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 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).


NF UNIT P2 Day 4

Day 4

Poem A Day:

This one is just for fun- I play it as students walk in (it is clean) and we do not analyze it. It is called “21 questions”. Today is all about INQUIRY.


Today’s objective is: Students will craft questions to answer through research for their “capturing reality” projects.

Today, students will listen to Listen to one piece of original nonfiction- “The Spirit of Inquiry” from Ted Radio Hour. and assess what the creators did well to create an engaging show.(students listen to two sections out of 5)

Students also think about the content covered in the podcast. It was all about asking the right questions. Inquiry is all about you asking your own questions.  

I gave them this handout for today’s lesson.

Active Engagement:

Students apply our lesson today to their “Capturing Reality” projects.

They create at least SIX questions they may be interested in learning the answers to. 


Recap/answer any questions.

NF UNIT P2 Day 3

Day 3

Poem A Day:

You won’t have to ask, but go ahead: Ask the students how they “feel.”


The objective today: Students will understand how nonfiction writers use rhetoric to persuade readers to think a certain way or to act.

For today’s lesson, I stuck to the basics- many of these students have zero background knowledge about rhetoric (the art of persuasion).

I defined the types of rhetoric on the white board and then showed various examples of each. It’s a pretty straight-forward lesson, but the kids love it if you pick good videos.

For Pathos, we discussed the emotions we feel that are strong enough to compel us to act, (fear, hate, love) and discussed how each of the following ads evoked those emotions in the viewer (music, graphics, imagery, suspense, word choice, etc.).

I showed:


And, finally, of course: (cue the water works).

For Ethos, I gave some examples off of the top of my head (I may or may not have made up a story wherein Ben Roethlisberger takes NyQuil in order to prepare for the big game).

Finally, for Logos, we watched some mac vs. pc ads. There are lots of fun things to choose from out there.

Next, I modeled for students how I found rhetoric in my nonfiction novel for my “capturing reality” project. 

I made sure to emphasize that I found a lot of evidence that the writer of my book, Dave Eggers, spent nearly 200 pages of his book estabilishing Zeitoun’s credibility as a loving husband and father, a hard worker, a responsible member of his community, and most importantly, a heroic and brave man. I told them that I thought this was intentional, and it was ethos-

I discussed the several moments Zeitoun has where he is feeding dogs and then thinks about what happens to them once he is captured and can no longer take care of them. The anecdotes about dead dogs? Pathos.

This tied the whole lesson together. I cannot stress the importance of modeling your thinking and reading for students. This is how they learn to do it.

Active Engagement:

Next students had time to delve into their books and look for ethos, pathos or logos.


I reminded students to read their books, and continue brainstorming ideas for their projects.

NF UNIT P1 Day 1

Image result for What is true?

Day 1

Poem A Day:

“Eclipse” Pink Floyd. After reading the lyrics, I told students we were starting a new unit today about nonfiction. Then as a class we mocked up a definition of non-fiction. They called out several examples and I wrote them on the board.


Once students understood that we were going to be learning about a new genre, nonfiction, I asked students to define the following two terms in their notebooks:



This obviously opened up a lot of great conversation. Kids love prompts like these that open their minds and challenge them.

Active Engagement:

I pulled a news report from that morning’s NPR Morning Edition. We listened to the podcast and read the transcript. You can really use any story here that appeals to you or your students.

Then, students worked in pairs to answer these questions. 

We came together as a class to discuss our thoughts.


Students were asked to find a nonfiction news article that is no longer than three months old. They were to fill out the same worksheet with their new article. I also warned them that they would do A LOT OF WORK with that one article for the next week, so I told them to choose something interesting and substantial.