Classroom Activities: 

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Narrative Writing: A Day in the Life

Lesson Overview

Overview: This writing will be incorporated into the narrative writing unit. As the students look at the four primary source photos, they will choose one and write a narrative as though they were living during that time. It can be written in a variety of modes: diary, journal, letter, etc.
Grade Range: 6-8
Objective: Students will:
  • Analyze pictures that illustrate a day in the life.
  • Imagine themselves in the image and list three to five phrases describing what they see, hear, taste, touch and smell.
  • Use those images to create a narrative writing piece: diary, journal or letter. 
Time Required: One class period of 50 minutes
Discipline/Subject: Language Arts, American History
Topic/Subject: Cities, Towns, Women in History
Era: Rise of Industrial America, 1876-1900; Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929


Illinois Learning Standards: Social Studies:
16.A-Apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.
18.B-Understand the roles and interactions of individuals and groups in society.

Language Arts:
5.A-Use the language arts to acquire, assess and communicate information. 



Analysis Tools: Put Yourself in the Picture photo analysis
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source: A Scene of domestic transquility
  Title of Source: Who said this was man's work?
  Title of Source: Mr. Ole Tronsedth (sic), Milton, North Dakota
  Title of Source: J.Stewart wedding party, Nekoma, N.D.



1. Currently the class is narrative writing. Each student is given a copy of the photo analysis sheet.
2. Teacher will display four primary source pictures for the students to choose from.
3. Once the student chooses a photo, they will complete their analysis sheet with three to five phrases describing what they see, hear, taste, touch and smell.
4. Students will then be grouped by the picture they chose. Each student within the group will share what they wrote for each of the senses. This will help students with details they may have possibly overlooked.
5. When all groups have completed their analysis, discussion and analysis guide sheet, each student will write a journal, diary or letter using their chosen primary source photo.
6. At the conclusion of class, the students will turn in their finished project.
7. As an extension activity, the students will exchange their writing with another student and they will respond to their diary, journal or letter.



The teacher will give a completion grade based on the participation during the group analysis brainstorm session and the final mode turned in with all five senses and written in narrative format based on state rubric, i.e. ISAT.



Character map. This will allow the students to elaborate even more on their opinion of the picture. It could be used as an additional diary, journal or letter entry. This is more of an emotional approach to the picture.


Author Credits:
J. Dryden
Charleston Middle School