We are all in Gettysburg! The goal now is to read real-world informational text in the form of AAA Tour Books. The kids will write a travel journal based on the text, and combined with W.5.3 writing an imagined experience to develop a comprehensive narrative.
I ask the kids to tell me places they stay when they travel out of town, but it can't be with relatives or friends. Most of the kids have stayed in a hotel/motel (even IN town,) or in cabins. A student also mentioned camping in an RV. Some are familiar with the AAA Tour Books (like the ones we're using today.)
After the lodging conversation, I direct their thinking to our common experience, the Pioneer Village Field Trip. This field trip is low key compared to visiting a place like Gettysburg, but it's something I know everyone will relate to. I ask, "When we visited the Pioneer Village," what were some of the sites you really wanted to see?" After their answers I throw in, "Did everyone in your group have the same ideas about what was important at the Pioneer Village?" These responses are a bit more aggressive as they remember their experience and some of the conflicts. My point, of course, is to get them talking about how they handle others' ideas when they're working together to accomplish a goal (Students, Tour Books, Maps). They will sometimes have to make compromises.
It's exciting to reach the destination, and they will use the AAA Tour Book of Pennsylvania to plan their trip. I give the kids a Gettysburg Vacation Trip Planner (worksheets) with the following information:
*Their trip fund: $400.00 per child in which to spend on hotel expenses, meals, and attractions for a two night/three day stay.
*Inquiries to help them explore and utilize the AAA Tour Book. It's important that they fill out the information completely because this will be a helpful resource with the writing of their travel logs. At this time, I bring out my own travel logs again (Journals from U.S. Road Trip; Novgorod, Russia; Central Europe) to remind them it isn't just as assignment, it's something people actually do when they travel (Tour Books and Planning Guides)
I discuss and answer questions before the groups are set free in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
I move around the room and monitor the activity as the students work together to determine the variables of their groups' trip. There are obstacles such as not being able to make all of the decisions, as in real life, so I anticipate the disagreements and frustration.
The groups are carefully formed in advance. My goal is an even distribution of boys and girls and I also attempt to put varying ability levels within each group. I change the seating arrangement to their "Gettysburg Groups," the day before for the Journey to Gettysburg lesson so they don't have to move to other people's desks- Anything I can anticipate to veer away from avoidable conflicts.
They work well, and enjoy the real-life aspect to this activity (Using the AAA Tour Book). Until they reached the two Gettysburg activities, they've been learning about the Civil War from history's viewpoint with our scrapbooks. This is a different idea altogether to put them into modern day, but it helps them see the relevance of treasuring historic sites. They also enjoy the maturity of planning a trip as they see fit (Working through the Gettysburg Trip Planner).
Although this activity may not be completed by everyone in this time period available, the majority should have the tools they need to begin writing their journal before the end of class.
One of the benefits to monitoring how the kids are progressing is to pick out a few who can share their work (however far along it is) to the class to give some of the less enthusiastic examples of what's expected, as well as how much fun it can be (Describing their Gettysburg Vacation).
To keep momentum in the writing going, I assign at least a page of Gettysburg journal writing as their homework. I have students who love to write, and especially creative writing, and they'd self-initiate this as an assignment on their own. Others would just as soon put the writing away- and those are the kids who need to keep the process alive at home, even if it's only a half of a page. The following day, we continue at whatever point we're at. My goal is for every group to give a presentation about their vacation using a method of their choosing (visual display, computerized interpretation, multimedia method, etc.)
Here are some Travel Logs about Gettysburg.