Empowering Writers

December 2015 Lesson of the Month

Let’s dream and dream big! December is a special time for kids to “wish upon a star”, “dream the impossible dream,” or “hope against hope” for the big gift. This month the students will research their dream destination or ambitious activity they have forever wished for and put it into writing, including facts about the location or activity. And as always, a K-1 lesson is included here! This month’s foundational skill involves a familiar game, with a word-referent twist.

Research is a necessary skill for all students, but often we assume children know how to research a subject, when in reality, they do not have a game plan for carrying it out. In order for students to learn the art of investigation, and analysis of data for use in research, it’s important to teach these lessons objectively, one skill at a time. In this month’s lesson, students will choose a place they’ve dreamed of going or an activity they’ve always wanted to experience and explore the topic. They will delve into informational text, whether in books or online, and use the needed data to learn all they can about their subject. Along with finding information, they’ll also learn to take notes and to use the notes to inform their written piece. Because this is a research project, this lesson should be broken into mini-lessons and taught over a period of time.

Download Lesson Pages below.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • First, ask: Have you ever dreamed of going somewhere, but you haven’t gotten to go? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to experience a particular activity, but you have yet to talk your parents into letting you. Give the students time to share their dreams, hopes and wishes. The teacher might share a place he/she has always dreamed of going, but has yet to go, or an activity he/she hasn’t had the chance to experience, but has wanted to do for a long time (bungee-jump, sky-dive, trip to the mountains, ride a passenger train, go to Disney World, play soccer, etc).
  1. Next, choose a topic, (one suggested by the students or a random idea), and MODEL the process of searching for information. Display your computer screen on your smart board or projector and search for sites with information about the chosen topic. (Be sure to check these sites in advance of the lesson to ensure that the content is age-appropriate.) Following the questions from the Note-Taking Sheet, write the questions on the board or chart paper and MODEL the note-taking process, showing the students that notes are words or phrases about the topic, not complete sentences copied from the source.

Note-taking Sheets:

Download Activity & Location PDF’s below.

  1. Distribute copies of the “NOTE-TAKING SHEET,” making sure each child receives the correct copy, location, or activity. For example, if the student dreams of going to Disney World, they would receive a copy of “NOTE-TAKING SHEET: LOCATION and if they want to bungee jump they would get a copy of “NOTE-TAKING SHEET: ACTIVITY.” After the MODELING process, have the students search websites using key words referencing their own topic and taking notes on the provided activity sheet.
  2. A trip to the library to search for books on their topic adds to their wealth of knowledge on the subject. Have students search for books referencing their dream location or activity and include information from this source as well. The note-taking process is much like the skill used in internet searches.

On Another Day:

  1. Use the notes from the previous day, MODEL the summarizing piece pg. 279 available with this lesson. Fill in the framework and bulleted list of facts collected from the search engines or books.
  2. Then, have the students use their notes to write two informative paragraphs on their dream location or activity. Yes, MODEL this as well before turning the students loose to complete their own writing!


Upon their return after the winter break, have the students write a Narrative story about their adventure in their dream location or activity. Print a realistic picture of their place/activity and place a photograph of the student in the setting or activity. Then have them write a story about their make-believe experience.



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