Lesson: "A Notable Person With a Disability" Research Project

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: English, Writing, Research Skills

Instructional Level: Middle School - High School

Skills: Research, Composing Grade-Level Paragraphs

Time: 10-14 days -- Includes 5 class periods for introduction, research, drafting, editing/revising, presenting

Materials/What is Needed: Computers, Internet access, digital projector, Printer, Journals, Writing Implements

Objectives: The student will be able to compose a grade-level essay on a given topic with an introduction, body, and conclusion, using appropriate grammar and spelling conventions.
The student will be able to conduct research on a selected subject.
The student will be able to correctly cite a research source.

Introduction: I will show the students the following website: http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_0060.shtml to show them that many famous and notable people have overcome a disability to achieve remarkable things throughout history. These people include:
People With Sight Issues: Helen Keller, Louis Braille, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Horatio Nelson, Marla Runyan, James Thurber, Brian McKeever, Jose Feliciano, Erik Weihenmayer
People With Speech Issues: Winston Churchill, King George VI of England, Bruce Willis, B.B. King, James Earl Jones, Bill Walton, Jimmy Stewart, Samuel L. Jackson, Emily Blunt, Rowan Atkinson
People with Dyslexia/Learning Disabilties: George Patton, Henry Winkler, Tom Cruise, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Walt Disney, Whoopi Goldberg. Fanny Flagg, Orlando Bloom, Jay Leno, Patricia Polacco, Steven Spielberg, Keira Knightley, Loretta Young
People With Hearing Loss: Helen Keller, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Gertrude Ederle, Heather Whitestone McCallum, Marlee Matlin, Alan Shepard, Jeff Float, Linda Bove, William Ellsworth, Halle Berry
People With Autism: Temple Grandin, Daryl Hannah, Hikari Oe
People With Tourette's Syndrome: Tim Howard, Jim Eisenreich, Jamie Grace Harper, Michael Wolff
People With Asthma: Theodore Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Martin Scorsese, Mark Spitz, Amy Van Dyken, Paula Radcliffe, Jerome Bettis, Kristi Yamaguchi
People With Epilepsy: Hugo Weaving, Neil Young, Agatha Christie, Danny Glover, Julius Caesar, Richard Burton, Alexander the Great, Chanda Gunn
People With Limited Mobility (Temporary or Permanent): Franklin Roosevelt, Team Hoyt Marathoners, Casey Martin, Christy Brown, Stephen Hawking, Steve Gleason, Wilma Rudolph, Lis Hartel, Oz Sanchez, Tatyana McFadden, Alana Nichols, Neroli Fairhall, Pete Frates, Itzhak Perlman
People with Missing Limbs: Jim Abbott, Pete Gray, Tom Dempsey, Mordecai ‘Three-Finger’ Brown, Anthony Robles, Bethany Hamilton, Alex Zanardi, Terry Fox, Rick Allen, Daniel Inouye, Harold Russell, Aimee Mullins, Bill Veeck, John Wesley Powell, Horatio Nelson, Amy Winters, April Holmes, Melissa Stockwell, Jim Maclaren, Oliver Halassy, George Eyser, Tatyana McFadden, Jessica Long, Kyle Maynard
(Not every person listed above is included on the website, but many are. Also, there are other candidates not included but who certainly could be considered for the project)
An example essay could be shared to show the students what their pieces could look like.

Procedure: The students will be instructed to choose to research a person who has a disability. The students will compose an essay of at least three paragraphs, describing their research subject, what disability they faced, how the subject overcame it, and what they achieved in their life. The first two paragraphs will serve as a mini-biography of the selected person. The final paragraph will include the student's explanation of why they chose their subject and what life lessons could be taken from their subject's experiences (e.g., respect, courage, dignity, strength, determination). The students will need to cite at least one research source in a bibliography that will accompany the project. The students will be given about 14 days to submit their final essays.

A class period will be devoted to the introduction, another to research in the computer lab, a third for sharing drafts with peers for the purpose of editing, and a further class session will be used for composing a final copy. The students will need to submit their final essay two weeks after the project is assigned. The fifh session will be used for volunteers who wish to share their essays.

Closure/Modifications: The students will be given the opportunity to share their final writing pieces in class. Rough drafts will be submitted electronically or with printed copies to the teacher to allow for suggestions and edits. The final drafts will be submitted in a printed or electronic format. This assignment can be modified by altering the length of the paragraphs, the length of the essays, offering the chance to scribe student ideas, using a dictation program (like Dragon Dictate), having students complete the assignment in parts, or using a modified grading rubric (e.g. focus on complete sentences over spelling).

Assessment: The essays will be graded on adherence to grade-level grammar and spelling conventions; the correct citation of a legitimate research source using a bibliography; an interesting introduction; an informative description in the body paragraph(s), and a conclusion that meets the assigned standard (why the subject was chosen, life lessons, etc). A rubric could be used, as per teacher preference.

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