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Student Projects

What Would You Fight For?

Author: Melissa Cochran

Grade: 8th

Subject: Humanities

Students at beach clean up
Students at beach clean up
Students at beach clean up
Students at beach cleanup holding big green bags of trash
Students at project display table
Student holding signs setup for exhibition
Student holding signs setup for exhibition
Student looking at display boards
Students getting ready for presentation
Students with display boards getting ready for presentation
Students with display boards on field
Group shot of students outside on grass with big green bagsGroup shot of students outside on grass with big green bags

How do dissent, political activism and participatory democracy play a role in the struggle for freedom and equality?

What are our rights and responsibilities as citizens of a democratic society?

How can we be the change we want to see in the world?

This year we studied historical movements that resulted in social and political change. For our final project of the year, students had the opportunity to reflect on their own interests and answer the question,What would you fight for? They had to think of an issue that they cared about and wanted to see changed in our school, community, or world. Their topics included human rights issues, environmental concerns, teen issues, and medical advancements. Students wrote and designed their own magazine articles for a team magazine, implemented an action plan related to their topic, and shared their learning at a team “Street Fair” exhibition.

The following is a description of students’ required components:

Part 1: Magazine Article/Spread
Topic Research:
*Students read, underlined/highlighted, and annotated one article for each submission date.
*Students submitted 1-2 pages of notes in bullet-point format or a 1-page summary about their chosen article.
*Students read a minimum of 3 articles by the end of our project research. Most students read many more than 3 articles and utilized reputable websites as a secondary resource.

Magazine Article Content Requirements:
*Research-based article on  topic that answers the question, “What Would You Fight For?”
*Article had 3 sections: 1) Description of the probelm; 2) Explanation of how the local community, nation, or world is currently trying to solve the problem; 3) Explanation of what still needs to be done to help solve this problem.

Magazine Article Formatting Requirements:
*Four-page spread
*Article is formatted using columns.
*Include at least one image on each page.
*Include at least one graph that shows statistics related to your chosen topic (e.g., a pie chart that displays percentages of different types of energy used in the U.S.). If a graph is not applicable, then student creates another visual to depict an important aspect of their research.
*Layout should be professional and meet expectations of quality work.
*Include a title and author at the top of the spread.

Part 2: Action Plan
Students need to take action to help fight for the change they want to see in the world. Here are some ideas:
*Organize a walk to raise money to donate to your chosen cause.
*Organize a fundraiser to inform the local community about your cause and raise funds to support your cause. Students might create items to sell or organize a collection of goods to be donated to a local non-profit organization.
*Consider the use of social media to start a campaign or inform the public about your chosen issue.
*Organize an information session to share their cause with the school and local community. Students might create a presentation for the middle school, high school, or parents.
*Volunteer at a non-profit organization that fights their your cause or an issue related to their cause (e.g., the environment). This might include volunteering at a food bank, participating in a walk, or doing a beach clean-up.

Scrapbook/IMovie: After implementing their action plans, students need to describe and document their experience. Students need to include images and written reflections in their final products.

Part 3: Interview (Challenge Option)
Students should interview a representative from a non-profit organization or a social business that works in support of their cause. Interviews can be in person, on the phone, or via Skype. Students must audio record the interview and transcribe their conversations. Students need to write a one to two paragraph reflection about the interview and what they learned from it. Students should include their interviews in their portfolios/imovies.



This was an amazing project! It was the first time in my teaching career in which students took ownership of their projects and exceeded my expectations. It required a lot of flexibility on my part to make adjustments and let my students take the project in a number of directions. My goal was to engage them in real life issues affecting our world, and I believe I succeeded in doing this. I hope that they will take this experience with them into high school and beyond and to always fight for issues that they are passionate about.

1. Magazine Article for Team Magazine

2. Action Plan

3. IMovie or Scrapbook (to document action plan)

4. Booth at Exhibition (e.g., pamphlets and information to share with public)

Students will understand:

  • the importance of their chosen topic in our community, nation, and world.
  • how to research their topic using reliable resources.
  • how to write a research-based paper.
  • how to be active participants in our democratic society.

Students will be able to:

  • write a research paper using reliable sources of information.
  • implement an action plan related to their chosen topic.
  • share their learning at a team-wide exhibition.
  • Social change
  • Expository writing
Week # Project Task
1  Project Research
2  Project Research
3 Magazine Article Writing; Brainstorm Action Plans
4 Magazine Article Revisions and Spread Design; Implement Action Plans
5 Implement Action Plans
6-7 Action Plan Reflections, Creation of Final Product, and Exhibition
  • Guest speakers from non-profit organizations
  • Interviews with professionals in related fields
  • Invitations to non-profit organizations and local community members to our exhibition