Teach students to recognize and appreciate differences in people's perspectives with these lessons, including a letter writing exercise that allows students to put themselves in others' shoes.
- Compare and contrast different points of view
- Note the change in perspective as a character develops through life experiences
- Option 1: Two contrasting Dear America books or My America books that take place during the same time period or historical event. Half of the class will read one title and half the other, so make sure you have enough books for each student to read independently. These titles work well together for a Civil War unit:
- The Journal of James Edmond Pease: A Civil War Union Soldier
- When Will This Cruel War Be Over? The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson
- My Brother's Keeper: Virginia's Diary Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 1863
- Option 2: One class set of George Washington's Socks
- Writing paper and pencils for written reading responses
- Construction paper
- Magazines, drawing paper, colored pencils, and other art materials for the students to use for their "albums" at the end of the unit
- Venn Diagram printable
- Optional: Binder to keep track of students' written reading responses
- Make a class set of the Venn Diagram printable for students to compare and contrast the two books or the changes in the character's point of view.
- Dear America or My America: Set up literature circles for students to discuss the books. Make sure your role for each member is clear.
- George Washington's Socks: Set up questions or prompts you would like the students to respond to.
- Optional: Set up a binder for students to respond to prompts or their roles in literature circles and keep all the information in one place.
Step 1: Assess students' prior knowledge. For example, if you are reading the Dear America books noted above, make sure the students know about the Civil War. What were the issues? Why did they fight? This is perfect when studying the Civil War in social studies.
Step 2: Divide your students into literature circles. They should already have had experience with this type of literature learning. If you prefer teaching full class, then use George Washington's Socks as your literature book.
Step 3: Hand out the books and have the students discuss what they can predict from the illustrations alone.
Step 1: Either have the students read and respond to the books through literature circles or read and discuss the books as a class.
Step 2: Every other day, students should complete a written response to the book they are reading, either by doing their literature circle role or by responding to questions or prompts that the teacher provides.
Step 3: Have students use the Venn Diagram printables to compare and contrast the two books or the changes in Matt's perception of the different "sides" in the American Revolution as the plot develops. You may want to do this as a class discussion or by pairing students together.
Students can write diary entries that would come after the end of their book. An alternate or additional activity can be creating a photo or drawn picture scrapbook reflecting what they have read. Since photography was used in the Civil War, they may choose to do this as photos or they can keep an artist's journal, using drawings. Their photos can be drawings, cut out pictures from magazines, computer pictures, or staged photos of their own. For each one, they need to have an entry, explaining what the photo or drawing shows. This can be finished as homework.
One fun extension for this activity is to use folk songs to show point of view. The most apparent one is "Yankee Doodle." Teach your students the song if they don't already know it. Then discuss how originally it was sung by the British to make fun of Americans, since a "doodle" meant a fool. However, the Americans took it over, changed the words, and made it into an anthem of sorts, turning the tables on the British.
- Literature Circle binder entries responding to the book read
- Culminating diary/journal project
- Did the students' responses and discussion show that they understood how history is seen differently, depending on the point of view of the character?
- Did their written projects reflect their understanding of historical point of view?
- Were students engaged and focused during the work times?
- Dear America or My America: Were students able to see the differences between the two points of view in the diaries?
- George Washington's Socks: Did students see how Matt's perception of the soldiers fighting in the American Revolution changed once he actually participated in it?
- Student success with Literature Circle binder entries or reading response questions
- Student success with diary entries using the point of view of the character
- Student success with artist's journals or photo albums relating to the story