Journaling Our Memoirs of the Revolutionary War

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SWBAT...recall relevant facts to summarize information using their research notes on their Revolutionary War figure's perspective of the war for a summary writing task

Big Idea

Every person sees things from a different perspective. Good writers can take on the persona of their characters to make their stories real to their audiences.

Creating the Purpose

15 minutes

In the prior lesson my students gathered facts from their internet research and documented it on their Revolutionary Figure Research Notes worksheets (RI 5.10, W 5.8) I split this lesson into two days because of the length of time to gather these facts and research information online. There were four students who struggled with the higher reading levels and difficulty finding usable information that answered their prompts, which I worked with in small groups later in the day, but the rest have enough information to begin their writing.

I share with students that I am going to read them a journal log written by Billy Baker, a 17 year old living in Boston, Massachusetts. He was an orphan but old enough to take care of himself. Both of his parents were killed in the Seven Year War with the French. I want them to see what a realistic entry looks like so I show them the authentic one first and then introduce the slide share (I want to build their interest while at the same time help them to understand the format and content of a journal entry - this is a good entry but rather long one so I only read them information from one slide. The nice thing about it being projectable is that I can identify parts of it that are stronger and need to be added to their final entries W 5.5)


After we read and discuss slide three and identify the interesting opener, the introduction of the character, the use of first person perspective and the use of facts and thoughts on them in the writing to make their stories both interesting and informative for their readers (I introduce with this discussion and modeling so students can see the expectations for their own writing. Another benefit is that it helps those who struggle with figuring out how to start their writing to get ideas from the journal entry. I leave it projected non the board so that they can refer back to it if they have questions or need more examples. 

I then introduce our objective that today they are going to write journal entries for their Revolutionary War figures using the facts and information they collected in their research (W 5.4)

Writing Their Journals

50 minutes

See my reflection for adaptations I made to this lesson to help students at various levels of completion.

Students take out their Revolutionary Figure Research sheets that had been completed and began writing. Some points I need to review with small groups are how to format their journal writing and create an example for them to reference on the board. I also share that they need to choose any day during their person's lifetime, not today's date. I share that they need to select their date for their journal entries carefully thinking of a big event/ before or after a battle/ when their side is winning/ or when they just lost a big battle/ their birthday/ or another date that would be a time for reflection (W 5.3).

When they complete their journal entries they use the Revolutionary Journal Rubric to assess their own writing and make editing and revising changes (W.5.5). When this is complete they partner  with a peer to have him/her also assess their writing. This format really limited the amount of assistance I had to give them and gave them the ability to share and make improvements to their and another's writing (SL 5.2, W 5.5) 

Students work in lowered voices and I helped those who are struggling. Please see my students' reflections on what was difficult and what was easier for them:

We work on this task for 45 minutes and then I signal students to turn in their work. 

Closing the Loop

10 minutes

I want students to get the opportunity to share with the class but if we don't have enough time, I will have each person at a table group stand and share with their peers - to make it fun they can  resent in opposing views (i.e. Patriot viewpoint shared first, then a Loyalist viewpoint shared next, then back to a Patriot, etc.) (SL 5.4). It should be fun to hear all the stories and adventures being shared at once and for students to hear the reasons for each person's opposing views and reasons on the Revolutionary War issues. I took a picture of the final product to show you how it looks journal 1, journal 2, journal 3, journal 4, journal 5, journal 6, journal 7, journal 8

I will hold on to their journal entries because I want to burn the edges to make the paper more authentic (note here that not only takes a long time but is difficult to get to look even - tearing was much easier) - I shar that this makes it look like it has weathered many days of wear and tear due to the war and the events that followed - plus students really think this part is "cool".   

This is a good way to end this unit because it helps students to build an understanding of the differences in perspective that various people saw the war and how each is affected by the person's role in society. This not only helps them with learning, but ties back into our bigger idea of the differences that created our country. One additional benefit of adding these journals to our timeline is that students can visualize the progression of the war along with the feelings of the people they researched to gain a deeper conceptual understanding of the events and emotions that surrounded them. Here's a picture of our final Revolutionary Timeline Board - they love it and read it every time they line up! 

Here's a link to a video of some of their writing samples