The Flight of Amelia Earhart Teaching Guide
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Set against the backdrop of fascinating but volatile world events, "The Flight of Amelia Earhart" provides a unique opportunity for students to study the enduring legacy of an American hero. An interactive timeline combines important events from her life with major world events of the time to provide a historical context for young readers. The story of Sylvia Barter, a female trailblazer and contemporary of Amelia's, informs students further on the challenges women faced in the early part of the twentieth century. Finally, a news writing activity allows students to demonstrate their grasp of the historical content.
Assessment and Rubrics
Several assessment components are embedded in this lesson plan. A Writing Checklist and Activity Assessment Rubric assess student proficiency with the writing activity. An end-of-project Assessment Checklist provides a quick guide to evaluate students' grasp of key ideas.
Scholastic's Online Activities are designed to support the teaching of standards-based skills. While participating in "The Flight of Amelia Earhart" project, students become proficient with several of these skills. Each skill below is linked to its point of use in the Teacher's Guide.
In the course of participating in this project, students will:
- Identify character traits that fulfill personal goals
- Use technology to research the life and accomplishments of an important American figure
- Use technology to tour Web sites about significant global events from early 20th-century history
- Compare and contrast the accomplishments of two notable women
- Write a news account of an American hero based on biographical information
The World of Amelia Earhart
This interactive timeline provides students with a glimpse of important events in the life of the great aviator. Woven into this personal history is a more turbulent one - the history of a world in conflict.
Meet a Pioneer Pilot
Through various text structures, students learn about Sylvia Barter, a female pilot whose strength of character helped blaze the trail for other women. Barter was a contemporary of Earhart's and this biography and interview depict the challenges she faced as a woman in the age of Earhart.
Write a News Story
Using a step-by-step news writing process, students construct a newspaper article or radio announcement using an important event from Amelia Earhart's life that illustrates her strength of character.
Lesson Planning Suggestions
Project Introduction (1 Day)
Discuss biographies students have already read, and ask them to identify what the subject's goal was, what inspired the subject to pursue that goal, what obstacles stood in the way, and what the subject eventually accomplished. If desired, make a classroom chart as students contribute their information.
Remind the class that they are the famous people of tomorrow! What goals do they have? What challenges have they faced so far in life? How have courage, determination, and strength helped them to overcome challenges and prepare for meeting future goals? Ask students to record one or more of their personal challenges in their notebooks or journals.
The World of Amelia Earhart Timeline (2-3 Days)
Have small groups of students tour the timeline of Amelia Earhart's life.
After reviewing the timeline, encourage groups to talk about the major world events and how they may have affected Earhart's own life. Have students discuss which of Amelia's character traits played a role in the events of her own life.
Meet a Pioneer Pilot (2 Days)
Encourage students to talk about what it must have been like to be a woman with Earhart's aspirations during the time period in which she lived. Have them take notes on character traits and goal fulfillment. Then print out the story of Sylvia Barter.
When they are finished reading, challenge students to create a cause and effect chart using the events from Barter's life and the timeline, or a Venn Diagram, comparing Barter's life and goals with Earhart's. You may wish to have students read the archive of the interview with Barter.
Write a News Story (3-4 Days)
Explain to students that they are to assume the role of a newspaper reporter for an imaginary publication called The Earhart Gazette. Challenge them to write a news story or radio announcement about an event in Amelia Earhart's life in which she dealt with a personal challenge. Print out writing directions for a step-by-step plan of the writing activity. Encourage students to research Amelia's life on the Web and with other resources.
You may wish to have students visit Writing with Writers for an in-depth workshop on news writing. Encourage students to visit examples of previous Earhart Gazette news articles at any time during the writing process, as well as your hometown paper or major newspapers online. As students complete their pieces, confer with them and give them the go-ahead to put their writing into a final word-processing document.
Writing Assessment Checklist:
- organize their writing by importance, time, or sequence?
- use their own words?
- incorporate peer as well as teacher comments?
- copyedit, spell-check, and revise, their work?
After completion of the Writing Assessment Checklist, have students post their finished stories online in The Earhart Gazette.
Project Wrap-up (1 Days)
Take time for a Readers Circle in which students have an opportunity to share their news articles. Reflect on the range of personal challenges and the strength of character that come into play.
- Can the students mention some important events that occurred in Earhart's lifetime and discuss one event in greater detail?
- Can students explain why Amelia Earhart's contributions made her an important American hero?
- Can students mention some of Earhart's significant challenges? What character traits did she display in meeting these challenges?
- Did the students demonstrate in their writing an understanding of the structure of a news story?
- Did the students demonstrate in their writing an understanding of the relationship between goal fulfillment and positive character traits?
National Standards Correlations
This project aids students in meeting national standards in several curriculum areas.
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
- Culture (Students study culture and cultural diversity.)
- Time, Continuity, and Change (Students study the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.)
- Power, Authority, and Governance (Students study how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance.)
- Civic Ideas and Practices (Students study the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.)
- Time, Continuity, and Change (Students study how the world has changed in order to gain perspective on the present and the future.)
Reading Language Arts
International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
- Students use spoken, written, and visual language for learning, persuasion, and exchange of information.
- Students use a variety of technological and informational resources (libraries, databases, computer networks) to gather and communicate knowledge.
- Students conduct research by gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing data from a variety of sources, and then communicate their discoveries to different audiences for a variety of purposes.
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity;
- use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources;
- use technology tools to process data and report results.
Create an illustrated anthology of all the student newspaper articles or other writings entitled "Meeting Our Challenges." Consider dedicating it to Amelia Earhart and/or Sylvia Barter, or to inspirational females within your community. Have each student compose a dedication to one of these women.
Invite student pairs to dramatize the interview with Sylvia Barter. Students may wish to write their own dialogue for an interview with Amelia Earhart or another notable woman from history.
Invite students to make several calculations based on Earhart's final trip. Visit a Web site for a list of the stops along her route as well as a world map of the route.
- the percentage of Earhart's planned flight she actually completed
- the time differences between your location and stopover points in different time zones along Earhart's last route
- the mileage difference between Earhart's journey and other world-famous aviators such as Charles Lindbergh
Direct students to return to the personal challenges and goals they discussed. Have them construct a poem of 100 or fewer words that reveal how courage, determination, and strength have helped them to face personal challenges.
Have students research aviation technology during Earhart's time. What were the maximum speeds? What materials enhanced function? And so on. Then have students research modern aviation technology. Finally, challenge students to do a comparison of the technology then and now.
Explore features of the varied terrain that spans the 27,000-mile distance around the equator. Have students choose one location along Earhart's famed last flight. Encourage students to research the geography, history, culture, and government of one of the locations. Challenge students to give an oral report of the place.