Writing about Resilience

As I wrote about in my last post, we have been studying resilience and I said I would share my project details here. While my expectations are tied to the extended standards for 6th-8th grade, this activity can easily be modified to fit the Common Core. In fact, a colleague of mine used this as a model for a similar assignment with his 7th grade language arts class.

This research project lead to a three paragraph essay and Google Presentation. After reading about various people who struggled with illness or physical limitations, my students had to choose someone they knew who had a personal struggle and ultimately showed resilience.


This poster was made by Dee. 🙂

Of my ten students, eight of them had a family member they immediately chose. One boy had to ask his grandpa about the project and found out his great-grandpa had lung cancer. The other student wanted to write about diabetes and Ian. Honestly, this melted my heart.

Day 0
Plant the seed about this project. Make it authentic. Tell them they get to pick the person/topic as long as they could tie it to the theme of resilience. I was amazed, when the next day, three kids came in with notes/interviews with their family members.

Day 1
Explain the project. Believe it or not the requirements for this project just fell into place during a class discussion. Literally. I was talking about how we would be starting the project the following Monday and I was asking them some questions and I just started typing up on the SMART Board and it all just came together. The kids were part of the planning process so this was the second way in which the lesson was authentic.

Day 2
Research and note taking – I gave each student 7 note cards to get started. I modeled how to label each note card and we talked about what each word meant.

1. Title slide
2. Definition/introduction
3. Causes
4. Symptoms
5. Diagnosis/Treatment
6. 3 statistics
7. Sources

Day 3
More research and checking in with me.

Day 4
Work on Google Presentation. I printed their slides for reference on Day 5.

Day 5
Begin rough draft of the informational paragraph. I used a writing frame called “What I Learned.”

Day 6
Type final copy of informational paragraph. Edit and finish presentation. For homework, write narrative about your person. “Tell their story.” This is when my student approached me about writing about Ian. He didn’t personally know anyone who had diabetes but he has always had an interest in Ian’s story and his medical care.

Day 7
Edit narrative and begin writing rough drafts of opinion paragraph. Again, we used a writing frame to develop this paragraph.

Day 8
Type final copies of narrative and opinion paragraph.

Day 9*

*Due to technical difficulties the project was spread out over three weeks. (See my post about unreliable technology.) After we returned from Thanksgiving vacation we spent a few minutes each day doing presentations. I only did three each day because I did not plan for the engaging discussion and conversation that came out of each presentation.

I was impressed with their knowledge and the genuine interest in their chosen topic.  Every student seemed comfortable and natural up in front of the class. To me, this was evidence that they really learned something.

I was touched when students asked to not only share their presentations, but also their loved ones’ stories. This was never a requirement because it was personal.   I loved that they were all adamant that their loved one had shown resilience and that they could prove it.  A few examples from my class:

I think that Ian has shown resilience while he had diabetes. The first reason is that he had to draw all that blood and the needles must hurt. Another reason is he cannot eat whatever he wants like cupcakes and sugar foods at school. Finally he has to get a lot of shots at school and at home and measure what he eats. Even though it is difficult, he still makes it through the day.

I think that my aunt showed resilience when she had cancer.The first reason is she had to go to work. She had to make money for her house payment. Another reason is she kept going to see her family. She did not want to leave her family. Finally after 1 year my aunt is cancer free. This is how my aunt was resilient.

I think that my aunt showed resilience when she got cancer. The first reason is because she traveled to Chicago for treatment back and forth .She spent a lot of gas money and she drove a long way. Another reason is people were with her to help her be strong.Then she had to leave again for awhile to Chicago. Finally, she never stopped giving up. She didn’t just sit around. Even though she died she was strong and fought hard during her struggle.

I think that my uncle showed resilience when he got Melanoma.The first reason is he had to deal with cancer for 10 months. He had to stay strong when he was ill. Another reason is it was difficult because he had to go through many surgeries. Finally,  it was a challenge for John because he had to say goodbye to everyone. He got to spend his last few months with his family. These are 3 reasons why I think John was a resilient guy.

I was sad to see this project end and I am hopeful I will come up with something even better for next nine weeks.

Here are the guidelines I used:

Research Project Guidelines

3 responses

  1. […] then I thought back to last year and the research project my students did on resilience. You can read about it by clicking the link.  Each student chose their own topic (a disease or […]

  2. My students said that this was very easy to write because it was about someone they know. I loved it too. I can’t wait to do it again.

    1. I am so glad you jumped on board Jeremy! We need to think of something great for the third nine weeks and Crispin.

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