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The Blog of Anne Frank?: Taking on Social Roles through Online Writing
|Grades||7 – 10|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Four 50-minute sessions, with additional sessions for updating content and responding the classmates’ blogs|
- investigate the social function of online genres such as blogs by conducting focused inquiry on blogs with strong social purposes.
- design a blog that addresses a school or community issue.
- participate in a classroom-based social network of readers and commenters.
- reflect on the choices they made in their blog and the new social identity the blog developed within them.
- Begin the session by asking students how they think news about the Holocaust and World War II spread, both in Europe and to the United States. Encourage students to use their knowledge of the book and/or film as well as their general understanding of history to start answering this question. Suggest students think about scenes from The Diary of Anne Frank in which the family, in hiding, listens to the radio or asks their helpers for news. Record their responses on the board, chart paper, or projector.
- Direct students to the How Information about the Holocaust Traveled websites. Have groups of three students jigsaw the content. Each student should read the content at one of the links and share the information with their peers in the group. As students share their findings, have students consider both how information traveled and who controlled what happened to or with the information once it did arrive.
- Display/project students’ original ideas again and have students change or add to what they already knew based on the reading and discussion of the Websites.
- Then ask students how political news spreads today. Students will inevitably mention the use of digital and/or social networking technology.
- Ask students if anyone knows about the role Twitter played in the Iranian revolution.
- Return students to their groups and share the The Role of Social Media in the 2009 Iranian Elections websites. Using the same process as before, each student should read the content at one of the sites and then share with the group.
- End the session by having each group write about what it learned from investigating the role Twitter played in the Iranian elections and to speculate how massive world events, such as World War II and the Holocaust, might have been affected by such technology.
- Begin this session by asking students to write briefly about what they know about blogs. Have students share their understanding, highlighting particularly the way a blog, which is typically public, differs from a diary such as Anne’s, which is (typically) private. Supplement their understanding with information from the Wikipedia page on blogs, focusing both on the ways a blog works and perhaps examples of the political impact of blogs. See the ReadWriteThink lesson Writing for Audience: The Revision Process in The Diary of Anne Frank for teaching ideas related to content, audience, and revision.
- If you wish, project two different blog versions of Anne Frank, http://thediaryofannefrank.blogspot.com/ and http://bankonfrank.tumblr.com/ to get students familiar with what a blog looks like and can do.
- Remind students of the readings from yesterday on the role of Twitter in the 2009 Iranian elections. Building on students’ growing understanding of how online digital media helps spread news about political events in ways that are much different from those in the 1940s, share with students this collection of blogs that focus on political prisoners.
- Students will work in their groups from the previous session, but now they will work together to analyze the blogs they choose to investigate. Distribute and discuss the Blog Analysis form, which students can use to focus their work.
- Give students time to look at, read, and discuss a few blogs. Circulate the room to answer questions, probe students for further thinking, and redirect discussion as necessary.
- Close the session by asking students to summarize what they learned from looking at the political blogs. Project a two column chart and have students share features or choices that made blogs more effective and less effective at communicating their message with an audience. Encourage students to explain why a feature or choice contributed or detracted to effectiveness. Preview the next session by telling students that they will be setting up, in small groups, blogs of their own.
- If you wish, use the student-generated two-column chart to create a checklist for their own blogs. See sample.
- Begin with a refresher of the blogs that students reviewed and critiqued in the previous session. Ask students to keep the strengths and weaknesses of the different sites in mind as they begin planning to create their own blogs in this session.
- In the same groups as in previous sessions (or in different groups if interests and abilities suggest otherwise) have students brainstorm school- and community-based political issues around which they can build a blog. They might consider issues such as school bullying, the need for a new building/facilities, or a problematic mascot. Or they might think about the local homeless population, a discrimination case, or other current event in the community.
- After groups have selected an issue about which they will use a blog to share information (but before students begin experimenting with blog technology) have them complete a column of the Blog Analysis form as a planning tool for their own blog. They should begin brainstorming which aspects of the issue they want to explore, the point of view they want to get across, and how they can link to and repurpose existing online content to achieve these goals. You may wish to consult the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education to help students understand what is acceptable use of existing content on their sites.
- Give students time to begin developing content for their blog. Remind students that political blogs share news and information, but they also have a point of view. They should make each post inform as well as persuade readers to understand the authors’ point of view.
- Work with students as they write, edit, and publish content on their blog. Continue this process over multiple sessions, with time passing between sessions to allow students to find new content to share and respond to, new developments to occur in relation to the issue, and so forth.
- When their blogs are populated with enough content, have students share their links with each other and give time for/encourage commenting on each others’ work. Help students find audiences within and outside of the school. Find their email addresses, compose notes of introduction, and share links of the appropriate student blogs.
- At the end of Session Two, you may wish to have students engage in some of the activities from the “Exploring Diary Form” section of the Masterpiece Teacher’s Guide to the Diary of Anne Frank, particularly the activity that asks students to think about Anne Frank as a blogger.
- Have students write a reflection on the effectiveness of their blog using the planning they did and the checklist the class generated. Ask students to explain how their blog meets those criteria, and if it differs, why the deviation improves the effectiveness of the blog. Have them consider how writing a blog about a political issue caused them to take on the social role of “activist.”
- Students can engage in peer review of each others’ blogs by using the Blog Analysis form to provide feedback. To keep this kind of feedback separate from the more authentic interactive commenting, you may wish to wait until fairly late in the lesson to have students peer review.