We Wish You Would Act on this Issue!

Presented by: Kate Shanahan

Subject Area(s):

Grade Level(s):


12th grade students will choose a controversial political or economic topic, identify the stakeholders and explain their positions. Students may work in teams or as individuals to create a wiki page dedicated to their issue. They will individually reflect on the discovery process through a blog and ultimately create a persuasive letter and submit it to a key decision maker. Students will be required to consider, identify, extract and evaluate various forms of information to include in the final project. The unit will culminate with a professional letter addressed to a key decision maker. Through this exercise students will demonstrate skills of participatory citizenship and strengthen information organization and expression skills that will take them into the real world.


Week 1 – computers, internet, Wikispaces.com (e.g. http://mhs-issue-wiki.wikispaces.com/)

Week 2 – school databases, Edublogs.com or Wordpress.com for hosted blog sites

Week 3 – Flickr Advanced Search - http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/?

Google Images Advanced Search http://images.google.com/advanced_image_search?q=google&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&start=0



·         The classroom teacher (CT) and the TL will meet several times prior to this lesson to determine roles & responsibilities and organize materials.  The CT will be familiar with content, and the TL with the space, information literacy skills, and technical requirements.  Prior to this lesson, the TL must determine what wiki resources will be used, and how to publish it on the school website. 

·         The CT will lay out the project requirements and act as the subject matter specialist. They will suggest possible topics (e.g. copyright, gay marriage, potential state budget cuts) and the TL will act as the information specialist. 

·         TL will create a wiki with the suggested template SM1_wishyouwouldactonthisissue. (See sample at: http://mhs-issue-wiki.wikispaces.com/)

·         TL and CT must verify all students have established blogs.



Week 1 - Lesson I – Free/Invisible Web Search

Direct Instruction

·         To catch students’ attention, play The Ventures’ song “Wipeout” when they enter the library. This accompanies the theme of “surfing the internet” played up in the presentation. We also suggest “I’ve Got the Power” by Snap for subsequent weeks; just as their ability to access information will give them the power to achieve.

·         Students will arrive at the library having selected their issue, aware of the project requirements (SM1_ & SM2_ActonIssue) and knowing whether they will be working independently or as a team. 

·         TL will navigate the students to their wiki link on the school website and show them how to access the project requirements on the wiki “Home” page (SM1_ActonIssue).

·         TL will review a searching PowerPoint based on students’ needs. A suggested format is provided. Use slides 1-14 for Lesson I (SM5_ActonIssue).

·         Depending on skill level, students will build confidence from an overview of some or all of the following: 1) Boolean & wildcard operators, 2) how to access invisible web search engines, 3) advanced search options, 4) how to broaden/narrow search, and 5) eliminate noise words.

·         TL will hand out blog requirements and post PowerPoint on the website for students to review.


Modeling & Guided Practice

·         TL will model a search on the free web. If possible, ask students to keep a search log so you can assess search strategies.

·         TL will reference citation examples linked to the library homepage for the following formats: websites, refereed articles and images.


Independent Practice

·         Allow time for students to practice searching independently and assist with citations as needs arise.


Week 2 - Lesson II – Database & Citations

Direct Instruction

·         TL will continue with review of effective database searching. A suggested format is provided. (SM5_ActonIssue). TL should continue with slides 14–18 of the searching PowerPoint based on students’ needs.

·         TL will review the difference between 1) keyword 2) subject and 3) full text document searches and the advantages of databases over the web.

·         TL asks students to keep a search log to assess learning of search strategies.


Modeling & Guided Practice

·         TL models examples of advanced searching options to narrow searches (“gay marriage” + “New York” or “economic impact”) or employ broader terms to widen the search, the power of a controlled vocabulary thesaurus, and pearl growing.

·         Again, remind students of the citation link and model if necessary.


Independent Practice

·         TL allows time for independent practice and assists students with citations.


Sharing and Reflecting

·         Students share wiki with classmates and reflect in blog post. (SM3_ActonIssue).


Week 3 - Lesson IIIImage Searches & Citations

Direct Instruction

·         TL will review key elements to conducting image searches with slides 18-22 (SM5_ActonIssue) and encourage students to use adjectives and verbs to yield evocative images.


Modeling & Guided Practice

·         TL models an image search via Google advanced image search and Flickr advanced search with creative commons (e.g. search “otto” then add “orange” then add “Syracuse University”).

·         TL provides students with a sample of the desired persuasive letter format.  A suggested format is provided (SM4_ActonIssue). The letter is due the following week.


Independent Practice

·         Students will perform an image search using a copyright free database and review the proper citation.  Images are best cited upon retrieval as there are no visible tags like there are on database publications.

·         Ask students to keep a search log to assess learning of search strategies.


Sharing and Reflecting

·         Students share wiki with classmates and reflect in blog post. (SM3_ActonIssue).


Week 4 – Letter

Direct Instruction

·         TL congratulates students on completing their projects! Students will take pride in the presentation of their own work.


Independent Practice

·         Students will submit their persuasive letters.


Sharing and Reflecting

·         TL links protected wiki to the library website and takes initiative on promotion of final projects through the next school newsletter. TL encourages students to share their projects with friends and family.

·         TL initiates a discussion to evaluate the project and learning.

·         Students share wiki with classmates and reflect in blog post.

Supporting Files: