Lesson: "If I Was There" Essay

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: Writing, History

Instructional Level: Middle School

Skills: Descriptive Writing

Time: Two Weeks (1 for Introduction, 1-2 for drafting, 1 for peer editing, 1 for voluntary presentation)

Materials: Journals, writing implements, access to computer with Internet service, access to printer, paper

Objectives: The student will be able to identify and write about an historcial event they would like to have been able to witness in person
The student will be able to produce an essay that meets grade-level expectations of length, style, grammar, and spelling.

Introduction: This lesson will be introduced with the following question being posed to the students: if you could choose any historical event in the world to witness, what you choose to see and why? Thestudents would complete a journal entry on that topic and be able to share with the class if they wish to do so. Within a day or two, the full lesson will be presented to the class, with an explanation of the requirements and timeline for completion, an example piece, a brainstroming session of possible events, and the production of a writing scaffold to better explain the format of the essay.

Procedure: The students will be given the following requirements:
Choose an event to witness and identify at least 4 reasons they would like to have experienced it in person.
Produce an essay of two to three paragraphs:
an introductory paragraph stating what event they chose to witness, identifying why they chose that event, and why they were unable to see it in person
a body paragraph describing significant features of the event and the student's sensory experiences while witnessing the event: what they would have seen, heard, felt
and a conclusion that includes how they might have felt emotionally while witnessing the event and its aftermath.
The events and experiences must be ones that are appropriate to discuss in a school setting.

Students will be given time to work on their essays in class. This will include time for drafting and peer editing. They will complete their revisions and produce their final copies outside of class periods. If the students wish to share their work with their classmates, they can volunteer to do so.

Closure/Modifications: The students will have two weeks to complete their assignments. They will be given the opportunity to share their finished essays in class. Modifications can include: dividing the assignment into manageable parts, allowing for teacher editing of conventions and style throughout the writing process to allow the student to focus on the content, the use of a scribe, the use of a dictation program, and altering the length or other requirements of the essay.

Assessment: Essays will be graded on adherence to grammar and spelling conventions. They will also be rated on content, length, and format: introduction, body, conclusion.

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