- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
- Use the writing process to research, record, and report information accurately.
- Use research material including dictionaries, globes, encyclopedias, electronic databases, and the Internet.
- Combine and organize information from multiple sources.
- Pre-Reading Project Options/Sign-Up Sheet (PDF)
- Pre-Reading Project Rubric (PDF)
- Paper and pencil
- Computers, to access online databases and Internet Web sites
- Project Planning Pyramids (1 copy per student or cooperative group) from The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers
- Books on the Renaissance Period
- Dictionaries, globes, encyclopedias
- Video recorder/VCR (optional)
Set Up and Prepare
- Decide if you can acquire the materials in your own classroom or if you should hold class meetings in your school media center once you've assigned project topics. If you decide to go to the media center, make the appointment with your media specialist. If you wish to stay in your classroom, borrow resource materials from the library.
- Make copies of the Pre-Reading Project Options, one for each class.
- Make copies of the Project Planning Pyramids and Project Rubric for each student.
- Plan for assigning the projects. If you wish to assign partners, do so before the first class meeting. If you plan on allowing students to choose partners, prepare a sheet on a clipboard or in a notebook that you can access easily. If you plan on allowing students to choose topics to research, make a plan on how to record those choices. If you wish to offer a random selection of topics, make two copies of each Pre-Reading Project Sign-Up Sheet per class one to record assignments and one to cut apart into topic slips students can draw from a basket.
Step 1: Explain to students that they will be studying a historical fiction piece, The Prince and the Pauper, in which some story elements are based on facts. Because this particular story is set during the English Renaissance Era, they must build background in this time period in order to understand which parts of the story are NOT factually based. Instruct students to take pencils and paper and sit with their partners.
Step 2: In a whole group, share each topic from the Pre-Reading Project Options sheet, giving a brief description for each. Allow students to share any information they already know about each topic. Then, assign topics by allowing each pair to choose or draw "out of a hat."
Step 3: Discuss the schedule for building this background (probably the next 3-4 class periods). Mention whether class will be meeting in its regular spot or in the school's media center.
Step 4: For the rest of the class period, have partners brainstorm what they know or can guess about their topics. Distribute the Project Planning Pyramids so that students can brainstorm concretely on paper. Each pair will keep this so they have a place to start during the next class period.
Days Two - Four
Step 1: Allow students time to complete their research for the next few days. Send students to the media center as needed.
Step 2: You will need to monitor progress, adjust, and/or make suggestions when needed. For example, some topics have more available resources than others. You may need to give more assistance to those working on the less popular topics. I always try to walk around for 15 minutes, allow the students to work uninterrupted for 15 minutes, then walk around again for the next 15 minutes. While students may need guidance, the pairs need time to relate as peers in order to develop the ability to work productively with others. Remember to be the facilitator!
Step 3: As pairs finish gathering information, allow time in class for students to either use the computer to create a multimedia presentation, or to find areas on the floor or tables to work on presentation displays. Again, be available while students are working.
Step 1: Students will be presenting their projects. Have students decide how presentations should be ordered.
Step 2: Allow time for students to make presentations. Ask a student to be the Time Keeper so that you may score the rubric simultaneously or videotape the presentations.
Supporting All Learners
- By allowing students to work cooperatively, most learners should have the necessary assistance.
- If a student chooses to work alone, be sure to explain that the same end result is expected when the student makes the presentation. Check in with them often.
- Remember that the word "multimedia" simply means "in more than one format." If a student chooses to use Microsoft PowerPoint with sounds, pictures, and/or video for the presentation, that in itself is multimedia. If a student chooses to write a paper and give a speech during the presentation, that's also multimedia. Students may also create a visual on poster board and talk about it during the presentation. Remind the students that "multimedia" is a fancy word for the basic elements of ANY good presentation.
Home ConnectionAnytime you assign a major project, consider sending a letter home to parents. This letter could include a basic description of the project, the assignment's rationale, and the due date. This way, parents can monitor progress at home while you monitor classroom progress. This also eases tension if you need to call them to explain that the assignment was not completed on time.
AssignmentsDuring this project week, the only assignments would be to work on the presentation. Some students may choose to conduct extra research after school while others will want to spend more time working on the multimedia aspect of the presentation. Just keep them of the due date!
- Did the students enjoy the topics?
- Which ones could be deleted from next year's list?
- Which topics could be added, based on conversations overheard among students?
- Did your students research successfully or get frustrated easily with the task?
- How accurately did students evaluate themselves?
- Based on the rubric, how much did students think they personally learned from the activity?
- Based on your class observations, how well did students work cooperatively?
Use the included rubric to score each pair's presentation. Remember that the topics lend choice to the students, but the actual assignment is the same for all groups.