Beacon Lesson Plan Library

What's the Problem?

Julie Thompson
Bay District Schools


Students redefine the problem of Where's the Heart of Florida? and begin to formulate possible solutions using graphic organizers.


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 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 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.


-Completed graphic organizer that compares and contrasts sites according to the criteria
-OPTION: a graph showing quantitative data collected during survey
-Site Proposal graphic organizer (see Associated File)
-Pros and Cons graphic organizer (see Associated File)
-Resources for research (textbooks, library books, Websites)
-Chart paper or chalkboard
-Reference List (located in students' Research Portfolios)


1. Download the Pros and Cons graphic organizer and make copies for each student. Each student will most likely need 4 - 5 copies, one for each proposed site listed on their Compare/Contrast the Sites Charts.
2. Download Site Proposals graphic organizer and make copies for each student.
3. Have chart paper and makers on hand.(Option - chalkboard)
4. Gather resources for research purposes ( textbooks, library books, Web sites, etc.) A variety and large number is suggested so that each small group is afforded adequate resource materials to use for research.
5. Think about how you will divide the class into small groups of 4 or 5. Roles should be assigned for students to insure involvement by all. Use your own cooperative worker tools or assign students the following roles: Recorder, Fact Finder (1 or 2 students), Materials Manager, Reporter.)


Session 6 Where's the Heart of Florida? Problem-Based Learning Unit (see Preparation and Extensions)

1. Move quickly through a brief review of information gleaned from the previous lessons in this unit.

2. Remind students that they have been charged by the governor of Florida to participate on a task force to investigate the possibility of a new location for the state capital that perhaps better reflects the changing face of Florida. Hence the ultimate question, Where's the heart of Florida?

3. Redefine the problem as a class and begin to formulate possible solutions. (Example: Given the research conducted about the history of Tallahassee and the research of important criteria, where should the heart of Florida be located? Should Tallahassee remain the capital or should another location be selected that better reflects the changing face of Florida?) Record student responses on chart paper or chalkboard.

4. Students then propose possible sites that reflect the heart of Florida. Refer students to the Compare / Contrast the Sites Chart located in their Research Portfolios for suggestions. Again, record student responses on chart paper or chalkboard.

5. Divide students into small groups for the task of solution building. Recall suggestions concerning cooperative worker skills (see preparation).

6. Distribute to each small group a variety of resources to use for gathering information about the proposed sites. Remind students to enter information in their Reference List as they use various reference materials for research. Also remind them that this piece of information will be collected at the end of the unit and used for assessment purposes. You might also mention that the governor requested a list of the references used during this research process and that the Reference List will also satisfy that request.

7. Instruct the groups to use these resources along with their Research Portfolio contents.

8. Students take an analytical look at each of the proposed sites listed on their Compare / Contrast the Sites Chart handout.

9. Distribute and instruct groups to complete a Pros and Cons graphic organizer (see Associated File) for each site. Advise students to consider political, social, cultural, economic, and geographic features as decisions are made. Groups may choose to jigsaw this activity or work collectively through each site.

10. Next, distribute the Site Proposals graphic organizer (see Associated File) and allow groups to use this information to prioritize and recommend the top three sites agreed upon by the consensus of the group. Discuss what should be the most important criterion to consider.

11. Students then record the group's top three sites in prioritized order using the Site Proposal graphic organizer (see Associated File) and discuss the rationale for their choices.

12. Small groups report out to the class the results of their group's dicussion. Note any commonalities or distinct differences among group proposals recognized during the discussion.

13. Allow time for students to record their thoughts about today's activities in their Reflections Logs in their Research Portfolios. Advise students to address the following question in the reflection, What criterion was the most important when you prioritized sites? Why?

14. Instruct students to place their copies of the Pros and Cons and the Site Proposal graphic organizers in their Research Portfolios for later use.
Embedded instruction: A lesson on how to accurately represent information and effectively communicate the data may be necessary.
-writing to communicate
-interpreting survey results
-analyzing information collected
-drawing inferences
-prioritizing sites based upon criteria
-What is the problem?
-What are possible solutions to the problem?
-What are the pros and cons of each site?
-How should you prioritize your findings based upon the criteria and data?
-What are your recommendations for the top sites in prioritized order?
-What are effective ways to communicate this information?


For the purpose of formative assessment, each student should have a completed copy of the Pros and Cons graphic organizer. (1 per site listed on their Compare / Contrast the Site Charts) and a completed Site Proposals graphic organizer.(

In addition, each student's Reflections Log should contain an entry about this session's activities as well as a response to the questions: What criterion was the most important when you prioritized sites? Why?

At this point, continue to use the Criteria Checklist as a means of formative assessment. (Note that the criteria is arranged according to the Goal 3 Standards.)

Finally, formative assessment occurs using the Reference List as the teacher checks the students' entries indicating a variety of appropriate reference materials used for the purpose of gathering information.

Review or individually tutor those students who have misconceptions or who are not doing the work adequately to achieve mastery upon completion of the unit.


This lesson is fifth in a series of lessons that comprise a Problem-Based Learning unit entitled, Where's the Heart of Florida? It is preceded by MEMO from the Governor, Researching Capital History, and TOP SECRET: Culturally Sensitive Letters respectively.

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 unitís 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).

Web Links

Web supplement for What's the Problem?
Florida Kids

Web supplement for What's the Problem?
Department of Historical Resources

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