This year my curriculum unit has afforded me the opportunity to design a literature-based program to supplement my teachings of the American Revolution. The three wonderful pieces of historical fiction which will represent the cornerstone of my unit of study will be
by Ester Forbes,
The Fifth of March
by Ann Rinaldi and
My Brother Sam Is Dead
by James and Christopher Collier. My completed unit will be taught to an accelerated eighth grade class over a period of approximately five weeks.
Days 1& 2
Having previously studied the French and Indian War in our texts "One Nation, Many People", our students will be shown the exciting movie
The Last of the Mohicans.
This thriller will introduce the class to the British soldiers and their methods of fighting as they engaged the French in battle over control of North America. This lesson will lend itself nicely as our students will witness a similar British army some twenty years later as they engage the colonials in the American Revolutionary War.
Days 3,4 & 5
Students will be asked to read at home each of our three novels and then to participate in our oral readings and classroom discussions the following day. Each of our novels will be divided into three sections, thereby allowing plenty of time to thoroughly enjoy and carefully read each wonderful piece of historical fiction. We will begin on Day 3 with
The Fifth of March
, reading chapters one through seven, which will introduce us to Rachel Marsh and her relationships with John and Abigail Adams as well as a budding friendship with a British soldier, Matthew Kilroy. On Day 4, we will read chapters eight through thirteen which will detail the events that led to the Boston Massacre. On Day 5, we will conclude our novel by reading chapters fourteen through nineteen which will deal with the repercussion of the Boston Massacre and the murder trial against the British soldiers for their involvement, including Rachel's friend Mathew Kilroy.
Days 6,7 & 8
Students will be asked to read our second novel entitled "
. We will begin on Day 6, reading chapters one thrpugh four which focus on Johnny's early years of living in Boston and his apprenticeship in the silver and pewter making trade. On Day 7, we will read chapters five through eight which describes Johnny's indoctrination into the Patriots cause and events which were to lead to the Boston Tea Party. On Day 8, we will conclude our novel by reading chapters nine through twelve which describe the events which led to the closing of Boston harbor and eventually to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
Days 9, 10 & 11
Students will be asked to read our third novel
My Brother Sam Is Dead
. We will begin on Day 9, reading chapters one through four as we become acquainted with the Meeker family, especially Mr. Meeker, Sam and Tim. On Day 10, while reading chapters five through ten, we will watch Sam run off to join the Continental Army against his father's wishes and we will witness the horrors of war through the eyes of Sam's younger brother Tim. Concluding our novel, we will read chapters eleven through fourteen in which Sam is mistakenly accused of stealing cattle and executed by his "own Patriot army".
Students will enjoy a field trip to the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut to view the magnificent American Revolutionary War period pieces housed on permanent display in the Trumbull Room. Paintings such as the Signing of the Declaration of Independence and Washington Crossing The Delaware will certainly evoke open discussion and comments concerning related events from the three novels that we have just finished.
We will also visit the colonial furniture and silver and pewter displays to highlight the skilled craftsmen during our country's beginning years.
Days 13 & 14
Students will work independently in the Roberto Clemente Library Media Skills Area to enrich themselves with research projects. Students will be challenged to investigate major historical characters and events during the Revolutionary War. Among our research tools will be library books, encyclopedias, computers and unlimited access to the Internet on computers donated by Yale University.
Students will be invited to participate in a declamatory contest. Each student who wishes to participate will be assigned ten to twelve lines of the famous Revolutionary poem, "Paul Revere's Ride", by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Winners will be judged by a panel of students and teachers. Each student will be awarded points based on oratorical skills, presentation and memorization ability.
Days 16 & 17
Needless to say, it's rather nice being married to the art teacher at the school in which you teach, especially when writing a curriculum unit for the Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute. This is where I get the opportunity to have my wonderful
wife Elizabeth help design and motivate my students to create beautiful pictures and murals that recreate Revolutionary War events, characters, battles scenes and period pieces. It is also a time when I get a chance to help students with their independent research projects when they are not actively involved with the classroom murals.
After having read three wonderful novels, and visited Yale Art Gallery, not to mention research work in our library media center and art designs and murals with Mrs.Cassidy, perhaps we've worked up an appetite for some colonial treats. Why not visit the home economics area and bake some Johnny Cakes, just like the ones mentioned in our novels.
Johnny Cake Recipe (Journey Cakes)
Soldiers made their own corn bread by grinding corn, mixing it with water and baking a cake-like patty over a hot fire. These were known as Journey Cakes because they were easy to prepare as they were moving from site to site.
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
11/4 cups water
1 tsp. sugar
Mix the cornmeal and salt and sugar together. Boil the water and blend it in gradually until the batter is smooth. Drop onto a greased pan and fry for 6 minutes, turn over and cook for 5 minutes on the other side. Serve immediately. (makes 8-10 small cakes).
Days 19 & 20
Guest speakers will be invited from the 2nd Connecticut Regiment and the 5th Connecticut Regiment to reenact Revolutionary War battles to bring our unit to a fitting conclusion. The mission of these organizations is to perpetuate the history of the American Revolutionary War and to honor the courage, tenacity and devotion of the common soldier as a reminder of our national heritage. These groups serve to provide a living history unit of men, women and children dedicated to keeping alive the memory of 18th century events. Each year these units travel throughout Connecticut, including Putnam Park in Redding in late September. For additional information concerning your classroom unit of study, names and addresses are listed below:
2nd Connecticut Regiment
5th Connecticut Regiment
President Mike Meals
28 Richard Brown Drive
77 Old Jewitt City Rd.
Uncasville, CT. 06382
Preston, CT. 06365