10-15 contact hours
English Language Arts
Common Core Standards
11-12.W.2, 11-12.W.2.a, 11-12.W.2.b, 11-12.W.2.c, 11-12.W.2.d, 11-12.W.2.e, 11-12.W.2.f, 11-12.W.3, 11-12.W.3.a, 11-12.W.3.b, 11-12.W.3.c, 11-12.W.3.d, 11-12.W.3.e, 11-12.W.4, 11-12.W.5, 11-12.W.6, 11-12.W.7, 11-12.W.8, 11-12.W.9
11th and 12th grade students are endlessly confronted with the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” They are asked, and ask each other, “Where are you going to go to college?” or, “What are you going to do after graduation?”
But long before these students thought about colleges, careers, places to live or visit — and how these choices relate to their identities — their parents, grandparents and extended families had their own hopes, dreams and aspirations; they fell in love and had their hearts broken; they seized opportunities and had their own accomplishments and many more experiences that shaped who they became.
In the Back in The Day project students publish a thoughtful collection of narrative nonfiction writing in which they tell specific family stories of growing up and coming of age. Each student produces a nonfiction piece of writing using journalistic methods of research, such as interviews and the examination of primary documents, as well as creative writing techniques such as the development of characters and setting, and the use of selected literary devices. Along the way, students address specific questions that help them understand how their family members grew up in different times or different places. The final product is showcased as a hard-copy book, published using professional methods.
What Inspired the Project?
Back in the Day: The Student Journal of Family History was inspired by a desire to encourage students to ask how previous generations lived through many of the iconic moments of life that young adults experience: first jobs, first loves, questions, dreams and aspirations. Furthermore, I hoped to personalize history, and encourage students to understand how specific cultural contexts impacted the lives of their family members. Finally, I hoped to direct direct students’ creativity through the narrative writing of true stories. This is one of only a few projects that I repeat each year because it is amazing how often I see that students are personally invested in the work. Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and more come to the exhibition and I love to see them connect over original student writing and old family photos that come together.