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Artifact 3

Artifact 3: Ghost Town Rubric

The Ghost Town Rubric clearly identifies student expectations for the Interactive Ghost Town Museum PBL unit. I used Buck Institute’s PBL assessment rubric as a guide to state expectations in student friendly language (Buck Institute for Education, 2013).


Students used this rubric to monitor their progress during the project and reflect on what components they still needed to work on. In addition to being used as a self-assessment tool, 4th grade teachers used this rubric to evaluate student performance. This created a common language and equitable system for assessment despite the fact that students were demonstrating their learning in different ways.

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Artifact 6

Artifact 6: Energy Project Rubric

For the Energy Project, a 2.5 hour collaboration that included research and varied demonstrations of knowledge, students chose a form of energy and were partnered with students who were also interested in the same form of energy. I provided students with information from classroom science texts and ReadWorks about their form of energy.


Students thought creatively about how they wanted to teach the class about their form of energy. Some students created posters, others used Google slides, some created a physical model, and a few performed an experiment in front of the class. Students reviewed the rubric at the beginning and end of the project and I used the rubric to score groups during whole class presentations. Peers also provided feedback on what they learned from their classmates’ presentations.

Artifact 7

Artifact 7: Lesson Plans for Ghost Town Writing

I created these plans to align our elementary school writing curriculum with this PBL unit.


Thinking creatively to align our curriculum and standards with PBL units allows students to meet grade level writing expectations while engaging in creative learning. The curriculum does an excellent job of scaffolding the non-fiction writing process (Center for the Collaborative Classroom, 2014). By aligning this unit with the PBL unit, student are able to learn the non-fiction writing process through a research based curriculum and then apply this process to their individual exhibit in our PBL unit Ghost Towns of Colorado!

 Ghost Towns: Nonfiction Writing Unit


Source:  Being a Writer Expository Nonfiction Unit (2014)


Overall Goals:  We will be curious, ask questions, conduct purposeful research and communicate what we learn in an interesting way.

  • Write, revise and publish expository non-fiction.

  • Learn research skills: conducting effective internet searches, taking notes, categorizing information by subtopic.

  • Use facts and examples to add substance to writing, and transitional words and phrases to link key ideas.

  • Explore features of expository text: author biography and table of contents.

  • Practice relevant grammar skills and conventions: correcting run-on sentences and fragments.

  • Collaborate with peers and take responsibility for fair share of work.



CO Reading, Writing and Communicating: 1.1, 2.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2

CO Social Studies: 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 3.1, 4.1

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI 4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.9, 4.10

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W 4.2, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4,8, 4.9, 4.10

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL 4.1, 4.4, 4.5

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.L 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.6


Facilitation Skill Focus: Ask facilitation questions to help students respond to each other.

  1. Do you agree/disagree with what _________  said and why?

  2. What questions can we ask _______ about what he/she said?

  3. Why does what ______ said make sense?

  4. What did your partner say or do to let you know they were listening?


Technology/Research Lessons

  • Being a Writer Expository Nonfiction Week 3 Day 3, 4 and 5 (pp. 383-393):  Researching and taking notes (effective searching/turning research questions into search queries/taking notes)

  • Other possible topics:

    • Safely navigating online.  

    • Choosing effective words for an internet search.

    • Understanding search results.

    • Using filters to narrow results.

    • Evaluating research sources.

    • Understanding plagiarism.

    • Citing sources.

  • Resources: School Librarian and BAW Mini-lessons 1-8


Week 1: Lessons 1 - 5 (Technology lessons incorporated for support)

Day 1


  1. Generate questions about ghost towns. What would you like to know? What would a visitor to our museum want to learn?


  1. Brainstorm questions about ghost towns.

  2. Read excerpt about ghost town and highlight answers to any questions.


  1. Ghost town assignments.possibly narrow the choices to be sure we have plenty of appropriate resources

  2. Excerpts about individual ghost towns.

Follow Up:

  1. Generate list of class research questions for all students to explore. These become our topics for our graphic organizer (for note taking).

Day 2


  1. Explore different ways to organize and present information in nonfiction (Q and A).


  1. Share examples of non-fiction (15)

    1. Discuss:  What is something you learned? What are some of the different ways the author provides information in this book?

  2. Add to list of questions … (20)

    1. If you were going to write a question and answer book about your ghost town, what questions could you write about?

      1. Add to list of questions you started on D1. (What are you curious to know?)

      2. Write something you know or think you already know about your ghost town.  

    2. Share writing/reflect on curiosity (5) (BAW pp. 345-346)


  1. Q and A book about CB/ other texts about CB / The Colorado Story

Day 3


  1. Explore non-fiction text features: Index, Glossary, Table of Contents

  2. Research


  1. Model using non-fiction text features: Index, Glossary, Table of Contents (10)

  2. Notice how nonfiction is organized by topic and introduce graphic organizer (10)

  3. Write about non-fiction reading (20)

    1. On your list of questions, write one more thing you are curious to know.

    2. Using your graphic organizer, write at least two interesting things you learned about your ghost town.  

  4. Share/reflection (10)

    1. Share one thing you learned about your ghost town.  Where did you put this information in your graphic organizer.  Why?

    2. Share one thing you are curious to know with your partner.  Add this question/wonder to your list of questions about your ghost towns.


  1. CB Non-fiction or The Colorado Story

  2. Student resources (one book or text for each ghost town of study)

  3. Class Assessment Note (p. 349)

Day 4


  1. Research/read nonfiction about ghost town

  2. Write notes using graphic organizer


  1. Model research and note taking (online CB source) (10)

  2. Students research and read, adding notes to graphic organizer (25)

  3. Share:  Share an interesting thing that you found from your notes.  What did you hear (from your partner) that makes you curious to learn more about their ghost town?


  1. Online source for modeling

  2. Online or print source for each student


Weeks 2,3 and 4: Continue with Being a Writer Expository Nonfiction Weeks 4, 5, 6

Students will research and take notes, organize research, draft, confer, revise, proofread and publish.

Considerations for modification of curriculum:

  • Organization of notes: graphic organizer versus index cards (see p. 399)

  • Final published piece may or may not have an introduction/conclusion (varied final DOL).

  • Will all pieces include a biography section and table of contents?


Other writing ideas:

  1. Famous ghost town character obituary: students explore audience, purpose, and how information is communicated in functional writing.  (consider sequence)

  2. What I learned (slideshow at museum exit with student pictures).

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