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History Comes Alive: Developing Fluency and Comprehension Using Social Studies
|Grades||2 – 5|
|Lesson Plan Type||Unit|
|Estimated Time||Five week-long units, broken up into 30- to 45-minute sessions|
Lake Dallas, Texas
"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?" (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack.) Shine a light on all your students' diverse talents in the course of this unit on Benjamin Franklin. Students research Franklin's life and times, focusing on his contributions to science and technology, and compile a list of differences between life in the 1700s and life today. This list shapes the dialogue as they create an original drama portraying a modern-day encounter with Franklin. After editing, students use the script to develop fluency through Readers Theater practice, and audition for their favorite parts. As the actors memorize their lines, their classmates plan props, costumes, and sound effects. Finally, students perform their play before an audience.
Print and online resources are provided for a unit on Benjamin Franklin, but the lesson could be adapted for the study of any historical figure.
Kornfeld, J., & Leyden, G. (2005). Acting out: Literature, drama, and connecting with history. The Reading Teacher, 59(3), 230–239.
- Dramatic interpretation through role-play engages students with history in a memorable learning experience that enhances comprehension and helps them connect what they are studying to their own lives.
- Working collaboratively throughout this project allows students to learn historical facts and develop literacy skills, while also promoting other essential skills such as problem solving and learning to work in teams.