As soon as they find a good resource, the first thing they are supposed to do is create the entry for their List of Works Consulted (the directions are in Elementary Materials). Only then do they start taking notes. We talked extensively about how to take notes without copying using the template I created for them. It is designed to help them dig deeper and think more critically about the ideas surrounding their topic. We also talked about the fact that notes should be words and phrases, not complete sentences--unless there are quotation marks around something the students wants to quote and cite. The class will have almost an hour and a half every day the week of Feb. 3 to work on taking notes. There will be time to work in class on books and in the lab on web resources. Students may also take notes at home.
The week of Feb. 10 is when students will organize and write up their information. Because they are using the template for taking notes, the organization part should be pretty easy. The writing needs to be well-developed and articulate. It should be carefully done, following conventions. Once the students are finished writing, they may begin looking for pictures to use in their presentations. I told them that students who search for pictures before they have finished taking notes and doing their writing are CHEATING.
Some students will finish earlier and will have more time for "dessert," but I expect everyone to be ready to work on their presentations by the week of Feb. 17. Students can create a website or exhibit, they can produce a play, or they can make a Power Point or other media presentation (a film or Prezi or something else). I don't give a lot of detailed directions for how to do the presentations. In middle school they will find that the world of National History Day is full of detailed directions! If your child wants to see how to do things according to NHD standards, they can go to the nhd.org entries page. I don't give the detailed directions because I want to give my students the opportunity to be creative. I show them examples of exemplary NHD projects (exhibits and websites) to inspire them, and I let them go from there.
The rubric for the CBAs is in the Elementary Materials section of this website.