Report & Adventure Writing Unit Plan
goal is to develop a new 5th grade state report project,
which blends research with adventure writing. Looking
at the way we taught this unit last year, we found that
the research portion of this project was very beneficial
to the students. However, the writing portion was
lacking in creativity and was very fairly unmotivating
to the students. This proposed project would maintain
the research portion, but would add creativity and excitement
to the writing portion. We will also add a portion
which will help students to identify similarities and
differences between states and regions.
Somoza and Brett Adams
Student Essays that came from this Project
- Students will conduct research about U.S. states using
reference books, trade books, websites.
- Students will follow our guidelines in their research
and will gather specific information about their states.
II: Adventure Writing
- Students will learn the key elements of adventure writing
and practice writing them.
- Students will write their own adventure using the factual
information found in their research about their specific
states. Students will integrate the geography,
climate, history, and culture of their state into their
- Students will read and analyze Peter Lourie’s The
Lost Treasure of Captain Kidd, which will serve
as a model of a great adventure story.
- Guest author, Peter Lourie, will visit the class at
the completion of the project and will share his knowledge
of adventure writing and experiences with the students.
III: Regional Studies
- Students will be divided into groups based on the region
of the U.S. in which their state is located.
- Groups will find similarities and differences between
their states and create a plan for a group story within
- Each group will plan and present
Trip” to the class. Presentations may include
skits about the group’s hypothetical trip to a
region of the U.S.
presentations will include factual information about the
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Report & Adventure Writing
Brett Adams & David Somoza
we began our planning for the fifth grade state report
project, we discussed the problems that had arisen
last year when we taught the same unit. We
recalled that the research portion of this project
was very beneficially to the students. However,
the writing portion was lacking in creativity and was
very fairly unmotivating to the students. So
we came up with a new plan which would maintain the
research portion, but would add creativity and excitement
to the writing portion. Our goal was to develop
a new 5th grade state report project, which blends
research with adventure writing.
questions arose as we began to seriously consider this
plan. We wondered how we could successfully integrate
the research of factual information with the writing
of a fictitious adventure story; we wondered how to
begin the project; we wondered what procedure we should
follow; we wondered how to help those who struggled;
and we wondered what the final products would look
ultimate goals were for the students to learn:
- how to effectively
research a given topic.
- how to use
technology to assist them in the research process.
- to use a
variety of sources in their research.
- to rewrite
researched information in their own words.
- about the
adventure writing genre by reading and analyzing examples.
- the common
elements of adventure stories.
- how to plan
and write their own adventure story that remains consistent
with the common elements of the adventure genre.
- how to integrate
researched information into their adventure stories.
- how to express
their creative thoughts in writing.
- that writing
can be incredibly fun!
began the project with a class brain-storming session
to identify the common elements of adventure stories. We
defined adventure writing and spent time outlining
our expectations for the project. We also
introduced students to the term narrative writing
and made distinctions between first person and
third person narratives. Students
were told that their adventures should be written
in first person narrative form.
the first two weeks of the unit we exposed students
to short samples of adventure writing while simultaneously
providing opportunities for them to do creative writing
adventures. The reading material that we used
came from two traveling adventure writers, Tom Claytor
and Kevin Korell. Students read and analyzed
the writing samples in an attempt to learn how the
authors wove factual information into their stories. Students
worked in small groups and discussed their findings. During
this time students were also given opportunities to
do their own creative writing. The first writing
piece was based on a slide of a desolate Anasazi ruin
in a remote desert. The next writing piece was
based on a short video clip set in Medieval Europe
with intriguing music of the Medieval Period dubbed
in. The final creative writing piece was based
on a video clip of the Central American jungle and
Mayan temples. Vibrant Latin music was dubbed
into this video track.
we introduced the students to a variety of technology
tools which would help them in their research.
tools included the use of:
- online encyclopedias
- the task
and maximizing documents
- Google images
a series of lessons students instructed in how to use
these tools and were given opportunities to use them. Once
the students were comfortable with the tools, they
each chose their individual state to study and began
researching. They compiled their researched material
in templates, which they had copied into their computer
folders. They collected information about their
state under the following topics:
- People of
information was to be re-written in their own words
in the templates within their computer folders. Particular
attention was paid to the climate and geography section
during the early part of this project.
began the adventure writing phase with pre-writing
plans. Next they selected a location in the
state where they wanted to begin their adventure. They
found a photo of this place using Google images. This
photo became the inspiration for their introductory
paragraph. They began the adventure by describing
this selected location in great detail. In
the next section of their writing, students explained
how they (the main character in the story) had arrived
at this location. They also explained what
the main character was in search of. These
initial parts of the adventures served as introductions
that led up to the adventures.
the students planned out in greater detail the events
and obstacles of the story. Once a suitable
plan was established, students began writing the
the students wrote, they frequently went back to
do additional research to help make their stories
more realistic (for example, looking up the name
of a stream, a hotel, or a restaurant). Throughout
this process, we conducted “critique circles” during
which time students read their pieces aloud to either
the whole class or to a small group. The other
members of the class or group critiqued the writing
and offered helpful suggestions.
as the stories come to a close, we will focus on
two new aspects – resolution and reflection. In
the final section, the students will resolve the
problems of their stories and have their main character
reflect on the completed adventure. This portion
serves as each story’s conclusion. At the
completion of the story, time will be spent celebrating
the work and students will be asked to read their stories
aloud to the class.
addition to the writing project, students presented
smaller, independent, research projects about their
states. These projects were discussed in
class, but the work was done entirely at home. Along
with these independent projects, each student was
asked to find a recipe from his or her state. As
a culminating activity, students presented their
independent projects and brought in food to share
in a state food and information celebration.
most of the time that the students were writing their
adventures, they were also reading and analyzing
an adventure novel called The Lost Treasure of
Captain Kidd by
Peter Lourie. We used this novel as a means
of gaining insight into the mind of an adventure
dissected and analyzed the text to look for patterns,
plot structure, techniques for developing characters,
engaging uses of descriptive language, and ways of
integrating fact with fiction. Students read
together in small group settings and then discussed
the given discussion questions before writing out
their individual responses in journals. This
exciting adventure novel provided a great model for
the students to learn from while they were in the
writing process themselves.
days after the novel was completed, the author came
to our class for a visit. He spent one entire
morning with us. He shared adventures of his
own from his travels throughout the U. S. and the rest
of the world. He also spent time discussing many
aspects of The Lost Treasure of Captain Kidd and
answering students’ questions about the novel. Finally,
he spent time talking about adventure writing, giving
suggestions to students for their own writing, and
providing the students with inspiration to continue
the state report adventure will draw to a close. When
this end date became a reality, we sat down to discuss
what aspects of this project were truly positive and
what parts could stand some improvement. What follows
is a compilation of that reflection.
had a recognized and valued outlet to express their
creativity. Embedding a creative adventure writing
piece in the traditional state report validated the
form and by association validated the creativity the
students brought to the exercise.
could work at their own pace and their own instructional
level. While certain components were taught in
the large class setting, students frequently completed
research, writing, rewriting, etc. as their piece needed;
not necessarily on a specified classroom timeline.
project demanded a new level of technological understanding
and application and students met that challenge. Through
the course of the project students learned to cut & paste,
utilize the task bar, move between multiple windows,
work in multiple documents, download a template into
their server, and import and format photos.
aspects of the project were student centered rather
than teacher centered. Students researched information
that was relative to their adventure; not a prescribed
set of cloze activities.
project offered students an opportunity to learn a
whole new genre, adventurewriting. For many
students treading the line between fact and fiction,
while staying away from the boundless world of fantasy
writing, formed the main challenge.
students were thoroughly excited about writing and
conducting research. These students enjoyed working
through the demands of believable fiction steeped in
the fantasy genre and draw distinctions between fantasy
and adventure writing earlier in the project. We
found ourselves explaining why tracking down aliens
who kidnapped Jimi Hendrix’s ghost was not exclusively
a problem faced by Texas.
adventure writer author visit earlier in the project. Peter
Lourie will visit the class just as the project
some might argue this is a fine culminating activity,
we thought a presentation from someone like Lourie
would inspire students near the start of the project.
a website that shows many high quality, different maps
(political, topographical, highway, attractions, etc.)
of each state to help students plan the course of their
more initial structure. Allowing students autonomy
over the direction of their project proved fantastic
and motivating for many students. However, some
students who were either weaker writers or less motivated
occasionally floundered. There are also wide
discrepancies in actual state knowledge. The
project needed more structure at the beginning with
an understanding that students could move into less
restrictive space if they felt confident or if they
completed the initial research easily. Attached
are some ideas and forms that might work to create
more structure for this project in the future.
for more scaffolding
- Begin by researching
geography, climate, and history of given state. This
will give students background information before they
begin the creative writing piece and ensure that students
end the project with some solid knowledge of their
state and its features.
- Figure out what
you are searching for. Adventure
stories are usually looking for something and our students
came up with their own searches. Since the search
determines where the adventure will progress through
the state, nailing this down early on is essential. Many
students refined their searches through the project and
that worked fine. One student began by searching
for an emerald donkey in New Hampshire. After some
research she decided to search for a smoky quartz newt,
a prize more indigenous to New Hampshire.
- Maps. By
pouring over different types of maps students will
get a better idea of what is in their state, and what
areas of the state the might visit in their quest.
- Based on the maps,
plan a route through the state.
- Find downloadable
pictures of each spot you plan to visit.
- Complete the planning
template. In reflection,
we realized students needed a more concrete prescription
for an adventure story. Adventure stories often
follow a predictable pattern so we developed a planning
template that follows that pattern.
Student Essays that came from this Project