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The Hopewell Inquiry Unit Exploration

Section I: Student Information

The student population that I am working with for this Inquiry Unit brings a wide variety

of skills and assets to the group. There are going to be three 3rd graders working on this unit

together in a small group setting. They all come from the same general education teacher, so

communication will be exchanged daily between myself and the classroom teacher about the

students’ progress.

The first student in my group is a female, Kate, who just qualified for Special Education

services for a Specific Learning Disability in written expression, reading fluency, mathematics

problem solving, and mathematics calculation. My mentor and I see this child for an average of

90 minutes per day. Due to my mentor being a Teacher Consultant, all of our kids receive the

mini lesson/core instruction in the general education classroom before coming for intervention.

When needing writing output from Kate, she has a difficult time writing in complete sentences

that help her to convey information. She can talk through information with you, but has a

difficult time writing it onto the paper. Kate is currently reading at an end of 1st grade level. She

struggles with reading things fluently, and often needs things read aloud when lots of grade level

reading is expected of her. However, she is willing to work hard at all times, and she always puts

forth her best effort. She has a difficult time with processing speed which requires her to take

more time to think through things. Sometimes, her responses elicit frequent pauses, but once she

has the time to process her thoughts, she has relevant information to share.

The second student is Ray. Ray is also in Special Education under a Specific Learning

Disability in reading fluency. Ray also qualifies for a secondary disability in Speech and

Language with the qualifying area being articulation. Ray is an extremely hard worker and loves
to share thoughts and opinions when working in small groups. We typically see Ray for 30-60

minutes per day to address his reading. He is currently reading at an end of second grade level.

He has lots of great thoughts to share when a text is read aloud to him. He has difficulty

comprehending and attending to the material when he is the reader due to how much energy is

focused on the decoding aspect. While he has very relevant thoughts to share, it can be difficult

for him to share them in a way that is understandable by his peers and his teachers.

The last student in my group is Rick. Rick is in Special Education for Other Health

Impairment under a medical diagnosis of ADHD. He is a very insightful individual, but

sometimes gets nervous when working in a group. He enjoys books and reading but has made

little growth in the past year. Rick has trouble inferring from the text. If something is not

explicitly noted, it is difficult for him to think of any other possibilities that could happen. He is

continuing to work on being more comfortable to contribute to group tasks as well as working on

listening attentively and following directions in a large group setting.

Section II: Planning My Unit

When I first began planning my unit, I had to confer with both my mentor teacher and the

student’s general education teacher. The general education teacher came down to our room and

asked for our help in creating a unit for these students for a Michigan History Project. This is a

required standard to be addressed in 3rd grade, and she felt as if these three children would

benefit from an alternative setting with a more structured plan. After determining that three

students would be coming down to complete the project, I collaborated with my mentor about

times that would work within our busy schedule. We decided that from 10:30-11:15 would be the

most reasonable time due to two of the three needing speech and language at 11:15.
I then went and collaborated with the general education teacher. We determined that my

three students will be completing the unit on the Hopewell Indians. The general education

teacher planned to have groups of students’ research about a specific group of people in

Michigan history across a period of time. The Hopewell Indians were first on the timeline, and

we decided that the articles and text explaining the Hopewell were appropriate for Kate, Ray,

and Rick. She gave me a bin of materials that would be helpful in completing the unit. The

materials consisted of: A Meet Michigan Book, The Mitten – The Hopewell kid friendly research

article, Nishnawbe – A Story of Indians in Michigan text (see below), and a drawn-out timeline

of various group relevancies in Michigan. I went through and read through each text about the

Hopewell Indians to familiarize myself with them before reading it through with my students. I

took notes about the important things I should hit on once I began reading the text aloud to them.
My placement last semester was in the 3rd grade, and we completed a unit about Michigan

history. With the knowledge I had from that unit, I went to my mentor teacher from last

semester, and asked her to share some resources that we used. She sent me multiple links that led

students to a website about their specific group they were researching. I looked through the

website about the Hopewell and took out key information. I then shared the link with my

students once we began researching.

Next, I went and talked with the general education teacher again about the date that my

group is going to be presenting. We agreed that they would present on the last day in order to

give them ample time to dive into the material, and really soak it in.

Finally, I thought about different ways to help scaffold and engage Kate, Ray, and Rick. I

decided that the use of anchor charts would be very beneficial to help with brainstorming and

organizing information that they gathered. My mentor teacher gave me access to enlarged sticky

notes as one of my students requires vision therapy, and the larger sticky notes will help keep his

writing neater when obtaining information from the text. Through obtaining the variety of

materials offered by my mentor as well as the general education staff, I began to plan an outline

that I would follow for the unit.

Section III: Planning, Activating, and Building Background Knowledge

Day 1:

 Pushed into the general education room to hear the rest of the groups that were going to

be explored in this unit

 Once we were able to hear the groups, we went down to my room

 Open ended discussion: What does a historian do?

 Discuss their role in researching the Hopewell Indians

 What do we already know about the Hopewell Indians?

I think that it is very important that I go into their general education classrooms to ensure that I

am hearing about the different groups presenting as well. This can allow me to better manage

and plan for my group. Before we even begin researching about the Hopewell, I think that it is

important to discuss what a historian does. They need to begin thinking about the importance of

a historian and what they do because they are going to be historians for the project! This will

help get them in historian mode. After talking about historians, I want to learn about what they

already know about the Hopewell. This will also give me a better guide as to what we should and

should not focus on when completing the unit. Background knowledge is key to knowing the

next steps.

Section IV: Teaching Strategies for Gathering, Recording, and Organizing Information

Day 2:

 Brainstorming chart to see what students know about the Hopewell – this got moved to

the next day due to a student being absent (more information below)

 Beginning of Writing Lesson (See Writing Project): Pass out enlarged sticky notes –

two of three need glasses and one is in vision therapy

 The P & O part in POWER+P

 Discuss the importance of note-taking

o When we take notes, you don’t write down everything word for word – you

shorten it up in a way that encompasses the main idea, but in a shorter way
 Read through one article in The Mitten – The Hopewell (first page) to help build some

background information about who the Hopewell are

o Read one paragraph at a time

 After each paragraph, have students write down one thing that stuck out to them about

that paragraph

 Some paragraphs students will write down one thing and others, I will write down one

thing through taking dictation

 Allow each child to share their main points after the article has been read to them

 If time permits, move onto another article within The Mitten – The Hopewell

Many students do not know how to take notes and dive into the text. That is why my reading

lesson is geared towards figuring out what those main ideas are, and then applying them to

projects, etc. This section is essential in the fact that what they take notes on is going to be used

for the final project. We are going to organize their information into sections based upon teacher

and student responses. They are in charge of their learning, and I think that is going to be a very

valuable lesson.
This is the final product of the students note taking. The enlarged stickies were used, and the

students loved them. They were extremely motivated by using the sticky notes because they had

never been exposed to them before. My notes are located at the bottom of the chart. These are the

notes that I took dictation for during our reading. The students took notes for a total of 3 days

(the one on the right was present for 2 days).

Section V: Building Additional Knowledge

Day 3:

 Create brainstorming anchor chart (see photo below)

o Having students draw from what they learned yesterday

o A picture of a mound will be placed in the middle of the anchor chart to help them

remember what the mound builders are known for

 Go over note-taking strategies again before we read an article about the different mounds

in Michigan in The Mitten – The Hopewell article

 Give out large sticky notes

 Have students note take as I read the article

 Read the Meet Michigan Book section on the Hopewell

 Create an interactive read aloud chart instead of having them take notes (see photo below)

o We will take notes together as I read through the text book

o Things we can put down: questions asked and things we find important

 Take all student notes thus far, and organize on anchor chart paper to show what they

have accomplished
The Brainstorming chart was used after we read through a few materials. One of the group

members ended up being absent on the first day of research, so I altered the plan to put the

brainstorming chart on the third day instead of the second day. I thought that this would be an

excellent way for the absent student to explain what he already knows about the Hopewell

without looking at material. Then, I had the two students who were here retell everything that

they learned the previous day. Many of my students in special education have a difficult time

recalling information, so I used this as a way to activate background knowledge and practice

some comprehension and retell skills.

This interactive read aloud chart was used to facilitate discussion as I read the Meet Michigan

book. There were a few questions in the text that I would stop at and then write them on the chart

paper. This helped the students begin discussing what I had read and reflecting on it. As they

talked about the question amongst the group, I would write down their responses. Often, their

statements would lead to other thoughts about the text which was great to see!

Day 4:

 Allow students to look through the online articles

 Take notes on what is important – teacher facilitated

 Begin organizing our information from all of the sources into categories
 Boxes and Bullets format

 Teacher will pick three of the main categories and students can pick one as a group

 Once categories are established, teacher will take dictation for the details under each

main idea on anchor chart paper – this will drive their project as it will have all of the

details in one spot to take directly from for the project

During this part of the unit, I am going to continue working on taking notes as we read. I want

them to soak in as much information as they can, so that they can apply it to their final project. I

want to give them access to a variety of sources (i.e. text books, articles, online websites) in

order to get them familiar with different ways that you can learn as well as make it fun!

This is the final product of our boxes

and bullets graphic organizer. I created

the main ideas for Trade, Artifacts, and

Indian Mounds. The group decided on

Where they lived for the last category

after looking over their notes and

deciding they had a lot of information

they could talk about for that idea. We

then went through and wrote down

details for each section. This was

completely student led as I only took

Section VI: Drafting, Editing, and Revising

Day 4 Continued:

 Begin working on drafting project

 Have students decide the format of the project – PowerPoint, poster, etc.

o *PowerPoint was chosen

 Each student will work on one aspect of the project based on the boxes and bullets anchor


 Teacher will facilitate to ensure they are working appropriately

Day 5:

 Students will continue working on the project

 Independent work time

 This is the W in the POWER+P writing model

Day 6:

 Finish up with drafting

 Students will ask teacher to search for images for the various slides created

 Begin working on the E in POWER+P

 Students will go through and look for mistakes in their capitalization, spelling, and


 They will go through each slide – and make corrections (not just their own slides)

Day 7:

 Begin revising the slides

 Working on the R in POWER+P

 Students will go and add in details to their peers slides that they think should be included

based on our anchor chart (boxes & bullets) as well as student knowledge

 Teacher will have access to the PowerPoint to ensure accuracy

 Continue looking for images to include

 Once revising is complete, take a group photo with all of the materials created

 Practice PVLEGS for presentation skills

 Present to mentor teacher for practice

This section has an even greater emphasis on the POWER+P writing scaffold in that I really

want them to go through and be proud of their work. I want them to take pride in what they have

done and make it the best that they can. Through this, I am going to give them a very simplified

editing checklist, so that they can go through and make the corrections that they need to do. I

also want to give them the chance to add in any information that they can think of to their peer’s

slides. This allows for greater student collaboration, but also individual pride. Students can be

proud of their specific slide that they received a little bit of help on from their peers.

Section VII: Presenting or “Publishing” Final Product/Assessment and Accountability for


Day 7 Continued:

 Practice PVLEGS for presentation skills

o P = Poise

o V = Voice

o L = Life
o E = Eye Contact

o G = Gestures

o S = Speed

 Present to mentor teacher for practice

 Determine who is going to be presenting each slide and saying what things

Day 8:

 Practice PVLEGS for presenting

 Explain that this is the +P part in POWER+P!

 Present their finished product to their class and general education teacher!

 Provide all the materials that they created as well as the PowerPoint

PVLEGS is a great way for students to think about presenting. They can focus on one aspect of it

if they know they are struggling with it in order to grow. Allowing them to practice multiple

times before the big day can help get out any nerves that they have as well as kinks in their


Section VIII: Reflection and Critique of Unit

I believe that the unit went very well for what little time we had to get it done. In special

education, you have to work hard to ensure that you and the general education teacher are on the

same page. I was very grateful that we were both open and honest with each other about the time

and pacing of creating the project. Kate, Ray, and Rick worked very hard on coming up with

ideas and thoughts for the project. They always came down to my room ready to take on the task

for the day. I think that a strength of the unit was the way in which we gathered information and
main ideas about our topic of the Hopewell. Having them take notes as I read or have them tell

me what I should take notes on after I read worked really well for this group of students. It really

made them focus on what was important in the text as well as figure out how to take notes. They

were all very motivated to write down their thoughts as I read.

On the other hand, I think that next time, I would give my students more time to create a boxes

and bullets on their own and then we can use their boxes and bullets for the anchor chart. I

decided that I was going to come up with three of the main categories for the boxes and bullets

template in order to save time. I think that this worked for the unit due to the time aspect, but if I

were to do this again, I would try to plan it out so that I could allocate more time to allowing

students to play more of a part in coming up with the category names. Another thing that was a

challenge was that two of my students needed to go to Speech at 11:15, so we had to cut short

every day while the rest of their class was working in the general education setting until 11:30.

Time is precious, so losing that 15 minutes required some changes to be made within the unit.

Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome of the unit. They worked exceptionally hard, and

they were motivated the entire time. They were very excited to learn about the Hopewell, and

one day, one of my students even said, “Can you please keep reading?” That was a highlight of

the unit for me because it showed how engaged he was. There are always things to improve

upon, but I think that they did an excellent job with the time we were given to complete the unit.