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Lesson Plan

Connecting Past and Present: A Local Research Project

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Connecting Past and Present: A Local Research Project

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Unit
Estimated Time Nine 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Linda Templeton

Cartersville, Georgia


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



When students make real-world connections between themselves and their community, they can participate in authentic communication activities based on issues that matter to them personally. In this activity, students research a decade in their school's history, with small groups researching specific topics. Within each group, students take on specific roles, such as archivist, manager, techie, or researcher. Students become active archivists, gathering photos, artifacts, interviews, and stories for a museum exhibit that highlights one decade in their school's history. The final project can be shared and displayed in your classroom, in the school auditorium or in the library.

This lesson plan was developed as part of a collaborative professional writing initiative sponsored by the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project (KMWP) at Kennesaw State University.

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Tips for Interviews: This handout provides general tips for students that are useful in any project requiring an interview.

Museum Exhibit Teacher Tips
: These tips cover important points for teacher to consider throughout the museum exhibit project.

ReadWriteThink Notetaker
: This online outlining tool allows students to organize up to five levels of information, choosing bullets, Roman numerals, or letters.

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In Writing Our Communities: Local Learning and Public Culture, educators find these poignant questions:

How can students create rather than regurgitate knowledge that matters to them? How can they interact meaningfully with the community around them? How can the classroom become a real community, not a contrived one in which teacher and student are performing for each other? (xi).

These questions inspire this research unit, which works to instill excitement and interest among students who dread the annual research paper. Additionally, such authentic research projects greatly reduce the possibility of plagiarism and bought papers. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this activity creates a classroom community of learners, based on the belief that "students need to engage in multiple communities that surround them and also that those communities benefit from the energy and enthusiasm that students bring to active citizenship, where citizenship means recovering, critiquing, and actively engaging the world around them" (Winter & Robbins, xi). After completing this research project, students will realize the broader connections they have with their school and community.

Further Reading

Winter, Dave, and Sarah Robbins. 2005. Writing Our Communities: Local Learning and Public Culture. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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