“The Double Life of Pocahontas” Lesson Plan, Upper Elementary School (4–5), Literary Writing
Duration: 7 parts, including 6 class periods of 45–50 minutes
WRITING PROMPT (pilot): The Double Life of Pocahontas by Jean Fritz
Imagine that Pocahontas kept a diary. Choose a particular event in her life and write about it from her point of view. Talk about the event as if you were Pocahontas and imagine that you are writing an entry in a private diary. As you write your essay, think about these questions:
- Did you state your main idea clearly?
- Did you include details and examples to support your main idea?
- Did you restate information from the story in your own words?
- Did you organize your essay clearly with an introduction, body, and conclusion?
- Did you use a variety of words and well-written sentences?
- Did you use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
Use any of the tools available to you, such as the Checklist, Spellchecker, or Graphic Organizer.
This series of lessons will:
- Teach students to better understand the text.
- Teach students to understand the MY Access!® prompt.
- Teach students about point of view, story analysis, and character analysis.
- Teach students to develop content.
- Help students use My Tutor® feedback during the revision process.
- Prepare students to write a complete essay based on the prompt.
This lesson plan can be used in whole or in part. It can also be used in conjunction with the MY Access! Literature Discussion Guide questions about this book. (Note: the discussion questions include suggested answers.)
Part One: Prereading (Nonconsecutive Class Periods)
- Before reading each third of the book, help students fill in a KWL Chart. Ask students, “What do you know about Pocahontas?” and have them fill in the first row of the KWL chart. Have a few students share their answers with the class. (10 minutes)
- Then ask “What do you want to know about Pocahontas?” Have students fill in the second row of the KWL chart. Have a few students share their answers with the class. (10 minutes)
- In the third row of the KWL chart, have students write the name of the book, the name of the author, and the number and title of the chapter in order to show how they will learn about Pocahontas. (5 minutes)
Note: If you plan on requiring additional sources, students can add these sources in the third row of the KWL chart. Students can also search on iSEEK to find quality sources on Pocahontas.
- Repeat this process before reading each third of the book.
- Use your standard methods and timeframe for reading the text with the class.
Part Two: Analyzing the Text and Prewriting
- Review the questions from the MY Access! Literature Discussion Guide with the class. (5 minutes)
- Assign the questions to students for an in-class writing exercise. Check their work by moving around the classroom and discussing their responses with them. (20 minutes)
- Review the responses as a class. (10 minutes)
- Have students create a timeline of Pocahontas’s life in order to review some of the key events in the book. List the important things that she did or that happened to her. Have students use the MY Access! Timeline to list the events. (15 minutes)
Part Three: Drafting in MY Access! with a Graphic Organizer
- Encourage students to imagine they are Pocahontas. As a class, complete the Writer’s Focus Worksheet. Ask students to answer as if they were Pocahontas. Here, you may want to make the project more interesting by asking students to draw a picture of themselves as Pocahontas. (15–18 minutes)
- Compare Pocahontas’s life as a Native American to her life as an English person by reading out loud question 4 from the Literature Discussion Series. (2 minutes)
- As a class, fill in a T-chart on the board or with a computer and projector. Write the titles “Young Girl” and “Young Woman” over each column and compile student responses to the question: “Pocahontas, what were your experiences with English people like when you were a young girl?” (10 minutes)
- Ask students to think about one important event from Pocahontas’s timeline as a young girl. As a class, discuss what makes the event important. After a few suggestions, choose one event that the whole class will focus on. (10 minutes)
Part Four: Drafting in MY Access! with a Graphic Organizer
- Print out the Plotting a Narrative chart and distribute it to the whole class. As a class, discuss the event/experience that you chose to focus on, and use it to complete the chart. Ask students to use the pronoun “I” when filling in the chart. (20 minutes)
- In MY Access!, have students draft a description of their experience as Pocahontas. At this time, you should walk around the room providing guidance as needed. (25 minutes). Have students SAVE their writing for the next class period.
Part Five: Drafting in MY Access! with a Graphic Organizer
- Return to the T-chart created in Part Three and compile student responses to the question: “Pocahontas, what were your experiences like when you were a young woman?” (10 minutes)
- Again, ask students to think about one important event from Pocahontas’s timeline as a young woman. As a class, discuss what makes the event important. After a few suggestions, choose one event that the whole class will focus on. (10 minutes)
- Repeat Part 4 for an event from Pocahontas’s life as a young woman. Give students more time to write their draft and submit their writing. (25 minutes)
Part Six: Reviewing My Tutor Feedback for Revision
- To use My Tutor feedback instructionally, distribute copies of My Tutor feedback for Focus, score 2, goal one. Then review the feedback with the class. (Note: The students’ scores may not be 2s. This feedback is being used as a general example to teach revision skills.)
- Read the goal out loud and ask students to underline the actions (verbs in the goal) and circle the objects of the verb. This will help them understand the purpose and objective for the revision. (5 minutes)
- Revision Goal: Clearly communicate your understanding of the essay question and the story.
3. Review the example assignment and draft (Before Revision) by asking students to explain what part of the task the writer still has to complete. Ask students, “What actions were not done?” (5 minutes)
Katy’s Assignment: As Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, write a letter to Aunt Em, comparing Kansas to Oz.
Dear Aunt Em,
I lived with you in Kansas. Everything there was gray. Farm work made you and Uncle Henry tired. Now, there is a witch out to get me, angry trees that throw apples and monkeys who can fly!
4. Ask students how the writer could improve the focus of the writing. Explain that this will be the writer’s “strategy.” Compare the sample strategy to what the students suggested. (5 minutes)
- Katy’s Strategy: I wrote down some details about each place, but I did not really answer the essay question. I need to compare Kansas and Oz.
5. Review the revised draft (After Revision) with the students and ask them to listen as you read the draft again. As you read, emphasize the areas of the draft that have been revised. (5 minutes)
Dear Aunt Em,
I lived with you in Kansas, where it was very quiet. Everything there was gray. The prairie is so flat that we can see for miles, but there is nothing but more prairie to see! Sometimes I wished we had just a tree to climb in. Farm work made you and Uncle Henry tired.
Then I took a trip to Oz. Everything is so much scarier here! Now, there is a witch out to get me, angry trees that throw apples and monkeys who can fly!
As different as Oz is, it is a little bit like Kansas. Just like at home, there are a lot of nice people here who want to help me. I am traveling with three friends now.
6. Ask students to reread the revised draft. Have them underline the places where the writer improved the writing by responding to assignment. Then read the example reflection to the students to check their responses. (5 minutes)
- Katy’s Reflection: I answered the essay question by writing more details about differences and similarities between Kansas and Oz. I put the information about Oz into a new paragraph.
7. Have students return to their writing in MY Access! Ask students, “Look again at the essay question. Did your writing really focus on the question that was asked? Highlight the section where you respond to the question in teal.” (5 minutes)
8. Have students write down the actions (verbs) and the objects of the verb as you read the prompt out loud. (5 minutes)
9. Have students review the essay and add any information that responds to the assignment. (10 minutes)
Part Seven: Developing Content
- Have students individually fill in a Character Chart about Pocahontas. Encourage them to return to the text and use the book to find important details. (15 minutes)
- Review their responses as a class. (5 minutes)
- In MY Access, have students add commentary about how the events they described made Pocahontas feel by adding her own words into the draft. (15 minutes)
- Have students click on the Reference section, then Word Bank and select From Quarter to Fifty Dollar Dialogue Tags. Review some of the tags with the students and have them insert one new tag in the paragraph about Pocahontas’s time as young girl and the paragraph about her time as an adult. (10 minutes)
- Have students continue to draft and revise their essays in MY Access! Review their individual My Tutor feedback for Content and Development with them.
Fritz has depicted the life of Pocahontas as honestly and accurately as possible. Because Pocahontas left no personal records, Fritz wrote her story using accounts of the Jamestown settlers and those of John Smith. She takes great care to inform the reader when she is making assumptions by using such clue words as “maybe,” “might,” and “perhaps.” The book provides an unusual amount of background information about the Jamestown colony, which increases the reader’s understanding of the historical period.
In explaining her standards for selecting individuals to write about, Fritz wrote that “I don’t have to like the people I write about, but I do need to understand them. And however we end up—my subject and I—I expect to share with my readers a compassion that springs from looking at the world through someone else’s eyes.” Fritz accomplishes this goal with Pocahontas, as the reader can sense the difficulties that Pocahontas faced in living with and caring for people in two different cultures.
Pocahontas is described as a favorite daughter of Chief Powhatan who lived and grew up in a culture in which her needs were met. She was loved, esteemed, and allowed to participate in the life of her village. On the other hand, she was genuinely curious about the life of the English settlers. The bravery of Smith intrigued her, and she became fascinated with him. When she was captured by the English, Christianized, renamed, and...
(The entire section is 457 words.)