Step three (thinking and pre-writing): The interactive button game on the Student Instructions Page is designed to help your students get excited about thinking about what famous presidential quotations might mean. You can, of course, assign students to write about specific presidents you're studying without taking them to the online interactive game.
Once students have chosen a president for this report, they need to start searching to find actual quotes said by the president. Dictionaries of quotations will be useful, but so too will biographies and internet research. Tell students, "In order to use a quote, you have to find proof that it was really said (or written) by the president."
Students are to locate two, four, or six quotes said by the president they are researching. Students are to carefully select quotes a) that they basically understand what is being said and/or talked about by the president and b) that they have some sort of personal connection to or personal opinion about.
Draw your students back to some of the pages from Frank Keating's picture book. Ask, "Do you understand what this quote is saying, and do you think that Frank Keating has a personal connection or opinion about the quote?" Stress these two criteria as students search and research. Let Keating's picture book serve as a mentor text.
Once students have collected the required amount of presidential quotations, have them talk about their quotes in student groups. Have each student read each quote aloud to their group, asking, "Who do you think said this? Why do you think this president might have said it? What does the quote's content tell you about the president?" Monitor discussions, helping students to speculate on what the quotes they have chosen might really mean.
And then...time to research. Students are to find four or five facts about their president that might explain why he might have said that at some point in his life. These facts can be about the circumstances in which the quote was said, or they can be about events from the president's life that might explain why the quote needed to be said.
This graphic organizer is deisgned to help students gather these facts. When students find facts, they are to put them in their own words as best they can. If your students are writing smaller reports (based on two quotes), you only need to run the first page for them; if they are writing longer reports (based on six quotes), run copies of all three pages for them.
Gathering research can be tough and time-consuming. Build in lots of time to work on these facts, and to talk one-on-one with some of your students who might struggle.
When students have their graphic organizers completed, they need to begin planning their entire report.
If students have gathered and researched six quotations, then their reports will have six parts. Each part of the report will either begin or end with one of the presidential quotations, and it will include researched reasons that explain (in the student's own words) why the president probably said the quote. The student's own words--for each part of the report--can be inspired by the circumstances in which the quotation was said, or they can be inspired by the president's motivation to have said that.
Again, draw students back to the pages of Keating's Theodore. Allow this excellent mentor text to show students how much and what kind of writing should accompany the quotations they have chosen to introduce or conclude the separate parts of their reports.
Obviously, drafts of the report's parts will take days--if not weeks--to create. Allow students to create the parts separately, if you wish. As students prepare to create a second draft, which brings all the parts of the report together as one whole report, challenge them to think about sequencing. Ask, "What order should these quotes and explanations be presented so that someone not as familiar with the president as you are could make the most sense of this report."