Students will complete two major writing assignments throughout this unit. The first will be writing their own imaginative survival narrative. Throughout the unit, students will keep a journal using various prompts that I provide. Students will use the prompts to help them with their journals and to help them express their feelings in writing. I will copy the introduction from
Children in the Holocaust and World War II: their secret diaries
for students to read. The introduction discusses why journals and diaries are so important and what purpose they serve for the writer. Laurel Holliday writes that children wrote “from loneliness” to gain the “courage to go on,” as well as “a way of testifying to the unspeakable evils perpetrated by the Nazi criminals.” She also states that the children used the diaries “to resist humiliation and oppression” and to analyze themselves both psychologically and emotionally. Further, the diaries “served most of the children as outlets for anger and rage… [providing] a way of finding meaning and purpose in the chaos with which they were surrounded” (xv-xvi). Students need not have lived during the Holocaust to relate to these reasons. With all that is going on in their lives and the world today, a diary will be an excellent way to deal with things.
We will look at elements of a narrative, and the subject of their narrative must come from something that actually took place in their life. They may use their journals as springboards for their narrative. Using the texts as a model, students will take their true-life experience and share it through a fictional story, written as if it were true. Hopefully students will find that they can “talk” easier about the subject through fiction. Maybe they will feel safer to share the event/experience, and with any luck find closure on the matter.
The second writing assignment will be a compare/contrast essay. Students will compare two of the texts that we’ve read, but they may not compare one diary to another. I want them to choose the diaries and
. Students will use the block comparison structure rather than comparing the texts point by point. They will pick three aspects to compare and contrast. For example, they may choose to compare the structure, the voice, and the style of both texts. As their critical thinking skills improve, so will their ability to articulate their thoughts in writing. I will give them a grading rubric before they begin the writing so they know exactly what to include.