Guest Post by JCS-Live Director Lori Cummings
Start the year off with a fun writing project most suitable for students in grades 6 - 10, although it can certainly be adapted for students in grades 3-5 as well.
Students will learn geography, creative writing,
biographical writing, and create a travel brochure.
The students in my class really embraced these
activities this year, and created some amazing
projects! I loved seeing the pride they had in their
work, and the growth they had during this project.
Our JCS-LIVE writing project culminates in a World Thinking Day where students will be
coming together to display their projects, speak about their country, and prepare a food dish from their country to share. If you have a home study student who would like to participate in the World Thinking Day event, date and location to be determined, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will also be happy to review and offer constructive input to any of your home study students who would like to share their projects with me.
OH! The Places I Have Been!
Writing Project - 6th to 10th grade
For this project, you will conduct research on a country based on the longitude and latitude in the columns below. Using that country as your guide, you will complete this activity.
(Home study parents - explain longitude and latitude to students. Here is an online resource booklet. This is a great time to teach additional geography and create questions based on theses and other latitude and longitude coordinates.)
1. Look up the latitude and longitude of the countries below to determine where each country is. Then, select one country from which you will focus your research.
Latitude Longitude Where?
61.5240° N 105.3188° E
21.5218° N 77.7812° W
39.0742° N 21.8243° E
50.5039° N 4.4699° E
46.2276° N 2.2137° E
64.9631° N 19.0208° W
20.5937° N 78.9629° E
2. Complete the research on the country you have chosen. Start by writing 10 facts about your country.
3. Now that you have determined your location and you have researched 10 facts about your country, write a CREATIVE story retelling the adventures of your life. This is a fictitious (meaning pretend) story and you can choose who you want to be, make up a person or reinvent your own life.
Video - on Creative Writing (history of tales)
Video - What is Creative Writing? Use your imagination!
Your story should include, and will be graded on the inclusion of the following:
-The country where your life event took place.
-At least three facts about the location (landmarks, surrounding areas, the language that is spoken, tourist attractions, historical event, etc.)
-Transitions connecting each life event to the next (your story should flow)
-Proper mechanics (spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar)
Here are some items that might help you to get creative in your story writing:
● What was your most memorable childhood event (in your country)?
● What was the funniest thing that happened to you?
● What was the worst thing you encountered in your life (in your country)?
● How old are you now? Are you married? Do you have children?
● What aspects of your country made you the person you are today?
Have fun with this activity. Include facts, but also invent a person from that country and the
experiences of that person. Remember to tie the person’s life into actual events that took place in your assigned country. Places in that country that your person visited, weather, events, etc. Write at least 3 paragraphs (5 preferred) including an introductory paragraph. Use rich adjectives to describe your character and life events.
Oh! The Places I Have Been!
This week, you will write a biography about a person from your assigned country. A biography is a FACTUAL written account of the series of events that make up a person's life.
The first thing you need to do is determine what famous person from your country you will
research. You can Google famous explorers, inventors, etc., and see which one interests you the most. You will need to state why you have chosen this person, so make sure to choose someone that did something great in your opinion.
The first information you should gather in your research will include biographical details and
facts. You must use a trustworthy resource to ensure that your information is accurate. Here are some trustworthy sites you can use:
Using research note cards, collect the following data, carefully recording the source for each
piece of information:
Including Basic Details
● Date and place of birth and death
● Family information
● Lifetime accomplishments
● Major events of life
● Effects/impact on society, historical significance
While this information is necessary for your project, these dry facts, on their own, don't really
make a very good biography. Make sure you CITE YOUR SOURCES. Watch this video on
how to cite sources and avoid plagiarism. This means, if you are using any direct
quotes or any information, you must include those sources in your paper. Once you've found
these basics, you'll want to dig a little deeper. Make sure you include all of your sources.
You choose a certain person because you think he or she is interesting, so you certainly don't
want to burden your paper with an inventory of boring facts. Your goal is to impress your
Start off with a great first sentence. A really interesting statement, a little-known fact, or really intriguing event.
You should avoid starting out with a standard but boring line like:
"Meriwether Lewis was born in Virginia in 1774."
Instead, try starting with something like this:
"Late one afternoon in October 1809, Meriwether Lewis arrived at a small log cabin nestled
deep in the Tennessee Mountains. By sunrise on the following day, he was dead, having suffered gunshot wounds to the head and chest."
You'll have to make sure your beginning is motivating, but it should also be relevant. The next sentence or two should lead to your thesis statement or main message of your biography.
"It was a tragic end to a life that had so deeply affected the course of history in the United
States. Meriwether Lewis, a driven and often tormented soul, led an expedition of discovery that expanded a young nation's economic potential, increased its scientific understanding, and enhanced its worldwide reputation ."
Now that you've created an impressive beginning, you'll want to continue the flow. Find more intriguing details about the man and his work, and weave them into the composition.
Examples of Interesting Details:
● Some people believed that Lewis and Clark would encounter elephants in the western
wilderness, having misunderstood the wooly mammoth bones discovered in the United
● The expedition resulted in the discovery and description of 122 new animal species and
● Lewis was a hypochondriac.
● His death is still an unsolved mystery, although it was ruled a suicide.
You can find interesting facts by consulting diverse sources.
Fill the body of your biography with material that gives insight into your subject's personality. For instance, in a biography about Meriwether Lewis, you would ask what traits or events motivated him to embark on such a monumental exercise.
Questions to Consider in Your Biography:
● Was there something in your subject's childhood that shaped his/her personality?
● Was there a personality trait that drove him/her to succeed or impeded his progress?
● What adjectives would you use to describe him/her?
● What were some turning points in this life?
● What was his/her impact on history?
Be sure to use transitional phrases and words to link your paragraphs and make your
composition paragraphs flow. It is normal for good writers to re-arrange their sentences to create a better paper.
The final paragraph will summarize your main points and re-assert your main claim about your subject. It should point out your main points, re-name the person you're writing about, but it should not repeat specific examples.
As always, proofread your paper and check for errors. Create a bibliography and title page. If
you can find a photograph of your subject, include that on your title page, just make sure you include the citation of where you go the picture as well.
Source: Fleming, Grace. "How to Write an Interesting Biography." ThoughtCo, Aug. 7, 2018, thoughtco.com/how-to-write-a-biography-1856830.
Oh! The Places I Have Been!
Travel Brochure Assignment
Using your research FROM YOUR ASSIGNED country, create a travel brochure containing the following required information:
● Description of country
● Major cities
● Major landmasses (mountains, rivers, rainforests, etc.)
● Groups of people
● Anything else interesting that you may find
● Find information on at least 5 places to see or things to do for entertainment/sight- seeing
● Find either a travel package to that destination or research the costs of airfare and hotel
● Include a map of the country and the city of interest
● Include least three pictures of your country (obtained from the internet)
● Be able to persuade your fellow classmates to vacation in your country
● Prepare a Tri-fold brochure with the travel information (a template has been provided)
● Correct spelling and grammar usage
● Professional appearance in design and layout
Here is a link to some examples: SAMPLE BROCHURES
Here is a YouTube video on how to work with the template: Design 1 Goggle Slides Brochure
Here is the Travel Brochure Template and directions.
Once you have obtained all of the information listed on the assignment page, create your travel brochure. Really convince the reader that they want to go to your country!
Oh! The Places I Have Been! Lesson Plan has been provided by Lori Cummings.
Please, reach out to her if you would like free constructive input on your home study students' project and/or you would like your student to participate in the World Thinking Day event.
Learn more about JCS-LIVE’s innovative virtual program by clicking above!