Accuracy in a Multi-paragraph Paper

Accuracy in a Multi-paragraph Paper

Course(s)/Subject(s): English

Grade Level(s): Eighth

Key Words: technology, literature, research, expository writing

Developer(s) Name: Frank N. Barker

School: Cooper Middle School

Approximate Time Frame: one week of 45 minute periods

Materials/Equipment Needed: computer lab with Internet connections, selected short stories, school library

Description of Lesson (includes context): The students will research the accuracy of an author’s work in a short piece of writing and assess that accuracy in a multi-paragraph paper. This is to prepare them for a multi-page paper assessing the accuracy of an historical novel.


1. What is the objective of this lesson? To assess the accuracy of a writer’s work, to use the Internet for research, to assess the accuracy of information on the Internet, to use the library for research, to read a variety of literature, to write an expository paper, to learn to correctly cite sources.

FCPS POS Standards: Standard 4
FCPS POS Benchmarks: 4-1,

FCPS POS Indicators: 1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.6

VA SOL(s) (including Computer/Technology): 8.6, C/T8.1.1, C/T8.2.1, C/T8.4.1



2. What will we examine as evidence of students’ knowledge and/or skill?

Product(s): an expository paper

Performance(s): Students will respond critically to ideas in written language by evaluating print and mass media for accuracy. They will use all aspects of the writing process to produce a final product. They will use computers for research and word processing.


3. What exactly will the students and teacher do during the lesson?

Directions to students for proceeding with the lesson:

  1. Day One--In the classroom--(or previously for homework) Read a short story with some historical content (For example: Gary Paulsen’s “Stop the Sun” in MacDougal/Littel Literature and Language)
  2. Choose something mentioned in the story to research. In “Stop the Sun” you may want to choose mortars or Viet Cong or stress syndrome. Be certain to be narrow and specific with your choice; do not attempt to research the entire Vietnam War.
  3. Day Two--In the computer lab--research your topic using at least two Internet sources. Save the information you find on your disk. Be certain to save the Web addresses.
  4. If you have time during this trip to the computer lab, begin editing the information you have found using ClarisWorks. You may use some direct quotes, but be certain to cite your sources if you do. Most of the writing should be in your own words.
  5. Day Three--In the library--research your topic using at least two print sources. Take notes on the information. Remember to properly cite your sources.
  6. Day Four--At home or in the classroom--Assess the information you have collected. Do all the facts agree with each other? Think about the sources. Were the Web sites a valid, expert source? Were the print sources written by people who know their business? Do they all validate what the author wrote in the story? Is all the information historically accurate? If any of it is contradictory, look for some other sources to help validate the information.
  7. Day Five and Six--In the computer lab--Draft a five paragraph expository paper to prove the historical accuracy of the author’s short story. Include the author’s original reference to the item, and your cited information that confirms or denies the accuracy of it. Use the entire writing process to complete the paper. Include a correct works cited page that includes the original short story, at least two Internet sources, and at least two print sources.

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?

  1. Demonstrate some facts that help support the author’s writing. For example, Paulsen writes about the Viet Cong using mortars. According to a Web site on weapons, “The 81 mm mortar is a medium, indirect close support infantry weapon. It fires high explosive, smoke and illuminating ammunition.” ( Show corroborating evidence from a print source and demonstrate to the class how to make those connections between fact and fiction.
  2. Be certain to watch as the students write. Some of them will copy and paste information directly from a Web source and claim that it’s their own writing. Show them how to paraphrase or cite a direct quotation. It’s better to head off plagiarism before they commit to print than to have an honor code violation after their work is printed.
  3. Note to teachers: This project is adaptable to science fiction; the student researches the scientific accuracy of some aspect of the book. For example, would the laws of physics allow for a faster than light starship?


4. What options in presentation(s) and/or response(s) are suggested in order to provide the opportunity for all students to demonstrate achievement of the benchmark(s) and indicator(s)?

The assignment is ideal for independent help. Not everyone has to use the same sources or even the same original story.
Adjust the difficulty of the original story for students with language or reading difficulties. In the library, while other students are using books, periodicals, and more sophisticated reference materials independently, assist the more challenged students with simpler sources, such as the World Book encyclopedia.