NF UNIT P2 Days 12-13

Poem A Day:

No time for Poems on this day. Students are presenting their projects!!


I originally planned one day for students to share their presentations. I mean, our classes are 80 minutes. Surely, that is enough time for 20 presentations.



I mean, really, I am still completely blown away. I wish I had recorded a few of the presentations that still have my mind spinning.

One student gave a “Ted Talk” and the students in his class were rapt. There was an applause when he finished. Please read his words: They are gorgeous. I am also attaching the images he used while presenting-

Active Engagement:

Students listened to their peers



After students were finished presenting, I gave students this reflection form.

Here are some of the responses I got on this reflection. This is real evidence of learning. When a student can articulate clearly what they have learned, that means they have learned it. (my capacity for logic is, frighteningly impressive, I know).

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This one made me proud. From the mouths of babes. “I learned more in 19 presentations than I have learned throughout the whole year in science.” Notice, she quotes one talk, and references several others. She paid attention- and I did not force them to, via some handout.
Double check!
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Do your research, yanno, so you don’t embarrass yourself with misinformation! It’s practical.
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Authentic learning and understanding takes TIME. Nice conclusion.
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NF UNIT P2 Day 11

Day 11

Poem A Day:


I chose this song because it inspires the Ted Talk I am working on for this project.

Lyrics are here. 


Today’s objective is: Students will share their projects with peers in small groups so they can develop, clarify and strengthen their ideas.


I asked students to have their rough drafts ready today to share in small groups. So, I had to have my Ted talk rough draft ready.

One of the lessons I learned in this unit, and I hope my students will learn, is if you want to do something well, you have to put a lot of time, thought, energy, and effort into that something. And then, you still may not be able to meet your own expectations. But- you may exceed someone else’s.

Anyway, I read my rough draft to the students and showed them my work-in-progress-slideshow. I gathered their suggestions, and ideas, and told them my game plan for finishing this bad boy by Monday.

 Active Engagement:

Students shared their rough drafts in groups of three. They all worked to strengthen their ideas and make sure they were being clear. Final drafts and presentations are due Monday. I secured the school’s theater for presentations, so that is pretty epic and exciting! I will have to take pictures and post them 🙂


Students share out improvements they will make as a result of today’s work.

NF UNIT P2 Day 10

Day 10

Poem A Day:

None- Students need class time to work on their projects- We will have no access to devices for the next class session due to school–wide testing.


Today’s objective is: Students will create original pieces of nonfiction in order to teach others what they know to be true.

Today, I showed students my progress on my Ted Talk inspired by Zeitoun. Model, model, model. But also give lots of techniques and strategies for doing things.

I told them that I started putting the project together the other day when I finally got an idea of what I wanted the point of my ted talk to be. But, it came to me when I was driving to work. So, I got out my iphone and recorded a voice note. Here is that voice note. Will I use that? Some of it? All of it? I do not know. But it got me thinking. 

So I started writing ideas in this google doc.  My ideas were all over the place.

So I started making this coggle. And then my ideas really got flowing.

Active Engagement:

Students worked in the computer lab today on their projects. Rough drafts are due next class.


Recap/answer any questions.

NF UNIT P2 Day 9

Poem A Day:




Today’s objective is: Students will gather information from various reputable sources in order to deepen understanding of a chosen topic.I had a chromebook cart in my room for this one. 

We started today by watching this Ted Talk from Markham Nolan called “How to Separate Fact from Fiction Online.” It was pretty relevant to the work students are doing for their projects.



At the end of his talk, he says this: “But here’s the thing. Algorithms are rules. They’re binary. They’re yes or no, they’re black or white. Truth is never binary. Truth is a value. Truth is emotional, it’s fluid, and above all, it’s human. No matter how quick we get with computers, no matter how much information we have, you’ll never be able to remove the human from the truth-seeking exercise, because in the end, it is a uniquely human trait.”

We discussed this and our evolving understanding of the genre of nonfiction.

Active Engagement

Students were supposed to have gathered all of their sources and created citations for each source in MLA format. Today, I gave them a “quiz” on Google Classroom. A blank google doc for them to create their works cited page. They could use the Purdue owl link to help them. It was open-note and open-web. I just want students to learn how to do it on their own. They don’t love it.

After they finish their quiz, they have the class to work on gathering information and note-taking for their projects.

Again, students barely looked up from their screens. They did research. I fielded their issues as they arose- as they tend to. 😉



Students shared out the most interesting piece of information they have found so far with a partner (I recently moved desks into partners for another class I teach, but it was useful in this class too for students to have a buddy to bounce ideas off of and to check MLA formatting with).



NF UNIT P2 Day 8

Poem A Day:

Today I chose a poem that connected to the research I am doing for my “model project”. I want the students to see that research does not have to be “boring”. It can actually be something that seasons and enriches your life and your understanding of people or the world or yourself. So, I described how this song reminds me of the things I am learning in my research about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Today’s objective is: Students will find four outside sources about their chosen topic and create MLA citations for those sources. I had a chromebook cart in my room for this one. 

I told students that today they would be finding new sources of information about their topics. I reminded them about nonfiction, and its limitations- to emphasize the importance to consulting more than one source for information.

I had students get onto google classroom and open this document that I shared with each of them (each student has their own copy to type into).

I also had the same document open on my screen and the smartboard. I clicked on the purdue owl link at the top and showed them how to find the citation types they may need.

***side note*** I taught these freshmen last year when they were in 8th grade and I taught at the middle school. I know exactly how they were taught to do citations – and they are consistently making the following mistake:

They go to easy bib, or they use the extension on google docs, but they do not manually enter any information, so their citations end up inaccurate and lacking information.

So, today we talked about that- and how to fix it. I gave them a few samples on the doc I shared with them. I showed them where I found the information for the citation for one of my sources.

We also talked about taking notes, and keeping them organized, so that you know where your information comes from when you go to compile your project.

Finally, we reviewed in-text citations, and I encouraged them to make them as they recorded notes.

I also shared this document with students- this is my model for them.  I opened the doc and had it up all day as I worked on finding sources for my project, creating citations, and taking notes. As I worked, they also worked on their own research.


Active Engagement

Students barely looked up from their screens. They did research. I fielded their issues as they arose- as they tend to. 😉


I told students I wanted a works cited page of 5 sources including their books by our next class.


NF UNIT P2 Day 7

Day 7

Poem A Day:

For this unit, I am trying to find poetry and music that celebrates the individual’s mind, critical thought, and questioning “official truths”.  It gets the kids in the right zone to learn more about a topic of their choice and decide how to report their findings, in their own voice.


Today’s objective is: Students will identify successful components of nonfiction in various films in order to decide which components they may want to incorporate into their products. (wordy- I will work on that).

Today, students are going to watch a series of short nonfiction films and think about the decisions made by the producers of the videos. They will consider how they can use these moves in order to create a final product that will be informational, credible, and engaging.

I started the day by asking students to list types of nonfiction films. This is the list they came up with:




-Ted Talks


-Video blogs

I gave students this handout and described the activity we would be doing today (all of which is in the directions of the handout).



Active Engagement

I showed the following examples of nonfiction in film, and students recorded notes on their handouts for each video. I gave them a few minutes in between videos to jot their ideas, discuss with a partner, and share with the class. I also pointed out the great things I noticed, or criticisms I had.

Video 1

Things we liked about this video:

  • transitions
  • music
  • editing
  • writing

Video 2

Things we liked about this video:

  • appropriate music
  • Pathos- appeals to emotion

Kids were quick to catch spelling errors and editorial mistakes in this video- I reminded them that viewers of their products would also notice those things… EDIT EDIT EDIT.

Video 3

For this video, we discussed multiple perspectives being recognized, even though the pov of the creator was clear.Students also appreciated some of the more “artsy” shots and how the interviews were presented.

Video 4

Students learned from this video not to film scenes in places with a lot of background info- the video suffered as students could not understand the interviews.

Video 5

Students enjoyed this video the most so far. We talked about how there is a fine line between standing alone in a room and with your iphone and just talking endlessly into the camera. This is so engaging because of the cuts, the humor in the writing, the props, the rating criteria, etc.

Last, but not least, one of the most popular vloggers on the interwebs:

Video 6

Students filled out the handouts.


I had students get out their project handouts from the beginning of the unit. We reviewed the types of projects they could create. Then, I gave students a post-it. On it the wrote,

their name

their research topic

the type of project they want to make

For example,

Ms. Minto

Research topic: The creation of Camp Greyhound in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Project: Ted Talk



NF UNIT P2 Day 6

Day 6

Poem A Day:

Today is all about sussing out what you think is right in the face of competing information. This is such a key skill in research and any type of learning, so I like to spend a lot of time on it. I think the more critical thought I encourage and support and facilitate, the better off these kids are going to be in their futures. There is a lot they will encounter and learn and see and experience out in their lives- and I cannot do anything about that. But, I can try to help them think critically- and hope for the best.

This song is a great way to get kids excited about taking a critical stance toward texts. Lyrics are here


(students will need access to google drive- I am using Chromebooks, a computer lab would work).

Today’s objective is: Students will collaborate with peers to define “nonfiction”

After discussing the poem a day, students will log into their “shared with me” folder on Google Drive.

I created this document  and made several copies of it. I created groups of 5-6 students and then shared one copy with each member of each group. I name the documents for myself (like “Block 2 Group 1” or “Block 3 Group 2”). This way, when students access the document, they will be able to collaborate on the document only with the students I have selected for their group.

At the top of the document, I have listed 5-6 colors. I ask each student to pick a color on their document. This is the color they will type in.



These are the directions in the document:

We have had several thorough discussions about the nature of nonfiction writing and the tools writers use to convey meaning in nonfiction texts. Today, we will recap by defining nonfiction in small groups. You will engage in an online discussion with your peers. Be prepared to respond to each other, and to discuss your conclusions with the class.

First: Read this article from the New York Times. “How do you know if what you read online is true?” by Katherine Schulten.

Next: Answer each of the questions below in your chosen color. Then, respond to at least two of your peers using the comments feature. Ask them questions for clarification. Challenge their opinions. Be respectful in  your discourse: all keystrokes on this doc are recorded 😉

Finally, students will work together to craft a definition of “nonfiction”

Active Engagement

Students work on the “online discussion” while I circulate, and it is also fun to contribute to the discussions on their Google docs. Once the groups have finished, I collect their definitions of “nonfiction” on one google doc and post it on the smartboard. This can lead to a great discussion if you have time.


Recap/answer any questions. Once students finish the activity, they continue searching for credible information from sources outside of their nonfiction books in an attempt to answer a self-generated research question (or a few) for their project.

Here are a few examples of the work students did today: (very colorful, fun stuff).