Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Seeking Super Cities

Louise Jones
Hardee County Schools


Did you ever want to move to another city in the United States? If so, come travel with us on a Super City Search. Researchers, start your engines!


The student compares and contrasts similar information contained in different text selections.

The student gathers information from a variety of sources, including primary sources (for example, magazines and newspapers).

The student classifies and records information (for example, using note cards, data files).


-Reference materials: encyclopedias, World Almanacs, Internet, email interviews, reference books
-City Data Chart (attached file)
-Microsoft Powerpoint file (attached file)
-Computer containing Microsoft Powerpoint (version 2000) with computer projector
-Projection screen
-Marker board and markers
-Extension cord if needed
-Internet accessible computers


1. Make enough copies of City Data Charts for each student.
2. Set up computer and projector.
3. Gather materials.
4. Sign up to use media center.
5. Schedule a meeting with media specialist to explain your lesson and identify needed reference materials.


Necessary background information:
Students must have prior knowledge of primary and secondary sources.
Students must have prior knowledge of reference materials.

1. Tell students to imagine that they are being given the opportunity to move to any city in the United States.

2. Tell students that in the next few days they will be traveling on a Super City Search.

3. Tell them that there are items that they will need for the trip packed in the suitcase.

4. Show students the Powerpoint presentation (see attached Microsoft Powerpoint file containing pictures obtained from Microsoft’s online clip art gallery) of the pictures of cities and tell them that there is much more to know about a city than you can know from just seeing a picture.

5. Ask students for names of large cities in the United States that they have visited or in which they may have relatives living and write these city names on the board. Add the following cities to the list if they are not mentioned: New York City (NY), Chicago(IL), Atlanta(Ga), Houston(Tx), San Francisco(Ca), Dallas(Tx), Miami(Fl), Tampa(Fl), Philadelphia(Pa), Boston(Ma), Honolulu(Ha), Denver(Co), New Orleans(La), Seattle(Wa), Baltimore(Md), and Pittsburgh(Pa) Include the name of the state in which the city is located.

6. Ask students to describe some of the cities they have visited.

7. Explain to students that they will conduct research on two cities after which they will decide in which one they would prefer to live.

8. Assign students to cooperative groups of no more than three.

9. Tell groups that they will choose two cities from the list (from separate states), and gather information by using sources found in the media center. The groups will physically get together at the end of the teacher-led discussion to begin their researching.

10. Review the difference between primary and secondary sources. Using the attached Powerpoint file, show examples of primary sources. Ask students to suggest which primary sources they could use in this activity. Show students examples of secondary sources using the Powerpoint file. Ask students to suggest which secondary sources would yield the most accurate and complete results. Open the suitcase and take out reference books that are listed on the Powerpoint. Tell them that they will use these and other reference materials from the media center to conduct their research.

11. Give each student a City Data Chart that lists the types of information that must be found for each city. Tell students they must fill in at least six of the ten information categories on the chart. Display the chart on screen from the Powerpoint file and discuss each item listed on the chart.

12. Tell students that they will complete two City Data Charts, one for each city. They must complete the same information for each city. If they present data on the population of city A they must also present data on the population of city B. Tell them that they will look at this data and compare and contrast the information that they found for each city for their oral report.

13. Explain that they must “document” each piece of information with the complete title of the source from which they found it. For example, if they find the crime rate of the city in the World Almanac, they must write World Almanac and Book of Facts in the source box beside the crime rate. Tell them that they also must write the copyright date. Hold up the World Almanac that you took from the suitcase and demonstrate where the copyright date is located in the book.

14. Explain to students that they must use at least one primary source, in addition to secondary sources. Tell them to use the U.S. Census website for their population data and that will satisfy the primary source requirement.

15. Tell students to break into their groups and begin their research, completing their charts as they find the information. Each student in the group must find data for at least two of the chart’s information categories. Each student should have a completed chart at the end of the research activity.

16. Tell students to compare and contrast the information they have found on the two cities and choose the city in which they would prefer to live. For example, is one city larger than the other? Does one city have a high crime rate, and the other a low crime rate? Do both cities have area attractions that appeal to the student?

17. Instruct each student to write an essay that explains why he or she would prefer to live in their chosen city, using details from their completed chart to explain and validate their opinion. Remind them to include the details from the chart that helped them decide which city they prefer, such as specific crime rates, etc. Tell the students that they must present their essay to the class orally.

18. Begin oral reports.


Teachers do not need to be concerned with the data collected but rather the resources and processes used to find the data. This assignment is intended to direct students in using appropriate research skills. In this formative assessment the teacher will check student City Data Charts to see that they correctly classified and recorded the information on their City Data Charts). At least six of the ten categories must be completed. For each entry, the student must document the source. A minimum of four different sources must be used for gathering the information, including at least one primary source. Students must also accurately compare and contrast the information within their essays based on the information they gathered and recorded on their information sheets. Students who are unable to complete these tasks as directed, will be given further instruction and the opportunity to complete it as homework.


To modify this activity for ESOL/ESL or ESE students, you should require students to answer fewer of the requirements on the chart, and direct them to specific reference materials.

Web Links

An excellent site to use as a primary source for population information.
U.S. Census Bureau

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