The end of the school year can be a challenging time to keep middle school students engaged and motivated. With summer break just around the corner and burnout setting in, students may lack the drive to put in effort and focus on their studies. It’s also possible that your teaching strategies and materials may have become repetitive or stale over the course of the year, making it harder for students to stay engaged and interested. With that in mind, we’re sharing a fun research project titled “The Year I Was Born.”
About the Project
The project involves researching events that occurred during the year of a student’s birth. It encourages students to explore history and connect it to their own lives, creating a keepsake in the process. The suggested timeline for the entire research unit is around three weeks, assuming 60-minute class periods. The timeline can be adjusted to fit the students’ needs and writing levels.It’s easy enough to shorten it or make it a bit longer based on your students’ needs and writing levels.
EB Teachers’ Club members, you can find this research project in your dashboard. If you’re not an EB Teachers’ Club member, here’s how we structure each of the three weeks!
The Unit Plan
The project is divided into three weeks, each with a specific focus.
In the first week, students brainstorm and research using a graphic organizer that lists topics such as the economy, natural disasters, politics, and pop culture. They take notes in bullet form and identify common threads that connect these topics. Based on their research, they pick the topic that interests them the most and write an essay with the essential question, “What was especially significant about the year I was born?”
In the second week, students look for evidence to support their premises and claim. They search for around ten pieces of evidence from their sources and keep track of them. It is recommended to require citing sources to promote research skills and academic integrity. Students can then select their strongest three pieces of evidence to use in their body paragraphs. Now they need to write justification for why that evidence supports the premise and claim. And, finally, for the conclusion, they know to restate the claim, summarize the evidence, and write a mic drop sentence about a lesson learned!So, week 2 is spent researching relevant evidence and typing or writing their first draft of their essay!
This week is spent peer editing, conferencing with you, and writing their final drafts. We encourage you to discuss and provide a rubric to students before they submit their final essay so they can successfully meet the expectations! It’s also a fun opportunity for students’ to read each others’ papers. They will love to see if anyone selected the same topics as them as well as learn about other significant events from the year they were born!
If you want, you could compile all the essays into a booklet for students and give them an anthology of different essays, so they will always have this information about the year they were born!
“The Year I Was Born” research project is an excellent activity to keep middle school students engaged and motivated during the end of the school year. It encourages students to explore history and connect it to their own lives, promoting research, critical thinking, and writing skills. By providing a clear timeline and structure, students are more likely to produce a well-written essay, promoting academic growth and interest.
Let us know if you assign this project to your students!