K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn the standard research methods.
  • use different types of technology in order to create a final project.
  • have the opportunity to choose what they want to read and research.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 month


  • Student needs to select a piece of world literature to read independently.
  • paper
  • pen/pencil
  • note cards
  • library for research
  • poster board
  • double sided tape or spray mount
  • paper cutter and/or scissors
  • laminating machine (optional)

Technology resources

  • Computer lab with Appleworks, Adobe PageMaker, and Adobe Photoshop
  • printer (color optional)
  • internet access for students
  • formatted disk for each student
  • scanner (optional)
  • digital camera (optional)


Students and teacher will need to have experience using Apple Works, Adobe Page Maker, Adobe Photoshop, the internet, digital camera, and scanner. Students should know how to save individual articles to text on their floppy disk. Students should also feel comfortable experimenting with various types of technology.


  1. Students are to select a specific author from world literature and select a novel or drama by him or her to read and review. I give students two weeks to complete the independent reading.
  2. I then spend one 90-minute class period reviewing the proper research methods. Students learn how to complete source cards, note cards, parenthetical documentation and a works cited page.
  3. The student will then pinpoint a specific geographic location that relates to his or her book. For example, if a student was reading Things Fall Apart, he or she would focus on Nigeria.
  4. The student will then focus on a specific period. For example, if a student was reading Things Fall Apart, he or she would focus on colonization in Africa.
  5. The student will then research the author, a major event/occurrence from the period, an accomplishment from the period, and literary criticism that pertains to the piece of literature. The student may choose to research an optional topic such as fashion, art, theater, etc. that relates to the time period. I suggest that students have a minimum of three sources for each topic.
  6. Students will then take their notes and write a newspaper article for each topic using Apple Works. The students articles should include parenthetical documentation. Students should save their articles separately as text to their disk.
  7. The student will then create a standard size newpaper using Adobe Page Maker. The student will place the articles onto the page. The student may use photos or advertisements to fill unused space. I tell my students that they may not use more than three photos.
  8. Students will need to select a title that reflects the time and place of the content in the newspaper. For example, if a student was reading Things Fall Apart, he or she might call his or her paper “The Nigerian Times.”
  9. Once the student has the completed the layout, he or she will print the project onto 8.5″x11″ paper. You will need to change the print set up to where it prints 6 tiles (pages).
  10. The student will then take the 6 tiles (pages) and cut and mount them onto a piece of poster board. (Our media coordinator then laminates the projects for us; however this is optional.)
  11. The student then turns the project in along with an envelope that contains all rough drafts, source cards, note cards, and a work cited page.
  12. This project is due near the end of the semester. Therefore, for my three hour final exam I have students generate a test that goes with the piece of literature he or she has read. The test is to be typed with the answers. They are required to do include 10 identification, 10 true/false, 10 fill in the blank, 5 multiple choice, and 2 essay questions of which they only answer one. This is an excellent way to check that they have read the piece of literature.


Provide the students with a rubric at the beginning of the project. This helps the students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them and what they must have in order to earn an A. I change my rubric depending on the level of the students in the class. However, some of the things that they are graded on are note cards, source cards, grammar/mechanics, layout, parenthetical documentation, work sited page, neatness, and creativity. Each area can be based on a grade from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, or a point system from 0 to 100 can be assigned. Once again, the rubric depends on the class.

Supplemental information

You may want to purchase a copy of the MLA handbook in order to teach students the appropriate methods of research or look at their Web site on the Internet. Many teachers at my school use Writer’s Inc. to help teach students how to site sources and complete source and note cards correctly.


Every time I have used this lesson, I have learned so many things myself. I have found this project to be fun, and it gives my students an opportunity to choose what they want to read and learn about, yet still has structure. After reading the activity description you may think this is too much to take on, but I assure you after the first time you will have the kinks worked out and will have designed it to fit you and your classes. I have found that this is a great project to do after the English II Writing Test.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Writing

        • Grade 9-10
          • 9-10.W.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.
          • 9-10.W.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...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 10

  • Goal 1: The learner will react to and reflect upon print and non-print text and personal experiences by examining situations from both subjective and objective perspectives.
    • Objective 1.02: Respond reflectively (through small group discussion, class discussion, journal entry, essay, letter, dialogue) to written and visual texts by:
      • relating personal knowledge to textual information or class discussion.
      • showing an awareness of one's own culture as well as the cultures of others.
      • exhibiting an awareness of culture in which text is set or in which text was written.
      • explaining how culture affects personal responses.
      • demonstrating an understanding of media's impact on personal responses and cultural analyses.
  • Goal 2: The learner will evaluate problems, examine cause/effect relationships, and answer research questions to inform an audience.
    • Objective 2.01: Demonstrate the ability to read, listen to and view a variety of increasingly complex print and non-print informational texts appropriate to grade level and course literary focus, by:
      • selecting, monitoring, and modifying as necessary reading strategies appropriate to readers' purpose.
      • identifying and analyzing text components (such as organizational structures, story elements, organizational features) and evaluating their impact on the text.
      • providing textual evidence to support understanding of and reader's response to text.
      • demonstrating comprehension of main idea and supporting details.
      • summarizing key events and/or points from text.
      • making inferences, predicting, and drawing conclusions based on text.
      • identifying and analyzing personal, social, historical or cultural influences, contexts, or biases.
      • making connections between works, self and related topics.
      • analyzing and evaluating the effects of author's craft and style.
      • analyzing and evaluating the connections or relationships between and among ideas, concepts, characters and/or experiences.
      • identifying and analyzing elements of informational environment found in text in light of purpose, audience, and context.
    • Objective 2.03: Pose questions prompted by texts (such as the impact of imperialism on Things Fall Apart) and research answers by:
      • accessing cultural information or explanations from print and non-print media sources.
      • prioritizing and organizing information to construct a complete and reasonable explanation.
  • Goal 5: The learner will demonstrate understanding of selected world literature through interpretation and analysis.
    • Objective 5.01: Read and analyze selected works of world literature by:
      • using effective strategies for preparation, engagement, and reflection.
      • building on prior knowledge of the characteristics of literary genres, including fiction, non-fiction, drama, and poetry, and exploring how those characteristics apply to literature of world cultures.
      • analyzing literary devices such as allusion, symbolism, figurative language, flashback, dramatic irony, situational irony, and imagery and explaining their effect on the work of world literature.
      • analyzing the importance of tone and mood.
      • analyzing archetypal characters, themes, and settings in world literature.
      • making comparisons and connections between historical and contemporary issues.
      • understanding the importance of cultural and historical impact on literary texts.