Problem Based Investigation (Day 1 of 2): Finding a Strategy for Group Research

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to work collaboratively towards setting rules and goals for group work by strategically planning for their group research projects.

Big Idea

Today will be a day of discussions: discussions about To Live and discussions about how best to accomplish a collaborative task.


10 minutes

We will start class with ten minutes of reading time. I will read with the students during this time. 

To Live Check In Discussion

20 minutes

Given the variance in quiz scores I saw earlier this week, I want to take some time today to have the students dive into some thematic questions for the book. These questions were created with the help of my fellow tenth grade English teachers. Our goal is to get students to start thinking about gender roles, the role of government and the moral struggles that Fugui is coping with so that we can continue to analyze the representation of Chinese culture in the novel (RL.9-10.6).

I will ask them to work with their Faulkner squares on this and will have them answer as many of the questions as they can in the 20 minute time frame we are working with. The reason I am not so worried about them answering all of the questions is that this activity is meant to help them refresh their skill of close reading so that they can do better on upcoming reading quizzes/formal discussions (RL.9-10.10 and SL.9-10.1). I will frame the activity as such and will let the students know that I will be looking for evidence of their thinking rather than looking for one right or wrong answer to each question. 

Group Mini Research Task: Overview and Strategy Session

20 minutes

The second half of today's class will be a pre-assessment for their final. Students will be required to create an informative/explanatory text as one part of their final project and I am curious to see what they will come up with if I ask them to create a smaller version of an informative text based on research about Chinese culture as presented in the novel (W.9-10.2). Specifically, today, students will be working on gathering evidence so that their final work will include relevant and specific facts (W.9-10.2b).

In addition, I am going to treat this like a PBL project (Problem Based Learning) and intentionally be vague about what strategies students will need to use to complete the work. Basically, this means that I am giving the students a very loose set of expectations about what needs to be included in their written work and asking them to work collaboratively on the best method for tackling the task and presentation of their ideas. Often, teachers provide a lot of guidance and modeling, which are both great teaching strategies, but I also want my students to be able to independently problem solve, which is what I am trying to let them do today. There is a STEM high school in our district that has had a great deal of success with this model of teaching/learning and I am eager to bring more of it in to my classes next year. I want to see how it will work with my lovely, end of the year sophomores and hope that it will help to engage them in what could be a pretty generic, research to gather information activity. 

The task that we will assign them is as follows. Students will be given 42 terms to research, define and present in some sort of glossary/encyclopedia/informative way. They will work in groups of nine (purposefully uneven number so students have to figure out how to delegate their work) and will be given all but a few minutes of the class period tomorrow to research and create their final product. I will allow them to chose their groups (similar to what they will do with their final assessment) and will give them time today to create a plan/proposal for their process. 

Today, they will set up their strategy and purpose for this process. I will ask them to work together to discuss setting rules for their process (SL.9-10.1b

As they work, I will circulate the room to answer questions, brainstorm formats/processes and/or offer support as needed. 

Wrap Up and Next Steps

5 minutes

I will use the last few minutes of class to have the students clean up the room and to give me a written copy of their "proposal"  that includes the names of group members and the intended product format.