English Language Arts
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
High School
  • Culture
  • Digital Natives
  • Grade 11 ELA
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial

    Structure Review

    Structure Review


    In this lesson, the student teams will examine theme, hook artifacts, interactivity, and storytelling more deeply. They'll also apply them to their own exhibit as it evolves.


    • Read the lesson and student content.
    • Anticipate student difficulties and identify the differentiation options you will choose for working with your students.
    • Review the students' exhibit materials that have been submitted thus far and look for examples of theme, hook artifacts, strong storytelling, and interactivity.
    • Prepare feedback on the theme statements students submitted so they can use it during the lesson. Prepare any general instruction on your particular students' strengths and struggles for the first brief minilesson.
    • Review the American Stories exhibit from Lesson 18 to select examples of hook artifacts that you can share with your students. Some examples are already provided in the lesson.
    • Find the History section of the African Voices exhibit on the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of Natural History site ( ) and share it with your students. If you do not have Internet access in the classroom, you can print and distribute the exhibit.
    • Review the African Voices exhibit to select examples of excellent storytelling choices that you can share with your students. Some examples are already provided in the lesson.

    Theme Feedback Analysis

    • If multiple groups are struggling with similar issues, it may make sense to cover those issues with the whole class before moving to the exhibit teams.
    • Otherwise, give the students feedback on their theme statements and, as they discuss the feedback, conference with them to help them integrate a sense of purpose and significance throughout their exhibits.
      • ELL: Putting a complex theme into words requires a lot of linguistic precision. Check in with your ELLs and provide guidance as needed to help them find the right words to express their ideas.


    Your teacher will provide your group with feedback on ways to improve your exhibit’s theme. A good theme is almost like a thesis in that it provides a strong, specific sense of purpose that unifies all the other elements of the exhibit.

    Meet briefly to discuss the feedback and ways to address it. Answer these questions.

    • What else can you do to improve your theme’s sense of purpose and significance?
    • What images, phrases, and objects can you use to keep your audience continually aware of your exhibit’s purpose and significance?

    Open Notebook

    American Stories Hooks

    • Point out to the students that the front page of the site has only fifteen artifacts visible. The site itself contains far, far more than that. When the user chooses a time period, all artifacts for that time period are displayed.
    • This exhibit is unusual in that all of its information is structured entirely around the objects themselves. Instead of having an introductory section, as many of the other exhibits do, it tells stories through whatever object the viewer selects.
    • For example, choosing the fragment of Plymouth Rock on the front page takes the user to an explanation of the artifact and some historical information about its period. The user can then return to the front page to pick a different artifact, or the user can choose to see all the artifacts from that same time period, such as Samuel Williams's telescope, which does not appear on the front page.
    • Lead a brief discussion about which artifacts serve as the best hooks.

    Work Time

    Your teacher will guide you as you return to the American Stories exhibit to look at more examples of artifacts that act as hooks.

    • Choose the artifact your group believes does the best job of hooking an audience into a particular time period and its culture.
    • Prepare to share your artifact and impressions.
    • Designate one group member who will do the sharing.

    Share your artifact with the class and explain why it works well as a hook for its particular time period and culture.

    Artifact Review

    • Continue conferencing with groups during these group work sessions. You should have ample information from groups' theme statements to help you identify which groups need the most one-on-one help.
    • Collect groups' paragraphs on hook artifacts at the end of this part of the lesson.

    Work Time

    Review your own exhibit’s artifacts and placards and consider your hook.

    As a group, write a paragraph about your hook artifact to share with your teacher. Use the following questions to guide your writing.

    • Do you have at least one hook artifact? What is it?
    • What can you do to make your hook artifact more interesting?
    • What can you do to help your hook artifact connect to other aspects of the exhibit?
    • What did you learn from the American Stories exhibit that you can use to improve your own exhibit?

    Open Notebook

    African Voices Exhibit

    • Share examples of strong storytelling principles in the African Voices exhibit. You can share the ones you've chosen or you can use some of the examples provided:
      • ✓ The history section of the African Voices exhibit uses a timeline to organize its story.
      • ✓ The front page of this section provides an overview of the history, and then the viewer can select a section.
      • ✓ The timeline is always present at the bottom, which helps increase the site's interactivity as it also provides clarity about the relationship between each section of the site.
      • ✓ The site provides a key image for each section of history to help anchor the viewer by combining visual cues with the words.
      • ✓ Because it's a site about history, it ends in an interesting way by bringing the audience up to the present and discussing current issues that might be relevant to an audience member's interests.
      • SWD: Some students who struggle with written language find visual expression far easier to understand and interpret. If they are comfortable doing so, encourage these students to share what they notice in this exhibit to add another perspective to the class discussion.

    Work Time

    Now view the History section of the African Voices exhibit. Your teacher will guide you as you look at more examples of strong storytelling principles.

    • As a group, choose one example of strong storytelling and cohesion.
    • Prepare to share your example.
    • Designate one group member who will do the sharing. (It should be a different group member than the one who shared your group’s example of a hook artifact.)

    Share your example with the class and explain how it supports cohesion and strong storytelling.

    Storytelling Analysis

    • Continue conferencing with groups that you've identified as needing support.
    • Collect groups' paragraphs on storytelling at the end of this part of the lesson.
      • SWD: For students who would benefit from extra scaffolding, you can provide a checklist of the components that are needed in a well-organized paragraph: a topic sentence, at least three pieces of textual evidence, a detailed sentence that explains how each piece of textual evidence supports the theme, and a concluding sentence.


    Next, write a paragraph together that explains how your group has used strong storytelling principles to improve your exhibit.

    Use these questions to guide your work.

    • How are you going to introduce your exhibit to your audience?
    • What are the beginning, middle, and end of the story being told within your exhibit?
    • What storytelling techniques does your exhibit use to sequence events so that they build on one another to create a coherent whole?
    • What does your exhibit do to sum up its purpose and leave the audience considering the important issues that it raises?

    Open Notebook

    When you finish, share the paragraph with your teacher.

    Storytelling Reflection

    • For students whose research has not been integrated into the exhibit properly, plan time in the upcoming lessons for conferencing.
    • Before they leave, allow students time to collect any information they need from exhibits and placards to complete the homework.


    Write about the ways your personal research has contributed to your group’s exhibit.

    Use the questions below to guide your writing.

    • What artifacts, placard, or storytelling elements have information or perspectives from your research?
    • Where do you give credit to the authors whose work you used?

    Open Notebook

    After you finish, share your reflection with your teacher.

    Continue to work on any aspect of your exhibit that is best accomplished outside of class.

    Reminder: your second article will be due in Lesson 23, and a revised artifact and placard will be due in Lesson 25.