Phase III 
Scenario ~ How did Mr. Simon do it?



Mr. Scott Simon, Grade 5

Name of Unit:

What is a hero?

Grade Levels:

5, 6, 7, and 8

Subject Areas:

English Language Arts, Social Studies

Assignment 1...Analysis of Instructional Need
Describe the needs assessment and rationale for your unit of instruction.

In completing an analysis of need for this instructional unit, I identified several gaps between "what is and what needs to be" in my classroom. The comparison between standards and other indicators of achievement and the data from student assessments and other sources helped me determine "what my students know now and what they need to know." The result of the analysis is described in the paragraphs below.

One of the primary goals (or "need to know" items) of my school's strategic plan states "As a result of the efforts of the Zerko Public Schools, students will be effective communicators able to read, write, speak, listen, and respond using a variety of media for mutual understanding." One of the indicators of progress to meet this goal states that "Over 90% of students will meet or exceed district/state standards on all district and state assessments." In analyzing data from the 2002 North Dakota State Assessment I learned that the students in my classroom scored below the 50 percentile in meeting the standard, "students engage in the writing process." The specific benchmarks reflecting a deficiency were:

(1) Use a variety of techniques to identify and develop a topic

(2) Compose writing that contains characteristics of a selected form.

In addition, the district's Gates-MacGinitie assessment results indicated that my students scored at or below the 45th percentile on the achievement in reading and writing tests.

Further, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements call for "continuous & substantial academic improvement for all students." This unit of instruction will assure that student learning focused on the language arts standards will be strengthened.

The school district’s vision states that the students will “exhibit citizenship by participating and contributing to the community and by demonstrating constructive behaviors and responsible citizenship.” Consequently, I will design the unit to include Social Studies Standard #1, Nature and Scope of History; Benchmark 8.1.3 Understand how key events, people, and ideas contributed to United States History and Standard #5, Role of the citizen and Benchmark 8.5.1: Know the rights and responsibilities of an effective American citizen.

The data obtained and reviewed from the more formal assessments above is corroborated by information obtained through personal observations, interviews with my students' former teachers, from planning sessions with the building principal, and school improvement and technology plans. I have also made anecdotal notes from classroom observations and student interviews.

Assignment 2... Identify Desired Results

Identify the ND Content Standards for your Unit of Instruction


Content Area

Standard # and Name

Benchmark and Description


English Language Arts

#1 Students engage in the research process

8.1.1 Define a research problem or task


Social Studies

#1 Nature and Scope of History

8.1.3 Understand how key events, people, and ideas contributed to United States History


English Language Arts

#3 Students engage in the writing process

8.3.1 Use a variety of techniques to identify and develop a topic


English Language Arts

#3 Students engage in the writing process

8.3.2 Use strategies to write for a variety of purposes and audiences


Social Studies  

#5 Role of the Citizen

8.5.1 Know the rights and responsibilities of an effective American citizen


English Language Arts

#1 Students engage in the research process

8.1.5 Use organizational strategies to gather, record, and synthesize information


English Language Arts

#3 Students engage in the writing process

8.3.5 Compose writing that contains characteristics of a selected form

What do I want the students to understand long after they leave my classroom?

 I want the students to know that heroes have had and will continue to have a significant impact on the lives of people.

What essential questions will guide and focus teaching and learning on this unit?

 What is a hero?

 What are the most important factors in determining if someone is a hero?

 How are heroes different from other famous people?

 How are the characteristics of "Tall Tale" heroes and real heroes the same and how are they different?

 What responsibilities do heroes have to those who admire them? 

What  is the Unit Learning Goal(s)?

Students will understand the importance heroes play in society.

What  are the Unit Learning Objectives?

  1. Using researched information as well as personal experiences and knowledge, students will be able to identify the qualities of famous people by listing at least 10 common characteristics.

  2. Students will research a real hero and a "Tall Tale" hero.

  3. Students will be able to identify a favorite person and be able to determine if he or she possesses the characteristics of a hero.

  4. After identifying heroes in their personal lives students will describe the characteristics that categorize them as a hero in a one-page essay scoring at the “A” or “B” level of a rubric.

  5. After each student selects a person who they consider a “community hero” they will produce a brochure or booklet explaining and illustrating the qualities of the selected hero.


Assignment 3... Determine Acceptable Evidence (Assessment)

Think about the array of assessment tools that you will incorporate to determine acceptable evidence that will show that students understand this unit. Use the following questions to guide your assessment selections:

What quiz and test items (e.g. simple content-focused questions that require a single, best answer) will provide evidence of understanding?

Traditional quizzes

What academic prompts (e.g. open-ended questions or problems that require students to think critically and then to prepare a response / product / performance) will provide evidence of understanding?

Daily academic prompts

What performance tasks and projects (e.g. complex challenges that are authentic, mirror the real world and require a performance or product) will you include that will provide evidence of student understanding?

Students will create a brochure or booklet for a community service project.

What other evidence (e.g. observations, work samples, dialogues, student self-assessment) of understanding will you collect?

Classroom observations, self-reflection journals, rubric assessments, peer compositions


Assignment 4... Teaching and Learning Strategies and Planning for Improved Student Products

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Identify how one or more of the strategies discussed (inquiry-based, problem-based, and project-based) will help promote higher-order thinking and self-directedness with regard to your student learning objectives. Be Specific!

Students will use a combination of inquiry-based and problem-based learning to investigate the question of what is a hero. Through the problem investigation process students gather, record, theme, and discuss/debate heroism. Project-based learning will help tie the unit together by opening doors for students to design and develop products that incorporate what they have learned about heroes and extends the usefulness of this knowledge to a real-world context.

Planning for Improved Student Products

Student-learning activities and the resulting end products play a vital role toward increasing student achievement. An end product is generally the driving force and often dictates how the project is organized in an engaged learning activity. The production of the product requires specific content skills and the entire process is authentic, mirroring the real world. The process and the end product are both of critical importance. One cannot happen successfully without the other. You now have the ability to examine your student products and identify the types of instructional practices, learning uses, and student performances that are in greatest need of improvement in order to meet your Phase III building level goals.


Assignment 5... Developing Student Learning Activities

Standard Identifier

Student Learning Activities

Technology Integration Tools

ND Library / Technology Literacy Standards


Learning Activity 1 




Mr. Simon will "hook" the students by impersonating the fictional hero, Paul Bunyan, as an introduction to the "hero" unit.

Using the essential question, "What is a hero?," the students will use the Cooperative Learning strategy Think-Pair-Share to record their responses on cards. The responses will be compiled using a graphic organizer software.

Computer and multimedia projector


#1 Research (8.1.1 and 8.1.5) and #4 Collaboration (8.4.1)


Learning Activity 2



S2 and S6

Students will research John F. Kennedy, firefighters from Ground Zero, Michael Jordan, John Glenn, and other heroes, and determine the common characteristics of the heroes.

The information will be compiled in a database, which will be actively updated as the unit progresses.




#1 Reserach (8.1.4 and 8.1.5)


Learning Activity 3




Using a graphic organizer or concept map, students will brainstorm and categorize real heroes, Tall Tale heroes, and other famous people, including fictional characters.

Students will add these categories to the database. 




#3 Technology Systems (8.3.4)


Learning Activity 4



S4 and S2

After learning about the characteristics of heroes and the different kinds of heroes, students will identify a hero in their life. They will compose a persuasive essay on why the selected individual has the characteristics of a hero. After a peer review and revision, students will visit the "Anyone can be a Hero" website and post their essay. (

Word processor


#4 Collaboration (8.4.1)


Learning Activity 5




In small groups, students will engage in a discussion about their personal heroes and whether or not the heroes could behave in such a way that they would no longer be heroes. Each group will have one laptop and will record what they consider to be the responsibilities of a hero.

Word Processor

#4 Collaboration (8.4.1 and 8.4.3)


Learning Activity 6



S5 and S7

Students select a community hero.

Students then plan, implement, and document (in small groups) a community service project in honor of the hero they selected. The end products include a brochure or booklet explaining and illustrating the qualities of the selected hero.

Desktop Publishing

#4 Collaboration (8.4.2) and #2 Media/Technology (8.2.2)


Assignment 6... Interim Review, Implementation, and Reflection

Congratulations, you have now completed your unit of instruction template and are ready to contact TWT for an Interim Review . Remember, your interim review request must be submitted by October 31st, 2004 to receive full credit on this piece. The TWT instructors will use the Course Assessment Rubric to provide feedback on your unit. You should have been using this rubric as a guide during your development.

Once you request your interim review you are ready to begin implementation. At the completion of your implementation period, be sure to return to this template and document any high points, tips, or lessons learned. Providing this extra insight into your unit is often a very useful piece for other teachers.

High Points, Tips, and Lessons Learned during implementation:

From a teacher’s perspective this was a very rewarding unit. The students’ self-reflection journals relayed that excitement as well.

In analyzing the assessments, the students would benefit by additional writing activities. Now that I am more familiar with the website, I will add an activity to strengthen Learning Objective 4: Students will identify heroes in their personal life and be able to explain why they are heroes (Standard #3 Students engage in the writing process.) The students will create a Web page about their hero. By logging in (as groups) they can enter their username and password and upload content, including pictures, through this site. Directions are provided and all information will be uploaded and housed on the server at the website. I am anxious to include this activity as it should engage the kids and strengthen their writing skills in an authentic way.

In the culminating activity, students selected a community hero and produced a community service project in honor of the hero they selected. I was amazed at how honored and delighted the “community heroes” were to be recognized in this manner by these middle school children. When this unit is implemented next year, I will expand the audience by having the students invite their parents/guardians, family, friends, and perhaps the family/friends of the honored hero.

The activity where the students used a graphic organizer to brainstorm and categorize (real heroes, Tall Tale heroes, and other famous people) took an additional day of classroom work. I need to make sure that the graphic organizing software (Inspiration) is loaded on the laptops when I check them out of the library. This problem impacted some of the extra time needed.



You may also view Mr. Simon's unit of instruction in the TWT Unit of Instruction database. 

Login to the PCC site at

Click on the "Go" button in the Unit of Instruction box that directs you to the Search for Unit of Instruction page.

Search for:

Grade 5

Social Studies, English

Click on the "What is a hero" link to view Scott Simon's Unit of Instruction Proposal.


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