Over the past twelve years, I have participated in several wonderful seminars at the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute developing innovative curriculum units to supplement my teaching. These projects have motivated my students and myself to explore new and exciting areas of learning. In recent years, we have investigated African-American studies with the paintings of Jacob Lawrence, the historical struggles of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, and the poetry of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Paul Laurence Dunbar. This past year my work focused on immigration studies especially as they related to issues of assimilation into American society because many of our Hispanic students at Clemente have migrated from Puerto Rico to the New Haven area.
This year I am participating in Professor Lawler's seminar on "American Children's Literature" because it will afford the opportunity to develop a curriculum unit which will focus on the dramatic involvement of young Americans caught in turbulent times in American history as they sought to help shape the destiny of America forever. Having recently been assigned to teach social studies, this unit will help me to design a literature-based program to supplement my teachings of the American Revolution.
The unit will become a wonderful narrative exposition beginning with the British involvement in the Ohio River Valley in the French and Indian War, followed by angry protests against British taxation policies on stamps, sugar, tea and other commodities, and culminating in military confrontations between the colonists and the Crown. The Newbery Medal winner
will portray Revolutionary Boston as a living drama, perceived through the eyes of a shrewd and observant youngster. We will relive major historical events which were to lead to the Boston Tea Party and to the Battle of Lexington. This passionate piece of historical fiction will recreate wartime experiences for students of American history.
Although the Revolution was fought in New York and New Jersey as well, our unit's primary focus will be with the early battles and events in Massachusetts as well as our home state of Connecticut.
My Brother Sam Is Dead
captures the Revolutionary spirit as the Meeker family themselves are "captured" by the British troop movements in and around their homestead in Redding Ridge, just northwest of Fairfield, Connecticut. The family is further distressed as Mr. Meeker, among others, is a loyal supporter of the Crown and Sam, his son, constantly talks about defeating the British and of becoming independent and free. Tim Meeker, the younger son, is torn between his loyalty to his father and his desire to fight for freedom with his brother.
To provide a female prospective to the Revolutionary War, we will draw upon the experiences of two young women who find themselves in wartime Boston confused by their loyalties to their families, friends and employer. Ann Rinaldi has created two wonderful pieces of literature which dramatize pivotal moments in the War. First,
The Fifth of March
, a story of the Boston Massacre, relates skirmishes as a daily event in Boston as the rebelling colonists bristle against taxation and British military occupation. Our major character, Rachel Marsh, serves as an indentured servant to a young ambitious lawyer, John Adams, but her loyalties are compromised when she befriends a British soldier, Matthew Kilroy.
Our second novel,
The Secret of Sarah Revere
, to be used as a supplementary text, involves thirteen-year-old Sarah Revere, the daughter of the famous Patriot Paul Revere, and her insights into the political events surrounding her father's subversive activities against the Crown, including his now infamous ride to warn his countrymen of impending danger.
These wonderful pieces of literature will provide historical insight into critical phases of American history. They will afford opportunities to truly appreciate the sacrifices that our country's ancestors have made in order to shape the face of America today.