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 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!