Getting there: Transportation lessons
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Lesson Title

Where are we going? (Reflecting on the Past, Predicting the Future)


Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students will work as a community to gather and share resources and to write a collaborative piece of persuasive writing.  As a culminating activity, each student will create an eBook that encapsulates a variety of tasks and information learned and practiced in the other lessons in this unit. 

Curriculum Subjects

  • Language Arts

Estimated Duration

10-12 hours


Suitable for grades 5-8

Curriculum Goals

National Council of Teachers of English ( ):
  • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).


Students will be able to...
  • Use reasons, facts, and details to support opinions, beliefs, or other statements
  • Write persuasively
  • Critically analyze persuasive writing to recognize effective arguments and strong supporting facts
  • Use multimedia tools to synthesize and share a variety of information, writing styles, and supporting text features in a published document

NETS Standards

1. Creativity and Innovation   Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:
a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression.
c. use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
d. identify trends and forecast possibilities.

Communication and Collaboration   Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students:
a. interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

3. Research and Information Fluency   Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
a. plan strategies to guide inquiry.
b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
c. evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks.
d. process data and report results.

5. Digital Citizenship   Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior. Students:
a. advocate and practice safe, legal, and responsible use of information and technology.
b. exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity.
c. demonstrate personal responsibility for lifelong learning.
d. exhibit leadership for digital citizenship.

Technology Operations and Concepts   Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations. Students:
a. understand and use technology systems.
b. select and use applications effectively and productively.
c. troubleshoot systems and applications.
d. transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies.



Lesson Procedure

Introductory – Preparatory activities:
The teacher will need to set up a class social site using a service such as Ning:
Set up Your Own Social Network:

Information presentation and information processing (analysis/synthesis) activities:
Students will join our “Getting There” group at Ning:
Answer one of the five questions above by using the “Discussion Forum” section of our Ning group.  Post your response to all questions for the prompt:
  • What factors affect how people and goods are transported?
  • What transportation methods were used over 100 years ago?
  • What transportation methods were developed in the 20th century?
  • What new innovations have we developed for transportation so far in the 21st century?
  • What are current proposed concepts or ideas for transportation?
Students are also to post a link to a website you got the information from.  Then post at least one photo or video to the appropriate section of our Ning site to illustrate your answer.Use your classmates’ forum responses and posted links, photos, and videos to learn more about all five questions to help you write your paper.

Application activities:
  1. Write a persuasive paper to explain how transportation should change or stay the same in the 21st century, and why. This writing assignment will create a persuasive argument for where transportation is likely headed in the future.  To determine this, contributors should think about: (1) How and why has transportation changed and evolved throughout history?  What has changed and what has stayed the same? (2) What are the needs of transportation and how are those needs changing? (3) What is likely to change and what is likely to stay the same, based on our needs and our emerging technologies? (4) Edit and revise your paper to have a solid introduction, stance, supporting reasons, and conclusion.
  2.  Submit this draft to the teacher on Edmodo.
  3.  Log in to MixedInk and upload your draft: 
  4. Students will log in to MixedInk to read and rate classmates' papers.
  5. Students are to create a revision based on valuable elements pulled from multiple papers. Since we are writing a collaborative paper as a class, students will be allowed to pull and use pieces of classmates' papers (this is not normally allowed if you are writing something of your own.)  If you find information that you think is better written or supports one of your statements better, pull it from your peer’s paper and insert it into your own in a logical location that makes your argument stronger.
  6. Working in small groups of 4 students, do another read of these merged/revised papers and rate them again.  Having a group discussion, you will continue to merge the best pieces together into a paper for your group.
  7. Finally, we will read all group papers, rate them, and discuss as a whole-group class which pieces we should keep and merge into a final paper.

Closure/review activities:
After completing the collaborative persuasive piece, students have completed all tasks necessary to make a culminating project. This activity will be an eBook that includes:
  • Expository writing (informational reports about a type of transportation and its history)
  • Charts, graphs, and maps
  • A timeline (using MyWebspiration or other software tool)
  • Persuasive writing about the future of the selected transportation mode

Students may use any of the previously used resources in the unit, including:

An example finished eBook and the checklist/rubric of required components can be found at:

Assessment / Evaluation

Accommodations / Differentiation

  • Cognitive Difficulties: Requiring audio narration of written works in the eBook helps struggling readers in multiple ways: (a) causes students to proofread/review what they have written -- reading out loud may cause awkward sentences or missing/misspelled words to become apparent; (b) allows students to see and hear works by their peers for comparison; (c) assists in readability of the written text for weaker readers.
  • Physical Difficulties: There are two accommodations that may be made for students unable to type their contributions to these projects: (1) for MixedInk, voice recognition software (such as Dragon Naturally Speaking) may be used to allow conversion of spoken ideas into written persuasive texts. (2) eBooks are even more flexible, in the sense that students could create an entire eBook using specialized mouse alternatives to move and manipulate images and could then use a microphone and audio recording/editing software to store audio narrations in the eBooks instead of typed text.
  • Sensory Difficulties: The use of is beneficial to hearing-impaired and visually-impaired students through its support of multimedia.  Students may zoom into pages to make viewing easier, and blind students can benefit from playing audio and video clips embedded in the eBooks.   
  • At-Risk Students: One factor for at-risk students may be a fear of failure or level of discomfort in taking on independent tasks. Thus students should prove to be more motivated and comfortable through use of tools like social networking via Ning and collaborative/group writing using MixedInk
  • GATE Students: Creation of an authentic product (eBook) using multimedia, creativity, applied knowledge, and open-ended format should appeal to the desire for growth, challenge, and personal independence that helps GATE students thrive.

Materials, Resources, and Equipment

Required hardware/software:
  • Computers with Internet connection (at least one for every 2 students)
Teacher setup:

Student resources: