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

Important Announcement about Online Courses and LEARN NC.

Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

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Rethinking Reports
Creative research-based assignments provide alternatives to the President Report, Animal Report, and Famous Person Report that ask students to think about old topics in new ways, work collaboratively, and develop products that support a variety of learning styles.
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By researching animals, students learn about the adaptations and characteristics specific to their animals as well as the role their animals play in their natural environments. Creating a narrative allows students to present the information they learn through their research while learning valuable writing skills, studying traditional forms of literature — and even having fun!


Physical or behavioral adaptations as well as interactions (or the lack thereof!) can be the centerpiece of a story that explains why. Pourquoi tales, such as Kipling’s famous Just So Stories, explain how something came to be. Like a myth, the Pourquoi tale provides a supernatural explanation of the creation or alteration of a natural phenomenon or animal. For more information, see “Teaching with Pourquoi Tales” from Instructor.

Talk with the animals

Personification of animals appeals to students of all ages. From crafty Anansi the Spider’s trickster tales to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or Watership Down, animal protagonists exhibit complex character traits and human behaviors.

Students can share what they learn about their animals by storytelling, drawing comics, or writing a complete story. Based upon their research, what human character trait might best be represented by this animal? Write a story in which this animal is protagonist or antagonist, taking care to keep the environment accurate and the actions in character with the animal’s real-life environment.

Might this animal be portrayed as a superhero, accomplishing Herculean tasks and making its world a better place? Even if the role the animal plays is predator, this animal character can be portrayed as the hero, helping to maintain the balance of its ecosystem. Who would be the villain in this tale? The “bad guy” could be Man, upsetting the balance and contributing to habitat loss — or perhaps an invasive species determined to wheedle its way into the ecosystem and threaten the balance of nature.