Group Size: Any

Learning Objectives:

To give students the opportunity to engage with the new media literacy practices of appropriation and remixing; to help students develop strategies for analyzing characters and texts; to offer students alternate, creative avenues for making sense of source texts.


Below is the full lesson plan as written by the Designing for Participation research team; additional resources include documents designed to align this unit with the Project-Based Learning approach of our implementation site.

Overview: This module includes several activities designed to emphasize the following practices:

Throughout this module, students will be given opportunities to engage with these practices in a variety of ways, across multiple contexts. The module finishes with a formal argument essay in which students will be asked to demonstrate their understanding of the core practices.

Project #1: microblogging in character


Emphasized practices: literary interpretation, appropriation / remixing, speculation

Objective: To give students an opportunity to learn about characters in a source text by embodying one or more characters and speculating on characters’ reactions to key plot points; to give students an opportunity to participate in appropriation of source material (primarily by emphasizing imitation of the tone and style of the source text).

Introducing key practices, introducing twitter

Mini-Activity: Introduction to Twitter

The goal of this activity is to clarify how the three above practices are enlisted through the act of Tweeting in character. Once the class is sufficiently familiar with Twitter to adopt character personas from a source text, the teacher may facilitate a conversation about what each of the above practices looks like in the context of Twitter.

Work with a small group of student volunteers who feel comfortable tweeting in character. Have another student read aloud several paragraphs from the primary text while the student volunteers tweet simultaneously in reaction to the text. A sample is included below.



Moving from initial to appropriate enlistment of practices

Over the next several class periods, activity should be directed toward helping the community engage more expertly with the emphasized practices. The microblogging in character activity should be interspersed with reflection moments during which students consider how their understanding of the practices of literary interpretation and appropriation is changing. Class discussions, online discussion forums, or individual reflections might draw from any of the following prompts, which were written by the implementing teacher, Becky Rupert, and posted to a discussion forum on the social networking site Ning.


Activity: Drafting a Collaborative Poem Using the Class Twitter Feed


The purpose of this activity is to offer students opportunities to engage in the practices of appropriation and remixing, with the goal of creating a coherent poem that conveys a meaningful message about war. The assignment overview, drafted by the implementing teacher, Becky Rupert, is included below.

Twitter Poem Activity Description:

You need to use one of the following quotes as a repeating hook:

  • "What you have to do is trust your own story."
  • "I want you to feel what I felt."
  • "The thing about remembering is that you don't forget."
  • "Stories are for joining the past to the future."
  • "What sticks to memory often are those odd little fragments."
  • "I survived, but it's not a happy ending."
  • "What would you do?"
  • "A true war story is never moral."
Your poem needs to incorporate tweets, either coming directly from your twitter feed or coming as a thread of an idea from your twitter feed.

Your poem needs to use a beautiful or powerful combination of words to create images in the minds of your readers. A poem uses compacted language to create mental pictures. In a poem, every word counts.

Your poem should reflect a sense of empathy towards the things soldiers went through during wartime and toward the soldiers themselves.

Your poem needs a consistent theme, with a beginning and an end, and the theme should be authentic to the time period and the story.

Your poem doesn't have to rhyme.

It needs to have a great title that fits your poem, that isn't a label or discription, that attracts the reader's attention, and that is grounded in the text of the poem.

This poem needs to reflect the work of every member of your group. This is not to be a one-person assignment.

If you finish with one poem, you can write a second one.

A rough draft is due at the end of the period.


Project #2: Drafting a Fan Fiction piece


Emphasized practices:

literary interpretation, appropriation / remixing, formal argumentation

Objectives: To give students an opportunity to engage in literary interpretation through the creation of a creative work; to give students an opportunity to appropriate from a source text for creative and academic purposes; to give students an opportunity to engage in the practice of formal argumentation by reflecting on how their creative work demonstrates an understanding of core terms.

In the previous activity, students were given an opportunity to engage initially—to ‘try on’ and ‘try out’—the key practices emphasized in this unit, without too much by way of formal assessment. This activity ramps up the role of assessment by asking students to show how they engaged appropriately with the core practices. The drafting of a fan fiction piece offers a new opportunity to consider the relevance of the core practices to a new context, and students will use the artifact that comes from this activity to demonstrate (to make a formal argument) to others that they understand the practices.

Students drafted two fan fiction pieces, one working with the story "On the Rainy River" and one with "The Man I Killed." As part of this project, the implementing teacher had students complete the following activities:


1. Journal assignment: observing a fan fiction website

The purpose of this activity is to help students see the norms and practices that are typical among fan fiction communities.

Students were given the following set of instructions:

Journal Prompt:

Go to to the following Harry Potter fan fiction website:

This is a site where people who are fans of the Harry Potter book join a community and create fan fiction. Click on the links and explore the site.

1. What do you observe about the site?

2. Look at other fans' reviews and responses to individual pieces of fan fiction. What do you observe?

3. How would you define the term "beta reader?" Look around each site with the goal of discovering what a beta reader does. What does a beta reader do?

4. Read one piece of fan fiction and the beta readers' responses that go along with it. What do you observe?

2. Mini-activity: Visualizing the story

The teacher read one story, "On the Rainy River," aloud to students and asked them to visualize the story using the following instructions:

Activity Description:

As you are listening to and reading the story, "On the Rainy River," I'd like you to try a reading strategy that good readers use--visualizing the story. When we are done reading, I would like you to sketch one part of the story that most stands out to you. Try to get down on paper what you see in your mind. It doesn't matter whether or not you are able to capture the picture artistically for this activity. The idea is to see pictures in your mind as you're experiencing the story. I just want you to get one of these pictures down after reading.

3. Journal activity: Gaps and Excesses

The purpose of this activity is to help students identify points in the source text that would allow for speculative fiction. Students completed the following activity in groups:

Journal Prompt:

In your group, discuss five places in the story where you see either gaps and excesses where there is another story for which fan fiction could be created. To do this you need to look back at the chapter, "On the Rainy River."


4. Quickwrite: Gaps & Excesses

Activity Description:

1. Once you have identified gaps and excesses, copy and paste your list (from your journal) into a new document.

2. Then, for each gap or excess, write down the questions that need to be answered (by fan fiction) to fill in the gaps or explain the excesses in the story. Create a list of questions that a piece of fan fiction could answer for each gap or excess.

2. Talk with your group about the questions you created in #2 and select the three most promising of these topics. Talk with your group about the kind of story you envision arising from these prompts. What ideas does the group generate for answering the questions. Record the main ideas discussed by the group.

3. Select three topics from the group conversation and individually and do three quickwrites -- for four minutes each (time yourself) -- and write all that comes to your mind on the topic. You should be keyboarding as fast as you are thinking during the four minutes' time. If you get stuck, just write, "I am stuck," "I am stuck." Something should soon come to your mind, and you should be able to move on again.


5. Fan Fiction Draft

Activity Description:

Using one of your "quickwrites" as a starting point, write a first draft of a fan fiction piece.

  • Your writing needs to reflect the time period of Vietnam (1960s--70s).
  • You need to use only school appropriate language and topics in your story.


DAY 11: Mini-Activity: Reflection and Beta Reading


The goal of this activity is to give students an opportunity to articulate how they have demonstrated their understanding of the emphasized practices in this context. Ultimately, students will be required to complete a more formal (graded) version of this reflection, but this is their opportunity to reflect initially before being required to reflect appropriately. This should ideally be completed online, so that students can read and respond to multiple classmates’ work and reflections; but it can also be completed offline if the technology is not available.



1. Introduce the notion of Betareading: Betareaders

are the first readers of a new piece of fan fiction. Their job is to help the writer get a piece ready for wide distribution, and they gain credibility by demonstrating an understanding of the source text, by offering useful and usable insights, and by balancing criticism and praise. Before handing a new piece to a betareader, writers identify what they think are the story’s strengths and weaknesses and what specific help they need.



2. Have students look at their fan fiction and

respond to the following:


a. Where in the text is it most clear that you have

engaged successfully in speculating about characters, and why?


b. Where in the text do you think you most

successfully demonstrated your ability to appropriate from the source text?

c. What aspect of your understanding of the source

text do you think is not apparent in your fan fiction?

d. If you had more time, what one or two things

would you keep working on to make sure this piece accurately demonstrates your understanding of the source text and of the practices of literary interpretation, appropriation, and speculation?


2. Have students exchange their fan fiction and

reflections with classmates. Readers should respond to each of the above responses by explaining whether they agree or disagree with the writer’s self-assessments and offering insights into how the writer can improve. Betareaders should be reminded that their job is not to help the writer create a polished, finished work but to help the writer create a work that successfully demonstrates a mastery of key concepts and practices.



Activity: Formal Argumentation (literary analysis essay)



This is the final activity for this module, and the one that should be assessed summatively. In this activity, students will draft a formal reflection piece that demonstrates their understanding of the source text as well as of the role of the practices emphasized throughout the module.



2. Students’ essays should include the following:

· Brief description of the fan fiction piece

· Reflection on how the fan fiction piece extends,

complicates, or changes the reader’s understanding of the text


· Reflection on how the writer demonstrated an

understanding of the text, of the role of appropriation, and of literary interpretation through the drafting of the fan fiction piece.


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