Using Images to Brainstorm Historical Fiction Ideas

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SWBAT to create a scene for a historical fiction story by analyzing historical images.

Big Idea

Getting inspiration from images

Lesson Opener

10 minutes

In my lesson openers I always have a "connect" in which I connect students' thinking about yesterday's lesson to today's lesson. I then have a "teach" in which I model for students the lesson of the day and also have them try it out. When I think about my modeling, I use three categories; skill, strategy, and process. I model by stating the skill to the students, then giving them a strategy in which to use the skill, followed by the process to try out the strategy.

Connect:  I will say, “We have completed a rough draft for a horror/thriller story. In order to craft another genre, we are going to craft a historical fiction story, but first we are going to brainstorm ideas.

Teach: I will say, “In brainstorm ideas for our historical fiction story, I am going to show you how to practice the skill of brainstorming and the strategy of using historical images. The process I will use is as follows:

1) Look deeply at images from historical units you have studied*

2) Brainstorm ideas using Problems/Realistic Fiction/Historical Fiction

3) Write a scene for a possible story.”  

I will show students how I look at a picture by noting the people/animals, activities and objects.Then think though a possible story using problems/realistic fiction/historical fiction (see below video).   

*I collaborated with the U.S History teacher about the main historical events the students have studied.


pay attention to setting/characters-how would they be different?

Active Engagment

10 minutes

Active Engagement: I will say, “You will now work with a partner to analyze the pictures and jot down notes about it.” I will look over the shoulder of the students as they work quietly, I will check on their progress (at least 3 students-one who is at standard, one is approaching standard, and one who is above standard). I will ask the students, “Share out what you saw in each picture.”

I will then say, “Now I want you to continue brainstorming with a partner (or I could do individual depending on how much work they were able to complete during the first active engagement) using the problems/realistic fiction/historical fiction chart. For the historical fiction part, use ideas you had from the historical events on the pictures. I want you to come up with at least three ideas before you start crafting a scene.”

Closing of Active Engagement: I will say, “Remember successful writers practice the skill of brainstorming and the strategy of using historical images. They use the historical images to get ideas about how they would turn a realistic fiction idea into a historical fiction idea.

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Independent Practice: I will show them how I craft a scene using the characters in the pictures as inspiration. I am showing them how I pay attention to how the characters would act in a historical setting. I tell them, “Hmm…after my brainstorming I want to do a story about how a Native American boy and an English boy become friends during Indian Removal. Now I know that during that time they were not suppose to be friends so maybe I will craft a scene where they meet and at first they don’t like each other. I know, I will start with a line of dialogue….”

 I will say, “You may continue to brainstorm or start crafting a scene using your I.A.D.Ds (inner thinking, action, dialogue, and description) paying attention to how the characters would interact in this historical setting. You should have at least page. I will walk around and confer with students.

Partner Work: Students will be directed to turn and share a scene with their partner when I see that most of the class has completed at least half of a page. I will say, “I want you to share your scene with a partner. “Decide who will be partner A and who will be partner B. Partner A I want you to share what you have written so far. Partner B, I want you to listen if Partner A has created a scene that makes sense with the historical setting. If not, give them feedback; tell them an idea of what they could add or let them know what your favorite part was and why. Then you will switch.” I will then give students time to revise, or have them make notes and revise for homework.


5 minutes

I believe that the end of the lesson should be an assessment of the days’ learning; therefore it should be independent work. I always end class with an exit ticker in which students write down the response to a question.

Closing: Students will turn in their best lines of their scene which show their understanding of character and setting.