Nonfiction Projects Unit -- Creative Critical Thinking for GATE and 3rd-8th

Nonfiction Projects Unit -- Creative Critical Thinking for GATE and 3rd-8th
Grade Levels
Common Core Standards
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19 MB|74 pages
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You bet you’ll see lots of cute stuff here! But it’s not just cute: it’s critical thinking, writing, reading, design, public speaking, and creative products. You’ll be ready to start today! Print and go!

Our kids aren’t just cute little kittens. They’re kittens wearing a smoking jacket . . . in a leather chair . . . reading Sartre . . . and chuckling about life’s ironies.

These aren’t just project ideas. This is an entire non-fiction program and approach to literacy—including vocabulary activities, summary writing, higher order questioning and answering, public speaking, and more.

Time: Hours and hours! 70 pages of materials and instructions. HUGE!
Level: 3rd grade GATE through 8th grade.
Materials: Mostly common classroom items.

How often do I use this project approach? Probably about 5 or 6 times a year, interspersed with the other usual suspects in reading and literacy—poetry, novels, short stories. They serve as an excellent change of pace and allow individual choice and expression while meeting core standards along the way.

I supply the same project choices and same directions for all my groups—advanced and GATE groups 3rd through 5th. I used to teach middle school GATE and would not hesitate to offer the same choices for 6th through 8th because assignments are open-ended and students will respond creatively at their ability level.

It will take a bit of instruction to get this moving, but once students understand the general requirements, they will move much more quickly the second time. Once students begin sharing ideas, the synergy in the classroom skyrockets. Just watch! It’s so cool to see!

Projects include the following:

Fortune Tellers—Students create and informative fortune teller to share with classmates which includes main ideas, inferences, and outside research. This is graded with a specific rubric.

Gift Shop T-shirts—Students write to explain their favorite aspects of a nonfiction piece, and represent a key point (metaphors) on a gift shop T-shirt.

Pokémon Parodies—fun approach to higher order thinking skills requires a thoughtful analysis of a topic as well as presenting a design challenge.

Keychains—We go back to the gift shop, this time to design a keychain based on our nonfiction topic.

History Digger—Students have unearthed an artifact related to their topic. What is it? Share information in a text exchange, ask good questions, and then list the item on a favorite online auction site.

Primary Source Pawnstars—In this speaking and listening activity, students have come to pawn an item related to their topic. How much is it worth? You better convince us . . . and you better call in an expert! Tons of fun!

Museum Piece—Create and craft and informative piece for our nonfiction museum.

Challenge a Friend—Students play “teacher” by generating excellent questions, writing detailed responses, and sharing their knowledge with a friend and with the whole class.

One Page Response—a bonus component designed for thoughtful responses from reluctant writers.
Total Pages
74 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
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