Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Consider This!

Julie Thompson
Bay District Schools


Students draft a simulated email to the governor of Florida that includes their recommendation for the -heart of Florida- capital and provides support based upon research and established criteria.


The student uses a variety of reference materials to gather information, including multiple representations of information for a research project (for example, maps, charts, photos).

The student focuses on a central idea or topic (for example, excluding loosely related, extraneous, or repetitious information).

The student writes notes, comments, and observations that reflect comprehension of fourth grade or higher level content and experiences from a variety of media.

The student writes for a variety of occasions, audiences, and purposes (for example, journals to reflect upon ideas, reports to describe scientific observations).

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 develops anecdotes or examples to support and elaborate upon reasons.

The student generally presents facts, examples, and definitions objectively.

The student creates a logical organizational pattern appropriate to expository writing (including beginning, middle, end).

The student knows selected physical features of Florida (for example, bodies of water, climate, elevation).

The student understands ways geographic features influenced the exploration, colonization, and expansion of Florida.

The student understands some ways industrialization and urbanization have affected Florida (for example, the growth of railroads and highways, the development of large population centers, tourism).

The student knows selected economic, political, and social transformations that have taken place in Florida since World War II (for example, civil rights movement, space program).

The student understands the contributions of selected significant men and women, including African Americans and Hispanics, on the development of Florida (for example, Ponce De Leon, Henry Flagler, Mary Bethune Cookman, Chief Osceola, Governor Bob Martinez).

The student understands the unique and diverse cultural make-up of Florida (for example, Caucasian, Hispanic, Haitian-Creole, African-American).

The student knows ways various cultures contributed to the unique social, cultural, economic, and political features of Florida.


-Research Portfolio Contents
-Email Communique Rubric (see Associated File)
-Where's the Heart of Florida? Criteria Checklist
-Examples of Email messages
-Overhead Projector
-Overhead transparency of the rubric
-Reference List
-Computer with word processing software (OPTIONAL)
-Floppy Discs for student use (OPTIONAL)


1. Copy several examples of email messages for the purpose of demonstrating the format of electronic communication to those students who may be unfamiliar.
2. Have on hand the Where's the Heart of Florida? Criteria Checklists for the purpose of conducting desk-side conferences and formative assessment.
3. Download and make a copy of the Email Communique Rubric (see Associated File) for each student.
4. Familiarize yourself with the format, language, and expectations of the rubric.
5. Prepare an overhead transparency of the rubric.
6. Review the standards addressed within the unit to ensure coverage of pertinent information.
7. Prepare an example of how students should construct their Reflections Log entries for today according to your expectations.
8. OPTIONAL--Prepare materials for the mini lesson review of expository writing.
9. Begin preparation for the Debriefing and the Final Summative.


Session: 8 & 9 of Where's the Heart of Florida? Problem-Based Learning Unit (see Preparations and Extensions)

1. Remind students that the inquiry and investigation of the problem at hand originated as a response to the governor's request that they participate as members of a task force charged with determining where the heart of Florida is in the 21st century.

2. Briefly review the process of inquiry and investigation, defining the problem, and narrowing possible solutions by engaging the students in a discussion recapturing the preceding activities. During this discussion promote information that addresses the standards for this lesson by asking guiding questions such as:
-How have geographic features influenced the expansion of Florida?
-What physical features were considered when Tallahassee was selected as the state capital in 1823?
-How has tourism affected the growth of Florida?
-How has the diverse cultural make up of Florida's population contributed to the cultural and economic features of the state?
-What appropriate resource materials did you use to gather information during the inquiry and investigation process?
-Why is the cultural make up of Florida so diverse?

3. After the brief recap, refer students to the session during which they narrowed their list of potential sites down to the top three. Ask students to look at their Site Proposals handout that should be located in their Research Portfolios.

4. Tell the students that today they will be deciding individually which of their top three site proposals will be the recommendation to the governor. Remind students that they must provide support for the selection that is based on the criteria which they helped to determine (geographic, political, cultural, economic, and social features).

5. Once students have made their final decisions, they will communicate their proposals and support in expository fashion by drafting an email communique to Governor Bush. If students are unfamiliar with the conventional format of an email message, consider showing examples of email messages to the class.

6. Distribute to students a copy of the Email Communique Rubric (see Associated File). Use the overhead copy as an aid to familiarize the students with the content of the rubric and the expected student outcomes. Emphasize the descriptors at each performance level. Tell the students that the rubric will be the tool used for assessment of the simulated email response to the governor.

7. This would be the appropriate time for a mini lesson review of expository writing if deemed necessary by the teacher based on knowledge of students' expository writing skills. Use your own tools for this mini lesson or refer to the FCAT Writes materials for quality instructional techniques.

8. Allow the students to keep their copies of the rubric and suggest that they refer to it as they draft the Email Communique during the remainder of this session and the next.

9. Give students a few minutes to ask questions and decide on the top site proposal.

10. Instruct students to record their decisions in their Reflections Logs as the entry for the day and to jot brief notes about the reasons that support the selection. The teacher may want to model an example of this for the class. While students are making their entries, the teacher can conduct desk-side conferences with individual students for the purpose of formative assessment using the Criteria Checklist as a guide.

11. Students should conclude this session by placing the Email Communique Rubric as well as all other materials referred to in the Procedures section in their Research Portfolios. Tell the students that tomorrow they will actually draft their simulated email responses in expository form. This marks the end of Session 7.

The following class session:
12. Begin this session by briefly reviewing the assignment as well as the Email Communique Rubric.

13. Ask the students to locate the handout they received on the first day of the unit study titled, -Reference List.- Remind them that they have been instructed periodically to record information on this handout during the research process. Inform the students that this list will be a required attachment to the email response to the governor and that it will be part of the information used for assessment of student performance.

14. Allow students the remainder of the session to draft their responses to the governor. During this time, the teacher should periodically advise students to reference the expectations presented in the rubric.

15. Conduct desk-side conferences with individual students as a means of formatively assessing their understanding of the content and skills addressed within the unit. Use the Criteria Checklist and Email Communique Rubric to guide this assessment process. Remember the standards are matrixed within the Goal 3 Standards on the checklist.

16. At the completion of the session, instruct students to turn in their drafts of their simulated email responses and the Reference Lists. Instruct the students to then create their entry for the day in their Reflections Logs.

17. Score students' email responses and Reference Lists according to the Email Communique Rubric (see Associated File) and return promptly to the students.

18. Inform the students that the debriefing phase of the Problem-Based Learning process will take place tomorrow and that they will then receive a study guide to help them prepare for the Post-test.

19. Teacher discretion is advised concerning students who need additional time for completion. If some students complete their drafts early, the teacher may also decide whether or not to permit these students to create their responses using a Word processing format.

Embedded Instruction: Include a Working With Words lesson on certain vocabulary used in the Email Communique Rubric. Examples are: explicitly, irrelevant, waiver, minimal, intent, scant, consistently, elaborated, insight, moderately, objectively, fruition, distinct, fluently, abundantly, gleaned. Students enjoy learning about and using colorful vocabulary such as the above mentioned. Encourage them to use these words in other situations during and after this unit. OPTION: The Email Communique Rubric can be downloaded to a word processor and changed accordingly for use with your students.

-drafting an electronic document
-effective written communication to convey ideas and content
-expository writing process

-What are the reasons for the sites you are proposing?
-What is the conventional format for an email communiqué?
-Habits of mind (metacognitive)
-What is your selection for the heart of Florida in the 21st century? Why?

(NOTE: If you are doing the unit, Where is the Heart of Florida, it is now time to do the debriefing and review for the final assessment. Instructions for administering this debriefing and final assessment can be found in the unit plan. The assessment can be found in the assessment section. Please see the Extensions section of this lesson plan for further information.)


Session 7's entry in the Reflections Log is a product for formative assessment. Although the end of the unit is near, the importance of assessment at this time is to gauge student learning and to provide opportunity for self-reflection and feedback. The purpose of this assessment is not for grading purposes. The criteria and performance levels for this assessment are detailed on the Where's the Heart of Florida? Criteria Checklist.

Note that assessment of the Goal 3 Standards is embedded within the GLEs identified on the checklist. You can manage this assessment by conducting desk-side conferences with individual students. The Criteria Checklist should guide the course of the discussion between teacher and student in order to ensure quality formative assessment which is aligned with the standards. By now, you should already have a Criteria Checklist for each student. If not, download one from the Associated File for the lesson MEMO from the Governor and make copies as needed.


This lesson is the last in a series of lessons from a unit entitled Where's the Heart of Florida?

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: 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).

In an effort to connect the community to the school setting, the teacher may choose to select samples of the student created simulated email responses to package along with an explanation of the unit and send them to Tallahassee.

Web Links

Web supplement for Consider This!
HyperHistory ONLINE

Web supplement for Consider This!
Florida Kids

The ETC is your starting point for links to educational resources for Florida's teachers
Educational Technology Clearinghouse

Attached Files

The Email Communique Rubric     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.