The below is the introduction to the 35-page Teen Blogging Research Project by StageofLife.com...
PREVIEW: Teen Blogging Lesson Plan
Be The Change Research Project
Research to Create Change in Your World
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ... Your playing small does not serve the world. ... As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Introduction and Rationale for the Teen Blogging Lesson Plan and Research Project:
- Nelson Mandela
by Rebecca Thiegs, M.Ed - VP of Education for Stage of Life
Over the past 15 years in my teaching career, my students have inspired me in so many ways. We’ve talked about world issues, national issues, state issues, local issues and personal issues. Three years ago, I piloted a research project that went beyond talking about an issue and instead focused on creating change or inciting passion in others about an issue
that each individual student felt was important. I worked on integrating technology and getting students out of the “writing only for the teacher’s eyes” rut and focused on blogging through the entire research process. Having students set up their own blogspot (through Google’s Blogger) encouraged more collaboration and meta-cognition throughout the process. Although typical research projects strike fear into the hearts of students and teachers (some of my darkest moments as a human being were spent hunched over dry, voiceless research papers and grading for hours upon hours on end), my finding with this project (with the exception of a few students who really wanted a traditional research project) was students felt passionate about a research project, and (get this) I actually enjoyed seeing the students writing on their blogs throughout the process, and I actually (no exaggeration) enjoyed grading the final papers! I was inspired once again by the students I taught because of their creativity, their ideas about change and the world around them, and their collaboration through technology. The following materials are for you to create your own Be the Change research project. I hope that you find the project as inspiring as I have.
Aspects of this research project:
- Choosing a topic (creating a vision board / sharing ideas)
- Setting up a Blogger account through Google and Blogging (project collaboration / reflection)
- Researching (source requirements, tools needed, specifics of how to annotate or collect information will be up to each individual teacher for this project)
- Required reading of a non-fiction book with a Literary Tea discussion day
- Writing a Research Paper (requirements for the paper including length and format will be up to each individual teacher. I gave my students many options for the research paper)
- Writing a Dear Reader Letter (for reflection on the process steps and final products)
- Presenting the Be the Change Research to the Class (presentations took various formats)
- Spreading the Word and Implementing Change (this became a very individualized aspect of the project as well. I will share some of my thoughts on this final piece of the project)
- Students will be able to be more meta-cognitive throughout the entire research process
- Students will be able to utilize technology (blogging) for creativity, collaboration and research
- Students will be able to research deeply using advanced research strategies
- Students will be able to write a research paper based on rich thinking and extensive collaboration
- Students will be able to present highlights of their research to the class
- Students will be able to engage in real world writing (beyond the classroom walls) through blogging, and through a final implementation piece
Notes to the Teacher:
“I hate research projects” (loosely paraphrased from almost every student taking a high school English class). Let’s be honest. As soon as an English teacher says the words “research project” students moan. Teachers internally cringe picturing the late nights, chronic neck aches, lack of vision, and desperate moments reading uninspired, badly documented research papers. I’ve been there. A few years ago while sitting in a Summer Writing Institute at Millersville University, as I stressed about how to integrate more technology into my curriculum, how to teach to inspire my students, how to integrate new state standards, and how to keep my own sanity, I had a moment of clarity where my ideas converged into the project that I am outlining for you the following pages. I will narrate my way through the process, give helpful tips, and lead you to do your own version of my Be the Change Research Project.
I get pretty excited as a teacher, and my limitless enthusiasm usually transfers to my students and what they produce. Research projects don’t always follow this enthusiastic production principle. When I first introduced this project a few years ago, it was a paradigm shift both for me (in how I teach research) and for the students (in how they process and deliver the research they find).
What will help the students be most successful?
- Having a great start to the project (I always find that having a rock star introduction to any project helps with student buy in)
- Having an open mind and willingness to try new things (and learn along with the students through the project)
- Having resources available to you to complete the project. In my school, each student in my class had in school access to a laptop (not every day, but most days throughout this project we were able to get laptops to use in school).
How long does this project take to complete?
Much of the work for this project was done outside of school, but we worked through steps, conferencing, peer work, and technology set up in class. The work days in school were productive and useful for all of us. I piloted this project with 10th grade Honors English students (I will refer to some of their work throughout my project narratives).
The entire project takes about 5 weeks, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the time you give students to work in class. This can also be something that you continue the entire year depending on how far you want to go with the implementation step.
Common Core Standards and NETS (Technology Standards)
This project meets the Common Core Standards for Writing / Research / Speaking and Listening (grades 9-12) and NETS (Technology Standards) (it is also adaptable for homeschooling or private schooling):
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- Production and Distribution of Writing
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1–3 above.)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1–3 up to and including grades 9–10 here.)
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
- Research to Build and Present Knowledge
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9a Apply grades 9–10 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work [e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare]”).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9b Apply grades 9–10 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning”).
- Range of Writing
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
- Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 11–12 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)