Trip to the Moon


  • Students will accurately define the terms: conflict, climax, conclusion, rising action, falling action, setting and characters.
  • Students can determine the corresponding example with the appropriate term and produce their own example.


  • 2 minutes: Students write down as many ideas they can think of for the most important parts of a story
  • 1 minute: Front load all of the instructions and have students repeat back the instructions for the first part
  • 15 minutes: Go into first groups as indicated by the color on the card as a group define your word or words and come up with an example of that word from a movie or book most people will know
  • 1 minute: go over second half of instructions again
  • 15 minutes: Go into second group indicated by the letter on the back of your card–share your information
  • 1 minute: Front load instructions make sure every group knows their word.
  • 10 minutes: Watch a clip in your second group come up with an example of the word written on the front of your card based on the clip we just watched


  1. Students get into a group (Five groups of five or six) based on the color of their card (this group is called group one)
  2. In group one they predict the meaning of the terms they are assigned, then they find the definition
  3. Students move to a second group based on the number on their card (this is called group two)
  4. In group two each student shares the definition they have found
  5. They put their definitions in order on a triangle shaped plot map poster first of what they think the correct answer is and then on what they discover is the correct answer
  6. While students are in group two, we, as a class, watch a short film and find examples from the film for each term.

Content: This lesson is in english as the beginning of a unit on creative-fictional writing. While the unit is an interdisciplinary study pulling from both language arts and social studies this lesson focuses on the plot map and terminology that will be used to outline and create the finished narrative. Specifically students will learn the terms: conflict, climax, conclusion, rising action, falling action, character and setting. They will also learn how to use a triangle shaped plot map to outline a story for narratives they have read or that they plan to write.

Process: This lesson takes place in class. Students will begin in five groups of five or six.They will get into these groups based on the color of the notecard they are handed at the beginning of class. These groups have already been predetermined by me.  In this group they will use a dictionary and a chromebook to look up a definition of the term or terms written on their card. Each student will write a definition on their card as the group compiles one. Then, in these same groupings, they will come up with an example of that term from a story or movie universally known in their class or age group (Some ideas and examples will be given). Afterwards students will move to their second group based on the number on their card, these groups were also specifically selected to have a balanced proportion of SPED, TAG and GenEd students in each group. Students will share their definition with the group and then glue their example and definition to the appropriate spot on a poster with a triangle-shaped plot map. At the end of the activity the entire class will watch a short clip and pull the appropriate examples from the clip for each of their terms and write them on their poster.

Product: The product at the end of this lesson will be the poster which includes two examples for each term–one for a random narrative and one for the video shown in class as well as a definition. Ultimately at the end of this two week unit students will produce a two page paper using the elements discussed in this lesson.

Evaluation: The following day we will begin with a journal asking students to outline the plot of their favorite movie or book which will assess their retention of the material. Their posters and essays will be graded using the standard four point rubric used in this class with additional sub-categories and commentary so that they can revise it in a later unit.

This lesson is intended to build a foundational knowledge and therefore specific terms and processes need to be explicitly addressed. For this reason, students will have very little choice in their assignment or the terms they will be using. Despite the lack of choice in terminology and grouping, students will be able to tailor their examples to fit their personal interests and relate to their existing schema. Their will be very little direct instruction besides outlining the directions for the activity. The first stage will be lower level thinking in the form of defining and explaining. As they move on to making connections to the terms and other stories they will move towards higher level thinking. Synthesizing their knowledge of the terms and their interaction with a video will be critical thinking. Ultimately, they will use critical thinking to apply these terms to their own ideas for a fictional narrative that relates to their history studies.

Reflection: I really appreciated the peer feedback. I did not realize how unclear the activity was and it was a good experience to need to explain all of the components of the jigsaw. I feel that more of these activities would be a positive tool for constructing thorough lesson plans. This activity went over very well. It was a good experience to watch students teach each other. The transition time was ridiculous though. I will need to work with them on making transitions more smoothly and following directions.

Image credit: Still from Georges Méliès’ film “A Trip To The Moon” (1902)
Open Culture


Bias, Perspective, Context

As a master’s candidate, this is my first time teaching, and also my cooperating teacher’s first time taking on a student teacher. My thanks to him. As one of the first lesson plans, this is almost all him. It is part of a series the PLC has developed to give students an understanding of historical methodology. What basic concepts do they need to understand before jumping into actual analysis of historical events and documents? By comprehending and applying the ideas of context, perspective, and bias, students understand the basic thrust of historical research. They are detectives, actively analyzing and interpreting sources. They will simply be handed the “truth”.

Unit Learning Targets:
Analyze in writing the central ideas and supporting information of a primary and a secondary source.
Describe how historians write accounts of the past.
Explain how geographers examine the connection between place and societies.

To define and understand the application of context, perspective and bias in relation to historical documents. Also, we hope to make personal connections between these terms and the way in which they manifest in real life. These three terms are central to historical analysis. They allow the reader to interrogate sources, getting specific background information that will help them dialogue with the text. If they can ask the question, what was the perspective of the author, they already have a means by which to qualify the text.

We will begin the class with a short PowerPoint that both define and ask for examples of context, perspective, and bias. The most important part of this is providing examples that correlate with student’s lives and contextualizing the

After completing the PowerPoint, the students will watch a video titled “Happiness Balloons.” The point of this video is to emphasize how, even though the people of Butan have much less than the average American, they are much happier. It is just a matter of perspective.

If there is time, the students will complete a LSA (Left Side Activity). This activity is meant to help the students make connections with the notes they took on the lesson. They will complete a Fraer model style of definitions.

Left Side Assignment: In the left hand side of their notebooks, the students will create a Fraer style diagram. Although I do not know the specifics my CT will use, a general model asks the students to define, provide examples, and make connections with the vocabulary words. He provides specific LSA activities for the first few weeks as a model for the students. After enough practice, they will choose their own.

The Left Side Assignment also functions as an evaluation. When Ben collects and grades the notebooks, he will see the note taking on the right side and the connections on the left side. This way, the students create a product directly after the lesson as well as creating an evaluation the teacher will read to check for comprehension.

The students do not have much choice over the lesson, product, or evaluation. Because it is still early in the semester, I believe my CT wants to focus on modeling. I will address the question of allowing students to choose the way the model once they successfully practice the skill of making connections.

As a reflection, I would like to comment on is what I have learned from my CT thus far. It is only my second week and I find myself critiquing my own words and actions, as well as recognizing good strategies that he has used. I am learning to slow down and provide students with time to respond. I am learning to moderate my own ideas, and value their thoughts instead. I am looking forward to the following school year and am very glad with the opportunity I have with him and my cohort at University of Portland.

A Practice of Hieroglyphics

Judgement scene in the Hall of Osiris, Thoth weighing heart


Grade: Eighth Grade

Unit: Ancient Egypt

Lesson: Hieroglyphics

Content:  In this lesson the students will be studying the pictographic writing system of the Ancient Egyptians known as Hieroglyphics.  The majority of this lesson will be a creative exercise for the students.  This will allow the students a more kinesthetic method of understanding quite a complicated system of writing.


  1. Short Lecture (15 min)
  2. Instructions for project (5 min)
  3. Project (23 min)

The first step of the lesson will be a short lecture on the origins of the hieroglyphic system of writing.  This will also cover a discussion of pictographs and their importance as an early form of writing.   This will take the first 15 minutes of class.  After this lecture I will present the instructions for today’s assignment.  The assignment of the day is to create a cartouche that contains their name in the form of hieroglyphics.  The rest of the class will be spent actually completing the assignment.  The students will only have until the end of the class to complete the assignment.  They will not be allowed to take the assignment home for completion.

Product:  The students will be creating a cartouche containing their name.

Evaluation:  The students will be graded on the completeness and quality of the assignment.  Typical in class assignments for this class are worth 10 pts; however, I will probably count this assignment as half a typical assignment because it is not the most difficult of projects.  Points will be taken away from the student if it is apparent that the student did not take their time in the creation of their cartouche.  Full points will be awarded to those who complete the assignment in a neat manner.

Drummer Boy of Shiloh

Johnny Clem

Sgt. Johnny Clem

This is a lesson study on a lesson designed for an eighth grade Language Arts class.


In this lesson students will partake in silent reading, quick writing, oral reading, and reading comprehension. Students will spend ten minutes at the start of class silent reading and reflecting on their reading using evidence from the text to support their reasoning. Students will then engage in a brief lesson on historical fiction. Students will learn that historical fiction pieces could be in the form of either movies or novels, so long as they are partially historically accurate and partially fictitious, thus illuminating a historical event or time period. Students will also learn about the battle of Shiloh and drummer boys in the civil war in order to gain context for the short story, The Drummer Boy of Shiloh by Ray Bradbury. Students will then learn, through reading The Drummer Boy of Shiloh what life was like for a drummer boy during the civil war. Students will also make connections between this historical fiction piece and the actual events of the battle and therefore what it would have been like for Johnny Clem, a drummer boy, at this battle. Students will also discover through the introductory lesson and the reading just how significant drummer boys in the Civil War were. After reading through this short story, students will use their recall, inference and citing skills in order to answer nine questions about the text.


            In terms of materials, this lesson plan will require students to have their SSR books, their journals in order to write their quick writes, and their literature textbooks which contain Ray Bradbury’s short story The Drummer Boy of Shiloh and accompanying reading questions. In the beginning of the class, students will read their SSR books silently and individually after reading the agenda for the day. After ten minutes of silent reading, students will listen to instructions for their quick write. They will then use the prompts on the overhead to silently write a quick response for ten minutes as the teacher circulates the room keeping everyone on track. The key is for students to refer to evidence in the text to write their responses. Next the class will listen to and engage in an introduction to the short story, featuring a lesson on historical fiction and drummers in the civil war. The lesson will begin by defining historical fiction. The teacher will ask the students if they have any guesses of what historical fiction is, then the teacher will provide a definition. Next students will be called upon to share possible historical fiction examples. Then the activity is concluded by a visual of a varied selection of historical fiction pieces. Next students will learn about the Battle at Shiloh, where the story takes place- its date, location, generals, specifics and so on. After looking at some visual representations of the battle, students will also learn about drummer boys in the civil war, specifically about Johnny Clem, the boy that the drummer in the story is most likely based off of. They will listen to drum calls in order to understand the significance of the drummers’ job- calling out the general’s orders. Then students will all participate in popcorn reading the short story as the teacher occasionally pauses the reading to ask guided reading questions in order to keep students on track. In this way, students are expected to refer to the text in order to participate. Students will then be asked to answer the “recall” and “interpret” questions regarding the story as well as a quick write on the significance and purpose of the drummer boy’s job. After they have completed these, they will turn them in, or finish them the next day. All of this is meant to be in-class work.


By the end of this lesson plan, students will have produced a quick write in response to their silent reading, as well as answers to the recall, interpret, and analyze questions regarding the short story. Throughout the lesson they will also be asked to participate in reading aloud with the class. Their quick writes will demonstrate their ability to use evidence and examples from their reading to explain their answers to the question. This could be in the form of making connections, analyzing, or reflecting on the text. The reading questions that relate to the short story will ask them to recall facts from the story in addition to interpreting and analyzing pieces of the story. They will also produce a quick write on the significance of the drummer boy- using what they learned from both the short lesson on drummer boys as well as the story.


            The lesson will be assessed through the students’ quick writes and their answers to the questions pertaining to the short story. I will also be able to assess their oral reading skills as students read out loud to the class. Their understanding of the reading will be constantly checked through their answers to the guided reading questions.

 What kinds of thinking will students need to do to participate in the lesson?

            Students will need to practice their critical thinking skills in this lesson. They will be asked to make connections between the civil war and this historical fiction piece. Students are expected to interpret and make inferences about the text in order to answer reading questions.

 To what extent do students have options or choices regarding these lesson components?

            The lesson provides students with several opportunities to choose between options. Students have already selected the SSR books that they want to read all unit long. There will also be five different prompts that they can choose from in order to write their quick writes. However, students will be required to read Bradbury’s short story and to write answers to the selected questions about the short story.


The peer review of my lesson study was extremely helpful for me. I added quite a bit after we went over it together. I got some excellent feedback and suggestions for different activities. After discussing my lesson study, I added the certain elements to the historical lesson piece. This lesson went very well overall. There were a few bumps, particularly in transitions. But students were very engaged and really enjoyed the visuals and the examples of the drum calls. It went mostly as I had planned, just maybe a bit behind schedule. The end result was incredible. My students completed an excellent final product and showed great understanding.

Image Credit: Sgt. Johnny Clem  (1863),
The Library of Congress Call Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-34511
Notes: Photograph shows identified young soldier in uniform; he served in Co. C, 22nd Michigan Infantry Regiment from May 1, 1863 to September 19, 1864.