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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans
Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

Project URL:

How it works:
Happy Birthday USA! is a cooperative ESL project built into a WebQuest that offers English Language Learners an opportunity to research American culture and history, while practicing listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It culminates in the production and presentation of a multi-media celebration that is simultaneously fun and academically beneficial.

Student groups act cohesively to create a group identity, delegate responsibility, and prepare written documents, oral presentations, and a multi-media presentation. Individually, students research information about the American Revolution and Independence Day as they take on the roles of caterer, party-planner, and historical guest speaker. A  variety of web resources facilitate the quest, and citing Internet sources--one of the requirements of this WebQuest--gets students into the habit of research citation and underscores the taboo of Internet plagiarism.

Standards addressed:  
Students listen, speak, read, and write in English for information and understanding; literacy response, enjoyment, and expression; critical analysis and evaluation; and classroom and social interaction. They demonstrate cross-cultural knowledge and understanding, and develop positive attitudes toward technology uses that support lifelong learning, collaboration, personal pursuits, and productivity. They use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity, and employ productivity tools to construct technology-enhanced models, prepare publications, and produce other creative works. They employ a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences; and use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources.

Materials used: 
Required materials include computers with Internet connection, Microsoft Word Office Suite, an LCD projector, and traditional classroom materials such as a dry board, notebooks, and printed resources.

The students:
This WebQuest is designed for high school intermediate ESL students in grades 9 through 12 with competence in Internet searching and basic software presentation skills. It provides for a range of learning styles and levels to make the learning experience valuable for a heterogeneous, inclusive class. Differentiation may be achieved as needed with the fluid nature of cooperative WebQuest instruction.

Overall value:
Happy Birthday USA! synthesizes a variety of skills and subject areas, including English Language Arts, Social Studies, Technology, and Occupations. It enables students to hone their language skills, appreciate the nature and characteristics of national celebrations, improve their research and web skills, and deepen their understanding of history. Moreover, the participants' appetites will be whetted to further explore the subjects and expand their quests into new learning arenas. The WebQuest may also be used for other holidays and may be extended to  include material about the students' native countries' independence days or similar national holidays.

The teacher is encouraged to preview the WebQuest tasks before assigning the project to the class. Testing the links, time requirements, number of tasks, etc. will allow the teacher make appropriate modifications. Internet publication of the students' presentations is highly recommended as that allows them to revisit their work, build their portfolios, and share their accomplishments.

About the teacher:
Julie Vitulano is project director of a Teaching American History grant in Manhattan. Before her work in educational grant management, she was a high school English and ESL teacher. Throughout her career, she has been involved with computer-assisted instruction. Her ELA classes were all successfully conducted in computer labs. During those years, her career paralleled the development of Internet technology in education. She is the recipient of a variety of awards associated with technology in education including two Impact II awards. Since becoming an educational administrator, she has continued to act as a proponent for infusing technology across the curricula.


Subject Areas:
Social Studies  

Grade Levels: 



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