#2 – Historical Fiction
Teaching or assigning historical fiction can be a rewarding experience for teacher and students. I’ve found it a great way to collaborate with colleagues on cross-content or interdisciplinary assignments. Students have found it a wonderful way to learn about specific historical periods, people and events within the comfort of a familiar text structure of fiction.
This assignment is one designed to assess student recall, interpretation and ability to analyze a work of historical fiction they’ve read for a quarterly book report. Notice there is choice within an element of teacher control. All students are required to respond to the first five questions, then they can choose five or more from the remaining eight prompts. Here are the questions: Historical Fiction Book Report
Depending on the length of your class periods and the skills of your students to work in a time crunch, you may decide to give your students the questions the day before the class meeting. In that case, you probably can be more demanding about the details and citation for page numbers. In most cases, you want the students to think carefully about their reading and the concepts you’ve been teaching, so the in-class assessment may be more on your students’ ability to synthesize, to pull things together rather than on what they can assess rapidly.
If you’re working on an interdisciplinary unit based on a specific historical period, you may decide to tailor this assignment to validate what students are learning in history instead of focusing only on the literary elements of their book. Anyway, here’s a link to the set of question I used for an in-class assessment. See Chapter 9. “Opening the Past Imaginatively: Teaching Historical” of my book TEACHING MIDDLE SCHOOL LANGUAGE ARTS: Incorporating Twenty-First Century Literacies for more ideas for teaching historical fiction in an engaging and effective way,
Depending on the length of your class periods, or the skills of your students to work in a limited time session, you may give the students the questions the day before the class meeting. In that case, you’ll probably be more demanding about the details and citation for page numbers.