History of Earth Project Workshop (Day 4)

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Students will be able to use research to write a narrative for their projects.

Big Idea

What would I see if I went back in time to an ancient time period?

Ready. Set. Engage

5 minutes

Learning Goal: Apply research to writing a Descriptive story about your narrative.

Opening Question: What is a narrative?

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung.  I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Today I wanted to find out what the students already knew about narratives so I asked them to share out their answers to the opening question. This was one of the genres that they wrote in Language Arts class this year and the students had a good handle on what narratives were and how to write them.  

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets.   


5 minutes

I'm asking students to use their imaginations today, using the facts that they gathered yesterday to put themselves back in time.  I wanted to show them a video that would inspire them to be creative with the events that might happen in their stories.  This video clip is from Jurassic Park, so it is not technically about going back in time...but I think the effect is still good for the students.  

Before watching the Jurassic Park: They're Flocking This Way! video, I ask the students to think about what their stories are going to be about.  Will you be alone? What part of the world will you see? Will you be in danger? How will you describe the event to your readers?  

Focus- Mini Lesson- Narrative

15 minutes

The purpose of this section is to help students start their narratives using the facts they have gathered for the last two days.  I start this process by having the students list some tools that they will be taking with them on their time travel adventure that they can use to study the time period.  Students list things like magnifying glass, chemical testers, oxygen tanks, knives, cameras and more.  I make sure that students also understand the importance of the tools of their bodies, eyes, ears, and skin.  

Then I tell the students to close their eyes.  I dim the lights in the room and then start talking in a low voice.  "You are in a time machine that is taking you back to an ancient time period.  What does your machine look like?  How does it feel when you fly?  How does it feel when you land?  You walk to the door and open the door for your first glimpse of this time period.  What is the first thing you see?  What does it smell like?  Is it safe?  Are there life forms?  You leave your time machine and explore the land and water. Are you on a flying moterbike?  Do you walk?  What do you see/hear as you explore the land?  What do you see/hear as you explore the water? What are you going to do for the hour you have in this time period?  How are you going to spend your time? You finally make your way back to the time machine.  What your thoughts as you leave?

Now I ask the students to open their eyes and begin writing their rough draft.  This is a long writing to think, because I am giving the students 10 min to simply write.  This writing will form the backbone of their rough draft.

When the 10 min are up I talk to the students about how to approach their rough drafts from there adding in descriptive terms and facts from their research.  I remind the students that they will be coming to group to get help from me and ask them to get started on their work. 

Work Time/Group pull out

25 minutes

The purpose of this section is to set up a system of check-ins with the students that is effective and efficient.  Teachers do not have the time to check in with each child independently every day.  Instead, the I call up a group of students to talk to all at once.  I ask all the students to bring the assignment paper and their work so far.

Today I want students to bring their rough drafts back to the group table so that we can add descriptive language and facts into the narrative.  I ask the students to start by looking at the narrative rough draft that I did for this project.  Students read the paragraph silently to themselves.  Then we look at the check list for the assignment to see if the rough draft is meeting the checklist.

  1. _____ Descriptive Narrative 1 page
  2. _____ Descriptive Narrative includes descriptive language
  3. _____ Descriptive Narrative includes details from research

 My rough draft does not have much descriptive language or many details.  I show the students how I would change that by editing my draft in front of them.  Then I ask the students to look at their narratives and share with  me and the small group what their narrative is missing and how they are going to fix it.  When I am sure that students are ready to work independently, I send them back to their seats.  

A screencast of this lesson is below.

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 Student work





3 minutes

Closing Statement: Today we imagined that we were exploring our time periods. 

Closing Question: How are you going to make this "real" for your reader?

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.