Finally: FUN research for middle and high schoolers!
Do your students (and you?) whine when they think of research? If so, this is the research assignment you need. This project is fast and fun.
Based on Cronin’s “Diary of a Fly,” students will choose a topic (or you can assign it; I have suggested topics) and incorporate their finds into a clever (often hilarious!) narrative.
Even teens love “kids’ books”! "Diary of a Fly" (and "Diary of a Worm" and "Diary of a Spider," too!) are great texts because they combine narrative with fact- much like historical fiction books (think "Catherine Called Birdy" by Karen Cushman or "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred Taylor). Even better, this series uses different genres to present the information. Inside the text are diary entries, lists, jokes, newspaper stories, flashcards, postcards, photos, scrapbooks, letters, cartoon strips, you name it!
If you haven’t read "Diary of..." books, they are hilariously clever!
Did I mention that students get to write in a new voice: the point of view of their subject (in this case a fly, spider or worm- but you can choose a superhero, a villain, a politician, an animal, a famous author, a character from a novel, a food, a disease- the list is endless… Since my class reads "Catherine, Called Birdy," I’m using Middle Age Topics: Knight, Lord, Lady, Servant, King, Queen, Minstrel and Jester.
Students first read texts to identify how a published author incorporates facts in fiction by reading and questioning the books. Make sure you have a copy of "Diary of a Fly," "Diary of a Spider," and/ or "Diary of a Worm" (Cronin) to share with the class. I always borrow several copies so groups can read together. This works well!
After conducting research to gather facts on individual topics, students use researched facts to write several diary entries. Entries will contribute to a group book (or one year we did PowerPoints!) modeled after the mentor texts. Students also practice revision and editing strategies.
This product includes a PowerPoint, student worksheets with answer key, and EATS lesson plans for the entire week, complete with Essential Questions, activating strategies, teaching strategies and vocabulary. Everything you need for a successful research week is here.
Note- I highly suggest having access to computers and the library. I also find that students need more than a week to finish, so the due date is four days later (even though class time is limited to one week).
There are MANY Common Core Standards addressed with this project.
I hope you enjoy this research unit as much as I do! Thank you!- Kim