Lesson Plan

Research a Setting for Historical Fiction

After reading historical fiction, students research a historical setting to write their own.
Nicole L.
Classroom teacher
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My Grades 7
My Subjects English Language Arts

Students will be able to find, evaluate, and comprehend digital nonfiction sources.

Students will be able to collaborate in with verbal and written communication.

Students will be able to cite sources.



English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 7
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction-APK and Generate Ideas

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Students have previously read a short story called "Great Caesar's Ghost" by Michael Kurland. During this unit, we learn about characterization, conflict, suspense, internal dialogue, word choice and historical details. While reading the story, students read nonfiction texts on ancient Rome and completed a graphic organizer. Any historical fiction will do as an introduction.

Begin by asking students to recall the way historical details made the setting in the historical fiction realistic. Ask them for historical details they remember from the story.

Tell the students they will be working with a their group to research a historical setting. Show several pictures that represent different historical settings to get their imaginations flowing. Tell them they are just brainstorming places that they may want to write about at this point.

Use goo.gl to make a short URL that allows the students to access Padlet quickly.

Give the students 5 minutes to post all the ideas they can think of. Remind them that a setting includes both time and place.

Read the students' ideas aloud to the class.

2 Choose a Setting- Collaborative Decision Making

Activity: Conversing

Have each group member write their top 3 favorite settings on 3 separate post it notes.

Have students round robin read their ideas and explain why they are interested in that setting as they place their post it notes in the center of their group

If they choose the same setting as someone else, they should stack their post it notes on theirs.

When finished, students should rank their favorite ideas with points. Students give their favorite idea 3 points, their second favorite idea 2 points, and their third favorite idea 1 point.

The setting that has the most points is the setting the group will choose. This helps all students be heard and make a collaborative decision.

3 Evaluating Sources- Direct Instruction/Modeling

Explain to students that the great thing about the internet is that anyone can be published and have a voice, but that is also the one of the dangers of the internet. I juxtapose two pictures for the students: one of a professor and one of a man sitting in a basement surrounded by take out and energy drinks.

Tell them that it can be hard to know who is writing on the internet, but that there are some clues.

Check out:  https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/lesson/identifying-high-quali... for ideas on what criteria students can use.

I give my students a checklist:

The date is recent.

The author and his or her credentials are listed.

There are no typographical errors

The ads are distinguishable from the content.

It is from a well known and reputable source.


I use a few sites as models for my students:




We briefly look at the sites and evaluate their credibility together, discussing both the good features and negative features of each site. Examples: Anyone can answer questions on Ask.com, but the author cites sources; Biography.com doesn't list an author, but is a reputable source.


4 Researching Setting-Guided Practice

Google Drive
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Prior to class students received a shared document in their Google Drive. The file contains the same graphic organizer they previously used when reading about Ancient Rome. There are sections for diet, recreation, housing, work,  transportation and other. There is a column for in text citations, and a works cited page with a template for a works cited entry. Use the Doctopus add on in google sheets to share it with a collaborative group.

Have students go to their Google drive and open their file.

Review the graphic organizer and works cited entry.

Remind students that they will need to choose their own individual color to write in.

Tell students that it is important to be kind to their groupmates. They may make a comment about information they think is irrelevant or incorrect, but may not delete another student's work.

Have one student from each group type the time and place they are researching.

Have every student type their name in their chosen color.

Let students know that before they can record their information, they have to find it.

Let students search for their setting and find a reputable website.

Once the students have all found a website, ask them to use their checklist to evaluate it.

Have each student round robin share in their groups explaining why he or she thinks the website is credible. Ask a few students to share with the class giving him or her feedback.

Instruct each student to complete a works cited entry for his or her website. Monitor and coach as needed.

Allow students to read their sites and record important information. Allow them to copy and paste pictures of clothing, food, transportation or housing as long as they cite the source of the picture. Monitor and coach.


5 Researching Setting-Independent Practice

Google Drive
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The research process takes a few class periods. 

At the beginning of the each class period review citations and evaluating sources. Remind students to communciate with their groups.

At the beginning of the second class period discuss staying focused while researching. I use the term "Going down the rabbit hole" with my students along with a picture of Alice in Wonderland from the Disney movie. Verbalize for your students that this is a real internet danger. 

As they continue to work monitor and coach. Discuss with students and groups the quality of their sources and their citations.

6 Share Research-Wrap Up

Google Drive
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Have students all log in to their documents.

Have them round robin read the facts in their graphic organizer.

After they have shared their research, you are now ready to use Google docs for writing historical narratives and colloborative revision or use Google Slides for a presentation on their setting.