Lesson Plan

Getting Students Started with Research-Based Writing

A PBL approach to writing, research, and learning about influential people in history.
Kelli G.
Media specialist/librarian
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, English Language Learning
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to...

  • compare sources and find information in order to describe the connection between historical events and people
  • write an informative report by collaborating with peers in order to conduct shared research and revise their thinking and writing
  • understand the impact an individual can have on the world by studying important figures throughout history
English Language Arts
text analysis
using supporting evidence
Social Studies
Grades 1 - 3
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Entry Event

Play Kid President's "How to Change the World" for the class.

End the class discussion by introducing the driving question for their research: "How can we teach other students about important [disciplinarians] who helped change our world in the past and influence it today?"

Student Instructions

After watching the video, students should discuss examples of people throughout history who have had a positive impact on the world.

2 Research

Before beginning this activity, set up a Pocket account and add resources about famous people from a variety of disciplines (presidents, physicists, civil rights leaders, etc.).  Tag resources by topic and media type (article, ebook, video, etc.).

Student Instructions

Have groups of students choose a famous person and  log into Pocket via the iPad or web-based app to write down important details on sticky notes.

3 Organizing Ideas

Make sure Post-It Plus is downloaded on student iPads.  Depending on how many iPads are available, you can have either groups of four or pairs complete this activity together.

Link a class Dropbox account on the iPads and instruct student how and where to export their Post-It Plus boards.

Student Instructions

Groups or pairs of students combine their Post-it notes on construction paper and scan the notes into Post-It plus.  Once their notes are added to a board, students categorize details by larger ideas, such as early life, important events, character traits, and lasting impact.  Once finished, students can export their board to Dropbox and print copies oout for each group member.

4 Collaborative Rough Draft

Create a Trello account and create boards for each famous person being researched.  Log into the Trello iPad app on each student iPad before starting this activity.

Student Instructions

Groups of student choose 3-5 subtopics for their report based on the groups that created in the previous step and make a list for each subtopic.  The first card in each list should be the main idea of the paragraph written in a complete sentence.  

Then, students can add, revise, and combine details from their Post-It Board to the main idea it best supports.  Each topic should have around 3-6 strong details once completed.

Once finished, students can write individual rough drafts based on the main ideas and details their group created.

5 Final Product

Allow students to choose from a selection of publishing/presentation apps, word processors, and non-tech publishing tools for their final product.

Student Instructions

Students complete a final product using their chosen publishing tool.  Once finished, students should have opportunities to share their work with their school peers and parents.