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Unit 14: Travel Magazine

Grades 5-6

For a PDF version of this unit click here

Lessons: What is a Travel Magazine? Journal of Travels Business Memo, Book Review, Advertisement

Examples of Students' Work


Introduction:The Travel Magazine curriculum strives to integrate the study of a country and its culture with reading, both fiction and non-fiction, and the different forms of writing. Students play the role of a freelance writer/photographer for Travel Magazine, Inc. Their assignment will be to research a country in South/Southeast Asia; this curriculum, however, can be used for the study of any country or region. Students will use various sources, including the Internet, to research their country. They will then create journals, complete with photographs, or their experiences and impressions while exploring their country. Final magazine layout will include a first-person account of their travels through the country, a review of a book in which the action is set in the country, an advertisement, and one additional “choice” article. This assignment is lengthy, so I like to keep tabs on students’ progress by having them write a business memo to keep me informed of their progress, although other options are a friendly letter, business letter, e-mail message, etc.

Desired Academic Results

Essential Academic Learning Requirements in Social Studies


EALR #2 The applies the method of social science investigation to investigate, compare and contrast interpretation of historical events.
2.1 Investigate and research issues and challenges of the Pacific Rim countries.
2.3 Synthesize information and reflect on findings.


EALR #1 The student uses maps, charts, and other geographic tools to understand the spatial arrangement of people, places, resources, and environments on Earth’s surface.
1.1 Use and construct maps, charts and other resources.

EALR #2 The student understands the complex physical and human characteristics of place and regions.
2.1 Describe the natural characteristics of places and regions.
2.2 Describe the patterns humans make on places and regions.


EALR #2 The student analyzes the purposes and organization of government and laws.
2.3 Compare and contrast democracies with other forms of government.


EALR # 1 Students understand the basic economic concepts and analyzes the effect of economic systems on individuals, groups, and society.
1.3 Understand the monetary system of U.S. and how individuals economic choices involve cost and consequences.
1.5 Examine the importance of international trade.


EALR #1 The student writes clearly and effectively.
1.1 Develop concept and design.
1.2. Use style appropriate to the audience and purpose.
1.3 Apply writing conventions.

Social Studies – Economics

EALR #1 The student understands basic economic concepts and analyzes the effect of economic systems on individuals, groups, and society.
1.1 Comprehend key economic concepts and economic systems.
1.2 Observe major forms of business and related careers.

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1. What is a Travel Magazine?

Students will be able to identify the different modes and forms of writing (narrative, descriptive, persuasive and expository) used in a travel magazine.

Time Allotment: 1-2 hours

Resources needed
• Modes and Forms of Writing worksheets for Narrative, Descriptive, Persuasive and Expository.
• Various travel magazines or National Geographic magazines


• Ask students to brainstorm reasons “Why people write?” (They write to communicate, inform, persuade, relate experiences, for the love of it, etc. Writing connects us to work, to culture to society and to existing knowledge.)
• Through the worksheets, introduce students to the four modes/forms of writing. Narrative, descriptive, expository and persuasive. Go over each form of writing, its purpose, and examples.
• Pass out travel magazines. Tell students their assignment is to find an example of each of the four modes of writing and cut out their magazine. Then list each mode on a separate piece of paper and explain how they identified each piece of writing. (i.e., What was the author’s purpose?)


• Students work in groups to create “Modes of Writing” posters that state the purpose of each mode and show examples from magazines.


Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the four different modes of writing by correctly finding examples in the travel magazine. As a class, we will share and discuss the results.

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 2. Journal of Travels

Students will learn about a country located in Asia on the Pacific Rim. They will analyze pictures, captions, essays, and charts to gather information about their country. To demonstrate knowledge of their country, students sill write a first-person account of their travels through the country.

Time Allotment: 4 weeks

Resources needed:
-Access to library for research materials
-PowerPoint software
-Full Circle with Michael Palin (video cassette)


• Show the class any 30 minute section of Full Circle with Michael Palin.
Afterwards, ask students the following questions:
-What is the purpose of this video?
-What role does Michael Palin play in the video?
-What did you learn?
-What did you find interesting? (Full Circle is a documentation of “Michael Palin’s journey by air, train, boat, and occasionally very sore feet around 50,000 miles of the Pacific Rim.”)
• The class saw how Michael Palin went on an adventure in the video to explore diverse cultures and varied landscapes of the Pacific Rim-now it is their turn! Explain to students that they are to become a freelance writer/photojournalist on assignment for Travel Magazine, Inc. First they will need to research their country thoroughly. Then, they will make notes on the information they collect regarding the country’s land, flora and fauna, climate, history, people (both rural and urban areas), important sites, language, music, government, natural resources, foods and cultures and traditions.
• Their assignment is to write a journal; a first-person account of their travels through the country and include what they have learned. Explain that they do not need to go into a lot of detail about everything in their notes. It is more important that students be creative and tell the reader what they experienced on their journey.
• Remind students that their writing should help readers learn more about the country and the people who live there. To illustrate their journals, students can use magazine photos, postcards, or drawings. Remind students to think about the sights, sounds, and smells they might encounter on their journey. Students can make their journal interesting by creating stories about characters that they met along the way, including information they learned about their country.
• After journals are written, students will use the PowerPoint software program to create a magazine layout for article with photos. The photos can be from the drawings, magazine photos, postcards or copied from the internet. Be certain to instruct the students how to attach the URL address to these images. (Select the URL address, copy and paste into textbox. Next group the textbox and image together.) Students share journals with the rest of the class. There are four samples of students’ work in the Student Showcase.

Extension/Enrichment Activity

• Have students choose at least one item from the list below to include in their travel magazine.
* Write a human interest story about a local sports figure.
* Write an editorial expressing your opinion or position on a timely news story or event.
* Create an editorial cartoon (Visually express an opinion to a timely news story or event regarding your country.)
* Become a food critic and critique a traditional dish.
* Become an entertainment reviewer and critique either your country’s music, art, theater, dance or other performance or cultural tradition.
* Interview someone from the county you are studying.
* Compare and contrast the government of the country you are studying to that of the United States.
* Create a five-day weather forecast for your country.
* Take a traditional folk tale or fairy tale and rewrite it to reflect the customs and culture of the country you are studying. (You might want to use the book Korean Cinderella as an example.)
* Create a pictorial calendar of fun things to do year round in your country.
* Create a list of symbols/signs or customs that will be important for visitors to know.
* Pick a city or important site, create an advertisement to attract tourists.

Assessment - Journal Required Elements
Map of Country History
Land Language
Flora and Fauna Music
Weather/Climate Government
People in rural areas People in urban areas
Cities and important sites Foods
Natural Resources Culture/Traditions

Six Trait Writing

-Word Choice
-Sentence Fluency

PowerPoint Presentation Scoring Rubric

4 – Exceeded expectations; student has completed more than the required elements and has presented project in a unique way.

3 – Meets expectations; student has completed all for the required elements.

2 – Below expectations; student has completed most of the required elements, however, there are some that are either missing or could have been improved.

1 – Significantly below grade level expectations; student completed very few required elements. (Samples)

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3. Modes of Writing Assessment

Throughout this curriculum students will be using different mode/forms of writing. To assess whether students are able to identify different forms of writing, you may have them complete the assessment below, either orally or in writing after lessons 1 – 4.

Title of writing piece:

What form/mode of writing is it?

How do you know? List at least three facts to support your answer. (Hint: Think cue words in prompt, framework of writing, and key features.)

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4. Business Memo

Lesson Objectives
The student will learn how to structure a business memo. Students will report the status of their research project by sending their editor/teacher a business memo.

Time Allotment – 2 hours

Resources needed – Write Source 2000, A Guide to Writing, Thinking and Learning


• Maintaining open lines of communication is important in the workplace. Brainstorm with students different ways employees can communicate with each other (memos, e-mail, minutes, and proposals).
• Pass out memo from the editor of Travel Magazine, Inc.
• Discuss with students the purpose of a memo – a brief written message that can be use in different ways – asking and answering questions, giving instructions, describing work done, and reminding people about deadlines and meetings. Have students read through memo. What is the editor’s goal in writing the memo? What is the editor’s point?
• Discuss the format of the memo with students.
Beginning – List the date, the reader, and the writer. State your subject clearly.
Middle – Provide a full explanation.
Ending – Focus on an action that needs to take place.
• Students will respond to editor’s memo by writing a business memo on the status of their project.

Sample Memo

Date: December 3, 2001

To: Freelance Writers/Photojournalists

From: Ms. Plowman, Editor

Subject: Pacific Rim Countries Travel Magazine Project

I have met with members on the board of Travel Magazine, Inc. They were very excited to hear about our new Pacific Rim project. I would like to know the following things in regard to the status of your assignment:

1. What research have you acquired regarding your country? What are your sources?
2. Are you having any trouble finding answers to any of the research questions?

3. What is the status of your written article?

4. Have you found photos to accompany your article? Be sure to include the source of the photo.)

5. Have you found any companies interested in advertisement space in magazine?

I will be meeting with the board next Monday. Please have your updated to me by Friday. If you are having any difficulties finding information, please let me know. Enjoy your travels!

Extension/Enrichment Activity
As student are creating their print advertisements to go into Travel Magazine, Inc., have students write a business memo to the CEO of the company explaining their concept to sell the product and reporting them on their progress.

Assessment Business memo should contain the following requirements:
-Complete heading (date, the recipient, the writer, and subject is stated clearly).
-Reason for writing memo – “What is your point?”
-Full and detailed explanation of your status on travel magazine article.
-If necessary, identify action that needs to be taken. If not, just end politely.
-Details are organized.
-Correct conventions of writing.

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5. Book Review

Lesson Objectives
Students will learn more about the country they are studying by reading a novel with a setting in that country. Students will then write a book review to submit to the travel magazine.

Time Allotment – 3 weeks

Assign the book to be read for homework. Allow 2 weeks for reading and one week to write the review.

Resources needed - Write Source 2000, A Guide to Writing, Thinking and Learning, novel with a setting in country student is studying, sample book reviews from Sunday newspaper


• Present the idea that the owners of Travel Magazine, Inc. want this magazine to be different. They want to introduce the reader to a country in new and unique ways. One way is through literature. The owners feel that you can learn a lot about a country and its culture by reading their folk tales and other literature. Therefore, the magazine’s editor would like you to choose a book, either a folk tale or other piece of literature, in which the story is set in the country you are studying. Write a review.
• Discuss with students the concept that writing a review is one way to express thoughts and feelings about a piece of literature. In a review, the writer presents opinions about the work and gives details from the text to support opinions. Ideas for reviews usually come from the main elements of literature - plot, characterization, setting, and theme.
• Have students work in groups to read sample book reviews and answer the following questions: In the beginning, how does the writer gain the reader’s attention? What paragraph mentions the title and author? What is the main point or subject of the review? Does the review include examples or ideas from the reading? Does the reviewer suggest the outcome, but not give away the ending?
• Model how to organize a four-paragraph book review.
Beginning – Grabs the reader’s attention, gives the book’s title and author, and states the subject.
Middle – Gives specific examples from the novel to support the focus.
Ending – Summarized the main points of helps readers understand the significance of the reviewer’s opinion or main point. The reviewer suggests the outcome, but doesn’t give it away. (Sample)

Extension/Enrichment Activity

Jackdaw – Have the students collect artifacts representing ideas, events, characters, themes, and/or objects significant to the culture described in the book. Prepare a display of these items. Label each artifact and briefly write about its importance to the book. Students may also want to include a quote from the book to accompany each artifact.


Use the six-trait model to assess the book review. Students should make sure that the review includes the following:
- An opening that grabs the reader’s attention
- Mention of the title and author in first paragraph
- A clear focus of the review
- Details from the text to support focus
- A closing paragraph that summarizes main points of review.

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6. Advertisement

Lesson Objectives
Students will design a print ad to be included in their magazine article. Through this activity, students can learn more about products sold in their country of interest. They can also become aware of the persuasive power of visual symbols, catchwords, and catch phrases.

Time allotment – 2 – 3hours

Resources needed: An assortment of magazines for students, access to research books, Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Mendel, Persuasive Writing by Tara McCarthy, PowerPoint software


• Ask students to quickly brainstorm what comes to mind when they think of print advertisements. What techniques do companies use to persuade you to buy their product?
• Pass out magazines. Have students look at different advertisements in magazines and list techniques use in ads to persuade readers.
• Have class share results. As students share, point out the following techniques:
- Get on the bandwagon – Advertisement uses phrases that get reader to think “everyone who’s smart and hip knows this or is doing this.”
- Testimonials – The Famous-People Technique – Advertisement uses a famous spokesperson to “testify” to the greatness of a product.
- Glittering Generalities – Advertisement uses vague words of phrases that have a feel-good quality to it (i.e. better, more powerful, new, improved, etc.)
- Transfer: Pictures and slogans that persuade – Advertisement uses strong pictorial symbols or general phrases that arouse the reader’s emotions so that they will connect and transfer the emotion to the product being sold.
• Assign students to design a print advertisement using one of the techniques above for a product that would be sold in the country they are studying. Discuss the role that culture plays in advertising and encourage students to be culturally appropriate. (Guidance will be necessary, as students may have limited understanding about cultural differences.)
• Brainstorm with students ways to find products sold in the country they are studying. I would introduce the book, Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Mendel which gives a pictorial account of the material goods of an average family in many different countries throughout the world.
• Pick a country that students are not studying and model how you can go about choosing a product for the advertisement. As a class, decide what technique would be the most persuasive to use in the advertisement. Discuss with students what they want to keep in mind – Who is the audience? If the ad lists the price, it must be in the correct currency, etc. (Sample)

Enrichment/Extension Activity

Have students create a commercial for the product they are trying to sell. Students may publish their ads by showing them as dialogue balloons set in picture panels, or students can work in groups to act out and videotape commercial.


Advertisements should include the following requirements:
- Student choses a product that would be sold in country being studied.
- Student uses a least one of the persuasive techniques (Get on the Bandwagon, Testimonials, Glittering Generalities, or Transfers: Pictures and Slogans that persuade.)
- Advertisement has eye-appeal.
- Advertisement is original.
- Advertisement is culturally appropriate.

Advertisements Rubric

4 – Exceeded expectations; student has completed more than the required elements and has presented project in a unique way.

3 – Meets expectations; student has completed all for the require elements.

2 – Below expectations; student has completed most of the required elements, however, there are some that are either missing or could have been improved.

1 – Significantly below grade level expectations; student completed very few required elements.

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Encarta Encyclopedia; Microsoft Corporation (CD-ROM)

Full Circle with Michael Palin. Videocassettes. PBS Home Video. 1988. 10 hours.

CIA Interactive World Factbook.

Ask Jeeves for Kids

Flags of all Countries

Yahoo Weather Forecast

List of search engines

Books for Teachers

Goodman, Jim. Cultures of the World: Thailand. Marshal Cavendish Corporation. 1994. (Also available in Cultures of the World Series: Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, China, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, and Laos.)

Lim, Robin. Indonesia (Globe-Trotters Club series). Minneapolis, Minnesota. Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 2001. (Also available in series: China, Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam.)

MCarthy, Tara. Persuasive Writing. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1998.

MCarthy, Tara. Narrative Writing. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1998.

Menzel, Peter. Material World: A Global Family Portrait. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. 1994.

Schlick Noe, Katherine L. and Nancy J. Johnson. Getting Started With Literature Circles. Norwood, Massachusetts: Christopher-Gordon Publishers, Inc., 1999.

Sebranek, Patrick, Dave Kemper, and Verne Meyer. Write Source 2000: A Guide to Writing, Thinking, and Learning. Wilmington, Massachusetts. Great Source Education Group, Inc., 1999.

Books for Students

Hill, Anthony. The Burnt Stick. Boston, Massachusetts. Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

Kidd, Diana. Onion Tears. New York, New York. Orchard Books, 1991.

Ho, Minfong. The Clay Marble. New York, New York. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1991.

Fang, Linda. The Chi-Lin Purse: A Collection of Ancient Chinese Stories. New York, New York. Harper Collins, 1997.

Jian, Ji Li. Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution. New York, New York. Harper Collins, 1997

Yen Mah, Adeline. Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter. New York, New York. Delacorte Press, 1999.

Gelman, Rita Golden. Rice is Life. New York, New York. Henry Holt and Company, 2000. (Picture book)

Gold, Alison Leslie. A Special Fate – Chiune Sugihara: Hero of the Holocaust. New York, New York. Scholastic Press, 2000.

Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas. Ghost at the Tokaido Inn. New York, New York. Philomel Books, 1999.

Hoobler, Dorothy and Thomas. Demon in the Teahouse. New York, New York. Philomel Books, 2001.

Watkins, Yoko Kawashima. So Far From the Bamboo Grove. New York, New York. Beechtree Books, 1994.

Choi, Sook Nyul. Year of Impossible Goodbyes. Boston, Massachusetts. Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

McMahon, Patricia. Chi-Hoon: A Korean Girl. Boyds Mills Press, 1998.

New Zealand
Beck, Katie. The Moas. Kansas City, Missouri. Landmark Editing, Inc., 1999.

DeLaPaz, Myrna J. Abadeha: The Philippine Cinderella. Los Angeles, California. Pacific Queen Communications, 1991. (Picture book)

Ho, Minfong. Rice Without Rain. New York, New York. Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books, 1990.

Read, Margaret. The Girl Who Wore Too Much: A Folk Tale From Thailand. Little Rock, Arkansas. August House Littlefolk, 1998.

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