Project Overview

Often, students ask why we read novels, stories, and plays from past generations. After studying the overall themes of literary works, they realize that literature often reveals hidden truths about the world around them. Now that you’ve finished reading Steinbeck’s The Pearl, you will write a driving question to focus your research. Then, you will create a thematic notebook with five modern sources exemplifying how one of the novel’s themes is still prevalent in modern society. Finally, you will write an analytical essay that answers your driving question and that uses a minimum of three of the five modern sources to support your claims.  This is due on Monday, November 14th.

Project Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Identify one theme from the novel using the thematic statement sentence frame.
  • Write a level-three question to drive research for an analytical essay.
  • Effectively use textual evidence to lead into analysis about a text.
  • Write using Standard English (capitalization, punctuation, grammar, etc.)
  • Compose a strong, closed thesis statement that addresses the prompt, identifies the theme of the novel, and introduces three main claims to support the theme.

ELA Common Core State Standards

RL.9-10.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RL.9-10.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone

RL.9-10.7: Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment

RI.9-10.4: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.9-10.6: Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

W.9-10.6: Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

W.9-10.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.9-10.8: Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Thematic Statement – 20 points total

You will find and write one thematic statement from The Pearl to serve as a focus of your Thematic Notebook. This must follow the thematic statement sentence frame below:

In The Pearl, John Steinbeck presents the idea that abstract concept observation about the concept qualifying clause.  

To learn more about how to write strong thematic statements, check out the video below.

Driving Question – 20 points total

Before finding and explaining five sources to support your theme, you will use the four-step process to writing a level-three driving question based on your thematic statement to drive your source search and to create your own essay prompt to respond to in an analytical essay.

Driving Question Frame:

In his novella, The Pearl, John Steinbeck proves THEMATIC STATEMENT. How is OBSERVATION ABOUT ABSTRACT CONCEPT still PREVALENT/DIFFERENT/NO LONGER EVIDENT in modern society? Use Steinbeck’s novel and a minimum of three of the five sources from thematic notebook as evidence to support your claim.

Source Requirements – 25 points each

You select five of the listed source genres from modern society to support your thematic statement. For each source, provide a brief (5-7 sentence) summary that clearly explains how the source supports your thematic statement. Please pull two or more sources from each of the two columns below. You may not use any of the additional texts we’ve read in class as a source.

Column A (choose three genres) Column B (choose two genres)
One Movie

One Newspaper

One Magazine

One Poem

One Drama

One Short Story

One Children’s Story

One Television Show

One Novel

One Internet Article

Two Advertisements

One Political Cartoon

Two Quotations

Two Photographs

Two Pieces of Art

One Comic Strip

Two Jokes

One Video Game

One Song

Three Memes


Analytical Essay – 60 points total

Finally, once you’ve found four sources from modern society and published a brief explanation as to how those sources support your theme and help to answer your driving question, you will write an essay that answers your driving question. This essay must have the following elements:

  • It must be five paragraphs in length, with one introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and one concluding paragraph.
  • The last sentence in your introduction must be a thesis statement that identifies the theme of the novel, answers the driving question, and identifies three supporting claims.
  • Each body paragraph must be about one of the three supporting claims from your thesis statement, and they must use embedded evidence and analysis to draw connections between the supporting claims and the thesis statement.
  • The first sentence in the conclusion must paraphrase the thesis statement.
  • In addition to The Pearl, you must use three of the five sources identified in your thematic notebook.

Body Paragraphs- 15 points each

Make sure your body paragraphs have all the elements listed below.

Topic Sentence – Each topic sentence should support your thesis statement. Make sure your topics are organized in chronological order.

Use a topic sentence to explain your main point of focus for the body paragraph. Stretch each of the 3 reasons from your thesis into 3 topic sentences and then use these topic sentences to start your 3 body paragraphs.

Textual Evidence – Each paragraph must use evidence from The Pearl, and at least one source from the thematic notebook. 

Use the 3-Step Process to embed 2-3 pieces of textual evidence in each body paragraph.

  • Step 1– Introduce the focus of the quote. This may include necessary background information or words that manipulate the quote to serve your needs.
  • Step 2– Provide a paraphrase or direct quotation (begin with a verb and end with the parenthetical citation).
  • Step 3– Comment on why this part of the text is important, relevant to the prompt, thesis topic sentence or otherwise significant.

Clincher – The clincher may leave the reader with a lasting impression, or transition to the next paragraph. 

This is the last sentence of your paragraph. It restates that topic sentence (using different words) and it leaves the reader with a lasting impression. Since your paragraphs serve as body paragraphs, the clincher may also serve as a transitional sentence.

Introduction/Conclusion- 15 points total

These two ideas are mirror images of one another. The introduction starts broad and narrows into a specific thesis statement. The conclusion starts narrow with your paraphrased thesis and then broadens into larger idea and lasting impression.


  • The first sentence should be the hook. This grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go. There are 3 ways to writing strong hooks:
    • Tell a short anecdote.
    • Reveal a startling fact.
    • Give an inspirational quote.
  • The second and third sentences should give background information on concepts being addressed in the essay, and should introduce the thematic statement from The Pearl.
  • The last sentence in your introduction should be your thesis statement.


  • The first sentence should restate your thesis (paraphrase).
  • The last 2-3 sentences will connect the essay to a larger idea, or leave the reader with a lasting impression or propose a call to action.

Notebook Requirements and Final Checklist

Everything in your notebook must be typed and aesthetically pleasing. You will create your notebook using blank sheets of computer paper in class. Your notebook title will be something related to your selected theme from The Pearl. Then, on the following pages, you will present your relevant sources and use evidence to explain how that source demonstrates the theme’s prevalence in modern society. Your typed essay should be on the final pages of your notebook. Before turning in your assignment, use the checklist below to ensure that you’ve included all required components.

  • The notebook’s title creatively identifies the abstract concept identified in the thematic statement and explored through the sources.
  • The abstract concept, thematic statement, and driving question (level-three question) are identified on the notebook’s “About” page (the first page of the notebook), and they are also clearly displayed at the top of each source page.
  • Each source has been identified and explained on its own page within the notebook, resulting in five total source pages.
  • The analytical essay has been typed onto the final pages of the notebook, and includes in-text citations and a works cited page.

Take a look at the images below for individual page templates and directions. 

Notebook Page Templates

Title Page


About Page


Table of Contents


Source Pages (five total)


Analytical Essay – Click here to learn how to format your essay!


Works Cited – Click here to learn how to format this page!