Lesson Plans:
Writing Historical Fiction

Subject(s)/Grade(s): English, 11
Related Subjects: U.S. History

Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will write a short story inspired by the Craft Revival website’s stories and photos.
  2. Students will identify three literary elements included in their stories. Students will evaluate their stories based on usage of these elements and incorporation of information from the Craft Revival website and other sources.
  3. Throughout the lesson, students will use reading and writing skills, and research will be incorporated in learning about customs and mores of the period of 1895–1945 in the rural western North Carolina mountains.

Teacher Planning

Time required for lesson:

  • This lesson can be completed in one week with all or parts of a class session each day.
  • Teacher preparation will require time to examine the Craft Revival website and gather information from other sources about Western North Carolina from 1895-1945.
Materials/Resources

  • Specific information should come from the Craft Revival website. Further information about the mountains and people of western North Carolina can be gathered from Horace Kephart’s Our Southern Highlanders; University of Tennessee Press’ The Encyclopedia of Appalachia; Robert Higgs’ and Ambrose Manning’s Appalachia Inside Out; and East Tennessee State University’s website for Appalachian Studies.

Procedures

Pre-writing:

  1. Teacher should provide background information on context of the time period and the region of the Craft Revival movement in western North Carolina. 
  2. Students should take an hour or so to peruse and take notes on what crafts were most necessary, popular, or common; the amount of work that went into the crafts; and the backgrounds of the influential people who were involved. These notes should come from the teacher’s presentation on context, from any sources the teacher provides, and from the pages of the Craft Revival website, particularly The Story, The People, and The Crafts.
  3. Students should choose a craft and/or a craftsperson or leader around whom to center their stories.
  4. Students should do freewrites (ungraded) after looking at pictures on the Craft Revival website. Encourage them to use their imaginations and create short vignettes or anecdotes about two or three photographs of people or their products.
  5. Students should be allowed to look at one another’s work and share ideas.

Writing Activities:

  1. Have each student complete a brief outline or visual plan that incorporates exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The outline should also include information at the beginning regarding which literary elements will be included (e.g., suspense, character foil, red herring) and around whom or what craft the story will center.
  2. Using their notes, students will then begin writing a draft of their story. The anecdotes or vignettes written as warm-ups may or may not prove useful.
  3. Upon completion of first draft, students should do peer-editing in small groups of three or so. Peer editors should have access to outlines, notes, and drafts. They should read for historical accuracy, degree of engagement, use of literary elements, and incorporation of craft/craftsperson. Students should then write brief responses to each other’s stories based on this reading.
  4. Students should revise their stories, creating a final draft, based on peer comments.

Assessment:

Student products (above) will be evaluated through self-assessment and teacher evaluation. 

  1. Students will record information in note form from website and teacher presentation or other sources of information. (20%)
  2. Students will create an outline or visual plan before writing the actual first draft of the story. (20%)
  3. Students will do peer editing responses in brief written form to peer group’s stories. (20%)
  4. Students will write a first draft. (20%)
  5. Students will present as read aloud and then turn in final drafts of their stories. (20%)

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

  • English Objectives, 2.01, 2.03; Goal 6

Bibliography:

  • Abramson, Rudy and Jean Haskell (eds). Encyclopedia of Appalachia. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2006.
  • East Tennessee State University. “Appalachian Studies”.
  • Higgs, Robert, Ambrose Manning, and Jim Miller (eds).  Appalachia Inside Out. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995.
  • Kephart, Horace.  Our Southern Highlanders. New York: Outing Publishing, 1913.

-Submitted by Dawn Gilchrist-Young, English Department, Swain County High School, Bryson City, North Carolina