Historical Fiction Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2346 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Teaching

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Historical Fiction and U.S. Slavery

The unit described herein will focus on the issue of slavery in the United States while also exploring the role that historical fiction can play in developing critical thinking, forming connections between people, ideas, and other times/cultures, and even in better understanding the modern world through an understanding of past technologies, capabilities, and limitations. Multiple technologies will be used throughout the unit to aide in the exploration of a specific text from multiple perspectives, identifying ways in which this text relates and ties to the lives of the fifth-grade students immersed in, and allow learners to make more immediate and direct connections between the text and the experiences embedded in it and their own life experience. Comparisons between technologies will be drawn, narratives will be identified and reconstructed, and the means by which fiction can be used to better explore history and provide understandings of real social, ethical, and psychological issues will also be identified. The learning in this unit will provide a solid foundation for other critical thinking, social studies, and literature/language arts units.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Historical Fiction Assignment

Key technologies that will be utilized during the unit include extensive Internet-based researching, the use of PowerPoint and/or similar software to create interactive multimedia presentations, and media recording equipment (audio and visual). All of these technologies are very modern innovations relative to the time period being studied, and there will be a natural disconnect perceived between the technologies and capabilities of the individuals examined within the key text and the surrounding historical context and those of the learner's own time and capabilities. This initial separation will be used as an entry by the instructor to develop lines of critical thinking and association, noting the differences that exist as a means of identifying similarities -- the desire to tell stories, to record stories, and to be able to take some control over our own actions and lives. The technological aspects of the learning planned in this unit will thus be used quite explicitly as a means of delving deeper into the thematic content of the unit, which is not actually technology-focused but rather is interested in exploring the way a fictitious text from another period can help lead to a better understanding of that period and of our own time and society. Learners will progress from research into the time period and a comparison with modern times to an immersive narrative construction the incorporates historical and autobiographical knowledge and storytelling, and the core truths about humanity that can be identified in the key text will be explored through a large project that serves as the culmination of the unit.

Freedom Stone, a novel by Jeffrey Kluger, will be used as the key text for this unit, and will include passages read as a group in class and read independently by students, at home and during some instruction time to provide assistance to those requiring it (Cunningham et al., 2011). The concept of "revealing the learner" as defined and discussed by Senge et al. (2012) provided highly important guiding principles in the construction of this unit and the educational approach it belies; the lessons are all designed such that they can be approached in multiple ways and completed successfully with a fair amount of flexibility in terms of speed and method of approach and learning. Freedom Stone provides many points of engagement for learners approaching the novel from a variety of experiences and perspectives, and takes place in a rich context that will allow for a full exploration of the thematic and technological content planned for this unit. The range of perspectives that it is hoped this unit will help expose learners to and allow them to express is also in keeping with the guiding principle of social justice in teaching, which explicitly recognizes the added difficulties that minority students have in finding representation in the curricula and understands the degree to which this absence reinforces marginalization amongst the entire population of learners (Henry et al., 2013; Hextall & Mahony, 2013). Overall, the unit is meant to provide students with a highly interactive and self-directed yet guided approach to understanding historical and current social pressures, conducting research and expressing their learning and creativity through a variety of different technologies.

Internet research will be utilized to some degree in all three lessons as a means of familiarizing learners with the practical and educational/narrative-building potential of a tool they are most likely familiar with in other contexts. Other technologies, including the PowerPoint software and audio/visual recording equipment, will be utilized as means of modern story-telling and narrative creation, with parallels to the experiences detailed in Freedom Stone drawn. In this manner, the technology utilized for learning will not only be used as a means of creating greater technical acumen and engagement with the learning but will be tied directly to the thematic content of the text. The artificiality of the creations will also be discussed as appropriate for the learning level, with the separation of fact and fiction and the difficulty in such a determination included in media discussions and presentations.

Lesson 1: Context Introduction

As an introduction to the novel Freedom Stone and the learning unit as a whole, preliminary guided research will be conducted on the Internet into the historical facts of slavery in the United States and certain details regarding the lives and rights -- and lack thereof -- of slaves. Principles of online literacy will be introduced, some explicitly as part of the initial guidance and some more implicitly as guidance continues and various cites and sources of information are encountered and discussed (Castek, 2008). Learners will be steered towards an understanding of the daily lives and experiences of slaves via the various narrative projects and other sources that exist online, and will also be encouraged to view images and listen to music of the time to gain a deeper appreciation for the social context within which the story is set. Each learner will be able to independently pursue certain areas of research, broadening their understanding of the historical context for the unit in a personal yet direct manner that will allow more full engagement with the learning. Class discussions with full participation and contributions from all learners will ensure that comprehensive information is provided in an interactive way, while technological acumen, online literacy, and independent research and critical thinking skills will all be enhanced via individual Internet exploration.

Encouraging a largely self-directed and multifaceted approach to historical studies has also been demonstrated to lead to far more effective learning, especially when properly guided and contextualized by appropriate classroom instruction before, during, and after such individualized research and varied media exposure (Brophy & VanSledright, 1997). By utilizing this lesson to provide individual time for immersion in the Internet technology and the aspects of history most appealing to each individual learner, the tone for the unit as one of ongoing exploration and personal identification with the learning material and context will be set and the immersion in historical detail will be more effective while online literacy is simultaneously promoted (Brophy & VanSledright, 1997; Castek, 2008). Lesson objectives will include the discovery and listing of various facts about the time period and issues in question, development of skills in finding specific pieces of information online, development of critical thinking skills that inform research and allow independent connections to be made, and practice in the communication and reception of ideas, facts, and critical connections will also be achieved through the group discussion element of the lesson.

Lesson Two: Technology Then and Now

After the contextualization of the first lesson and reading of the first few chapters in Freedom Stone, learners will already be immersed in the narrative of the book and an appreciation of the historical context of the narrative. Explicit differences between the time period and experiences detailed in Freedom Stone and of the learners' own time and experience will doubly have been noted and been discussed, however this lesson will explicitly focus on these differences in a manner that ultimately reveals such differences to be historically/technologically constrained solutions to the same problems. The means of communicating that are observed in Freedom Stone will form an area of especial consideration during this lesson, with newspapers, slave songs, and other communication media all identified and first explored as different. Leaners will be assigned to groups to examine a different means of communication as it has been seen in the primary text and as they were used during the time period, again using Internet-based research. Students will then create a multimedia presentation using PowerPoint to illustrate the knowledge they have obtained in their specific area of study, and these presentations will be shown to the class.

After these presentations, a discussion of how these communication technologies would be viewed today will be engaged in, and groups will be tasked with deciding what modern technology is the best analog for their assigned historical communication media. Presentations will be adjusted to include this… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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