Lesson: "The Mount Rushmore Of..." Project

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: Writing, Research, History, Art

Instructional Level: Middle School to High School

Skills: Persuasive Writing, Research Skills

Time: Three weeks -- 1 class day for introduction, 2 days for research, 2-3 days for drafting, 1 day for peer editing, 1 day for poster production, 1 day for voluntary presentations

Materials: Journals, writing implements, poster board, printed images of Mt. Rushmore, printer paper, access to computers, access to printer, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue, tape, scissors, rulers/straight edges

Objectives: The student will be able to compose a persuasive written piece using grade-level grammar/spelling conventions and style expectations. The student will be able to produce a visual display piece featuring their writing piece and their subject. The student will be able to cite research sources.

To introduce this project, a mini-lesson on Mt. Rushmore will be taught. The students will learn about the famous site in South Dakota and when and why it was carved to feature the heads of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt (See the Mt. Rushmore National Park Website)
Following the mini-lesson, the students will be told about variations on the Mt. Rushmore concept that are brought up from time to time: the "Mt. Rushmore of Comedians," the "Mt. Rushmore of Singers," the 'Mt. Rushmore of Athletes," for example. In each case, people speculate about and argue for the top 4 examples of the given subject -- a "Mt. Rushmore of Science" could include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Galileo, and Marie Curie. The "Mt. Rushmore of Children's Authors" would likely see Dr. Seuss included, for his contributions to that field. The students could generate examples with a teacher-selected topic or two. They would then be asked to consider possible topic areas and candidates for inclusion in that area's "Mt. Rushmore." An example essay could be presented to the students to further explain the "Mt. Rushmore of..." concept.

Procedure: The students will be given the following requirements:
They will select a topic and choose the four top representatives in that topic area. The topic will need to be approved by the teacher.
Possible Topics: Authors, Actors/Actresses, Inventors, Researchers, Literary Characters, Directors, Athletes, Explorers, Businessmen/Businesswomen, Humanitarians, Scientists, Historical Figures, Singers, Artists, Composers, Musicians, Poets, Writers, Movie/Television Characters, Political Leaders, Military Leaders
The students will compose an essay stating why their selections deserve to be included on their topic's "Mt. Rushmore." This essay will be at least three paragraphs in length. The resumes/achivements of each subject will be included, along with an argument of why each subject are in the top 4 of the selected field.
A research source for each person will need to be cited and included in the bibliography.
The students will also produce a poster featuring appropriate images of their subjects. The posterboards and standard images of Mt. Rushmore will be provided.
The completed essays will be attached to the posters.

The students will be given class periods for researching their subjects and producting of drafts of their essays. The students will be able to receive editing advice from their peers. Students will also submit drafts to the teacher for advice and corrections in grammar, spelling, and style. As the due date nears, time will also be alloted for poster completion. The students will be instructed to use time outside of class to finish the project. The timeline from introduction to completion will stretch over three weeks.

Closure/Modifications: Volunteers will be given the opportunity to share their final products in class. Each student will have their piece displayed in the classroom or in the hallway. Modifications for this assignment could include altering the length requirements, allowing for teacher or peer editing throughout the entire process, allowing the use of a dictation program or scribe, and dividing the assignment into manageable parts.

Assessment: The essays will be graded for adherence to the lesson requirements (length and content), the use of research sources, and to grade-level writing conventions of grammar, spelling and style. The posters will be graded for neatness, legibility and appropriateness for a school setting for the poster. (The bulk of the grade will be based on the essay.) A rubric might be useful as part of this assessment process.

Return to the Lesson Plans Page