Bruce Baird, sophomore history teacher, has been wanting to introduce a term paper at SCDS for 11 years, and his dream is finally coming true.
Next year, Baird will take over the responsibility of the written portion of the sophomore project, previously done by the sophomore English teachers.
“I used to be a college professor, and every year in every class I ever taught, from freshman to graduate student, they had to write a term paper,” Baird said.
Students will now read a biography of a non-American and write a paper on the figure’s importance in a historical event.
In addition to the required biography, students will be encouraged to expand their research base through visits to the public libraries.
Just as he did in the college classes he used to teach, Baird will walk students through every step, from making notecards to drafting the essays.
One reason Baird is excited about the new term papers is that he was never fully pleased with the sophomore projects, mostly because the focus turned towards the oral presentations instead of the written essay.
He is, however, aware that there are challenges ahead. “The students I taught were adults, and now we are talking about budding sophomores,” Baird said.
“Most of them don’t even read nonfiction.”
“My biggest concern is that it’s a big project, and you spend a lot of time on it,” incoming sophomore Shriya Nadgauda said. “It will be hard to stay focused on a specific person, rather than a topic we are passionate about.”
By May 30, students must have a copy of the biography they will be reading over the summer.
To ensure that they’ve finished the books, the sophomores will write in-class essays about their biographies in Patricia Fels’s English class in September.
Baird said that, in the long run, students will benefit from this experience.
“In fact, they could probably recycle it in college,” Baird said.
“A good job here could be worthy for a college term paper.”