Lesson: Lyddie Letters

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Lesson Objective

Students will use what they read throughout the novel to respond to a letter after the novel has concluded. Students will explore what Jewish texts might have to say about slavery and freedom. The teacher should preface these before explaining the letters. Otherwise, they will seem contrived.

Lesson Plan


Final Performance Assessment Rubric

  4 3 2 1
RRJ work support Uses previous responses from my RRJ, expands and deepens my RRJ work, and connects responses to big ideas Uses some support from my RRJ, makes some connections, but does not expand to or connect these responses to big ideas Uses little support from my RRJ, does not expand or connect them to big ideas No support from RRJ work
Big ideas Uses specific examples from the book to make broader statements about characters, setting, plot and/or historical context in the book and the larger world. Makes both general statements and uses specific examples to form an opinion/thesis/statement about the big idea(s) of the book Uses some specific examples, or some general statements, but needs more to make it more relevant and connected, makes somewhat supported claim about big idea(s) Uses either specific examples or general statements, but is not relevant and does not connect well to one another, makes an unsupported claim about the big idea(s) No specific examples and/or general statements, no big idea is discussed


Lesson Topic: Lyddie Final Assessment
Teaching Date: 5/24 Monday 10:15
Planning Date: 3/24/10
Big Ideas & Essential Questions
Slavery has many forms What does it mean to be free? In what ways is Lyddie free? In what ways in Lyddie not free?  
There is always a place for hope In what ways does having hope help Lyddie in her hardships? How do Lyddie's hopes change throughout her journey? 
There are far-reaching effects of industry How did the shift from cottage industry to factory industry affect people's lives, specifically Lyddlie's family and Lyddie?
How did the factory exploit people like Lyddie and fail to meet the needs of its workers?
What issues still exist in industry today? 
Jewish values demand that we treat workers fairly
Jewish values demand that we care for our youth (and other vulnerable populations) 
What Jewish texts are relevant to worker issues, and what can we learn from them?
Which Jewish texts say something about the treatment of children, and what do they say? 


Knowledge Outcomes: Students will connect the events in the book to see the big ideas
Skill Outcomes: Students will know how to piece together events in a book to see from a larger perspective
Evidence of Understanding: Students will create two letters from Lyddie to Diana with insight about the big ideas of the book. They will use their reader response entries to further deepen their understanding of the characters, plot, setting and time of the book to create a larger picture of the big ideas. For example, if their answered an RRJ question about how Lyddie resists the idea of being called a slave, they can talk about how slavery isn't cut and dry, and can take on many forms, such as...
Rubric: see Final Assessment Rubric on the bottom of the Lyddie Assessment page
Sequence of the lesson:

Transition: Students are transitioning from Lashon. They will need their RRJs, stickies, pencils, books
Hook: "Lyddie is sitting at home. She has just begun to crack two fresh eggs over her iron skillet. She hears something outside: the mailman. He never comes around, so this must mean he has some good mail for her. It's a letter from her dear friend Diana."

1. Intro assignment
2. Read letters
3. Student brainstorming in RRJs
4. Start writing

Introduce the assignment as an actual event. Start with:
"Lyddie has moved on with her life. She starts receiving letters from her dear friend, Diana. Please choose from the following letters, and write a response to Diana. Please include some made up information (how long after Lyddie leaves the factory, where she is, what she is doing), but be sure to answer the questions in the letter. Be sure to go inside Lyddie's thinking, and make it sound like her real thoughts. You will have to draw on textual evidence for answers."

You will craft two letters responding to Diana's letters. One will be from Column A, and one will be from Column B.

Have students read the letters (hand out letters to each student):

Greetings, Lyddie!
I hope all is well. It has been a while since our time at the factory. I can't believe how much we have both grown and matured since that time. I have been thinking a lot about our time there. I know that you often told me that you chose to work at the factory of your own free will. But do you think that you really had a choice? What else would or could you have done? We could come and go as we pleased, which is more than most 13-year-old girls can say. How were we more free or less free than a normal girl living in her parents' home? I've started to think that slavery isn't as simple as a negro working on a Southern plantation. How do you think slavery can take on different forms? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this, as I always admired your wit and intelligence.

Dearest Lyddie,
How are you? What did you decide to do? The last time we spoke, you told me that you were full of hope for the future—how do you think this has benefited you? I wonder if there was ever a time where you almost or completely gave up hope? What was the hardest part of your journey to the factory? Did having hope comfort you in any way or shape you as a person throughout this journey? You'll be happy to hear that my dreams have never subsided, and have finally paid off. I feel stable and contented, yet I still dream for even bigger things for me and my family. Do you think people still have hope, even if they achieve all of their dreams? What are your hopes these days?

My dear friend Lyddie,
I'm sorry to keep pestering you. I know that you are busy. Please tell me what has been going on with you. I know that you have become interested in reading the Hebrew Bible, and talking with the Jewish people you have met recently. I'd be interested to hear what Jewish values would have to say about the treatment of workers. Are there any Jewish texts that give any guidance? What do these texts say? What are the big ideas behind these texts? What do you think all ethical people could learn from these texts? Do you think they could inform factory owners and managers? How? Do you think that these texts are just about how to treat your workers, or is there an even bigger lesson there? I'm always grateful for your insight. I feel as if I am getting an education through you.

Lyddie darling,
Isn't it amazing to think that there are still thousands of girls going through exactly what we went through? I'm constantly meeting factory girls, some of whom have very similar stories to yours and mine. I wonder how far industry has reached into the lives of people all over the country. Knowing what you know about industry, and about what some are calling an "industrial revolution," how have industry-wide changes affected the very real lives of people like you and I and all the other factory girls? How did this boom of machines and industry affect you and your family? What do you think this change will mean for society? Do you have any predictions about what it will mean for society that industry is becoming more and more about machines and mass production?

Students will take 5-10 minutes to write down a bulleted list of ideas that come to mind. They can note examples from the book that might help respond to this letter. They can make a T chart with "Big ideas" and "Examples" 
Sponge Activity: Students can continue writing their letters
Wrap-Up: I really want to push you to look for the big ideas in this book. You should be asking yourself: Why did the author choose to write that? What is the big idea behind each detail in the book?
Groupwork/Grouping: Whole group instruction, followed by individual work
Classroom Environment: Art supplies, students can spread out and work on their own
Materials Needed: RRJ, book, pencil, stickies, art supplies
Potential Pitfalls: I hope that students will look for new and deeper connections and really piece together the big ideas of this book
Differentiation: Students will have different options for this assignment, which I still have to come up with. Maybe some can write a poem, song, email, craft a chart

Lesson Resources

Lyddie Assessment


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