Choose an article, skim it.
  • Prepare to share one observation that you came up with about how searching works.

3.c. Share sample, Discuss

4.a. Discussion: Library “Aggregator”..

OneSearch from ResearchIT CT  (available free through ResearchIT CT with library card)

(no practice, because it is the same as all EBSCO databases.)


5.a. Discussion:  Open web source

Federal Bureau of Investigation: “Violent Crime, is one of the focuses of the FBI’s work, and a subdivision of its web site.


5.b. Practice search

Do a Google Search and find a piece of relevant PRIMARY SOURCE information that addresses their topic.

  • Browse the site.
  • Identify some information.
  • Prepare to share one observation that you came up with about how searching works.

5.c. Share sample, Discuss

Additional Tips:

  • Get a library card so you can use ResearchIT CT at home.
  • Practice searching from our web page:
  • You are MORE likely to find something useful for school FASTER from a paid database than from a web search.
  • Everything that ISN’T useful has NOT been included.
  • Everything you find in a full-text search is really available, as opposed to just being a summary (abstract).
  • You can avoid “pseudo-authoritative” sources written by people who confuse opinion with science, and beliefs with objective facts.

Rocco: AP Capstone NoodleTools Citations


AP Research/Seminar

NoodleTools Citations and Notes

Information literacy topics:

- Taking notes

- Organizing source citations

- References

- Using technology tools


Objective: To understand and define the concept of a research “citation”, and to use a web citation generator (NoodleTools) to create citations and bibliographic references. To describe three categories of notes based on research, and to write and organize notes online in NoodleTools.


1: Find the activities for this class, at:

Amity website→High SchoolAHS Library Information Center

(tab) Find Online Stuff→By Subject→English

(tab) Class Projects →Rocco: College Research→ NoodleTools Citations and Notes


Part A: Understanding and Creating Citations


2. Answer the question: “What is a citation?”. Start at 00:41 sec.


3. Presentation:View the video, “NoodleTools Tutorial Introduction”, Start at 00:41 sec, and eliminate the wait time.


4. Discussion: Analyze this sample citation to see which elements it includes.


“What kind of source is it?”

“Identify each information element of the citation.”

Begley, Sharon. "The Anatomy of Violence." Newsweek Vol. CXLIX, No. 18. 30 Apr. 2007: 40-46. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 22 Sep. 2016


5.Sign into your NoodleTools account:


- If you have signed on to NoodleTools during the 2018-19 year:

     - Sign in Google Drive first and find the NoodleTool app logo under the

- or log on to NoodleTools, using your Google sign-on. 


- If you are new to the district, or did not sign on to NoodleTools in 2018-19:

- Follow these instructions to create a NoodleTools account.


6. Create a project to begin citations.

6.a. Click on “New Project”.


6.b. Enter a “Project Title”.

6.c. Choose “MLA” style (for this English class), and click the “Advanced” citation level for full functionality. Click “Submit”.


6.d. Write a “Research Question” (think of something related to your topic).

6.e. Write a “Thesis” statement. This is the statement or question you will prove or discuss.

6.f. Click the “Projects” tab to view your project list.


6.g. Click on the name of your project to open it.



6.h. Click on the “Sources” tab. You are now ready to cite a source.


7. Create a COPY AND PASTE citation for a database article (SIRS). 

7.a. Go to this article from the SIRS database: “The Anatomy of Violence”.

7.b. Find the MLA citation at the end of the article, or click on “Cite” in the sidebar.

7.c. COPY the citation for practice (use MLA format).

7.d. Return to NoodleTools, and click on “Create a New Citation”.

7.e. Answer the question “Where is it?”. Note that the choice here refers to WHERE the source was found, not what KIND of source it is. Choose “Database”.

7.f. Answer the question “WHAT is it?”.Choose “Magazine” (because the citation shows this article was written for Newsweek).


7.g. Click “Quick Cite”: Copy & Paste Citation”.  Paste in the citation you copied.

7.h. Click “Submit”. Look at your citation.


8. Student practice: creating a MANUAL citation for a database article (SIRS). 

8.a. Return to the previous article from the SIRS database: “The Anatomy of Violence”.

8.b. Back in NoodleTools, from the Sources tab, click on “Create a New Citation”.

8.c. Answer the question “Where is it?”. Once again choose “Database”.

8.d. Answer the question “WHAT is it?”. Once again choose “Magazine”.


8.e. Start filling in as much information as you can, copying from the article, and adjusting the text as needed. Notice the pop-up hints.


8.f. Click “Submit”.

Helpful pointers:

- Did you fill in the date you got the article?

- Did you use the HOME page URL since the article URL was so long and complicated?


8.g. Now compare your two citations.


Begley, Sharon. "The Anatomy of Violence." Newsweek, vol. CXLIX, no. 18, 30 Apr. 2007, pp. 40-46. SIRS Issues Researcher, Accessed 22 Sept. 2016.


Begley, Sharon. "The Anatomy of Violence." Newsweek Vol. CXLIX, No. 18. 30 Apr. 2007: 40-46. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 22 Sep. 2016.


When they are different, it is usually because you either did not include all the citation information, OR because the citation you copied from the database was not correct, OR because the citation software is not always right or using the same format edition.  What do think are the reasons here?

Remember that databases are not always capable of interpreting information correctly, especially unusual author formats.

9. Student practice: Create a MANUAL citation for a database article (EBSCO).

Create a MANUAL citation for a database article.

9.a. Go to the article “The Autogenic (self-generated) Massacre” in the EBSCO company’s database Academic Search Complete.

9.b. Back in NoodleTools, from the Sources tab, click on “Create a New Citation”.

9.c. Answer the question “Where is it?”. Once again choose “Database”.

9.d. Answer the question “WHAT is it?”. Choose “Journal” because this is an article in an academic journal called “Behavioral Sciences”.

9.e. Start filling in as much information as you can, copying from the article:

- Name of database: find it

- URL: find the "permalink" on the right, OR use the root URL of the database if the link is very long.

- DOI (Direct Object Identifier): find it

- Most recent date of access: (today)

- Author: find it

- Article title: find it

- Pages: find it

- Name of journal: find it

- Volume: find it

- Issue: find it (same as “Number”)

- Publication date: find it

- Series: there is none listed

9.f. Click “Submit”.

Mullen, Paul E. "The Autogenic (Self-generated) Massacre." Behavioral Sciences & the Law, vol. 22, no. 3, May 2004, pp. 311-23. Academic Search Premier, doi:10.1002/bsl.564. Accessed 24 Sept. 2016


10. Student practice: Creating a MANUAL citation for a book.

Create a MANUAL citation for a book.

10.a. View the PDF of the book “Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder”..

10.b. Return to NoodleTools, and repeat the steps to make a new citation.

10.c. Click on “Create a New Citation”.

10.d. Answer the question “Where is it?”. Choose “Print or in-hand”. We will pretend we have the print version.

10.e. Choose “Book”.

10.d. Fill in all the relevant information. Notice the following:

- Information on the book cover.

- Information on the title page.

- Information on the copyright page..

- We will NOT fill in the “Chapter and Section” information, or page numbers, because here we are citing the whole book.

- “Add another contributor” allows more than one personal credit.

- Note the specific “Role” (author? Editor? Contributor?)

- Note the spaces for information related to multi-volume or series books, though they don’t apply here.

- Click “Submit”.

10.e. Compare your finished citation to the citation below. Are there any differences?

Fox, James Allen, and Jack Levin. Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder. 3rd ed., Los Angeles, Sage Publications, 2015.

Citing your sources within your paper

- How do you cite the article in the body of your paper?

- After the quotation, fact, opinion, or idea that you use in your paper, place your "in-text" citation to credit that source.  Put it at the end of the sentence, before the punctuation mark.

- The citation is usually the author's last name, followed by a page number (both in parenthesis).

- If you use the author's name in the sentence, then the citation is just the page number (in parenthesis).

- If there is no author, use the first few words of whatever the citation starts with in the "Works Cited" list, with a page number, if there is one.

- If the first few words are of an article, put them in quotes.


- In-text citations used for the 1st time.

- In-text citation used 2nd or more times consecutively.

- In-text citation used 2nd time, but not in a row.

- Works Cited list at the end.

- Look at the sample page from Purdue University’s writing site.

- You will need to follow the instructions and examples from a reliable source, like the writing experts at Purdue University’s OWL MLA style pages.

-You can also look at the Amity Librarians’ MLA Quick Guide, with examples from the most common kinds of formats.


How do you organize the Works Cited page?  


- The "Works Cited" page goes at the end of the document. Give it the title, "Works Cited".

- Put citations in alphabetical order of author. If there is no author, put citations in order of the first work of the citation.

Developing an Annotated Bibliography

William Rocco

English II

Huck Finn: Developing an Annotated Bibliography (updated 4-2019)

Information literacy topics:

-Determining best sources

-Communicating new knowledge

-Creating/Writing a research-based product

-Using technology tools to create a citation.


1. Objective:

To understand what an annotated bibliography is and to produce an annotated bibliography of relevant resources found.


Discussion: Creating an Annotated Bibliography

What is an annotated bibliography?


Look at this sample from OWL Purdue. 

          The annotations included with each source generally follow this format:    



A summary includes an overview explaining what it is about.  



An assessment should be your judgement on the reliability of the source’s author/organization (credentials, expertise, trustworthy, etc.).  



A reflection should discuss in what way is the source relevant and how the source can be used to cite evidence that supports your claim.  


 There are 2 ways to create an annotated bibliography in Noodletools.

-After you have entered the necessary information to create a citation,  click save & add annotation.





-Insert your annotation under the dropdown on the right under “Options” and select “Edit annotation.”

2. Sample:


Based on the article titled: "The Los Angeles Riots Revisited: The Changing Face of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Challenge for Educators" here is a sample annotation, addressing the required criteria.

Dr. Donna M. Davis, a Professor in the School of Education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has over 30 years experience in education. She taught high school English for 10 years before earning her doctorate at the University of Kansas. Dr. Davis teaches courses in the history and philosophy of education at UMKC and has been published in numerous scholarly journals in the areas of urban education, multicultural education, philosophy of education, history of education, arts education, and social justice. The portion of the article pertinent to my research is how there was a significant decrease in African American students enrolled in the Los Angeles school district following the Rodney King riots. This article questions whether schools could serve a larger role in preventing incidents like the Rodney King riots from occurring again. It brings up the idea that educational institutions could help develop positive relationships/interactions for students of diverse backgrounds, which ties into my research regarding how schools can address these challenges.

Amity High School, Amity Region 5 School District, Woodbridge, CT 06525, 203-397-4844 Librarians: Robert F. Musco and Victoria Hulse Copyright 2017