Students then work in heterogeneous literature circles in a reader's workshop environment to discuss, react to, and analyze a novel of their choice: Roots by Alex Haley, Daughter of Fortune by Isabelle Allende, Cane River by Lalita Tademy, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, or The Storyteller's Daughter by Jean Thesman.Each of these novels, listed in order from most challenging to least challenging, uses a distinct cultural perspective to tell the story of a family's evolution.These competencies are at the heart of the standards movement, and I believe that students who become confident in their own ability to make sense of big ideas and communicate this understanding effectively will be successful throughout their schooling and beyond.
Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006.
She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.
For example, a story set in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma might describe a family's one-room cabin on a lonely, desolate prairie, while a Cold War-era plot might paint a picture of the confined space of a family's backyard bomb shelter.
Try looking at historical photos of your selected setting for visual details that can enhance its realism.
Students who choose to rework or expand their writing further have the option to do so as an ongoing independent study.
This unit is a reflection of my desire to help all students become critical readers, effective writers, careful listeners, responsive speakers, and most importantly, engaged thinkers.For example, a teenage girl in a story set in Texas in the 1950s might befriend rock and roll star Buddy Holly, while an overworked mother in the 1930s Dust Bowl might try to petition President Franklin Roosevelt for help as he passes through her hometown on a campaign stop.Research your chosen historical figure to find details you can incorporate into his behavior and appearance.They also learn or review the process of examining primary sources for the kind of detail that supports a story's development.Finally, students work throughout the unit to research their family's history, using all resources available to them: oral histories, letters and diaries, photo albums, Internet-based genealogical search tools, and the like.Events like the Civil War and the Great Depression may lie in the past, but writing historical fiction allows you to re-enact them with original plots, characters and conflicts.By fusing research with creative ideas of your own, you can mix real life and historical events with fiction to evoke authentic settings and people in your stories.Those who cannot or do not wish to focus on their own family's stories work with material provided by the teacher.Supported by differentiated modeling and coaching from the teacher in a workshop environment, they develop a vignette (character sketch), short story, or chapter of a longer work that demonstrates their understanding of the qualities of excellent historical fiction.This unit represents the best that I know about moving students toward real engagement and, ultimately, toward deep and lasting understanding.I started my planning with a careful examination of national and local standards.