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Genres & Age Categories => Historical Fiction => Topic started by: Caroline on March 06, 2008, 03:39 AM

Title: Historical Fiction writing assignment for Grade 7s
Post by: Caroline on March 06, 2008, 03:39 AM
Hi Gang,

I'm teaching grade 7 and 8 English this year and rather than doing the typical short story unit, I wanted to introduce historical fiction (which I love) and have the kids write one. Have any of you done this before (as a teacher or as a writing workshop leader)? 

I've talked to their history teachers to see what time frame they've studied, but I wonder if I should let them pick any time period.

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Caroline
Title: Re: Historical Fiction writing assignment for Grade 7s
Post by: carrots on March 06, 2008, 09:08 AM
What a fun idea, Caroline!  As a former junior high and high school teacher, I LOVE it. 

I've got a question before I can offer any suggestions, though.  Have you ever read any historical fiction with them yet?  I know by the time they're in seventh grade they should have already, but with the feeder schools having different curricula and students who have transferred in from different districts altogether, you can't always be sure.  I ask because it might be good idea to expose them to what you think is a good example of the genre before having them embark on writing their own.

Edited to add:  Argh, I've been trying to delete this because I reread your post and realize that since you're introducing it, you're obviously going to read something with them beforehand.  Sorry for stating the obvious!
Title: Re: Historical Fiction writing assignment for Grade 7s
Post by: MaudeStephany on March 06, 2008, 09:23 AM
Caroline,

Perhaps talk with the children's social studies teacher and find out which periods the children are studying there - try a tie-in with say their Greece/Rome/Egypt studies and let them choose one of the three periods to set their story in. My son is in Grade 7 in Canada and he has been studying all these cultures this year. Hope those suggestions work for you.

Maude  :broccoli
Title: Re: Historical Fiction writing assignment for Grade 7s
Post by: carrots on March 06, 2008, 09:46 AM
I agree with Maude's suggestion to integrate with their social studies units.

It depends on the class, too.  If you have a crew of really motivated eighth graders who are excited about "The Depression" (yes, I'm trying to be ironic to make up for my lack of sense in my first post :)), I'd let them run with it.  Another thing I've heard often in the last several years is how the WWII veterans are passing away.  I wonder if interviewing great-grandparents or neighbors and focusing the unit around that generation would be worthwhile and soulful.   You could even have a guest speaker who lived through that time period - not necessarily a veteran.  This could be the child of a soldier, a military wife, or anyone who could simply shed light on that time (and illuminate parallels to our time now...).

I also noticed junior highers get a kick out of what life was like when WE and their parents were their age.  How about the 60s, 70s, or 80s?  It makes me feel really old to think of those decades in the context of historical fiction, though!

Title: Re: Historical Fiction writing assignment for Grade 7s
Post by: Caroline on March 07, 2008, 03:53 AM
Thanks for the suggestions!

Carrots, we are going to be doing a unit on the Titanic, and I've got a pile of historical fiction for me to read over the "break." I was going to give them some excerpts from all of them. Hopefully.

Maude, the history teacher tells me they are studying Canadian history up to mid 1700's, but I know there are a lot of world war buffs in there.
Title: Re: Historical Fiction writing assignment for Grade 7s
Post by: MaudeStephany on March 07, 2008, 07:37 AM
Caroline,

Canadian history up to mid 1700's? Cool. What about offering options like "Imagine you're one of the first Vikings coming to this land" or how about "You're a privateer on a sailing ship during the first trading expeditions to Canada (Jacques Cartier?)" or something about the Indian wars? You're a Beothuk woman/man who meets the first settlers in Labrador?

BTW, Canada, a People's History, is an excellent video resource to use to help your students learn about the people and times too... When my husband immigrated to Canada (from the USA) we watched ALL of them in order to give him a better grasp on Canadian history for his citizenship test (which was a joke).

Must run now, though... my kids need to be fed and sent to school.

Maude  :broccoli