Time for Andrew: Visiting the Past

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TSWBAT use a central theme from the novel, Time for Andrew, to write creatively.

Big Idea

What (or who) doesn't belong?

Background of Book (Spoiler Alert)

5 minutes

If you love a quick read that's fun and keeps you guessing, Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn, is for you. Time for Andrew book cover Please read no further if you want to discover the plot twists on your own, as I'm going to explain the reasoning behind this lesson plan, and it will contain spoilers.

In the novel, Drew inadvertantly travels back in time to 1910 and meets his look-a-like cousin, Andrew.  In order to save his cousin from dying from diptheria, Drew agrees to change places with him so Andrew can receive modern medical care.  Along the way, there are many interesting occurrences.

One of my class' favorite parts in the novel had to do with a photograph that was taken of Drew in 1910 alongside a Model T.  He is perceived by the family to be Andrew, their boy who miraculously survived a diptheria epidemic. They enjoyed a drive in the newly acquired Model T, then stop and pose for the photograph.  When Drew eventually returns to his own time of 1990, he discovers the picture that was taken that day, and sees himself. 

This is the part of the book I use to focus the students on a unique writing assignment for the following lesson.

Warm Up

15 minutes

Time for Andrew, by Mary Downing Hahn, is an appealing novel I read aloud to my students each year.  It's always enjoyed, but this year to a greater extent. I had more students disgruntled if I read when they were out of the room, begging to borrow the book if they'd been absent, etc.  And, as with any good book, they regretted when it actually came to an end.  It was then I decided to find more to do with the story than just leave it as a completed read aloud. Although days passed between the completion of the book and the activity, it was no matter.

As a Warm Up, I center on fun with the kids and introduce a video about time travel, one of the main themes of the story.  To get their juices flowing, I ask the kids, "Do you believe time travel could ever happen?" After the raising of the hands, it's time to entertain them with a video.

The clip is outside Mann's Chinese Theatre in LA in 1928 at the premiere of the Charlie Chaplin silent film, "The Circus."  In this video, a women is walking by and seemingly talking on a cell phone.  By bringing the video full screen before the kids see it, I'm able to keep that fact from them, and then ask them to speculate on why this is part of our time travel conversation. 1928 Cell Phone Lady: the video itself plays the short clip over and over emphasizing and enlarging the women on the cell phone with each take, but I don't keep it going beyond the thirty-five seconds mark.  After a hearing their thoughts about this interesting video, we move on because I want the speculation to continue.  (In the Closure section, there's a video and they debunk this "time travel" theory along with three others.)

All in all, this definitely creates a lot of interest in the upcoming lesson.


25 minutes

I remembered coming across an article about a "Time Traveler" whose picture was discovered in a 1917 photograph.  It's in a book called, The Cape Scott Story written by Lester Ray Peterson in 1974, which is a history of the area around Vancouver Island, BC. 

Recalling this article, I immediately related it to the part in Time for Andrew of the picture of Drew and the Model T photograph taken in 1910.  After a quick Google search, I ended up with way more information than I thought I wanted.  As it happened, I found a way to incorporate the unexpected find in a great way. I used one of the quirky videos to draw interest in the lesson for the Warm Up.  I also discovered a perfect one to use as a wrap-up video in the Closure.

The kids are a little jarred by this Time Traveler youtube video, which is presented mysteriously. Here is the First view of the "Time Traveler".  They're pulled into the story, then given the opportunity to speculate and decide for themselves about the photograph.  I tell them photoshopping wasn't around in 1974, but even if it had been, the picture wasn't identified as "out of the ordinary" until 2012.  Note* I'm not advocating the idea of time travel as a reality, but choose not to discuss debunking this picture until they've had the chance to write creatively.  The uniqueness and mystery of this photograph draws them in, they're extra excited, and they can't wait to get all of their thoughts down on paper. This is a crazy 1917 picture! What a refreshing approach to a writing assignment!

I divide my twenty-nine students into six groups ahead of time: Assigned Groups on Parchment Paper. Although random selection is often my choice, with this activity a want a more even distribution of boys and girls. The Cape Scott Story has gained such notoriety due to this interesting photograph that it's expensive to buy the book online.  Giving each group a copy of the fascinating photograph (in addition to the leaving a larger image on the Smart Board) is a very good idea. Taking a picture of an image on the computer isn't the best, but it's better than nothing. From there I printed six copies to distribute to each group. Here are Photographs from 1917 for each group.

I put the assignment on the Smart Board and explain Assignment on the Smart Board. Their first task is to decide from whose perspective in the photograph, other than the "time traveler," they will write...who they want to become. Although they are in groups, their objective is to writing POV narratives separately . Eventually, each student contributes "their" personal perspective about witnessing the man who suddenly appears within the group that is being photographed on the rocks. 

From the point of view of the person they choose to be, they begin to write creatively about just what happened on that day. To assist in the organization of such writing, I provide a "Time Traveler on the Rocks" news page: Witness Account questions and Witness Account in Summary. Choosing different individuals/points of view brings fresh perspective to the incident. When they complete today's activity, it can extend, as a mosaic story, with all of these people in a class book.  I picture using a single scrapbook and giving each child a page. Possibilities are endless. 

After the conclusion of the activity, it's time to discuss this picture.  Comments to disprove the time travel theory are: the man "looking at him in disbelief" is wearing the same kind of shorts/swimming trunks.  Also, the "time traveler" jumped into the picture after the swim (which is why the others look surprised- not because he just dropped into their world looking like a surfer dude.) Most likely, he's a regular 1917 guy who doesn't follow the rules of the time, and has long hair, etc.


10 minutes

The students are really excited to share their stories, (Group discusses narrative) although this lesson has taken longer than I expected, and it's almost time for lunch.  A few presentations take place before lunch, (here Girls read their POV Narratives) and then there are groans because we've run out of time.  I assure them that we'll hear them all when they get back! I run my classroom in such a way that kids expect to share their work, and enjoy doing so. It's great practice to get in front of others and speak, and even if a student is shy, inhibition begins to fade when they must face that fear so often.

In addition to sharing their wonderful Time Travel Stories, it is also time to wrap up this "Time Travel" lesson realistically about the videos that give time travel "proof"-- Find the "Time Traveler" in this photo. I show them a video called, "Four Real Cases of Time Travel" which is a funny youtube that Debunks the Time Travel Videos the Chaplin video they saw, and some brand new ones-- "Time Traveling Hipster". It's just over nine minutes long, but entertaining and a great wrap-up to what has been an interesting lesson.  I display their masterpieces on my Time Traveler Bulletin Board so the kids can read everyone's "personal accounts." I evaluate their writing with the Six Traits of Writing rubric.  Not surprisingly, they score exceptionally well with Voice.