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TeachNet Grant: Are You Presentable?
Michael Dodes

Samuel Gompers CTE High School
455 Southern Blvd.
Bronx, NY 10455

ELA, Social Studies, Science, Math, 9-12
About the Grant:

Materials -

Desktop/Laptop Computers

Powerpoint Software

Description of Your Project - 

This unit focuses on developing the capacity for students to learn to present information in intriguing and precise ways using tools they already feel familiar with. Students will need to learn organizational, research, and presentation skills based around the analysis of a controversial topic.

How it Works - 

Students are given lessons on website credibility to give them the tools to cull through sites on controversial social topics, to teach them to extract information, and form it into a final product using a PowerPoint. However, there is a special emphasis on teaching PowerPoint presentation skills and educating students on audience expectations and ways to engage them.

Final Project/Products -

  • An action plan/outline
  • A Rubric Evaluating a Website for Credibility
  • A PowerPoint demonstrating use of effective presentation skills
  • A persuasive essay to a city council discussing effectively why particular action should be taken on an issue.


How This Grant was Adapted:

Overall Value - 

It is a project based learning assignment that innovates on a very traditional type of assignment. It teaches students not only to gather information and assemble it but how to be critical of the sources of information, gives purpose and an audience for that information, and then teaches them how to effectively deliver that information with no assumption made on student skills.

Tips for the Teacher -

In learning to critically analyze information on the web, students develop critical thinking skills that are vital to their ability to function in the real world. These skills are taught in a holistic way that builds on student motivation derived from humorous examples.

A focus on presentation skills moves beyond students knowing how to use PowerPoint but how to use it as an effective presentation tool. These skills should be transferable to real world projects as well as other projects done in class and can be reinforced with work done throughout the year.



Objective 1: Evaluate a website for credibility

Objective 2: Write a persuasive essay for political purposes

Objective 3: Develop a PowerPoint incorporating best corporate practices

Objective 4: Know effective presentation techniques when demonstrating information.

Objective 5: Ability to selectively choose information from multiple sources

Objective 6: Be aware of the uses of databases


Websites Used

Link 1: http://dhmo.org/

Description: The site for Dihydrogen Monoxide - the chemical name for water. Water is described in disturbing and unseemly terms by only its chemical name prompting students to record information in response to questions about it and generally no one figures out the real intent of the site.

Link 2: http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/

Description: Another source for faux information on a faux animal called the Northwestern Tree Octopus and how it is endangered - students record information about it.

Link 3: http://radcab.com

Description: RADCAB is an Acronym for a 6 point system to judge a person's collection of information and includes pieces for how students evaluated the website.

Link 4: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/

Description: OWL Lab from Purdue is an excellent resource for citation information as well as clear and concise information on the writing process for all types of papers.

Link 5: http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/Digital+Storytelling+and+Reforming+PowerPoint

Description: A wiki containing links to many different resources for helping improve powerpoint presentations from a combination of sources including businesses, teachers, and students.

Link 6: http://slideshare.net/RowanManahan/dodging-bullets-in-presentations

Description: Dodging Bullets in Presentations - an exemplary example of a presentation to show students illustrating positives and negatives of PowerPoint presentations

Link 7: http://flickr.com/creativecommons/

Description: Flickr Creative commons - Images with reduced copyright restrictions to teach students good habits in selecting images for use without having to pay for permission for use and to ethically use others' digital property.

Link 8: Diigo

Description: Diigo is a free web site that allows you to save parts of web pages and create notations for web-based research.


Standards Addressed:

Standard 1: Listening and Reading - Listening and Reading to acquire information and understand involves collecting data, facts, and ideas; discovering relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and using knowledge from oral, written, and electronic sources.

Grade: Commencement (9-12)

Lesson 1:

Searching Your Sources: Why the Internet Can't Be Trusted

Project Objectives -

Objective 1: Students will learn about the nature of information regarding controversial topics on the internet.

Objective 2: Students will learn strategies to evaluate web pages.

Objective 3: Students will learn about the citation of sources

Materials -

Materials 1: Computers with High Speed Internet Access

Procedures -

Procedure 1: Students are asked to list their three biggest environmental concerns and discuss briefly as a class what they are - list them on a SMART board, white board, or other presentation device.

Procedure 2: Direct students to break up into groups of 2-4 and distribute handouts for the Dihydrogen monoxide site (http://dhmo.org/) and the Northwestern Tree Octopus (http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/) Have students gather information from their site about their topic. If you have the means to do so via management software such as Vision6 or Faronics Insight software - restrict their browsing to only these 2 sites.

Procedure 3: Have students share out their findings and their "answers"

Procedure 4: Break the news to them that there is no northwestern tree octopus, and that Dihydrogen Monoxide is in fact water.

Procedure 5: Invite them to the next part which is the real question - How do we know if we can trust a website?

Procedure 6: Distribute Rubric for Personal Research Evaluation (RADCAB) (www.radcab.com)

Procedure 7: Have students in their groups analyze the last column of the rubric and have each group write a list of what skills they believe a web savvy searcher should have from this rubric.

Procedure 8: From the student lists, develop a collective class rubric to analyze the web - include at least 5 criteria that are hard and fast and are tasks students will be responsible to do.

Procedure 9: Vote on the rubric and if it's fair.

Procedure 10: Have students apply the classwide rubric to their respective sites

Procedure 11: Students self-evaluate whether they are more confident searchers and list the three things they learned that they felt were most important.

Assessment -.

Did students assist in creating a rubric?

Were the students able to successfully apply the rubric to the sites presented to them?

Were students more confident in their ability to tell the difference between a real site and a site with a bias?


Lesson 2:

Organizing in a Meaningful Way using Web 2.0

Project Objectives -

Objective 1: Teach students to use Diigo

Objective 2: Teach students to cite information and track sources located on the web and in print sources using current MLA standards (

Objective 3: Educate students about social networking as a source of information.

Materials -

Materials 1: Print materials as needed (check with your school library or public library for accommodations)

Materials 2: Computers with high speed internet access.

Materials 3:  Citation sheets for students to fill out for print and electronic resources 

Materials 4: MLA Handbook/OWL Lab Handouts 

Procedures -

Procedure 1: Create user accounts for all students using a Diigo educator account 

Procedure 2: Introduce Diigo to students - show them your Diigo page - don't worry about teaching tagging at this point.

Procedure 3:  Show students how search results on the site are limited to things other people have bookmarked and found useful - have them locate 1 site related to their topic and to bookmark it and 1 site on a topic they find interesting (a video game, sports, fashion, etc.)

Procedure 4:  Have students bookmark a site located using a search engine outside of the site.

Procedure 5: To introduce students to citation, start a brief discussion on internet piracy - break students up into groups and have one group discuss the piracy of music, another of books, another of movies - have students brainstorm/mind map what they know about theft and apply it to digital theft.  

Procedure 6: Explain how we cite and show an example from OWL lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/557/01/) - have students discuss what citation has to do with theft and if necessary distribute news articles related to these topics to help spur discussion. 

Procedure 7: Distribute citation sheets to help students record information in print sources and to go back to Diigo bookmarked sites and create citations for those.

Procedure 8:   Students narrow down sources to 4 main sources (2 print 2 digital) 

Procedure 9: Students create just the works cited page.

Assessment Benchmarks -

Students have bookmarked sites on Diigo

Students have created citation sheets for print and electronic resources

Students format a works cited page

Students document sources

Students are able to discuss why copyright is or is not important


Lesson 3:
Extracting and Organizing Information

Project Objectives -

Objective 1: Students develop a persuasive essay

Objective 2: Students organize information in a meaningful way using graphic organizers

Objective 3: Students articulate good presentation techniques and explicitly demonstrate them

Materials -

Materials 1: Graphic Organizers

Materials 2: Pen & Paper

Materials 3: Images from Magazines/Printed out Online

Materials 4: Large white sheet of paper (Butcher, Oak tag, etc.)

Materials 5: Optional: Mindmapping software/Websites

Procedures -

Procedure 1:  Students in groups are given magazines and markers and large sheets of paper

Procedure 2: Students use images and markers to mind map the areas of interest regarding their topic based on the sources they've gathered previously. 

Procedure 3:  Students select one area to focus on from their mindmap and more thoroughly develop that area putting down all information they find on that topic area including their prior knowledge.

Procedure 4:  Students are given graphic organizers to take that information and structure it into a 5 paragraph formatted essay (http://teachingtoday.glencoe.com/userfiles/file/5%20Paragraph%20Essay%20Graphic%20Organizer.pdf) is one example - different organizers may be applied depending on students' needs.

Procedure 5:  Students write persuasive essays individually using the information gathered as a group as a basis.

Procedure 6: Students include works cited which they developed prior.

Homework -

Research area of interest for a controversial topic.

Graphic Organizers can be completed at home.

Persuasive essay can be completed at home.

Assessment Benchmarks - 

Students bring in new knowledge and activate prior knowledge using the mind map format.

Students organize information cohesively from what is laid out into an essay outline.

Students prepare a persuasive essay


Lesson 4

Powerpoint for Effective Presentation

Project Objectives -

Objective 1:  Students design a presentation using business oriented best practices

Objective 2:  Students deliver a presentation using effective techniques

Objective 3: Students learn note taking skills both digital and paper based in preparation.

Materials -

Materials 1:  Computers with high speed internet access for each group of students

Materials 2: Powerpoint installed on each computer

Procedures -

Procedure 1: Students are shown a presentation that is teacher-selected from http://informationfluency.wikispaces.com/Digital+Storytelling+and+Reforming+PowerPoint - I recommend Death by Powerpoint (http://slideshare.net/thecroaker/death-by-powerpoint) or Dodging Bullets in Presentations (http://slideshare.net/RowanManahan/dodging-bullets-in-presentations)

Procedure 2: Students break into their original groups of 2-3.  The class reviews techniques of improving Powerpoints in class and groups discuss how to use them (Primarily more images, less text, more verbal explanation and preparation for delivery).One to two students are responsible for further breaking down their outline into single ideas, the remaining student is using the computer to help turn the vision of the group into a powerpoint.  Images for Powerpoint are selected from http://flickr.com/creativecommons/ which is demonstrated.

Procedure 4:  Students create slides based on the presentation like a mindmap by deciding what to create, creating it, and then shuffling if needed or removing later - less pressure to get everything right the first time and encourages review and reflection on work.

Procedure 5: Students finish powerpoint and prepare and practice for its presentation - students break up presentation and each student is responsible for X number of slides (number of slides will vary by class's capability and number of students).

Procedure 6: Students practice and ultimately deliver presentations collaboratively explicitly covering their controversial topic using positive presentation styles with only a brief discussion of how they prepared their presentation and a focus on delivering the content strongly in accordance with practices they explored and graded by Rubric.

Homework -
Completion of assignments begun in class:

Mapping out content of slides (One idea per slide).

Selection of powerful images connecting to their ideas

Assessment - 

Powerpoint Rubric will be applied to their individual presentations.


Michael Dodes is the Library Media Specialist for Samuel Gompers CTE High School in the Bronx in New York.  He has led several successful workshops for both his school's staff and other librarians in New York City on topics such as Social Networking and Web Page Development.  He has done work with the New York City Writing Project as well as the New York City Department of Education Department of School Library Services.  He is passionate about teaching people how to safely and successfully integrate technology with instruction as a tool to promote learning of other content and skills.



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