Journal of Time: A Historical Perspective
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
- Unit Plan:
- View nonprint resources to establish a historical setting for a piece of writing
- Write a journal entry from the point of view of someone who lives in a different time period
- Publish their writing online
- Flashlight Readers Activities
- Computer: activities can be modified from one computer to a whole computer lab
- Flashlight Readers: Esperanza Rising Write a Journal
- Setting Comparison Graphic Organizer (PDF)
- Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
- Optional: Art supplies (paper, glue, markers, etc.) for extension activity
- Optional: LCD or overhead projector to display activities
Set Up and Prepare
- Set up Bookmark Flashlight Readers on the computers students will use
- Make copies or print copies of the Setting Comparison graphic organizer, one per student
- NOTE: If students have limited access to computers, print photos and make transparency copies to post on an overhead projector
Remind students that the elements of a fiction story include the setting, characters, plot, and theme. Explain that during this lesson, students will explore further the physical and historical setting of Esperanza Rising.
Distribute the Setting Comparison graphic organizer, and have students complete it independently using information from Esperanza Rising.
Now, explain that the students will leave their present setting and take a flight of the imagination to the time and place described in Esperanza Rising. Tell students that they will do this by viewing pictures that describe the scene of the novel and show people being affected by the Great Depression.
Have students view the historical photos in the Write a Journal activity. Have students watch the entire slideshow once, without interruption. Then have them watch it a second time, pausing on each slide to jot down notes about the image or description and their thoughts about how they might have felt if they had been present in the picture or affected by the events described.
After viewing all of the images twice, ask students to imagine living during the Great Depression. Have students write a journal entry as if they were living during this remarkable time period in American history. Give students the option of using one of the slides as inspiration.
When students have completed the writing, give them a forum in which to share the journals with fellow students in small groups. Encourage students to offer feedback on each other's writing, pointing out historic elements and realistic details that they used or might have missed.
Allow students time to revise their journal entries based on their peers' feedback. Then have each writer submit his entry online in the Esperanza Rising Write a Journal activity. Print pictures from the slide show and display students' journals on a classroom bulletin board.
Supporting All Learners
Language Arts Standards (4th Ed.)
- Evaluates own and others' writing (e.g., applies criteria generated by self and others, uses self-assessment to set and achieve goals as a writer, participates in peer response groups)
- Understands reasons for varied interpretations of visual media (e.g., different purposes or circumstances while viewing, influence of personal knowledge and experiences, focusing on different stylistic features)
- Uses strategies (e.g., adapts focus, organization, point of view; determines knowledge and interests of audience) to write for different audiences (e.g., self, peers, teachers, adults)
- Writes in response to literature (e.g., responds to significant issues in a log or journal, connects knowledge from a text with personal knowledge, states an interpretive, evaluative, or reflective position; draws inferences about the effects of the work on an audience)
- Divide students into small groups, and instruct them to research headlines from newspapers around the time of the stock market crash, Black Tuesday, and the years following. As part of their research, students should gather pictures from the Great Depression. Working in groups, have them create a newspaper that includes headlines, photos, captions for the photos, and student-written news articles. Have students include their journal writings as letters to the editor or feature articles.
- Have students research Roosevelt's New Deal. Instruct them to discuss the pros and cons of the New Deal. Ask if they think the New Deal was successful, then have them research evidence to prove whether the reforms were or were not successful. Students can then either write a paper defending their findings or debate the issue in a class forum.
- Tell students to analyze the camps that immigrants were forced to live in, as described in Esperanza Rising, and based on research using the Internet or nonfiction books. Have them create a diorama depicting the living quarters of people in the camps. On an accompanying sheet of notebook paper, students should evaluate these living conditions as humane or inhumane. If the conditions were found as lacking, what improvements would they suggest? (Remind students to keep suggestions appropriate for the time period. For example, adding satellite TV would not be an option.)
- As a culmination of your research, have students create a collage of the Great Depression. These should include pictures they have found and short text descriptions. Display the collages around your classroom.
- Evaluate the graphic organizer for accurate details from the text, Esperanza Rising.
- Use the rubric below to collect a formal grade for the students' published stories.
1Experimenting2Developing3Effective4StrongIdeasthe meaning and development of the messageElements are unclear and story is confusing or doesn't include the designated setting at all.The included elements of the journal, including the setting, are not well developed.The journal may develop complete thoughts, but they are not expressed in the setting of the Great Depression.All elements of the journal are fully explained (including the setting of the Great Depression).Organizationthe internal structure of the pieceThere is no evident intent to organize the story.Many elements of the plot and story are confusing to the reader.Some elements of the plot are confusing to the reader, but overall the story makes sense.The story progresses in a way that keeps the interest of the reader.Voicethe way the writer brings the topic to lifeThe writer made no attempt to encourage the reader to care about the topic.The writer attempts to make the reader care about the topic, but is not successful.The writer makes the reader care about the story somewhat successfully.The writer effectively makes the reader care about the story in the journal.Conventionsthe mechanical correctness of the pieceThe story includes more than 4 grammatical errors that distract the reader.The story includes 3 or 4 grammatical errors that distract the reader.The story includes 1 or 2 grammatical errors that distract the reader.The story does not contain any grammatical errors that distract the reader.Presentationthe overall appearance of the work (used only on published pieces)The student turned in a rough draft instead of a final draft, so the story is messy and unreadable.The final draft is typed or handwritten but is completely unreadable.The final draft of the story is either typed in a font that is difficult to read or handwritten somewhat neatly.The final draft of the story is either typed or written neatly.Rubric adapted from 40 Reproducible Forms for the Writing Traits Classroom by Ruth Culham and Amanda Wheeler.