Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Lesson Plan: Educational Technology Student Project

Matthew Hoffman
Fordham University
August 4, 2008

The Empire Newspaper Project

Teaching Situation
International High School at Lafayette Educational Complex
Grades 9/10
25 Students
ESL Levels: Beginner/Intermediate
Class Length: 60 minutes

Great Empires of the Middle Ages—The Byzantine and Islamic Empires (Global History/ESL)

• ESL Standard 1: Students will listen, speak, read, and write in English for information and understanding.

• ESL Standard 3: Students will listen, speak, read, and write in English for critical analysis and evaluation.

• ESL Standard 4: Students will listen, speak, read, and write in English for classroom and social interaction.

• World History Standard 2: Use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in world history and examine the broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives.

 Key Idea 2: Establishing timeframes, exploring different periodizations, examining themes across time and within cultures, and focusing on important turning points in world history help organize the study of world cultures and civilizations.

 Key Idea 3: Study of the major social, political, cultural, and religious developments in world history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups.

o Educational Technology Standard 1. Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

o Educational Technology Standard 2. Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others

o Educational Technology Standard 3. Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

o Educational Technology Standard 4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

• SWBAT compose news articles in English on one aspect of an historical empire.
• SWBAT explain the cause and effect relationships within individual areas of study.
• SWBAT use technology to access various types of English-language media in order to research for information and understanding.
• SWBAT use technology to produce a professional quality publication.

Instructional Materials/Resources:
Laptop computers
Internet access
Printed text for research purposes
Word processing software (ideally Microsoft Word or Apple Pages)

Technology Included in Blog:
Screen Shots
Embedded documents for viewing and printing
Video (via YouTube and educational websites)
Crossword Puzzle generators
Online text and research materials
Virtual tours of museums


For detailed description of student activities, please refer to blog post entitled “Global History Project: Student.” The procedures described here pertain mainly to management.

Session 1: Students are introduced to project.

• According to routine, all students collect their History Journals at the beginning of class.
• Students sit at tables of four and told they will be working in pairs for the day.
• Computer monitors pass out laptop computers to each pair. (This procedure is routine and is followed each day of the project.)
• Instruct students to open the GlobalHistoryESL blog.
• Students take turns reading the introduction with their partner.

Task 1: Tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
• This task is intended to give the students some background information before they begin the project.
• Students enter websites and record responses in journals.
• Teacher monitors student work, helping as needed.

Task 2: Reading
• Students choose a different partner.
• Teacher passes out reading material and conducts shared reading of the text popcorn style.
• Students answer questions with their partner.

Task 3: Survey
• Monitor students as they fill out survey.
• Be sure that students fill out survey according to their own interests and not their best friend’s.
• Surveys are sent by SurveyMonkey will email results.
• Teacher can assign groups according to interest and ability.

Session 2:

Teacher helps students transition into newly formed groups of four.
Groups are homogeneous regarding interest, heterogeneous regarding language and skill level.

Task 1: Video Visits
Task is intended to build interest and background knowledge.
Students open GlobalHistoryESL blog and watch short YouTube videos on respective empires and answer questions.
Teacher facilitates class share out.

Tasks 2 and 3: Group roles
Students assign each other roles within the group and articles to research using descriptions on the blog.
Teacher answers student questions if needed.

Session 3: Research
Teacher begins lesson by making sure each group member is aware of their responsibilities.
Teacher facilitates discussion on available research materials in the classroom, including materials found on the blog and traditional texts.
Students begin research, teacher assists.

Session 4:

Task 1: Conflict
Task designed to encourage higher order thinking, making connections and inferences based on prior knowledge and new information.
Students complete activity from blog and record answers in journal.

Task 2: Preparing to write.
Students download graphic organizers from link on the blog and reorganize their information into standard newspaper article format.
Teacher scaffolds for students who need assistance.

Task 3: Writing articles
Students use word processing software to write articles.
Teacher scaffolds as needed.
Teacher monitors use of font and file-saving procedures.

Session 5:

Task 1: Proofreading
Teacher monitors printing.
Teacher guides students through proofreading of their articles.

Task 2: Historic Photo Hunt
Students search for illustrations in GoogleImages.
Teacher monitors for appropriate and responsible internet use.
Teacher monitors for comprehension.

Task 3: Final Touches
Students assemble final pieces of newspaper project: crosswords and maps.

Session 6: Publishing Party

Task 1: Collecting all the pieces
Teacher monitors students as they print and assemble newspapers.

Task 2: To the newspaper stand!
Students participate in modified form of a gallery walk as they view student work.
Task 3: And now the world . . .
Students, with teacher assistance, post work online using tools like Scribd.

Assessment and Evaluation:
• Students complete self-evaluation/reflection guides.
• Informal assessments via interviews and short answer questions allow teacher to assess students’ needs.
• Students will be assessed formally as a group through their final project, the Empire Newspaper, and individually via each article.


Creating this blog as a platform for students to work from was a new and informative experience for me. I am somewhat comfortable planning curriculum, and I am working on improving my strategies to help language learners access content. The idea of providing an almost completely self contained project online is very exciting for several reasons.

First, I see it as an organizational aid. Most material for the students can be found in one spot. It cannot, except in extreme circumstances, become lost or damaged. It can also be accessed at home or at some public facilities like the library, giving students ample opportunity to work. Second, I see the technology as being a motivator for my students. Whether or not it serves to entrench negative tendencies, this approach will at least remove the conflict of fight for my students’ attention as I explain processes or pass out materials. Third, as a result of the first two reasons, I see behavior management problems decreasing. Lastly, as a learning experience, I am excited at the new technologies and skills I was forced to use in order to create this blog. Some of these include creating a blog, embedding media, creating links, and using services like Scribd.

There continue to be challenges. My main shortcoming was in formatting the blog in an appealing way while incorporating all the media and resources I wanted to use. I feel that my product, as of the time of this writing, is far short of what I had envisioned. While I am mostly satisfied with the project design and the learning tasks I constructed for the students, I struggled with using the technology. Reflecting on this, I think that I allowed enough time to design the project and found adequate resources, but I overestimated my abilities to put all the elements together in a format that was new to me. Although I was confident, and I think competent, at the individual tasks like creating links and embedding media, the scale of the project creates its own challenges.

I think the valuable lesson here regarding technology in education is that the instructor must be very familiar with the tools he intends to use.