Drawing from the Well

Chapter One - Digging the Well
Lesson 10 - Groups, Topic for Research and Final Project

Setting the Stage:

As we close the first chapter, teachers need to evaluate their student's skills in:

  • narrative writing
  • working in groups
  • basic speaking and storytelling
  • utilizing technology
  • exploring the essential question

Needing more practice in these areas is on-going; however, you may refer back to the technology exercises in Lesson 5 to continue honing skills. Ultimately the students will reinforce their language arts and communication skills as they go further into the Drawing from the Well project. The writing and group activities that students have participated in, up to this point, are meant to lay a foundation for the upcoming focus of work.

Students will begin to work in their new groups. Each group will fine tune the topic, determine the final product and each member will sign on to a specific responsibility in researching the topic.


  • The students will contribute productively in a group.
  • The students will identify categories for exploration within a topic.
  • The students will identify resources for information.

NM State Standards: Language Arts II-A (7-4, 5) I-A (8-2)

Materials and Resources Needed:
List of student groups and topics
List of final project options (determined by teacher)
Group Research Handout #6 (Appendix/Samples and Activities)
Teamwork Report Rubric (Appendix/ Methods of Evaluation)

Duration: One class period.


  1. Announce and post the list of groups and their topics. Have students join their groups.
  2. Discuss and explain to students:
    • The new groups are set for the duration of the project. Let students know how you plan to deal with problems, should they arise, in the group dynamics. Also, let students know that the responsibility for team success relies upon each individual.
    • Go over the Team Report Rubric (Appendix/Methods of Evaluation) Review the criteria and expectations. Explain how the rubric will be used.
    • Look over the guidelines for decision-making and the process of consensus covered in Lesson #2.
    • Let students know how group work will be graded and factored into their final grade.
    • Discuss the successes, advantages and challenges of group work.
  3. Determine each group's or the class' final product:

    The teacher needs to decide whether each team or class as a whole will decide on the final product. Factored into this decision will be: Who is the audience for the work? What are the best ways to reach them? What final project format will most engage the students? Planning now for the final products will help shape the process.

    Traditionally, Drawing from the Well has produced the following final products:

    • radio documentaries
    • science fair projects
    • classroom demonstrations at other grade levels
    • student artwork and writings exhibited in the school
    • community celebration with oral presentations, plus public display of the students' work.

    Other final product ideas include, yet are not limited to:

    • photographic exhibit
    • website design
    • writing and producing a play and/or storytelling event
    • poetry jam
    • student publications including books, "zines", calendars, journals or comic books
    • video or Power Point presentations
    • a public presentation which can travel to other schools, senior centers, hospitals and civic centers
    • museum-style exhibits or displays

    Please consider choosing the final product by what you and your students are excited by and what will work with your given circumstance and resources.

  4. Individual task: Have students web their new group topic. To stimulate ideas have them look through their portfolios; look at the surveys, the initial web, narratives, and other work that has been shared to prompt group ideas.
  5. Group task: Brainstorm and web ideas for the group topic, incorporating everyone's individual web into one. With everyone's input, as a team, fill in Handout # 6 Group Research (Appendix/Methods of Evaluation) Complete the Group Research Handout and be prepared to present ideas and group assignments to the class. Have each group use the Teamwork Rubric to discuss how they worked together. Have students recognize the positive behaviors or what worked.

It is critical that the teacher look over the brainstorming webs and Group Research Handout in the Appendix to immediately identify superficial or shallow work, or misunderstandings of concepts before the students proceed with their research. If possible, release those teams that are ready to do research to the library or computer lab, and have the others do their web and handouts over again.

It is also critical to recognize problems in the group dynamic as soon as possible. The teacher may want to ask students to write a reflective paragraph after Activity #5 about their group, or do a Free Write and collect them. Teacher observation is critical, but often students do not have problems within the teacher's hearing. When problems are identified, let the student know in a private conversation, "You are not doing your part in your group" or "You have to listen as much as you talk" or "It is not acceptable to make fun of..." Address the problem with the student or group. Do not be so quick to move students around. Often new friends are made and new understandings forged when students work with others they do not usually like or talk to. It is a powerful, positive awareness for students when they find they have made new relationships with their classmates.

Include a copy of the Handout #6 Group Research in each student's working portfolio. (Appendix/Samples and Activities)