Monday, October 21, 2013

Author's Tombstone Projects

I debated A LOT about this project. I didn't want to seem too morbid, but I wanted my kids to have something that was age appropriate and Halloween-y, which is hard to find for middle school. Trust me, I looked. When I couldn't find anything that struck me, I decided to create a short project that would cover MLA citation, encourage proper grammar, and allow for creativity. My 7th and 8th graders BLEW ME AWAY with their work. Seriously, sometimes it is literally like pulling teeth for them to complete assignments, but I did not have one single complaint about this project.

First, I Googled tombstone templates and found three that I felt were large enough for what I wanted.  Before passing any information out to the kiddos, I gave every child a rubric and went over it thoroughly. I have found that a rubric provides students with step-by-step instructions, and really, it's a whole lot easier for me when grading. I answered questions and then passed out the four square research template. (We use four square writing, so this template worked really well because it was a  concept they had already practiced.) Students were told exactly how to follow the template, and off to the computer lab we went. The list of authors that I wanted them to use was on the back of the rubric. There was NO way I was letting them Google anything about dead people, so I just gave them options. I went with a couple of standards like Shakespeare and Poe, but I threw in some random folks as well. I encouraged students to look through the entire list before deciding on an author to research, and I was fairly pleased. I have a Wiki, and students linked to sites like through it to complete their research. Many stepped outside their comfort zone and went with someone new to them. After filling in their information (this took about 30-45 minutes), we went back to the classroom. The next day, students cut out a picture that I had printed for them, glued it to their tombstone, colored the tombstone, then cut it out. Finally, they used their research to write the epitaph. (Some students did this first and then colored over it, but the color was too dark to see the writing, so they had to go over it in marker. I recommend writing this in pencil first!)

Here is the finished bulletin board! (It is supposed to be a graveyard.)

Here are a few examples of student work. My sixth grade class did a tombstone for an overused word, and you'll see a few of them here too. I am SO proud of them!

Overall, this was my favorite project to date. I had a lot of fun working with the kids and getting to see them use their creativity. To top it off, this lesson does go along with many CCR standards. If you are interested in the rubric, writing template, and complete list of authors, check out my TN store by clicking the image below. Happy writing and researching!