Beacon Lesson Plan Library
Taking Outer Space to Cyber Space
Bay District Schools
Students experience the joy of sharing their knowledge of the planets in our solar system by completing an expository writing and then publishing their writing on an Internet Web page. The Beacon Web authoring tool, SiteMaker will be used.
The student uses electronic technology to create, revise, retrieve, and verify information (including but not limited to word-processing software, electronic encyclopedias).
The student attempts to establish a clear focus with little or not irrelevant or repetitious information.
The student develops supporting ideas by presenting facts and information that relate to the focus.
The student uses a variety of sentence structures to present ideas.
- Planet Characteristics data chart from the lesson plan, Nine Around The Sun
- SiteMaker Web authoring tool (from the Beacon site) REGISTER EARLY AND BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THE SITE
- Planets in Cyber Space writing rubric from the unit plan's associated files - a transparency and a copy for each student (See Extensions for a link to the unit plan.)
- SiteMaker permission form (one per student, available from the associated files)
- Transparency of the sample prewrite (See associated files.)
- Transparency of various sentence structures (See associated files.)
- Computer with Internet connectivity
- A display device for the computer that can be used for class discussions and sharing of SiteMaker web pages (a color LCD panel, TV, or projector)
1. Locate the Planet Characteristics data chart from the lesson plan, Nine Around the Sun, associated files. If you are using the unit, Outer Space and Cyber Space, you have been using this chart.
2. Contact Beacon Learning Center to register for using SiteMaker, Beacon’s Web authoring tool. To register, click the SiteMaker link, then the Participants Section link, finally the Apply for Participation link. This should be done as soon as you decide to do this lesson. It will take a day or two to receive your password back. Ask to be associated with the theme, Astronomy. REGISTER EARLY AND BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THE SITE. A link to SiteMaker is available in the Weblinks section of this lesson plan.
3. Enter students in SiteMaker. Follow the instruction on the SiteMaker site.
4. Download, print, and duplicate the Planets in Cyber Space writing rubric. Make a transparency and a copy for each student. This is available from the unit's associated files. (See Extensions.)
5. Download, print, and duplicate the SiteMaker permission form (one per student, available from the associated files).
6. Download, print, and make a transparency of the sample prewrite (from associated files).
7. Download, print and make a transparency of various sentence structures (from associated files).
8. Locate at least one internet connected computer. Using a lab is recommended. If the computer lab must be reserved, remember to do it early. Lab use speeds the SiteMaker process for students developing their site.
9. Locate and learn to operate a computer projection device. This may be a color LCD panel, a TV, or a projector.
NOTE - This is the writing lesson plan for the unit, Outer Space and Cyber Space. This lesson is the writing content that compliments the science and mathematics content lessons from the unit. Data from the science lesson, Nine Around the Sun, will be used with the language arts concepts presented in this lesson.
You will be using a Web authoring tool available through Beacon Learning Center. This tool, SiteMaker, is easy to use, but you must register. Remember: REGISTER EARLY AND BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THE SITE.
1. The same diagnostic assessment tool is used to diagnose the science, math, and language arts standards from the unit, Outer Space and Cyber Space. A link to the assessment is available in the Extensions section of this lesson plan.
1. Introduce SiteMaker to the students. Show reports that are already on the site using a computer connected to a display device, such as a large TV or a projector. Talk to your media specialist about assisting you if necessary.
* Explain that by the end of this project, each student will have a report about a planet on a web page using SiteMaker.
* Send home the SiteMaker parent permission form available from the associated files.
2. Give instructions for the final report that will be published on SiteMaker. This report is to be an expository writing explaining the characteristics of a planet in our solar system. The report will be written from the data that has been recorded on the Planet Characteristic wall chart and on the student’s individual Planet Characteristic data charts. References used while completing the charts must be listed in the report, so be sure to remind students to write the books, Web sites, encyclopedias, etc., that are used. Students will be writing about the planet that they are doing the research on during science class. (See the lesson plan, Nine Around the Sun.
NOTE - Day 3 and 4 of the unit do not have language arts activities associated with the unit because students are completing their planet data charts that will be used when they begin writing their reports.
1. Discuss the rubric for Summative Assessment #3 with the students using the rubric transparency. A copy of the rubric should also be given to the students for them to keep. This encourages self-assessment as the students write and should be used during any peer review sessions. See the Extension section of this lesson plan for a link to the unit and its associated files containing this assessments and rubric.
2. Teach/review focus and using supporting facts. Since this is a factual writing, all ideas and sentences must focus on facts. No fictional information may be included. Give examples and nonexamples, such as the following:
" Listen to these sentences. Are they focused on the planet Earth? - Earth is the third planet from the sun. Mercury is first and Venus is second. Earth is between Venus and Mars."
* To maintain focus, only factual information on the selected planet may be included. Remind students that if they use the data from their Planet Characteristics chart while writing, their writing will be focused.
* Each detail or characteristic included in the writing must have supporting details. These details can be found on the data charts, or further research can be conducted. Ideally, there are at least three details, each with supporting facts.
3. Use the data from the wall chart and individual data charts to begin organizing a prewrite for a planet report. Model organizing information and prewriting with the students using transparencies made from the documents in the attached files. The example of a prewrite (outline) that has been organized to focus on the different areas of the chart is available in the associated files.
* Be sure to relate to the students that the example prewrite is organized in this way in order to maintain focus on the facts.
* While doing the prewrite, stress focus on the topic and details with supporting information that relates to the focus.
* Use the rubric while giving formative feedback. Ask questions, such as the following:
- Look at your sentences. Did you write a compound sentence? Did you write a complex sentence? Is there a simple sentence in your writing?
- Do you have a main idea? Do all of your sentences match the main idea?
- How many supporting ideas do you have? Look at the wall chart. Can you find any more support?
* Be sure to give affirmative feedback, such as, "Great! I see that your writing is focused on details about Saturn and that you have lots of supporting facts." Give corrective feedback, such as, "I see you have focused on Pluto. Did you remember to write facts to support what you have written about Pluto's orbit?" Formative feedback should be given to individual students and, in this instance, is oral. Conferencing with students allows for individual assessment and formative feedback.
1. Review the rubric, Planets in Cyber Space. Review focus on expository topic and supporting ideas with facts and information that relates to the focus from yesterday’s lesson and as it will be assessed using the rubric . Use this review as a formative assessment. Give corrective and affirmative feedback. Be sure to give examples and non-examples for focus.
2. Teach using a variety of sentence structures to present ideas. Discuss simple sentences (one subject, one verb), compound sentences (two simple sentences joined by a conjunction), and sentences with compound subjects or compound verbs. Varying the length of sentences or the beginnings of sentences also makes for a more readable paper. An example of various sentence structures is available in the associated files.
3. Students write the draft of the report. The teacher circulates and, using the rubric, gives assistance to individual students. This serves as a formative assessment as the teacher identifies focus, supporting details, and various sentence structures the students incorporate in their writing. Affirmative feedback, such as, “You have written three supporting sentences for this detail. Great job!” should be given aloud as it serves as a reminder for all students. Corrective feedback, such as, “This sentence begins exactly like the last one. Can you think of a way to say the same thing using different words?” should be given in an individual conference.
4. Model using the rubric to self-assess the writings. Encourage students to have their rubrics on their desks and available for both peer editing, self-assessing, and teacher feedback.
1. Review the rubric, Planets in Cyber Space. Review focus, supporting ideas with facts and information that relates to the focus, and using various sentence structures from yesterday’s lesson and as it will be assessed using the rubric. Use this review as a formative assessment asking students to look for specific items in their writings. See the example given in Day 6. Give individual corrective and affirmative feedback. Be sure to give examples and non-examples.
2. Students complete their drafts and begin editing their reports. Model editing procedures of using peers to read and discuss how to improve the report using the rubric as the criteria. I like the “Ask 3, Then Me” rule where students ask three classmates to proof their writing before bringing it to me for consultation. If students use a peer editing checklist, it is appropriate to use it with this activity; however, peer editing should focus on the rubric as this is the tool that will be used to assess and evaluate the writing.
3. Continue using the rubric to self-assess the writings. Encourage students to have their rubrics on their desks and available for both peer editing and self-assessing.
1. Review the rubric, Planets in Cyber Space. Review focus, supporting ideas with facts and information that relates to the focus, and using various sentence structures as it will be assessed using the rubric. Use this review as a formative assessment. Give corrective and affirmative feedback. Be sure to give examples and non-examples as described in each day's lesson.
2. As students complete their drafts and editing procedures, they begin to write the final copy of their reports to be turned in upon completion. This copy will be assessed and scored using the rubric.
3. Students begin typing their reports for SiteMaker. This can be typed on any computer, as one of the SiteMaker features is the ability to accept copied and pasted text. (A lesson on copy and paste may be necessary.)
* My students typed on computers inside and outside of my classroom and saved it to disks. Then it was quick work to copy and paste the report into the SiteMaker program.
* Since all the actual writing that is to be assessed was completed in class, students could take a copy of their completed report home to type on their home computers and save on a disk. Alpha Smarts and similar word processors work fine for typing these reports.
* For precaution’s sake, I would make a copy of the completed report before allowing it to leave the classroom.
4. To assure variety in the SiteMaker reports, and to make the actual SiteMaker process quicker, all graphics available from SiteMaker should be made available to the students before they actually are at the computer. This can be done whole group using a projection device to display the images. They should know exactly which graphic is for their use.
* I actually printed each graphic and allowed students to view the printed graphic and write their name on the graphic that was most appropriate for their reports. Then, when the students were actually building the SiteMaker reports, all the graphic decisions had been made, and the process moved along quickly.
1. Complete the SiteMaker activity.
Day 10 - Unit Culmination –
1. Students present their SiteMaker reports on the various planets. Using any available projection device, such as a TV or projector, students present their reports. As the class observes, the students read their reports. A printed copy of the report for the students' use while presenting is recommended.
* For those students who do not have a permission note for their online Web page, the SiteMaker activity can be completed up to the last step, activating the site. Without activation, the site is available to the class for the presentation but is not live on the Internet.
Diagnostic assessment is given before giving instructions on the first day. The diagnostic is designed to address these four language arts standards, the two science standards, the three mathematics standards, and Goal 3 standards 1 and 2. The assessment tool is available from the associated files that accompany the unit, Outer Space and Cyber Space. Instructions for administering the assessment are available from the same unit. (See Extensions for the link.)
Formative assessment is given daily as students progress through their writing. Criteria and an example of feedback are available with each day's plans.
The summative assessment tool is the rubric, Planets in Cyber Space. The assessment tool is available from the associated files that accompany the unit, Outer Space and Cyber Space. Instructions for administering and scoring the assessment are included on the rubric. (See Extensions for the link.)
1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: http://www.beaconlearningcenter.com/search/details.asp?item=2943. Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
2.The SiteMaker presentation can be used as a cooperative group activity or pairs of students can work together, but the assessment is only valid if the project is done individually.
3. If connection to the Web is not possible, this lesson can be completed without the Web publishing.
4. The rubric used for assessment can be adjusted to reflect other writing standards that your students may need addressed.
5. Use other resources, like your grammar book, for additional practice in sentence structures.
6. A review of focus and supporting details may be necessary. Examples and nonexamples should be given.
7. Peer editing checklists with specifics of what are to be checked can be used, however, remember to focus on the rubric while peer editing as that is the tool that will be used for assessment and evaluation.
8. Adult volunteers are helpful with monitoring computer and word processor skills.
9. Printed reports can be mounted and displayed.