Using Word and the Web to Jumpstart Research
Students use Internet resources and Microsoft Word drawing tools to brainstorm (through webbing) questions about a person they will research and write about.
webbing, biography, concept map, research
It's biography time in your middle school classroom and students are looking a little shell-shocked. Why not help them get started with this tech-enriched lesson?
Prior to the lesson, students should have a basic understanding of some features of Word (Save, Print, and the top menu bars) and be able to navigate the Internet. The lesson can be modified for students as young as 4th grade or as old as 10th grade, and it can be used in any class in which students write biographies. That includes language arts, science, art, music, social studies, and so on. Finally, before beginning the lesson, students should have selected (or been assigned) a person to write about.
Middle school students often have difficulty understanding outlining and other organizational systems. Many think graphically, so using webs or concept maps to jumpstart their thinking about a biography is a great way to use their interests and skills.
This lesson requires students and teachers to use Microsoft Word's drawing tools, which can be found under the View menu (View > Toolbars > Drawing). If you or your students are not familiar with those tools, see the techtorial Create a Flow Chart in Word.
Begin the lesson at the whiteboard, chalkboard, or teacher computer and monitor. Ask students to name a famous person they would like to meet. Pick one that most students might like to meet (a rock star, athlete, religious figure, fictional character) Then, open Microsoft Word and click View>Drawing>Toolbars. Create a circle in the middle of the page and type the selected person's name in the middle of that circle.
Next, ask students what they would most like to ask that person. Write each question inside a separate circle on the Word document. When you've written 7-10 questions, use the line (or arrow) tool to connect the main circle (person's name) to the question circles.
Point out to students that they have just brainstormed to find basic questions for research. Explain that they will use the same process to complete their biography assignment. Walk students through the following steps: (Note: These steps can be completed at one or a few classroom computers, in a lab setting, or in a 1:1 environment such as laptops/tablets.)
It's easy for students to waste time making things pretty. Require that they create the web (person circle and all question circles) and get it approved by you before adding color and other formatting elements.
See the techtorial Create a Flow Chart in Word for more ideas.
At the end of the lesson, students should have fairly detailed webs that they can use as they begin the research for their biographies.
Students are assessed on their
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
NSS-USH.K-4.4 The History of Peoples of Many Cultures Around the World
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.1 Era 1: Three Worlds Meet (Beginnings to 1620)
NSS-USH.5-12.2 Era 2: Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)
NSS-USH.5-12.3 Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
NSS-USH.5-12.4 Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)
NSS-USH.5-12.5 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
NSS-USH.5-12.6 Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
NSS-USH.5-12.7 Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)
NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)
SOCIAL SCIENCES: World History
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-WH.5-12.1 The Beginnings of Human Society
NSS-WH.5-12.2 Early Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples
NSS-WH.5-12.3 Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires
NSS-WH.5-12.4 Expanding Zones of Exchange and Encounter
NSS-WH.5-12.5 Intensified Hemispheric Interactions, 1000-1500 CE
NSS-WH.5-12.6 Global Expansion and Encounter, 1450-1770
NSS-WH.5-12.7 An Age of Revolutions, 1750-1914
NSS-WH.5-12.8 The 20th Century
Last updated 1/11/2012