Lesson Plan 6: Did That Really Happen? Examining Fact and Fiction in Historical Texts
Overview: In this lesson, students will read a fictional account and a historical account of the same event. This lesson uses “Crispus Attucks: Martyr for American Independence,” by Langston Hughes, and a more straightforward biography of Attucks from Biography .com. You could use another text pairing instead. Another suggestion is Wild Ginger, by Anchee Min, a novel about the Cultural Revolution in China, compared to a textbook or an encyclopedia article, or Nien Cheng’s personal account of that time, Life and Death in Shanghai (1987), compared to the textbook article. You may wish to coordinate with the social studies teacher and choose texts related to what students are learning in that class. Note that this lesson applies to grades 6 and 7, which have similar standards on comparing different genres (in grade 6, two genres of your choice; in grade 7, a fictional and historical account of the same period). In grade 8, the standard changes; the emphasis turns to analyzing how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works.