NF UNIT P2 Day 5

Day 5

Poem A Day:

Clean lyrics can be found here. (there is one curse word at the end of the song- it is hard to hear it). The song is all about telling your own story and having your own vision of the world. I think it is inspiring as students prepare to engage in research and critical inquiry.


Today’s objective is: Students will understand how to search for and find reliable information in our school’s LLC.

Our fabulous Librarian is taking over today and teaching my kiddos a lesson about doing research in our library. It never hurts to coordinate with your LLC specialist and get your kids into the Library often. They should feel comfortable there- magical things happen in libraries (#englishteacher).

If I did not have this time with our librarian, I would be modeling for the students how I find reliable sources to answer my research question about Zeitoun.

Active Engagement:

Students will begin searching for credible information from sources outside of their nonfiction books in an attempt to answer a self-generated research question (or a few).


Recap/answer any questions.

NF UNIT P2 Day 2

Day 2

Poem A Day:


Throughout this part of the unit, I am using the first half of class to teach or review elements of nonfiction and model my approach to the project I gave them. The second half of class I am giving to students to work on their projects.

Today’s objective was: Students will understand how confirmation bias and values-based information limit critical thinking. (this tied into the song)

I defined the terms “confirmation bias” and “values-based information” and students took notes in their notebooks.

Then we watched this amazing Ted Talk about how websites like Google and Facebook filter information you receive online (the talk is from 2011 so we thought about how much that has changed in either direction since then) Great conversation.

Next, I discussed my own biases and my tendency to find information that confirms them. I just read and am currently teaching Dave Eggers’s Zeitoun in my American Lit class.  It is a nonfiction book about one man’s experience in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is a great read and lends itself well to the project students are working on.

I told students that I am doing the project, just like they are, and that this is the book I chose. Every class, I show them where I am in the project and what my research and thinking looks like, before I dismiss them to do their own projects.

I started out by talking about the protagonist of my book: Abdulrahman  Zeitoun. In the book he is portrayed as a successful business owner, hard-worker, loving husband and father and heroic neighbor. I told them, I may want to do more research about the man. So I googled his name (with my smartboard on, while students watched and participated).

The first results to pop up were these:

About 21,000 results (0.56 seconds)
Clearly, there is more to this guy. The students were rapt. We spent a good 20 minutes falling down the rabbit hole, reading source after source, watching videos and learning more about this guy.
I told students, they just did research. They couldn’t believe they enjoyed it. lol.
I also told students about a few other things I was thinking about researching from my book to show them that they have some options and range when deciding how to approach their projects.
Those include: Camp Greyhound and Black Water.

Active Engagement:

Students delved into their books, and took notes searching for things to research for their projects. I conferred one-on-one with them to see what books they chose and what ideas they were thinking about learning more about. They ALL had books and ALL had an idea of where they were going with the project.


I reminded students to read their novels and keep on thinking!

NF UNIT P1 Day 4

Day 4

Poem A Day:

Emily Dickinson “Tell all the Truth”

Image result for tell all the truth, but tell it slant


Today’s Objective: Students will evaluate the article’s context (Who is the author? The publisher? Advertisers? When is was it published? What was going on in the time and place from where it comes?).

We began by watching this video to prepare for further analysis of their nonfiction articles.

Then, students got out the model text for this unit and worked in pairs to complete this worksheet in order to evaluate the source material they are analyzing.

We share out answers and as a class and I ask the students to determine the credibility of my article based on the activity. They rated it on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is an unreliable source and 10 is totally credible. The students found my article to be anywhere between 5-7. They are critical!

Active Engagement:

Students use their personal choice articles to complete a blank version of the same worksheet. 


Students have analyzed their articles in various ways at this point, paying close attention to different types of details.  For homework, I asked them to use their notes so far to write an analysis. This is due next class. (after a weekend)